Six years ago, he landed his first comedy gig at a corporate office Christmas party. No mic, no stage, and no one at the party expecting his comedic interruption, Dan Bingham wooed the stodgy crowd with enthusiastic zeal and jokes about Batman. Since then he’s been on the midnight train to success, moving at full momentum with no plans of slowing down.
His award-winning one man show Adopt This! is back by popular demand for a special night at this years Zoofest run on July 23rd at Theatre Ste-Catherine. Adopt This! has received great reviews across the country and has won several Comedy awards. Not bad for his first attempt at a one man show.
As the title subtly hints, Adopt This! is all about Dan’s experience growing up adopted. Surviving his childhood in suburban Montreal with a strict Irish Catholic mother and her hoarding, abusive boyfriend, he finally meets his biological family for the first time in adulthood. Luckily for his audience, Dan’s turbulent childhood has supplied him with plenty of material to produce a hilarious and reflective show about his experiences. In fact, Dan told me that after he’d completed the writing process, he had 60 pages of preliminary script to work with (a thesis-worth of comedic content) which was eventually cut down to a fourth of that size.
“Honestly,producing this show was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I think I just wanted to recreate it again” said Dan about bringing his show back. “I would love to tour this show worldwide. Already we’re applying it into the Sydney Comedy Festival, and I’d love to do the Canadian Fringe Tour next year.” And of course, Edinburgh is the aspired final destination because in what better place to end a long run, then at the world’s largest Fringe Fest?
Although it’s something he’s wanted to do since high school, Dan only got into comedy six years ago. The final push he needed was more of a kick-in-the-face, when at the Just For Laughs Festival he ran into an old classmate who was there as a comic, while he was there as a busboy. “It was just pure shame” he said. “I hadn’t seen her in almost ten years and I was so ashamed of this path I had taken that wasn’t anything, and she was there living her dreams kind-of-thing.”
“I’d done so many different things, so many other paths, you know. I went to Concordia, I graduated in communications, and then started down this PR kind of path. I was working at this events planning company and they’re like, well, sure, but we’ve gotta start you at the bottom as busboy’ which was tough even at the time for me, cause I was a waiter. But there was something about the fact that it was a Just For Laughs event, and full of comedians and agents and stuff, I just knew I had to be there for some reason. That was the last gig I ever worked for them and then two weeks later I started doing stand-up.”
Last year after the holidays, Dan decided to take a month off from his full-time day job as a writer for a web marketing company. “I was doing that full time for the last three years, and it’s really draining. You’ve been writing all day and you come home, and the last thing you want to do is start writing jokes, you get lazy.”
“And the whole time I had this nag inside me. All my jokes are a lot of fun, they’re very playful, but I’m not a dealing-with-the-issues comic. I’m also not a talking-about-my-life comic. You know, I tell stories and stuff, but I’ve never talked about being adopted. Ever. I’ve never talked about coming from parents who are divorced. I’ve never talked about meeting my biological family before. And these are all huge things, but I just never had time. So after the holidays I decided to go down to LA where my biological dad lives.”
After a month of routinely writing, Dan came back, quit his day job and began writing full time. After four or five months, Adopt This! was ready for rehearsals.
At the end of October, you can catch Dan on The Comedy Network’s Comedy Now. Out of 25 Montreal comics, he was one of three chosen to fly to Toronto and film a half hour TV special. He also started doing improv around the city, which he says gives him an adrenaline rush and the ability to just be in the moment and be natural. “When you’re relaxed and just feeling natural and joking around with the crowd, that’s when you’re yourself and you can make people laugh genuinely.”
“Even when I do stand up, let’s say when I’m hosting and I’m talking to the crowd, for some reason I feel better about a joke that I create on stage then one that I’ve written at home. It’s spontaneous and it’s you being you, and that’s the ultimate goal in comedy I think, just to become the person that you are that got you into comedy in the first place.”
If you missed it the first time, you can redeem yourself and see Adopt This! at Theatre Ste-Catherine (264 St-Catherine E) on July 23rd @ 10 pm
Tickets are $15 through the Zoofest website.
Photo creds: Darren Curtis (actaeonphoto.com)