Innovative host Paul Ash kicks up Montreal comedy

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For the past five years, comedian and actor Paul Ash has devoted himself to Montreal’s comedy community. Ash offers comedians ample stage time, constructive feedback and the occasional shoulder to cry on; it’s no wonder he’s viewed as a respected friend, mentor and “father” to so many.

Affectionately known as the Muppet King of Comedy, Ash began his stand-up career in his home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia, at age 19. After stints in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, he returned to his native city and opened the city’s sole comedy club, thus establishing a nucleus for Nova Scotia’s emergent stand-up community. Andrew Bush, of famed sketch troupe Picnicface, declares, “Without Paul Ash and the Comedy Dawgs, there would be no comedy scene in Halifax.”

In 2007, personal and professional opportunities brought Ash back to Montreal, where he soon teamed with Vancouver native Dan “The Devil” Derkson, in the formation of Good and Evil Productions. Ash’s Montreal roots were then deeply established.

When asked what distinguishes Montreal comedy, Ash explains that due to audience expectations and a “mirroring effect” among performers, each city has its own brand of humor. Torontonians specialize in dry repartee, Haligonians are laid-back story-tellers and Vancouverites excel at zaniness. Montrealers, says Ash, are the most animated; comics here infuse their performances with “color and movement.” Ash believes Montreal comedians tend to “act out” their material, in order to bridge linguistic disparities.

Since 2009, Ash has hosted “Paul Ash’s Kick Ash Comedy Show,” a Tuesday night showcase at Andrew’s Pub, in the downtown core, featuring the city’s hottest comics and beginners alike. The Little Dive Bar, as affectionately dubbed by Ash, has become a meeting spot for performers and a welcoming beacon for solitary urbanites. With customary humility, Ash relates the story of a depressed youth, whose thoughts of suicide were vanquished after wandering in to catch a Kick Ash show. Ash has kept in contact with the young man, who is now much improved – thanks to the healing power of humor.

Ever the innovator, Ash strives for new ways to showcase young talent. Recently, he announced changes to the Kick Ash show, renaming it “King of the Mountain.” The audience now votes for the evening’s top two performers, who’ll host and headline the following week’s show.

Ash is also the creator of “Battle-com,” a raucous monthly comedic debate. This September, “Battle-com” will be featured as an exhibition event at “2012 Montreal Comiccom” on September 14.

Whatever the format, Paul Ash’s shows have the following qualities, which stem from the man himself: an unpretentious atmosphere, enthusiastic performers and appreciative audiences. Halifax’s loss has undoubtedly been Montreal’s fortunate gain.

King of the Mountain

Tuesdays, 9 p.m.

Admission: Free

Andrew’s Pub

1239, rue Guy (corner Ste. Catherine)


A big thanks to  Stephanie Ein for letting us re-post the article on our website!