GIGGLE CITY: Nikki Payne an inspiration to those who have trouble saying ‘inspiration’

Here’s a question: Is Nikki Payne’s obvious speech impediment in any way funny on its own?

Depends who you ask. All should agree that no professional comedian could reach her level with just one lisp joke. The Nova Scotia comic has been on TV, radio, moved beyond the comedy clubs into the theatre circuit – and now the multiple Canadian Comedy Award winner performs at Citadel Theatre’s Zeidler Hall on Saturday. If having a cleft palette is a disability, she says, “Then where’s my parking space? I want my parking space.” It’s slightly funnier listening to her say this than reading it in text, but then you feel bad. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, of course.

Q: If you could be any other celebrity, who would it be and why?

A: Barbra Streisand, because I really like this barn house she has. She has this enormous mansion shaped like a barn.

Q: Best heckler tale?

A: A lot of female comics get this, but I’ve only got this heckle once. A guy yelled, “Show me your tits!” I couldn’t figure out what to say, so I just started talking to him. Sometimes when you do that they’ll bury themselves. He had his wallet on the table, so I picked it up and inside there was a picture of a cute little girl with pigtails. And I was like, awww who’s this? He said, “That’s my daughter.” And I was like, awww, and I said, how would you feel if some dirty old man yelled at her, “Show me your tits?” And the audience went “Yay!” And he went, “You’re right!” And it was all over.

Q: That’s the nicest heckler story ever.

A: All my other ones are me looking at people and thinking: I will slit your throat. I don’t get loads of hecklers.

Q: Do you have an old bit you were sad to let go?

A: The duct tape one I don’t do any more. I read in some article about how some women use duct tape to push up their boobs. I was also reading that if someone can’t afford botox or facelift, they can hide little pieces of tape below their hairline and it apparently smoothes out wrinkles. I kind of took it to the next level. I put duct tape all over my head, my chest, my stomach, everything – but it was ripping out my hair. The bit was basically hurting me.

Q: Do you have a new bit that’s going over well?

A: It’s really embarrassing, but it’s a true story about me pooping in a bag. The first couple of times I told it, it was very awkward because if you start with pooping in a bag, it’s all downhill from there. It works better now to talk around it and not admit to pooping in a bag until the entire audience has figured out why I had to poop in a bag.

Q: Why did you have to poop in a bag?

A: My toilet exploded and my landlord just wasn’t getting it fixed. So I had a plan: Every day I would get up and walk to Tim Horton’s, order a medium tea and a fruit explosion muffin and I would go into the bathroom and have my own fruit explosion. It worked until the third time where I just didn’t have time to go to Tim Horton’s.

Q: Do you have to explain your speech impediment to the audience as much as you used to?

A: I refer to it. I talk about it now in a new way. There’s a new phenomenon now. I got into comedy because I wanted to tell poo jokes. There was no higher purpose. What’s happening now that I’ve been on TV a bit, on the radio and somewhat known, people are saying I’m an inspiration. So I talk about it in those terms: I was not coming from a heal-the-world place. I hump things. It’s not a cerebral, Oprah Winfrey kind of thing. It’s a weird little girl saying dirty words.

Q: This may sound like a dumb question, but couldn’t you have fixed your speech impediment? Is it even possible?

A: (Laughs at the dumb question) You can’t. If there had been some kind of new spit-when-you-talk technology, I would’ve used it – maybe not now when my voice has become recognizable. But I would’ve fixed it long before I got into comedy. There just wasn’t anything. Besides, boys really dig the chicks with the speech impediments.