Rick Mercer, comedic icon, looked right into the camera and said the words.
"Everyone knows Derek is the funniest man in Canada."
For the first time in its centuries-old history, Prince George can finally see the funniest man in Canada in our own theatre. Derek Edwards has been from coast to coast on his comedy tours, he has been on television, on radio, and he will add Prince George Playhouse to his long list of impressive credits when he walks out on stage Sunday night.
Derek Edwards is the only Canadian winner of the prestigious Vail International Comedy Competition, is a two-time Gemini nominee, he has been nominated numerous times as Best Standup Comic at the Canadian Comedy Awards, and as both a performer and writer his wit has jazzed up TV shows like The New Red Green Show, A&E's Comedy On The Road, Just For Laughs, and CBC's Comics.
For a guy who's never been here, he admits he's a bit nervous about this engagement.
"Sometimes you show up and the town isn't hip to or prone to going out to see standup comedy, but this sounds optimistic. And it's the last show on my tour," he said, after learning about the boisterous comedy scene in Prince George, with its open mic nights and regular shows at pubs and dedicated comedy nightspot at Sonar and whatnot.
But that's not the main stress he's feeling. No, this is more personal.
"I have an old roommate from school who's out there with another good friend, so I'm looking forward to Prince George," Edwards said. "It's going to be extra tense, that night, I'll have to bring my A material. I've got to really give'er. I love working for strangers, but with friends? When things go awry..."
He asked a lot more questions about Prince George than he took on board about his own career. One of the things that makes Edwards so successful on stage is the energized connections he makes about life's little moments. He zaps the audience with the details rooted out of human observation. He's not a one-liner machine, he's not a shock-jock. He's a storyteller who never gets more than 30 seconds from a hilarious hard-earned truth.
One of his curiosities about Prince George was the other comedians we'd had recently. He fired some names and he loved some of the others - Ron James, Bruce McCulloch, Brent Butt, and his old colleague Red Green coming soon.
"He has die-hard fans," he said of Green. "I used to open for his tapings, and he would fill the bleachers and people just loved him. There was this gentle, charming humour, that of a well-thought-out idiot. And there was that voice, you know."
He said watching the Red Green show develop right before his eyes was a masterclass in writing and comedic tactics.
The mention of Brent Butt made him go all gooey, like a brother proud to hear about his sibling.
"He's a worker, and just a naturally funny guy. Anything good that happens to him, like in the bigger scope of show business, is just great. He's like Steve Martin that way. There's always the occasional wanker who makes it into the big-time and gets the fancy bank account, but when it happens to the good people, ahhh, it's terrific and makes you feel that maybe there's justice out there."
There's a fair few comedians who would say the same about Edwards, which is why he is a favourite on The Debaters radio comedy show on CBC. He can be depended upon for spontaneous audience connections, even though nobody's really sure what's going to come out of his mouth next.
He congratulated P.G. on being a recent host city for that program.
"Good for you. You lobbied and you won," he said, after the media campaign that earned the appearance.
His most recent appearance was at a taping in Ottawa.
"I had to argue against snowballs. I'd have been embarrassed for my country if I'd have won. It was generous of them to call it a tie," he said.
Edwards is coming on Sunday for his Alls I'm Saying Tour which is being billed as "brazenly tentative, like a sniper with the hiccups."
Tickets are on sale now at all Central Interior Tickets.