By Amber Harper-Young
VANCOUVER – Since opening in April of 2013, Chris Bentzen’s gallery, Hot Art Wet City, has shown pop surrealist/weird art and housed many local, original comedy shows. Unfortunately, this month is the last to experience any comedy magic in Bentzen’s artful space because the venue is closing.
Before he started running the gallery, Bentzen describes himself as having “just liked going to comedy” and he would frequent shows like The Sunday Service, Talent Time and anything at Little Mountain Gallery — shows where anything could happen. “It’s like going to a punk show in the ‘90s,” he says. Bentzen knew he wanted to have comedy at HAWC before opening. “I knew I wanted to have a bunch of stuff happening.” And he did. Apart from comedy he also hosted yoga, various sketch classes, workshops, screenings, and more.
Someone who helped facilitate the live comedy at HAWC was comedian Alicia Tobin. Bentzen first saw Tobin (HAWC’s current comedy curator) perform at The Rio. Now, four years later, together they have been responsible for bringing more outside-of-the-box formats to the Vancouver comedy scene.
Although the venue’s shows have been selected for the Just for Laughs NorthWest Festival for two years running, Tobin won’t take all the kudos for the success the gallery’s comedy has enjoyed. Tobin says, “Chris is a huge comedy fan, and even though I was initially connecting with comedians and hoping they would work with us to create great shows, beyond that Chris should get all the credit. His incredible work ethic and his love of our local comedy scene, combined with some very wonderful shows and terrific audiences, made HAWC so special. I am going to deeply miss my own show, especially the people that came to the show — I met hundreds of genuinely wonderful Vancouverites. Thanks for drawing with me, buddies!”
Tobin’s fun-filled show is interactive: Everyone attending draws something whimsical that she has imagined/suggested, while encouraging personal twists. And in between showing these drawings and gently mocking/interviewing the individuals about them, she features short sets by local comedians. Tobin speaks with everyone attending the show about their drawing with a well-balanced approach of comedy and warmth.
If you’re interested in taking part in HAWC’s alternative comedy experience, see any of the final shows there this month. You might even leave with some tight, low-brow art.
Graham Clark Presents – Friday, March 10
Vancouverite: A Comedy Show – Saturday, March 11
Alicia Tobin’s Come Draw With Me – Friday, March 17
We Know Nothing About Art: A Comedy Show – March 18
Want to give back to Chris Bentzen for his tireless efforts and passion for comedy and all arts? Donate to www.patreon.com/bentzen or this month, buy some ART!Alicia Tobin, Graham Clark, Hot Art Wet City, Vancouverite, We Know Nothing About Art