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Comedy is coming to the Arctic!

L to R: Angnakuluk Friesen, Wade Thorhaug, Bibi Bilodeau, Aaron Watson, Bugsy, Peter Autut, and Samasuni Fortin from the first comedy competition in Iqaluit in March 2018. © Shawn MacDonell

It’s a proven fact that laughter makes us happier and more cheerful. So, the Alterna Savings Crack Up Comedy Festival, Ottawa’s premier charity Comedy event in support of mental health, held its first comedy competition in Iqaluit in March this year. The idea first cleared take-off when Dan Valin of First Air proposed that the popular Ottawa festival invite comics from all over Nunavut to battle it out for two spots at the Crack Up Comedy Festival in Ottawa, appearing alongside some of Canada’s best comics in front of 700 people. Mary Walsh, creator and star of This Hour has 22 Minutes, Codco, Matching Hatching, Dispatching and much more, hosted the event. Eight local comics performed to a sold-out crowd and two winners from the competition moved on to perform at the finale of the Crack Up Comedy Festival in Ottawa two weeks later.

Fast forward to October 2018 for the launch of the three-day First Air Arctic Comedy Festival. The event will support local comics and the proceeds and donations will also support the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line. Since the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line began taking calls in January of 1990, it has been committed to “Helping People Help Themselves.” Top-tier Canadian comics such as Mary Walsh, Colin Mochrie, Howie Miller, Ryan McMahon, Don Kelly, and comedy legend Patrick McKenna have expressed interest in performing at the festival.

A big part of the festival will be bringing experienced comics to Nunavut where locals and Indigenous comics will have opportunities to perform side-by-side with them and take part in writing and performing workshops. The festival will feature an Indigenous Comedy Show, a stop in Pangnirtung, visits to elementary and high schools, a variety of Themed Shows and finishing big with a VIP reception and Festival Gala Finale at the Frobisher Inn in Iqaluit.

First Air is keen to promote and build the festival with a future possibility of expanding coverage to the Northwest Territories. Other generous supporters include The Frobisher Inn, Arctic Coop, C&K, with more to come. Iqaluit promises to be one funny place come October. Join in and celebrate humour and its link to positive thinking and good health. Tickets will be available through the comedy website soon so visit: www.ArcticComedyFestival.ca for all the details, line-up, and early-bird discounts.

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