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Rising comedy star James Kennedy stays on his hustle

Thursday 03rd, March 2016 / 14:00
By Victoria Banner

JamesKennedyVANCOUVER — “In the words of Jay-Z, ‘hustle hard in any hustle that you pick.’”

That was a post from comedian James Kennedy’s Facebook page the day he was scheduled to chat comedy with Beatroute. This changes the conversation from “wAs ThE FiRst TimE YoU dId CoMeDY ScARY derrp?” to “TELL US YOUR WAYS HUSTLE WIZARD.” Tell us he did and hustle he does.

Vancouver’s newest comedy golden boy arrives to chat in a black jeep covered in skateboard and Wu-tang stickers. A skater himself, Kennedy is undeniably…cool? Old school comics would love to tell you that stand-up comedy is a sanctuary for losers: get on stage and talk about how your wife won’t touch you because your dick doesn’t work and the audience has a good long laugh at your troubles. Everything James Kennedy has done in the past two years is a slap in the face to long held Canadian comedy industry beliefs, just as comics are *supposed* to be losers it’s also supposed to take 5-10 years before you could be considered a headliner.

“I don’t consider myself a headliner” says Kennedy, who headlined the coveted Yuk Yuks New-Years show. “Right now I’m just keeping my nose down and focusing on getting good at comedy. That is why I don’t have much content: no website, no clips on Youtube. I don’t want that until I’m good,” says the man who won two major Vancouver comedy competitions in two days apart within months of first taking the stage. Obviously Kennedy has a different definition of “good” than the average comedy newbie who’s got some real earth-shattering insight on Jared from Subway.

With the bar for quality set as high as his aspirations, Kennedy’s starting point (weekends at the comedy club) is most comedians end goal, but he is far from done. “I want to be able to work in the States as quick as I can.” (Another comedy goal that takes 10+ years.) “I want to buy a van and tour the whole country with my girlfriend.” A touring musician and DJ for most of his 20s, Kennedy is not one to shy away from the rock and roll dream. Now 31, his late start in the comedy game, usually a career killer, has only ignited his trajectory combining years of hands on indie production knowledge and deadly natural talent.

“I started producing comedy shows out in Port Moody, near where I grew up, I just kept putting the best guys on it.” His current weekly show (Kings Head Comedy every Tuesday @ 9pm) keeps that level of quality while taking chances on promising local hustlers. “You can see who is putting in the work and who just wants it with no effort.” His commitment to integrity comes off as either an inspiration to or a thorn in the side of many local acts. He draws his inspiration from his aggressively outspoken love of rap music and the heroes he’s picked within the genre. He easily quotes Kanye West “Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers. I deserve to do these numbers.”

Kennedy is out on the Vancouver scene working on new material every night so you’ve probably seen him around, but if by some miracle you haven’t- follow him on Twitter @jimmykcomedy, find out where he’s playing and treat yourself to some serious next level effort.

“two years ago today I drove to Kelowna to perform for free with no accommodations more than willingly because I wanted to do my first 25 minute set. This week I’ll be doing 25-minute sets opening for Tim Meadows as part of Just for Laughs Northwest,” says Kennedy. Spoken like a true hustler.

James Kennedy performs at Yuk Yuk’s on March 10-12.

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