Arts & Life, Comedy

Scott Porteous: The king of awkward

There is no doubt about it, when it comes to comedy, Winnipeg has top notch talent in a scene that is constantly growing and developing. Mr. Scott Porteous is one such talent, a diamond in the rough.

You can’t help but notice Scott. He has this nervous awkwardness, punctuated by a wiry frame, a solid pair of glasses and the look of a computer gaming geek who might use the phrase “Do you want fries with that?” regularly at work. But, this is what makes Scott…well…Scott.  He knows well how to harness his own awkwardness and get some good laughs.  “Well I’ve always been awkward in front of people. It’s got to the point where I feel more comfortable when I’m uncomfortable (laughs). For a while I tried controlling every movement and it wasn’t really genuine. For the past couple of years I really just embraced it and let things happen genuinely. I don’t try to be awkward anymore because I am awkward.” It’s this self-awareness and understanding that makes Scott come across as genuine, which adds to his likeability.

“Scott’s style is rapid fire laughs with a dry delivery….The material is honest, witty, and true to comedy style, self-deprecating and always hilarious! Scott is more than a little awkward on stage, which leaves the audience laughing, loving him and hanging on to his every word!” is how his bio describes him, and it’s pretty apt. And it is a style that he is constantly working on and mastering.

His first attempt at stand up was at an open mic night at Rumour’s Comedy Club in Winnipeg. “I was always into the art of stand up. I remember watching ‘Just for Laugh’s’ reruns and really enjoying the craft of a joke. It wasn’t ‘til April 28th, 2003 when I first hit the stage. The rush I got from performing that night and having people laugh at my jokes, nothing has even come close to that.”

He might have got a rush, but apparently the promoter didn’t quite get that same feeling. “At one point when I first started, I performed at almost every open-mic at Rumors by fluke and it was really supposed to be on a 3-4 month rotation. A year and half later the owner discovered this and addressed one of his emcees to tell me “For the amount of time that I’ve been doing it I should be better and I can’t do any open-mics there anymore.”” But, Scott, being persistent and addicted, kept on going with his performing and eventually he went back to Rumours and became a finalist in one of their big contests, the famed “Winnipeg’s Funniest Person with a Day Job.” Notch one up for Scott!

Since that first performance, nearly a decade has passed and Scott has been contemplating about how he’d like to mark the occasion. “I was looking into booking a show where I could do a 30 minute feature. I would like to have a handful of comics that really helped me out through my journey on the show, which is difficult because there were many.” But, on reflection, he did make it clear that, “I don’t like to say ‘headliner’ because I feel that’s a title that must be earned and not just thrown out through coincidence.”  Well, it is your own show, Scott, and you have been at it for ten years. I don’t think using the term is out of line.

But this statement solidified my opinion that he has a real respect or reverence for stand-up comedy. “Well I consider it both an art form and a science. When you come up with a joke it’s usually something of a personal opinion, questions, frame of mind, etc. But you could also write that joke with a basic formula. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong way of doing stand-up. I’m just saying it’s not one of those subjects that you can just use one word to define.” Scott does treat comedy quite seriously and works hard at his craft, constantly doing open-mic nights, being part of any show he can, emceeing events, and touring in Canada and the US. He’s also applied to be part of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, as well as the World Series of Comedy.

“I love to perform where I can get the stage time to do so. I mentioned earlier that it’s been becoming more difficult for me to get time in Winnipeg so I find other options. What people may or may not understand is that I don’t consider this just a hobby this is something I really want to do, so If I have to find other means of performing even if it’s 2399 miles away and may cost me a little in order to build up my reputation so in the future people could consider me for paid work I’ll do so”

As with anything, there are highs and lows. The lows for Scott? “I want to say bombing for a while but in a way you need to bomb order to know what you need to improve on. Currently getting stage time is a bit of a battle. With comedy you are always working to find stage time if you aren’t a brand name. That can be incredibly stressful at times”. Indeed, Scott’s approach is mature and grounded in reality. He’s been around enough to know what’s what and what he has to do to improve his skills and build his name.

So, on to the highs: “Traveling to the states to perform was an incredible experience, making the finals four times at a comedy club where I was black listed at one point, having people one year down the road you don’t even know see you and right away remember you through a joke you told. There are so many highs I would need hours to list them.” And, that’s what really counts when it comes down to it. There can be a lot of lows in comedy, but it’s the highs that matter. And with an attitude like Scott’s, you just can’t help but root for the guy.

Photo by: Duality Photographic


Chris Hearn writes and posts videos for Spectator Tribune. 

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