Calgary comedian finds success in unlikely place

Jason Kerr
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Doug Mutai never thought he’d end up being a comedian.  In fact, he’s not even sure how it happened.

“You start by enjoying it, watching comedy,” he says.  “I don’t really remember (the rest), honestly.”

The Calgary-based Mutai originally hails from Kenya, and despite not wanting to be a comedian, has done well for himself.  He’s scheduled to perform this Thursday in Prince Albert and he says it’s been a long journey since his first show.

“I had five minutes to have it ready,” he says of that show.  “I don’t know how I had it ready.  I guess if I ever need five minutes of jokes to survive an apocalypse I have them ready.”

Living in both Kenya and Canada has given Mutai a unique perspective on life.   It would be easy to emphasize the differences, but Mutai prefers to use his act to joke about areas people are familiar with.

“It’s more around a stage of life,” he says.  “Maybe people can relate to being in that place in their life.”

That relational aspect also affects his stage presence, which he says is laid back.

“I try to be me as much as possible,” he says.

Mutai’s style is based on theatre and spoken word poetry.  He emphasizes the more intricate parts of his act, rather than going for cheap laughs.

“You’re walking tight rope in terms of time,” he says.  “People rarely realize it’s a very big combination of things like timing and (having) just enough tension and just enough words.”

So far the style has worked for him.  In addition to the show on Thursday Mutai is scheduled to perform at the Halifax Comedy Fest in April.  He previously has performed on the CBC at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Thursday’s show will mark his first trip to Prince Albert, which he says he’s looking forward to, even with the cold weather.

“I’ve been in Canada for a while now,” he says.  “The cold doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.”

Mutai will be performing alongside Ben Proulx at Bailey’s Lounge in Prince Albert on Thursday in a show organized by local comedian Kelly Taylor.

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Kenya, Canada, Calgary Winnipeg

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