COMEDY: Sterling Scott to hit the next level with DVD taping

The allure of the professional stand-up comedy trade is powerful when you’ve become hooked on making people laugh. It can happen as early as childhood. Some call it a sickness, others an addiction, and there is no known cure, no comedic “methadone.” There is often nothing for it but to … become a professional stand-up comedian.

Sterling Scott – who moved from Scarborough to Edmonton as a pipefitter before he threw himself into show business by accident – knows this well. The former class clown and admittedly “that guy” at every social gathering will be recording a live DVD of his show this Tuesday at the Comic Strip. Out in July, it shall be called “I’ve Been Chocolate My Whole Life” – a reference to his joke about the Axe Body Spray commercial where the guy turns completely into chocolate and thus is irresistible to all women. The title is Scott’s reasonable response.

“I didn’t want the title to be too serious,” he explains, noting that Drunk Sex – another of his popular routines – probably wouldn’t have been a good title.

A DVD already? Scott has only been pro for year, and only five years since he told his first joke on stage – the one about the guy who falls in love with woman he finds out is his sister and is sad until he finds out his daddy’s not his real daddy – and won a bottle of wine. He never even meant to be a comedian. He wanted to be an actor. Still does, of course, also having a knack for sketch comedy. The stand-up thing came after he was bummed out after being passed over for the MuchMusic VJ search despite a very funny audition video (see below). His friends took him out to an open mic comedy night to cheer up – and, quite drunk, talked him (also quite drunk) into going up. One taste of that sweet, sweet laughter and Scott was hooked. He was such a hit that he was invited to do five minutes at Kenny Robinson’s Nubian Disciples show.

That one didn’t go quite so well.

“I was overconfident,” Scott recalls. “I just thought, hey, I’m funny, and that was enough. I came in pretty strong. They laughed at my first joke, but then I got too confident with myself and started attacking the crowd, and I just ate it for the rest of the show. The entire five minutes I was up there felt like death. I bombed terribly.”

It took him four months to screw up the courage to do it again. He still had the laughter monkey on his back. He haunted open mic nights, listened carefully to other comics, studied the masters.

“I’m like a sponge,” Scott says. He talks about the “voice” that experienced comics find, about their knack for dissecting any situation to find the stupidity so we can all laugh at it, and ourselves. “They’re like the mirror of society,” he goes on. “There’s a difference between going up and telling a joke, and doing something that means much more, yet is still a joke, When you can do that, you get to the next level. I’m still working on it.”

After honing his act over four years at open mic nights and showcases, Scott hit the road, as new professional comics do – and to no great surprise encountered a wee bit of racism in small prairie towns.

“I’ve done shows in small towns where they had to kick people out because they were angry there was black comic on stage,” Scott says. “I was in a small town and after I performed I was in the bathroom taking a piss, and a guy came in and started peeing in the urinal next to me and he says, ‘we don’t typically like your kind around here, but you’re funny, so you can spend the night.’ I packed up my stuff and went home.

“There’s been plenty of places. In Prince Albert a guy was just livid that people were even laughing at me. He stood up and shouted, ‘What are you guys laughing at?! This is stupid!’ The manager actually had to take him outside.”

Asked if he’d ever weave these true tales into stand-up material, Scott says he doesn’t think he’s experienced or funny enough to talk about it quite yet “without sounding angry.” Maybe one day, he says. For now, he’s fond of closing with a joke about something his dad once said to him, “In life, don’t try to climb the black mountain, don’t try to climb the white mountain, climb the highest mountain.” Pause for inevitable heart-warming applause, and he adds, “So I was like, is that the Indian or the Asian mountain?”