1. Jane Testar
2. Tie: Mike Green / Benji Rothman
Jane Testar really, really wants to make it clear that she just started performing standup comedy. Absolutely, positively crystal clear.
“I’ve only kind of dipped my toe in standup,” is how she responds to finding out she’s been named favourite local comedian by Uniter readers.
Later, when asked about performing standup, she begins, “Preface: I’ve done like one per cent of my standup career, so I’m not claiming I know anything about it.”
When the interview ends, she adds, “I do want to have it out there that I just started standup. I don’t want comedians to think I said, ‘Yes, I am a very good comedian! Correct!’”
It’s an incredibly endearing (if somewhat paranoid) degree of humility from one of Winnipeg’s most able and eclectic comedic performers.
In addition to her fledgling standup career, Testar has been performing with her improv troupe Outside Joke for nearly 14 years, is a member of acclaimed sketch group Hot Thespian Action, writes a regular humour column for The Uniter and created the CBC Radio podcast Comedy Factory.
Needless to say, Testar has a finger in virtually every one of comedy’s proverbial pies. She identifies “the desperate need for attention and validation” as the common thread between sketch, improv and standup.
“People always make the joke that comedians are really unstable and needy and very mentally damaged people,” Testar says. “I had a pretty stable upbringing, so I don’t really understand why I’m like this.”
Testar says making the leap to standup from sketch and improv has given her a more direct way to explore ideas.
“If I have an idea for a sketch, you have to get three other actors, write it in dialogue form, block the scene and hide your thought or message in it,” she says.
With standup, Testar says she can just say, “Man, I hate when people do this!” and share it immediately.