On September 19, JFL42, Just for Laughs’ own comedy festival, will name one contestant SiriusXM’s best comic in Canada. The Nationwide contest includes 21 semifinalists from Halifax to Vancouver. Winnipeg’s three semifinalists include Ben Walker, Jordan Welwood, and Scott Porteous.
“I used to watch Just for Laughs a lot when I was younger. I taped it on VHS, watching the same comic over and over because I loved the craft,” says Porteous. “I never knew I would become a comedian. I’m a guy who sucks at everything, but I guess people appreciate my honesty.”
“I’m really rooting for Scott because I think he has a really good shot. He’s been doing this for a really long time and has even been banned from Rumors [Restaurant and Comedy Club] for not being funny,” says Nelson Mayer, producer of Shut up and Laugh. “He’s done a lot in terms of trying to become a better comic.”
“If I wasn’t banned from Rumors I don’t think I would have grown as much as I have,” says Porteous. “A year ago I would never have thought I’d be competing for a chance to be on Just for Laughs.”
Porteous uses his life experiences as inspiration for his jokes.
“When you have an opinion of something and you write a joke – and people agree and laugh – it’s the most reassuring feeling of acceptance,” says Porteous.
“I used to try to scientifically build a perfect set, but I got sick of it because it wasn’t real to me,” says Porteous. “I’d rather have a connection more than a laugh. Comedy to me isn’t just ‘ha ha’, it’s a truth.”
Porteous admires fellow contestant Chris Griffin for his honest style.
“His comedy is so genuine. It’s a different kind of honesty because it’s almost like he’s not telling jokes,” says Porteous. “It’s hard because you have to be comfortable being totally vulnerable.”
Porteous remembers using humour as a kid to make others feel better.
“When I was a kid, if I saw somebody crying I’d do this stupid thing where I’d grab his or her arm to punch me in the head – just to make that person laugh,” says Porteous. “I’ve always wanted to make other people smile and feel comfortable.”
“My mom wanted me to become anything but a comic. She was pretty passive aggressive about it. She would say, ‘Oh, Scott look. There’s some cooking school in the flyer. You’ve always wanted to cook, right?'”
Porteous says being a comic has helped him overcome shyness and new challenges, while understanding himself better.
“My parents support me now. They know I won’t stop and have seen how I’ve grown from it,” says Porteous. “They even put newspaper clippings on the fridge.”
“There’s a lot of support and encouragement among comedians in Winnipeg – even when you stink up the room,” says Mayer. “The funniest thing is when people say, ‘Hey, you were actually funny.’ Is that a compliment?”
“I think if Scott were to go to Toronto and win it, that would open a lot of doors,” says Mayer.
“Performing for Just for Laughs is on my bucket list and even if I don’t this time, I believe in my heart I will get there,” says Porteous. “It’s just so good to know I’m not as bad as I was. I want to do comedy as a career, even if it’s just paycheck to paycheck. The moment you stop having fun doing comedy, you should quit.”
Online voting for SiriusXM’s Best Comic in Canada closes August 19, at 5:00 p.m. EST.