UVic Grad inaugural winner of CBC Next Up comedy contest

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Ogden to return for upcoming Victoria show

Photo from alistairogden.wordpress.com

Three years ago, Alistar Ogden wrote his first comedy set for a fictional mortician as a playwriting student at UVic. A year later, he performed stand up for the first time.

This April, Ogden performed as CBC Comedy’s inaugural Next Up contest winner at the Halifax ComedyFest, one of only three comedy festivals in Canada broadcasted on national TV.

“Until now, I haven’t had the break of being in a festival or getting to do any big showcases,” said Ogden in a phone interview with the Martlet the day he was announced as the winner. “I thought I had a decent shot [going into CBC Next Up], but I also didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”

Going into the contest, Ogden didn’t quite know what to expect. The competition was brand new, with many rules — in order to win, candidates had to complete several online comedy challenges and impress not just a panel of judges, but also online voters.

Rahat Saini, a current UVic student, was one of nine other emerging comedians shortlisted alongside Ogden.

“They were specifically looking for newer people, which I think was in my favor because although I am fairly new, I do comedy a lot,” said Ogden.

But when it came down to the big reveal, it took him a few seconds of staring at his own photo flashing on the CBC live stream to realize he’d won. All of the shortlisted contestants had been asked to film themselves, so Ogden’s realization was captured in real time.

“I think I said ‘Holy shit,’ and I covered my mouth … then apologized to CBC for swearing,” Ogden said. “I guess I was the only one that had that reaction.”

Since he took his first steps into comedy at UVic, Ogden describes patience and creating his own opportunities as crucial components to overcoming the challenge of breaking into the competitive comedy scene. This took shape in Ogden’s time at UVic, as he founded the UVic Lampoon alongside Caitlin Holm and hosted a monthly show called Comedy Vertigo.

Ogden says his jokes are less edgy and more truthful than when he first started out. Back then, one of his bits was that “My last relationship was like the life of my dog — I ended it.”

“In reality, she dumped me and I’m allergic to dogs,” Ogden said. He pokes fun at this former joke in his new, more self-deprecating sets.

Now, he runs three comedy shows in the Vancouver area. In the week after Ogden won CBC Next Up, he performed in a show nearly every day.

He loves having a passion he can pursue practically every day of the week, especially one where he can immediately see the response to his work.

“I’d love to do [comedy] professionally, yeah that’s the dream — just be able to do standup around the country, go down to the States or maybe go to the U.K. to do comedy.”

It’ll take a lot more work before he can make comedy his full time job, even after performing in Halifax. Ogden knows this, and feels ready to put in the work.

“You just have to do well when you need to do well,” said Ogden on his method for success. “Just work hard and try to tighten up jokes, and write new material as much as possible.”

Fresh off of ComedyFest, Ogden is returning to Victoria on May 24 at 8 p.m. for a Comedypants variety show at Ollie Quinn. Find your tickets here or at the door.