Michael Clark is trying to build a bridge between Whitehorse and Juneau with humor.
"I think its crazy we have these two cities so close, that are so similar, and we don't have more cross-pollination," he said.
Clark is the artistic director for Nakai Theatre in Whitehorse and has been working with Peter DuBois of Perseverance Theatre to coproduce shows, stage productions and share talent between the two sister cities. He's also hoping to draw Juneau comedy fans to Whitehorse for the Fourth Annual Comedy Arts Festival, sponsored by the Nakai Theatre.
Seven comedians from all over Canada will perform six shows Jan. 9 to 12 at the festival in Whitehorse. Performances will be at the Yukon Arts Centre and the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel.
Clark said the event has grown each year.
"It's gone beyond stand-up comedy," he said. "So we're calling it comedy theater."
The event includes Flyin' Bob Palmer, an acrobatic comic who is a 15-year veteran street performer. Palmer is a tightrope walker who juggles knives and rides an 8-foot unicycle.
This year Clark is having a night of women comedians. Stand-up comics Martha Chaves, Diana Frances and Ellie Harvey will take the stage Saturday, Jan. 11. All three performers have worked the national comedy club circuit in Canada and worked in television.
The festival also includes an R-rated clown named Izzy.
"Izzy is more theater-oriented," Clark said. "Her show is about body image and women. I've seen her and she's quite outrageous."
Izzy, A.K.A. Shannon Calcutt, has developed the Izzy trilogy. Part 1, "Burnt Tongue," has Izzy sitting on a park bench in a wedding gown, anxiously awaiting her blind date with the Mr. Right she met on the Internet. In Part 2, "It's Me, Only Better," Izzy is fed up with men and is ready to join a convent. Part 3, "Out of My Skin," plays at 11:15 p.m. and has a topless Izzy bemoaning her stolen wedding dress, trying out do-it-herself-homemade breast implants and various schemes to become sexy, skinny, successful and loved.
Clark said other performers are more along the lines of traditional stand-up comedy.
"Ron James is a Canadian actor went into stand-up and found his voice," he said. "He does a two-hour show, 'Up and down in Shakytown.' He's written for two Canadian comedy shows and written and produced his own TV show here."
Comedian, playwright and actor Sheldon Elter rounds out the bill. Elter is a member of the Canadian First Nations group Metis and has developed a show called "Metis Mutt," which addresses racial issues and stereotypes with humor.
Tickets to most events are $18 Canadian. Air North offers a 14-day advance Juneau to Whitehorse flight for about $207 (U.S.) round trip per person. Call 1-800-764-0407 to contact Air North. The Nakai Theatre can be reached at 867-667-2646 or www.nakaitheatre.com.
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