How Tim Nutt fell down the stairs and into comedy
By Dale Boyd
Most people don’t start a career by falling down a set of stairs, but in a semi-serendipitous way it was West Kelowna-based comedian Tim Nutt’s big break.
“I was a cook in a restaurant and I fell down a flight of stairs and fractured my back in two places and was on compensation for a bout a year,” Nutt said. “I was getting a regular pay check, so it allowed me to go out and do all the open mic and get as much stage time as I could. I couldn’t lift heavy pots, kegs of beer, that sort of thing, but I could lift a microphone.”
Nutt who has been featured on CBC Radio, Just for Laughs and more is joining Jordan Strauss and Andrew Crone in the First Annual Oliver Comedy Blizzard co-hosted by Firehall Brewery and The Oliver Theatre on Jan. 16.
Like most comedians, Nutt has not-so-sunny memories of his first set and the early days.
“Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, I remember it well. It was a Wednesday,” Nutt said in a grim, humorous tone.“It went well enough for me to do it again. It was not a rousing success but it was not an abysmal failure.”
Studying creative writing and performance theatre in university, he was at least slightly prepared to hit the stage, but when asked about his early material, the jokes “are not worth repeating.”
“I found an old cassette recorder that had one of my year-one sets recorded. I could only listen to about 30 seconds of it before I just bailed on listening to it,” Nutt said.
The “highlight” of the package was a joke about Nutt’s mother taking up sewing, “I ask her for money and she goes: ‘so.’ That is basically the level that you’re working with,” Nutt said with a self-deprecating laugh. “I’ve often said if I had any idea how horrible I was when I started I wouldn’t have continued. There is a certain level of denial that goes into that.”
Growing up in Vancouver, he was hitting comedy stages in the city in the early ‘90s right after the stand-up comedy boom of the ‘80s.
“I got in probably six months before the crash,” Nutt said.
Much like falling down the stairs, it was another blessing in disguise.
“So there was a bit of a void for opening acts and and what they call ‘middles’ in the clubs. The guy that goes in the middle. So a lot of us newbies got promoted beyond our ability to fill up the space because we were pretty much happy to be making any money,” Nutt said.
The simple math and business reality of the industry had Nutt heading out to Toronto to continue pursuing his comedic career. Eventually he returned to B.C. about a decade ago, making a new home in West Kelowna with his wife.
His storytelling style brings slice of life stylings with a bit of bite, and he finds no problem being progressive without being overtly political.
“I know that sounds a little grandiose, but the role of the comedian in society It is to speak truth to power and I find that if you’re if you’re attacking marginalized people it’s very hard to get away with, and I just don’t see the point,” Nutt said. “It takes a long time to generate material, you have to go out and test it, rewrite it and do all sorts of sort editing and the idea of doing something on purpose to upset someone seems like a little bit of a waste of time.”
Tickets to the First Annual Oliver Comedy Blizzard are $20 and available at The Oliver Theatre box office or online at firehallbrewery.com/comedy.