While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended Kelly Taylor’s (BEd’04) life like everyone else, he’s making the most of the situation and in the process is discovering new things about himself.
“I realized touching my face is one of my favourite things,” Taylor joked about what the pandemic has taught him.
The 42-year-old comedian from Prince Albert, Sask., was supposed to travel around the country all spring and summer playing comedy clubs, doing corporate shows and sports celebrity golf tournament gigs.
Instead, the comedian from Prince Albert has been sequestered with his family and trying to find new ways to get his comedy out to the masses.
“My April was insanely busy and it was completely wiped out. Same as May and June (including an invite to the Halifax Comedy Festival),” said Taylor.
He may not be able to get out to perform live, yet Taylor is making the most of his extra time.
One bonus is extra family time with wife Karen and their four kids Kade, Van, Rooke and Tripp.
“I’ve been doing stand up for 18 years and could never afford to take a weekend off so I’ve missed so many functions,” Taylor said.
For example, Taylor was able to be home for his son Tripp’s sixth birthday.
“It’s like a timeout and I’m loving it,” he said.
And he’s exploring new avenues for his comedy.
Taylor has done a couple of gigs on Zoom.
“That was a little awkward,” he laughed. “Because I don’t know what’s happening on the other end.”
He also has done a Facebook Live gig that attracted 1,600 viewers.
It was the biggest, and smallest, show he has ever done, he said.
“There was one guy with an iPad recording me (in a room), but it was also the biggest show I had ever done because there were probably 3,000 people watching.”
Within a couple of days of it’s recording in March it had attracted 23,000 views.
And with some extra time Taylor has started his own podcast, Tic with a side of Tets, with his longtime pal and former NHLer Joey Tetarenko.
They talk with NHL players, musicians and comics telling stories and jokes along the way.
“Joey was my best friend growing up and he's a great storyteller,” Taylor said.
So far, the podcast is costing him money, but they are having a blast doing it.
Podcast guests have included NHLer Scott Hartnell and country musician Tim Hicks.
And for the past three years Taylor has co-hosted a morning show on XFM radio with Lew Harrison.
Taylor said when he was offered the job, he didn’t think it was in his wheelhouse.
But they told him to give it a shot and if he wasn’t having fun he could quit.
And anytime he has a stand-up commitment he can have that time off.
“I had a great time,” he said, except for getting up at 5 a.m.
“I really enjoy my time. (Harrison) loves his job and that makes it enjoyable.”
While saying he’s not up on all the social media, Taylor is a prolific tweeter (@TicTaylor).
Here’s a sample:
“Just found our midget AAA bench brawl. I was 1st to leave the bench. Coach yelled at me to get back, and I said why I’m not playing (it was playoffs) best line (from) my mom when we got home “Kenny you should of came, Kelly got some ice time.”
Taylor was born and raised in Prince Albert, the youngest of five kids.
He was involved in sports year-round playing hockey, basketball, volleyball, baseball.
He was a goalie in hockey and went as far as going to a Regina Pats training camp when he was 16.
“I kind of regretted it growing older because it seemed like at that time in hockey if you weren’t doing good you could become a fourth-line fighter and I was like, if you’re a bad goalie, there’s nowhere to go,” Taylor quipped. “I had nowhere to play after all my buddies went to play junior (hockey).
“But it all worked out in the long run because I still got a dream job in the end,” he said.
After high school Taylor spent time as a teacher’s assistant before deciding to go to USask to get an Education degree.
He majored in industrial arts and minored in home economics while also doing stand-up comedy on a full-time basis.
It was a grind, but he said he knew if he didn’t finish his degree he would never go back.
Taylor’s comedy career took off while he was still at USask.
Within his first two years in the business Taylor came second in the Just for Laughs Homegrown competition.
That exposure caught the attention of people south of the border.
Soon he was on a plane to L.A. having meetings with NBC Universal, Happy Gilmore Productions and Jimmy Kimmel. In those early years Taylor was a staple on the Canadian and U.S. college comedy circuits.
He’s cut back on those gruelling tours that could mean up to three months on the road as his family has grown.
He even spent time as a substitute teacher after their third child was born.
He initially taught everything from kindergarten to Grade 12, but soon whittled that down to high school classes.
“I really enjoyed it. And if anything ever goes wrong (with stand-up), I enjoy subbing,” he said.
He has maintained his friendships with a number of his hockey buddies who have gone on to play professionally, and that has led him to perform at many sport celebrity golf tournaments and other fundraising events.
He said those gigs began when he was at Scott Hartnell’s charity golf tournament where there were about 30 NHL players.
“It was a tough gig. There were so many guys and it was loud. One comic went on and he couldn't get their attention.” he said.
Taylor had an ace up his sleeve because he knew who all these players were.
“(Former NHLer) Mike Sillinger was sitting in the front row and most comics wouldn’t recognize who he is,” Taylor said. “But I knew that he’d played on 12 NHL clubs.
“So I said, ‘Oh my God, here's Mike Sillinger. You’ve been thrown in more deals than spray-on bed-liner at Jubilee Ford.
“That gets a laugh. Then I went after the next guy and the next guy.”
The next thing he knows, Taylor is getting asked to do a number of other events -- from Nashville Predator’s Ryan Johansen golf tournament to fellow Sasky Kelly Chase’s NHL fantasy camp where he roasts all of the hockey players.
“Hockey guys like hearing their buddies get chirped and made fun of,” Taylor said. “You do one good show and it branches out, just like corporate gigs.”
It also led him back to USask.
For the past decade Taylor has been the emcee at the Huskie men’s hockey Off The Leash Luncheon.
He said it is an event he looks forward to every year.
“I love university hockey,” Taylor said, adding, “The new Merlis Belsher Place is unbelievable.”
Taylor’s comedy has evolved during the last 18 years and he is now able to work in almost any environment -- from clubs to corporate shows to podcasts now.
“I’ve always looked at my comedy as a business,” he said. “I have six mouths to feed.”
And he said has been a great place to hone your comedic chops.
“If you are in Toronto or Vancouver starting out there might be some open mikes where you get a few minutes. You are always at the bottom of the barrel and it’s tough,” he said.
“In Saskatoon, there was regular Monday and Tuesday night mikes where you could get on almost every night.
Now he’s evolved to playing for virtually any type of crowd.
“I try to write about everyday things that everyone is going through,” he said. “So, if there are little tidbits that everyone has done, I just jot down the content. Then sometimes I’ll let the crowd take me down the road of where it will go.”
Despite all the new adventures he’s been doing, Taylor is looking forward to being able to do live performances again.
When Taylor’s on the road, he can’t wait to get home. But when he’s at home for a long period of time the itch is there to get back on stage, he said.