Each time a performer gets up on stage they are vulnerable, but perhaps no one more so than the bravest of the brave: the stand-up comedian. They share their lives with us directly without the guise of a character or a fourth wall and I admire them for it. I had a chance to chat with one of my favourite local comedians, Clifford Myers, about his performance at this year’s Hamilton Arts Awards and whether or not he ever sees himself taking the plunge and creating a show for a theatre setting.
Myers returned to this year’s Hamilton Arts Awards after winning last year’s Emerging Artist Award for Performance. He started the night off with a few jokes about our beloved city. ‘I made sure to fit my material with the evening and the celebration. I also made sure to make a quip about the awards show to ease the nervousness of the nominees. "I won an award last year and I gotta tell you...ever since...my career has been relatively the same."’ I can’t help but ask if that is true since it seems as if Myers is quite busy these days; in fact, he tells me he left after his set at the Arts Awards to go to another gig later that evening. He tells me that things are consistently improving; more opportunities are gradually coming his way.
“It's not a sprint, it's a marathon” he says wisely. “Getting the Emerging Artist Award was nice but to live up to the title you have to keep working. Keep working on your craft, keep getting better, keep getting seen.” It seems as if Myers isn’t focused on recognition and accolades. “There's gotta be a grounding to the arts where you know you don't do this for awards or notoriety. You did this for you and for others and for whatever deep-rooted spiritual or philosophical reason that resides in your soul telling you to keep doing that thing you do.” That is certainly a sentiment that I can get behind as a fellow performer.
I confess to Myers that I find the idea of stand-up terrifying and that I admire his bravery and we discuss the differences between acting and stand-up: “I think people do theatre and stand-up comedy for different reasons. Theatre is about being someone else and finding truth. Comedy is about being yourself and finding truth. I actually think they cover polarized ends of how people choose to seek truth through performing arts.” Myers is most definitely an astute student of the human condition. I can’t help but wonder if he would ever consider exploring the truth from the opposite direction.
“I always aspired to writing a storytelling show based around the fact that I was expelled from Bible College. Before pursuing a life of comedy I was pursuing a life of the cloth.” I can only imagine the twists and hilarious turns between those two career choices. Unfortunately I may have to wait a while to have my curiosity satisfied; for the time being it seems Myers is right where he wants to be. “My skills and my passion, at the moment, has me on the ground, in small bars and unlikely places, riffing on stage and talking to people. It's a nice, anonymous way of finding my voice as I stick to the shadows and hone my talent.” Whatever the next stage of Myers’ journey is, it is sure to be filled laughter and no shortage insightful observation.