Because I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Canada, I can tell you there’s a lot of comedic talent in our neighbor to the north.
One of those comedians is Kyle Brownrigg, who is fearless and openly gay with a devastatingly funny and razor-sharp sense of deadpan delivery. And he just released his debut live comedy album “Unmedicated: The New Fragrance.”
Brownrigg said that he titled the album, “Unmedicated”
The title? It reflects his new way to deal with mental illness — through standup comedy.
“The whole product of everything that I do derived from my neurotic anxiety-ridden self,” said Brownrigg. “Everything that I do and write are a product of my mental illness. When I was younger, I had to be on a lot of medication and I ultimately found that dealing with my own anxieties and my depression and my panic attacks, I had to do some sort of counseling. I learned to be without medication, but that being said, I called it ‘Unmedicated’ because I found the meds made me a bit foggy and loopy and I didn’t like it. I’m free-ranging it at this point. I really am mentally in a good place. My comedy comes from my perspective and my perspective comes from an unmedicated person who’s a
Brownrigg recorded the album in his home city of Ottawa, Ontario, a city with a thriving comedy scene that he says didn’t have much in the way of LGBTQ visibility before he started making the rounds.
“When I started in Ottawa, I will say that everybody was always very welcoming to me. They were always very nice … but … they didn’t know what to do with me because, up until that point, they didn’t really have a very proud, out and loud gay confident comedian before that was a guy.
“I would say that they were a lot more considerate of LGBTQ people after I came into the scene because, up until that point, that wasn’t really a thing. I’m sure a lot of those comics didn’t have a lot of gay male friends or coworkers up until that point. They were very nice and accepting but there was definitely an adjustment period for me.”
Once he got serious about a comedy career, Brownrigg relocated to Toronto, a far bigger comedy scene with a more complex social structure than what he was used to.
“It was huge, huge difference,” he said. “I had to adjust because I was used to being very crass and not being as educated about certain LGBTQIA2 members and people of color and indigenous and women’s rights. People in Toronto are definitely a lot more ‘woke.’ They are a lot more aware of social issues that I wasn’t aware of until I moved here. When I was performing for LGBTQ audiences when I first moved to Toronto, honestly, I was not doing very well because I’m a white man and my perspective is limited in terms of gender and race. Whenever I was going up there and making my jokes, it was from a biased, limited perspective.
“When I moved to Toronto, I had a hard time because I was trying to do so well and prove myself in these rooms and I wasn’t really doing that well. That being said, though, I loved the challenge of it and I really rose to it. I love performing in LGBTQ rooms and safe spaces and stuff like that. Of course you have to adjust your material a little bit. But when I did move, I thought, Wow, there are other gay people doing comedy. This is crazy! I’ve never had this before and it was so interesting to find like-minded people because I’ve never had that ever in Ottawa. When I would do jokes about my boyfriend in Toronto, they would do better and I’d be like, Oh, who are these people? I’m not used to this.”
Brownrigg’s album is being released by Howl & Roar Records, a female-centric comedy label founded by former comedian and Sirius XM radio host Allison Dore.
Brownrigg said the label’s focus is to give a wider range of comedians an opportunity to record and release comedy albums.
“It’s a female-centric label. It’s 80-percent female and the other 20 percent goes to people of color, indigenous people and LGBTQ comedians. The reason why Allison Dore created Howl & Roar Records is because she noticed many of her female friends weren’t recording albums and didn’t have albums on the radio because they felt like they weren’t ready or funny enough. She said, ‘Wait a second, you are funny and you are good enough and I’m seeing guys putting out albums that in my opinion aren’t ready and they’re making money. So if they think they’re ready, why do you think you’re not ready?’”
Even with an album to promote and appearances at high-profile comedy festivals like Just For Laughs, Brownrigg said that his immediate plans haven’t changed.
“I’m just going to continue grinding and hustling because that’s all that people in our profession know how to do,” Brownrigg said on his future plans. “Once this album comes out, I’m going to try and promote that and get it on XM radio, and then tour. This summer I’m going to be doing a tour of Newfoundland with Ryan Dillon. So I’m just going to get back into the grind and keep hustling. That’s all I can do.”