SURREY — Why would a father of three from Chilliwack make his way to a restaurant/bar in Whalley on a Tuesday night once a month?
Well, in Cliff Prang’s case, he apparently just loves to make people laugh.
He’s the chief planner of the fledgling Central City Comedy pro-am nights held at The Peacock Bar & Grill since the start of summer. They’re two shows in with the venture, with a third event slated for Aug. 16.
The monthly comedy night is a rare bird in Surrey, a city that boasts no comedy club and relatively few events devoted to the art of making people laugh.
Last spring, Prang began working with operators of the Peacock to showcase comedy at the venue, formerly known as Olympia Pizza.
“Chris Nielsen from Audiomatic Entertainment, who has also helped the Peacock with their hip-hop shows, suggested a comedy night and recruited me to put the talent together,” Prang explained.
“It’s been going great,” he raved in a phone interview with the Now. “It’s a nice venue with everyone actually facing the stage, the audiences are attentive, the comics are talented and the food is good, so the shows have been really good.”
Prang plays show host on Aug. 16, with Justin Nichol and Kwasi Thomas in co-headlining roles. Also featured that night are Cari Sully, Brandon Charbonneau, Gerry Wiebe and Katrina Bennett.
The mix of professional and amateur comedians is something that can appeal to a wide audience, Prang said. Some of the entertainers on the Peacock stage have done only a few shows in their lifetimes.
(Scroll down to see video of Prang on stage at Lafflines)
“They’re just getting their feet wet in comedy, and I think that’s part of the excitement for (audiences),” Prang said. “It’s like reaching into a Cracker Jack box – whoa, what’s my prize going to be? Some people love to come out and see whether they’re actually funnier than the guy on the stage, or what. It’s a mix.”
In particular, Prang talked about one of the performers, Wiebe.
“He’s turning 55 years old and it’s always been his dream to do standup comedy,” Prang explained. “He’s done a few shows already, in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, and he’s done a lot of public speaking and corporate training and stuff, but now he’s taking a crack at telling jokes and he’s doing well. Sometimes that’s fun for an audience to see, to get behind that and get excited about someone new, and maybe for the (pro) they sit back and say, ‘OK, make me laugh.’ Sometimes there are different expectations depending on who’s on stage, and that’s the nice thing about a pro-am because you get a bit of everything that way. It’s a real variety for $5 at the door.”
As for Prang, he has a 22-year history in improv comedy but is relatively new to the world of standup. One professional highlight for him was performing at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre in the fall of 2014 as part of the “Tandoori Kings of Comedy” show, which featured Sunee Dhaliwal and Hollywood Harv.
More recently, he’s turned some of his attention to booking comedy shows at places like the Peacock.
There, the goal is to do the comedy show twice a month starting this fall, Prang said, although nothing is in writing yet.
“Our call to the people of Surrey is to come to the show, tell us if you like it, come back, invite your friends, and the more support there is, the more it will happen. It’s really up to the audience.
“The thing is,” Prang continued, “Vancouver has a huge pool of (comedy) talent but not everyone can get out everywhere, so the fact that Surrey has its own show now, we’re trying to make it easier for more audiences to watch comedy.”
The Peacock is located at 10257 King George Blvd. The venue’s website is Peacockbar-grill.com.