In Conversation with Brent Butt
Returning this year after receiving rave reviews from past festival attendees, JFL NorthWest is proud to host special In Conversation sessions with some of today’s top comedy stars as part of the Creator's Series presented by Creative BC!
Peeling back the curtain and giving audiences unprecedented access to their favourite content creators in comedy, these deeply personal and candid interview sessions allow comedy fans to learn more about some of the top names in the industry; how they got their start, how they continue to remain relevant, and what fans can expect to see next.
BRENT BUTT was born and raised in the small farming community of Tisdale, Saskatchewan (population 3000). As the youngest of seven children, one does what one can to be noticed, and at an early age Brent discovered that being funny was a good way to get and hold people's attention. When he was 12 he watched a stand-up comic on television and immediately told his mother that he was going to become a comedian. Not fully understanding what he was talking about, she said, "Go ahead".
Brent honed his comedic storytelling prowess at the local coffee shop, where he and his friends would sit around - literally for hours at a time - discussing everything from world domination, to the most comfortable kind of socks. Brent insists, "Coffee shop conversation was a great way to learn comedy. It's relaxed and conversational and the jokes build naturally without forcing them."
In high school Brent performed stand-up comedy at variety nights and drama nights. When he was 20 a comedy club opened up in nearby Saskatoon, and Brent moved to the city to pursue a career in humour. He moved through the ranks incredibly quickly, and within four months of his first amateur night appearance, he was offered a tour on the road. After a year he was headlining in Toronto, and after only 4 years, he was showcased in his own gala performance at the world's largest international comedy festival - Montreal's JUST FOR LAUGHS.
His career, which was the subject of an episode of the cultural affairs program ADRIENNE CLARKSON PRESENTS, is an interesting one. Brent has become a regular at JUST FOR LAUGHS as well as appearing on numerous national and international television programs. Aside from his own national special BEDTIME WITH BRENT BUTT, he has been seen on A&E, HBO, CBC, CTV, and Global. His one-hour TV special entitled COMEDY NOW- FUNNYPANTS earned him a Gemini Nomination in the category "Best Comedy Performance". He was named "Best Male Stand-Up in Canada" at the 2001 Canadian Comedy Awards and was subsequently selected to represent his country on the WORLD COMEDY TOUR in Australia. He followed that by hosting the JUST FOR LAUGHS ASIAN TOUR in Singapore. His invitation to appear on the CBC 50th Anniversary Special entitled ALL-STAR COMEDY HOMECOMING secured his reputation as one of the funniest people in the country, as he performed alongside the most noted comedic minds from the past 5 decades of Canadian entertainment. Brent headlined at the HAL!FAX COMDY FESTIVAL in 2013 and hosted the WINNIPEG COMEDY FESTIVAL gala in 2016. Brent returned to JUST FOR LAUGHS in 2018 after a 15 year absence with his own solo headliner show, gala performance and more.
Over the years, Butt, who claims he never went after an acting career, landed bit parts in various productions such as 2000’s DUETS, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, the Bob Saget directed TV movie BECOMING DICK, and episodes of THE KIDS IN THE HALL, THE X-FILES (1998) and MILLENNIUM (1997) and COLD SQUAD (2003).
Who knew he was cooking up his own series, CORNER GAS, set in the tiny town of Dog River with an odd bunch of archetypal characters? “It came together pretty quick, if you don’t count the 17 years of being on the road as a standup,” says Butt of the series. Brent not only starred in front of the camera but also wore several hats behind the scenes including creator, writer, executive producer and director.
CORNER GAS became a Canadian hit. "For the first time in a generation, the highest-rated sitcom on primetime schedules here is a Canadian show, not American." (Hollywood Reporter - March 2005). CORNER GAS was nominated for a 2004 INTERNATIONAL EMMY AWARD surviving three rounds of preliminary judging from over 500 judges in 38 countries. CORNER GAS has been nominated and won countless Gemini Awards, Canadian Comedy Awards, DGC & WGC Awards, Leo Awards and was even voted "Funniest Show on TV" by TV Guide readers.
In 2005 Brent followed in the footsteps of Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain … not as a singer, but as host of the 2005 JUNO AWARDS. Butt joined an exclusive list of comedians who have hosted Canada's Music Awards over the past three decades but was the first to do so since 2002.
In 2006 Canada’s #1 comedy went international securing a U.S. distribution deal with American cable network Superstation WGN. The series became available in nearly 70 million U.S. homes while concurrently licensed to broadcasters serving 26 countries across 5 continents in all – countries including Australia, Iraq, Finland, Morocco and many more.
Brent was honoured for his many individual achievements at the 2008 BANFF WORLD TV FESTIVAL when presented with the prestigious Sir Peter Ustinov Comedy Award.
In 2008 Brent announced that the sixth season of CORNER GAS would be the last. "They didn't want it to end yet. But for the good of the show, I wanted to exit gracefully, on top of our game, when we're at our prime," Brent said at the time.
The final episode of CORNER GAS garnered record viewership numbers to make it “the highest on record for a Canadian scripted series since it began keeping track in 1994”. Brent’s follow-up half hour series HICCUPS ran for two successful seasons also on CTV.
In 2013 Brent was honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to community and country.
That same year Brent’s first feature film entitled NO CLUE and directed by Carl Bessai was released. Brent wrote, starred in and produced the film under his Sparrow Media banner. NO CLUE was nominated for Best Motion Picture at the 2014 Leo Awards.
The highly anticipated feature film return to Dog River with CORNER GAS: THE MOVIE saw the entire beloved cast reunited to the delight of rabid fans and new fans alike. Once televised the movie became the highest rated movie in the 2014-15 television season in Canada. The movie received a special Golden Screen Award at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards recognizing the projects stellar achievement and ‘most watched’ status.
Re-imagined by creator and star Brent Butt, an all-new animated version of the iconic comedy franchise entitled CORNER GAS: ANIMATED debuted in 2018. The animated series premiered immediately becoming the #1 rated show in the history of Canada’s The Comedy Network. So successful in fact the series is now streaming on CTV primetime & Crave TV concurrently and Brent took home a 2019 Canadian Screen Award for Best Writing, Animation and recently Best Animation Program or Series at the 2019 Leo Awards. The second season of CORNER GAS: ANIMATED begins streaming July 1st 2019
Making his home in Vancouver for more then a decade, Brent continues to tour the country performing in clubs, theatres and as a much sought after corporate entertainer. "I love what I do." Butt says. "I look at it as just having coffee. Only now it's with hundreds of people at a time."