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Get Out and Laugh in Fort McMurray

Jenna Hamilton and Erica Moeskau
BY Jenna Hamilton and Erica Moeskau
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Few things in life compare to a deep belly laugh.

You often hear ‘laughter is the best medicine’.

Scientists actually say that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and even strengthens the immune system.

You’re in luck. The chance to get out and laugh in Fort McMurray is growing.

You can take in a show at Keyano Theatre, watch the brave souls at amateur night or even try it yourself.

Erica Moeskau, a local comedian, first tested the waters of stand-up comedy with a few open mics.

“Comedy was always something I wanted to try and something I wanted to do, but it is a little intimidating, it can be scary. It took a while to actually execute doing it more frequently,” said Moeskau. “I broke my ankle one summer and thought well there is nothing else I really can do, so might as well make the best of a bad situation.”

Moeskau said that Some Other Solution’s ‘Stand-up for Mental Health’ is what really launched her into the stand-up comedy world.

“I enjoy coming up with something funny on a topic that isn’t so fun to talk about. Finding a good way to bring it up where people could laugh at it and not take it so seriously,” she said.

Since diving a little deeper into the comedy scene, Moeskau has planned around seven of her own shows at Keyano Theatre and local bars.

She is also responsible for starting an amateur comedy night at Bailey’s Pub every-other Tuesday.

“The more shows I plan or put on or the more companies I reach out too about doing Christmas parties or fundraisers, comedy is one of those things where they’re like ‘Oh I didn’t even think about that’ or ‘That would be something different and fun to do’” said Moeskau.

Moeskau’s career in advertising helps her when she is coming up with new jokes.

“There is a thousand ways to say the same thing and one best way to say it to your intended audience. So it is fun being able to rework jokes or punchlines depending on who you’re delivering them too,” she said.

While Moeskau is a local comedian tapping her own funny bone for your enjoyment, many others from out of town venture north.

Trent McClellan, originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, has been doing comedy for 13 years.

He has been making people laugh throughout our region for the last 6-7 years.

“Performing in Fort McMurray is right up there in terms of attendance and support for big shows. The Keyano Theatre is a great venue and I think that fact combined with Fort McMurray’s history of coming out to shows will encourage more performers to go up there,” said McClellan. “I love the venue and that there is a huge east coast population who get out to the shows as well.”

Diane Schuldt-Zundel, facility and events coordinator with Keyano Theatre said over the past year they have seen an increase in comedy show bookings.

“The shows seem to be well received by the public. It appears people would like to have a good laugh these days. This may be in response to the stress of the last 18 months with the fire and job loss in the region. Laughter can be pivotal in personal recovery and in maintaining good mental health,” said Schuldt-Zundel.

Moeskau wants others to know that the comedy scene in Fort McMurray exists.

“I think a lot of it comes down to awareness. When people find out there is comedy shows that come to town and there are things that you can go out to and watch they’re like ‘Oh I didn’t even know’,” said Moeskau.

Anybody can try stand-up, even if it is just telling one story.

“I know there is a lot of people who get nervous or think they couldn’t do it, but I always remind them that nervous and excitement feel the same way,” said Moeskau. “It teaches positively on how to deal with failure. People say ‘I don’t want to fail.’ Well you’re not going to fail… you could just learn from it and do better next time.”

Moeskau promised that no one remembers the bad comedian and that she would love to see the local talent pool grow.

“I would love to see more people consider comedy for an event, consider comedy for a night out and consider comedy as your own personal pastime,” she said.

The medicine you’re probably looking for is highly recommended and easier to find than in your medicine cabinet, a good laugh.