Brett Madill is very clever. However, his podcast name says otherwise.
Madill is a local stand-up comic who hosts the Medium Clever podcast with Shaun Stewart and performs gigs at many open-mic nights around Winnipeg.
Originating from Swan River, Man., Madill moved to Winnipeg to become a teacher. He loved his childhood in the town, but he felt like he belonged in Winnipeg.
“I always felt like the city kid that grew up in a small town. I liked it there, but I really wanted something more,” he says.
Madill, along with his childhood friend and co-host Stewart, started to cut their teeth on various stages around the city. This was prompted by dissatisfaction with his teaching career.
“I guess I wasn’t really trying hard enough to find a full teaching position,” he says. “I went through six years at the (University of Manitoba), and I didn’t want to be a teacher my whole life. It was unfulfilling, it just wasn’t enough for me. I’ve always been a huge fan of comedy, and I’ve always wanted to do stand up.”
The first time he was on stage, his microphone wasn’t working. Stewart was there as well, providing moral support, but the various technical problems hurt his set.
Madill looks back on his first stand-up experience with mixed feelings.
“I did good,” he muses. “Not amazing, not horribly, just good. I think the worst part is when you say your punchline and there is silence. Not hate or laughter, just silence. I mean, I could take, like, booing or anger, because at least that was a response, but when a joke you think is funny doesn’t cause any reaction, it’s the worst.”
Madill started the Medium Clever podcast with Stewart in May 2011. Another friend of theirs, Brent Bobby, serves as the producer, while the pair record the show in Madill’s apartment. It’s a free-form conversation between the hosts as they cover everything from pop culture to news.
“I’ve been planning to do a podcast for a while now, I just wanted to start hosting something,” he says. “Eventually I just brought Shaun over, bought a couple of $50 mics off of eBay, and we started talking. Usually we don’t really plan ahead. I have a list of topics I can bring up, but usually we don’t get to them all, which is what we want.”
Currently working as a talent buyer who arranges shows for bands and comics, Madill continues to perform at open-mic nights around Winnipeg.
Madill says the best advice he can give to future comics is to just get on stage.
“If you want to be a comic, you’ve got to go on stage. Put a lot of effort into it, but not too much. Before you go on stage for the first time, it’s very difficult to know what’ll work and what won’t. Just put on your big boy pants and go to one of the many open-mic nights here.”
Watch for Madill at open-mic nights around Winnipeg and listen to his podcast at www.mediumclever.com.
Published in Volume 66, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 21, 2012)