The funny side of fatherhood
Comedian Chris Gibbs brings fatherly musings to Morinville
Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am
Friday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Morinville Community Cultural Centre
9502 – 100 Ave.
Tickets: $25/adults; $20/seniors; $10/student. Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at www.tixonthesquare.ca
Does impending fatherhood make some men quake in their boots?
Becoming a father may not have turned standup comedian Chris Gibbs into a mass of quivering jelly, but it gave him pause for thought – a lot of thought.
And from his musings came the comedic Like Father, Like Son, Sorry about to make its Morinville Community Cultural Centre debut on Friday, Jan. 10.
“I reflect on themes of what I worry about. Will my son be like me? Will he be happy or sad in ways I can’t control?” asks Gibbs.
But he’s quick to point out that this routine is about him, not his son Beckett Barnett, now six years old.
The British-born Toronto resident is fully aware that a parent can’t pick and choose everything about his child.
“But I looked at my image of what I think a father is and I looked at what I am. And I hoped he wouldn’t look to me for wisdom,” chuckles Gibbs.
Area theatre patrons may remember him for his annual presence at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. In 2010, Gibbs performed Like Father, Like Son, Sorry at the Fringe. Hugely popular with audiences, it was held over for a week.
In fact, the British ex-patriot feels a special kinship to the Edmonton area. It was the first Canadian city he played during the 1995 Edmonton Street Performers Festival.
“I had some friends who had been here and suggested I come. If I’d had a family or mortgage, it would have been a terrible idea. You don’t make any money. But I got to travel through the Rockies on my way to Vancouver. I saw New Zealand the same way.”
Throughout the interview, Gibbs seems to suggest he wants to raise his son in different fashion than his childhood. It’s confirmed when he says, “I come from the British tradition that crushes all dreams of anyone in future generations.”
Strong in mathematics, he enrolled in electronics and electrical engineering with the idea of switching to computer science. Those plans never materialized.
After one year, he realized his heart wasn’t in it and he switched to street performing.
“No one was saying, ‘You can’t do this.’ It was all a discovery. Everything became a learnable skill.”
Soon he was performing as an acrobatic comedian wherever there was an audience, from Covent Garden to busking in the streets of Europe.
“There was always a little comedy even as a street performer. You can have all manner of skills, but without presentation the skill is nothing.”
Many of the skills honed for street performances were easily transferrable to standup routines.
“I would do street theatre at Covent Garden during the day. My evenings were free and it was easy to go into standup and improv.”
When Gibbs finally moved to Toronto in 2002, smack in the middle of the SARS outbreak, he hired his first agent. The first audition was for a commercial.
Since then the award-winning comedian has become a regular guest on NBC’s comedy series Howie Do It, played at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival and was cast in the lead role of Canadian indie feature Run Robot Run.
“I play a guy who is very rigid in his way of doing things and gets replaced by a robot. Eventually he learns to become more human.”
And in a futuristic twist, he’s just completed The Penumbra, a six-part web series that parodies super heroes.
“I came up with the idea and a friend and I spent a week in a back alley shooting a superhero web series. It felt very similar to street theatre. You go out and do it rather than wait for someone to put me in something.”
Gibbs isn’t planning on casting many pearls of wisdom during Like Father, Like Son, Sorry.
“It’s a funny show and in the end, it’s a collection of stories. Having fun is the main thing. Having fun for yourself too.”