Jordan Welwood is the Winnipeg finalist in SiriusXM’s Canada’s Next Top Comic competition.
The 25 year old comic and Creative Communications student – along with seven other finalists from across Canada – will open for veteran stand-up and Saturday Night Live alumnus Colin Quinn at JFL42 in Toronto on Sept. 19. The winner receives $15,000.
One of three semi-finalists from the Winnipeg audition in July, Welwood had to garner online votes for his audition video, beating out local comics Benjamin Walker and Scott Porteous.
Welwood says the online voting portion of the contest was “a huge pain in the ass” but still feels it was worthwhile to do.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg in learning how to self promote in comedy,” Welwood says. “Canadian comics hate doing it – it’s the worst part of the gig – but getting people to vote for you and advertising myself, that’s the one thing I can take from the semi-final round.”
Welwood says he sold himself hard in the semi-final round, but he doesn’t necessarily think that’s why he won.
“I bugged everyone every day, but I always said ‘Watch the videos and vote for who you think is the best,’” Welwood says. “I think in the end the set I had that night was the reason I won, not because I spammed everybody.”
Welwood started doing stand-up five years ago after taking a workshop with Winnipeg comic Dan Licoppe. That led to doing time at open mics, local shows and eventually Rumors Comedy Club, where he did the Winnipeg’s Funniest Person with a Day Job contest three years running (making the finals in 2009 and 2011).
Impressed, Rumor’s started giving Welwood guest spots and just over a year ago, hired him on as a regular host. Welwood says working at the club has helped him with his confidence onstage.
“I really enjoy doing crowd work now, whereas before I was really scared of it because I was new,” he says. “Hosting is a skill unto itself. You’re starting from scratch all the time. Now when I do a guest spot, it’s like ‘I’m a golden god!’
“Working at Rumors has been nothing but good for me. I get to meet headliners and pick their brains, just networking and being around comedy more.”
Welwood, who also runs at comedy night at Jeffrey’s Restaurant and Lounge (1420 Henderson Hwy.) says he’s proud of the Winnipeg comedy scene and wants to represent it as best as he can in Toronto. When it comes to our local scene, Welwood would like to clear up any claims that it isn’t an inviting place for new comics.
“As far as elitism in the scene, if you walk in and you’re Andy Noble (a relatively new Winnipeg comic) and you’re hilarious and you have a good attitude, everyone will embrace you,” Welwood says.
The comic adds that peers will be honest with you and tear you down when it’s appropriate. He recalls feeling intimidated by veteran local comic John B. Duff early on.
“He kept blowing me off, but instead of going ‘Wah, wah, I’m going to start my own show in my treehouse’ I was like ‘How do I get on this guy’s show?’,” Welwood says.
“If I moved to Toronto tomorrow (Welwood notes he might make the move at some point) I would have to get into a whole new scene, break in and prove myself. It’s a constant proving ground.”
For instant hilarity, follow @JordanWelwood on Twitter
Published in Volume 68, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 11, 2013)