HubCap kicks off laugh fest - Times and Transcript

Complete with football uniforms, helmets and black streaks under their eyes, organizers of the 2011 Hubcap Comedy Festival took aim at the CFL yesterday as they announced details of this year's event, which runs Feb. 8-12.

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GREG AGNEW/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT
The HupCap Comedy Festival is just about ready to roll and the line up was announced yesterday at the Dundee Sports Dome. Downtown Moncton executive director Anne Basque was on the receiving end of a football style 'Gatorade shower' which was simply rubber paintballs. Matt Weir, event manager and Robert Gallant, general manager of the HubCap festival, were the perpetrators.

"No, it's not football, it's Comedy Farce and Laughter," festival president Marshall Button said after catching a pass from chairman Robert Gallant and running past the Harrison Trimble High School cheerleader squad for a mock touchdown at yesterday's news conference, held in the chilly air of the Dundee Sports Dome.

"We figured if we did a football theme we'd be on the front page of the Times & Transcript every day for three weeks," Button joked.

The football theme of this year's comedy festival follows up on last year's Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton, the first regular season CFL game ever to be held in Atlantic Canada.

This year's comedy festival will be held at various venues, including the new Casino New Brunswick, Thursday to Saturday Feb. 8-12. Highlights include the Open Mic Amateur Comedian Contest, a Lunchbox of Laughter event in support of children's charities, the return of Late Night at the Empress and a live taping of the CBC program The Debaters at the Capitol Theatre.

More than 20 performers are scheduled to appear during the festival, including Big Daddy Tazz, Adam Growe of the Discovery Channel show Cash Cab, David Acer, John Wing, Pete Zedlacher, Erica Sigurdson, Rob Pue, Paul Myrehaug and Casey Corbin.

Button said the amateur comedian contest is always a highlight of the festival as about 10 to 15 aspiring standups make the best of their time in the spotlight. Sometimes they don't do so well, other times they find a new lot in life. One of them is Julien Dion, who got his start on the HubCap stage last year and is now working as a comedian in New York.

"You get some people that you know it will be their one and only time performing here, but we always get two or three who are really strong and it's tough to make a decision on who will win. And the winner gets to perform at the Pump House on the Saturday with special guests and stars of our festival."

Now in its 11th year, the festival has grown into a well-organized event that continues to generate a buzz in Canada's comedy circles.

The HubCap Comedy Festival kicks off on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Pump House Brewery with CBC's Open-mic Amateur Comedian Contest. Admission is free.

On Wednesday, Feb. 9, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood of the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? will team up for a night of improvisational comedy at Casino New Brunswick. Their show will be an interactive one as audience members are called to the stage to participate in the fun. Admission is $40.

The festival will be officially launched on Thursday, Feb. 10 at the downtown Blue Cross Centre. Also on Thursday will be performances at the Old Triangle, the Capitol Theatre and Saxby's in Riverview. Thursday night's All-Star Gala at the Capitol will be hosted by Big Daddy Tazz and include comedians Adam Growe of Cash Cab, David Acer and more. Admission to the gala will be $35.

Friday will be a busy day with performances at the Capitol, the Pump House, Mooser's Pub, Crowne Plaza, the Old Triangle, Morton Pub, Cheers, the Coverdale Rec Centre and the Empress Theatre.

The Moncton Men's Progress Club is presenting the Lunchbox of Laughter on Friday, Feb. 11, at the Capitol Theatre with Allyson Smith and Evan Carter. Admission is $25 with proceeds going to children's charities. The theme for Late Night at the Empress is Welcome Back Kadhr, a double twist as international controversy blends with a classic 1970s sitcom.

Saturday, Feb. 12, will also be filled with comedy with The Relationship Show at Crowne Plaza at 8 p.m. and standup performances at the participating bars.

At 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12, the Capitol Theatre will host the cast of CBC's The Debaters for two live performances. For the first show, topics will be: Take your child to work day (bad idea or good parenting?); Poetry (who needs it?) and Manners (is it time to eradicate rude behaviour?). Topics for the 9 p.m. show include: The National Anthem (should we stop singing it before hockey games?), Wikileaks (do governments need secrets?) and Common Law Partners (should they get off the pot and put a ring on it?).

The festival wraps up with the Best of the Fest show on Saturday at midnight at the Crowne Plaza.

Tickets for the festival have been on sale since November but are expected to sell quickly as the event draws near. Tickets for the bar shows are $15 each, but people who plan on attending more than one shows are being steered toward the $33 HubCap Max Pass, which allows unlimited entry into approximately 20 designated bar shows. The Max Pass, however, does not include admission to the theatre shows at the Casino and the Capitol Theatre, which range from $25 to $40. The full schedule of performances and ticket prices can be found on the festival's website at www.hubcapcomedyfestival.ca