Comedy night at The Hub
Mark DeBonis brings his jokes to MRU
The new-for-2013 weekly event at The Hub, “What’s on Stage Wednesdays?”, tries to be “the most entertaining night of the week” by bringing something new to the campus bar each week to entertain students.
So far, they’ve brought in some solid acts, most recently comedian Mark DeBonis, who visited The Hub on Nov. 27, along with Jeff Schouela, for what should have been a night full of jokes and laughter.
DeBonis, who hails from Scarborough, never intended to be a stand-up comedian, and only began doing stand-up as a requirement for a university course.
“I never cared for stand-up,” said DeBonis, “and I actually still don’t really like to watch it too much. But I did it once and my teacher asked me as a personal favour to do it a second time. I did it a second time and that’s kind of where it all went down.”
And he’s had a pretty successful run since he began six years ago.
He was nominated for the 2009 Tim Sims Award, a finalist on XM Radio’s Canada’s Next Top Comic, and the winner of the 2010 Canadian Comedy Award and the 2011 Great Canadian Laugh Off – credits that have done very little to boost DeBonis’ career.
“[People] like the idea. The second they said there was $25,000 attached to [winning the Laugh Off], it completely trumped the contest, you know? So it’s like, ‘Oh, you won twenty-five grand?’ It wasn’t like, ‘Oh you won the Laugh Off, that’s awesome. Let’s book you.’”
But DeBonis faced a tough crowd at his show at the Hub. It was definitely intimate with no more than 15 people who came out to the Hub specifically for the event – that is, excluding the group of Ecotourism students that playfully bantered with DeBonis early in his set who were just there for a beer or two.
The lack of a crowd wasn’t any fault of DeBonis, or Schouela who opened the night. DeBonis had a genuinely funny presence on stage. Throughout the show, he did well to play off audience interactions – especially considering that the audience was so lacking – and delivered some good jokes. The small crowd made the show feel more like having a really funny conversation with a friend, and there were plenty of laughs from the few who were in attendance.
Looking forward, DeBonis is focus is on really building a solid career.
“[I am] just trying to work on my act,” he said, “and get a solid 45 [minute set]. Then I want to start writing sitcoms and sketches. Just more writing, like actual writing, and kind of work that muscle out because by the 10-year mark, that’s when I think things are going to start happening, so I want to be well-rounded at 10 years. I can write. I’ve done some acting.”
“I don’t care to do something bigger than a 2000-seat venue,” he continued. “I think after 2000 people it’s just about money, but really, I enjoy the intimate vibe. So I want to have little followings but still get something with TV going. We’re starting to work on my acting career because that’s really how audiences start coming out. No one cares about stand-up.”
DeBonis has had roles in commercials, including one for the Tim Horton’s, and his first major movie role – a bingo manager in the Canadian-made film Picture Day – had him walking the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival.
It’s unfortunate that the audience was so small at the show at The Hub, because it means a lot of Mount Royal missed out on a talented act with what already is beginning to look like a long and steady career. But if you were one of the many that missed the show, both DeBonis and Schouela are avid Twitter-users, and you can follow them both at @TheMarkDeBonis and @hugefailure, respectively.