Kamloops paramedic makes top 100 in national comedy contest

Six months ago Sam Elliott was a paramedic, father and a resident on the North Shore.

Today, that's all still true. But, he's also one of the top 100 amateur comedians in CBC's Next Up competition. For the rest of March people will be able to vote once a day for their favourite in the competition.

Elliott's path to the top 100 is kind of a funny story, and very short.

"I submitted on a whim; I didn't think I was going to get in the top 100," he tells KamloopsMatters. "I submitted because I just wanted to get the hang of submitting things."

The 90-second joke Elliott submitted came after he watched one of those border security reality TV shows. He says the response so far has surprised him.

"The number of people who have said that's what they needed; that's the coolest part," he says. "People understand who I am inside my head."

He notes that, typically, it takes five years to get to this point.

The 32-year-old grew up watching comedy, listening to comedy and even writing some jokes, but he never saw it as an option, as something to do publicly.

"I've wanted to a be comedian since I was a kid, just didn't know that was a thing people did," he says.

At the age of two he was watching Saturday Night Live skits, and as he got older he bought comedy albums to listen to at night. However, he never thought of seriously pursuing his passion.

Recently, a couple of things inspired him to go full-steam ahead with comedy. One was his and his wife's efforts to live a more minimalist life last summer.

"We did that with our daily lives," he says, adding they tried to find the things that brought them more happiness. "The thing that made me happy was standup comedy."

Seeing comedian Ivan Decker, who started off in Vancouver on one of Conan O'Brien's shows was another turning point, since he'd met Decker before and it made the idea of standup much more tangible. He also had been collecting jokes for the last few years, so he had a stockpile of material to try out.

"I thought it was crazy to have this big book of jokes if I wasn't going to go anywhere," he says. "I started in September of last year."

Since Septemeber he's been trying to do a couple of sets a week, often driving down to Kelowna for an open mic night. While he enjoys doing shows in Kamloops, especially since he has a toddler and doesn't always want to be on the road, there aren't as many opportunities, though he often ends up on shows organized by Drew McLean of Kammerce Promotions.

"Anytime I can do a show here I try to take it," he says. "I'm going to be at Match at the casino on March 26."

Elliott describes himself as a clean comedian with a creative, wandering imagination.

"I'm silly and like to have fun."

While working as a paramedic is a typically stressful job, Elliott says he's usually joking on the job, though he doesn't use it so much as a coping mechanism, since humour has been part of his life longer than being an EMT.

"Comedy is just part of my life," he says.

From here he expects it will remain part of his life, no matter what happens in the national competition. He's already got gigs booked around B.C. for this summer and is looking for more, ideally a set at the Just For Laugh's festival.

To vote for Elliott, see his bit or watch bits from other comedians, click HERE.

The winner of the CBC competition will be sent to the Halifax Comedy Festival.

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