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Comedy comeback: Laughing through COVID-19 with comedian Kate Davis

Toronto-based comic Kate Davis will be performing at The Crazy Canuck in Kitchener for Rusty Nail's comedy comeback series on Oct. 29

What happens when a comedian is forced to isolate alone in a room for 21 days? 

Well, they get a lot of material. 

Veteran comedian Kate Davis found herself isolated in her room for three weeks, sick with COVID-19 after gigging in BC in March 2020.  

“But I got some good bits out of it. I say I was 21 days in my bedroom alone. And as a mother of three, I felt like I'd won the lottery. I didn’t have to talk to them or cook or clean,” Davis said. 

She didn’t have any of the symptoms the doctors told her about, or so she thought.

“I didn't realize I couldn't smell anything, until my teenage son walked in the room, and I couldn't smell him. And I'm like, I’ve got COVID for sure.” 

Davis has been in the comedy scene since she was 29, before the internet was saturated with comedy shows, she said. 

“It was in my second or third year of doing comedy that the Comedy Network launched,” she said. “Before, you really had to go to a club to see it.”

But she happened to live around the corner from a comedy club, and passed by it regularly. One day she went in to see a show. 

“And I thought, you know what, I'm gonna give this a try. I think I could do this. And I did and never looked back.”

Since then, her career has taken her touring across the country and to Europe. 

She also does motivational speaking, teaching people how to not take themselves so seriously and incorporate humour into their lives for a “more stress-free and healthier life.”

“The most precious thing for me about stand up is it's impossible to laugh and not be in the moment. And we talk about mindfulness all the time. And it's like, the perfect way to be mindful, because you can’t not be when you're laughing. It's the one thing that all humans share -- laughter, no matter what language we're all speaking. So for me, it's just bringing everyone together, being in the moment, sharing in that moment.

Davis says she has a lot of new material, much of it derived from her time in isolation. She is currently working on putting out a new EP. 

Her last album, House Arrest, is available for streaming on all platforms. 

Davis will be at The Crazy Canuck Oct. 29 for Rusty Nail’s comedy comeback series, along with Vito D'Amico and Dan Brennan. 

Since August 2020, local entertainment company Rusty Nail has been hosting pro comedy shows every Friday and Saturday night at The Crazy Canuck. 

They’ve been referring to it as the comedy comeback, because “people really thought that live comedy was dead,” said owner and comedian, Alex (Sandy) MacFarlane.

“There was this thought that we’re never coming back; the comedy clubs are all going to close because they won’t be able to financially make it through this time,” he said. “So we wanted to be like, nah, we’re coming back. We’re going to push through all of this.”

MacFarlane first got into comedy in 2008 through what he calls a purposeful accident, when a friend encouraged him to try his hand at an amateur night contest at a Yuk Yuks in London, Ont. 

To his surprise, he ended up winning the competition and was invited back to open for the headliner the following weekend.

Being on stage petrified him, but the release of endorphins and adrenaline that hit him after was thrilling, and he became hooked on “the attention and the immediate gratification of a live audience.”

“I wasn’t quite the class clown type, but I was always striving to make people laugh, and I had always admired comedians. So I think when I took my shot at it, people were surprised, but not overly surprised,” he said. 

He started producing shows in 2011, and five years and hundreds of shows later, he launched Rusty Nail. 

“I did it for two reasons: One, it got me stage time. If I produce the show, I put myself on the show. So it helped me as a comedian that way. But I also was in a pretty serious relationship at that time. And when you're when you're a comic, and you have to travel, especially in a country like Canada. It takes you away from your friends and family quite a bit,” he said. 

Plus, he loved comedy. So he began producing shows in the region. 

“It helped that I was a comedian because I knew the right things to do and the right way to treat the comedians,” he said. 

Throughout the pandemic, Rusty Nail has produced over 100 shows. 

“I don’t think anybody else in the country could say that,” he said. “At one point, we were the only comedy show in Canada running because we had a special spot downtown Kitchener where we could be outside.” 

They did a few virtual shows as well between December 2020 and February 2021 when lockdowns were in effect. 

“Making people laugh during this time was amazing. And at the end of the show, when people are coming up to you saying, that was so funny, I haven’t laughed like that in so long, or I really needed that. It's gold.”

For MacFarlane, comedy can be a tool to escape from the craziness of the world. 

“If it’s COVID, your job, whatever, we’re just here to laugh, forget about that,” he said. “You know, that whole cheesy line about laughter being the best medicine. I really do believe it's true.”

You can stay tuned on upcoming shows on their website

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