Paul Myrehaug -- The comfortable Canadian comedian | Yakima ...

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Paul Myrehaug is just, well, he's just, like, record-settingly Canadian.

The 29-year-old Vancouver, British Columbia-based comedian, who plays Carmen's Comedy Club in Selah this weekend, not only has the accent and the Norm Macdonald speech pattern, he is also disarmingly normal-seeming. It's that persona, in fact, that drives much of his comedy. He tells stories, and they seem like stories your buddy might tell over a couple of Budweis-, um, Molsons.

"The storytelling is a very Western Canadian style," Myrehaug says in a recent phone interview. "The guys who were professionals when I was coming up, a lot of them were storytellers."

And, while he claims one-liner specialist Mitch Hedberg as a prime influence, Myrehaug definitely fits the storytelling mold. You can see some of the late Hedberg's sense of curiosity and flare for the absurd. But when Myrehaug does it, it's much less of a set-up-punchline kind of thing and more of a conversation with the audience.

Notably, he also lacks the ominous shadow that seemed to always linger over Hedberg. Myrehaug may have demons -- don't all comedians? -- but they're not at the fore. He describes himself as the "happy, go-lucky guy at the barbecue," a product of a good home with a healthy family in rural Alberta.

And that dark side that drives other comics?

"I think I possess it," he says. "But I was actually really lucky growing up. So I don't think I have it as much as some other guys."

Instead, he says, he developed his sense of humor for the same reason other guys learn to play guitar.

"I originally started to have to be funny because I was a little bit bigger in high school -- had a few extra pounds on me," Myrehaug says. "So to talk to girls and stuff, I had to be funny. I always had to be extra sharp with the personality."

It worked for him, so he stuck with it, essentially becoming a full-time stand-up comic as soon as he was done with college. In hindsight, that seems like the way to do it, he says. He never had to give up a real job for it, so it wasn't like taking that leap and paying dues; the transition was pretty easy.

"I went through with blinders on," he says of those early days. "I went from, basically, a starving student to a starving comic. I went from eating Kraft Dinner to eating Kraft Dinner."

That the Canadian comedy scene is notoriously competitive never really seemed like an obstacle. By 2007 he was the winner of the Great Canadian Laugh Off, aired on the Canadian channel the Comedy Network. An hourlong special followed, and Myrehaug was a certified success as a professional comedian.

"Once you've done the Canadian circuit, you've already fought such a huge battle," he says.

The rigors of the road don't bother him, he doesn't have a bigger passion than comedy and he's doing well enough to eat things other than Kraft Dinner. He's even grown up a bit.

"I'm still having a blast," he says. "A lot has changed. When you're younger, you kind of do the party, fun lifestyle. So that will sustain you for a while. After you get older, you find different things to sustain you on the road."

Mostly what sustains him is the work itself. These days Myrehaug is increasingly comfortable on stage. That nice-guy Canadian storyteller, the way he works the crowd, drawing it out before hitting it with the punchline, that's essentially the real him.

"There's nothing more commanding than when a guy's really comfortable with the silence," Myrehaug says.

By Pat Muir