Comedians serve up laughs at Calgary Folk Festival

By Ashton Chugh, July 30 2015 —

The Calgary Folk Music Festival offered a steady stream of laughs at the talk tent on July 25–26. An all-Canadian lineup provided refuge from the tornado warnings while brewing up a storm of their own.

Calgary-based comic Noor Kidwai delivered his first performance at Folk Fest. Kidwai, an up-and-coming comedian who grew up in High River, said his upbringing in rural Alberta influenced his world perspective.

“We were one of the only brown families there,” Kidwai says. “It definitely gave me a different perspective on the world — I got two different cultures growing up.”

Kidwai says his experiences in High River informed his comedy and helped him jump onto the scene.

“It really helped me start out in comedy,” Kidwai says. “When I started out, I made mostly jokes about [my hometown] and it helped me build a voice. Now I can go off and do different topics on stage.”

Kidwai says comedy is about traveling to all parts of the world and making people laugh.

“I love the art form,” Kidwai says. “To be able to craft your own material and go up on stage and have people from all different backgrounds laugh. To figure out how to make different types of people laugh, you learn so much about people, and you learn so much about yourself. It’s such a great feeling.”

From left to right: Noor Kidwai, Martha Chavas, Adora Nwofor and Derek Seguin. // Miranda Krogstad

From left to right: Noor Kidwai, Martha Chavas, Adora Nwofor and Derek Seguin. // Miranda Krogstad

Adora Nwofor, who studied anthropology at the University of Calgary, provided a set about life growing up as a black woman in Canada. Nwofor’s shocking and unfiltered set made even the most well-attuned comedy fan blush.

Comedy wasn’t just limited to the talk tent, however. In addition to performing her set, Martha Chavas hosted the main stage Saturday night, introducing Canadian folk legend and political activist Buffy Sainte-Marie.

“It was challenging but amazing,” Chavas says. “As a standup comedian, I know I wasn’t going to get a big laugh at the main stage, but I found it so delightful to be on the same stage as Buffy Sainte-Marie.”

Chaves, a political activist herself, found sympathy from the crowd when voicing her opinion on Donald Trump’s recent comments on Latinos. After proclaiming Trump “an asshole,” the folk fest crowd chanted her sentiments in unison with her.

“Buffy is an activist, so I set it up for her,” Chaves says. “I even got my tape recorder to record the ‘Donald Trump is an asshole’ chant.”

The entertainment at the talk tent began to wind down the next day, but attendees still flooded the talk tent to see CBC Radio’s Derek Seguin, who riffed on family life, peanut allergies and unsuspecting crowd members with no shoes.

Seguin didn’t hold back despite the tent’s close proximity to the family zone, and he left the stage to a standing ovation. Even as rain clouds began to approach, the set was a perfect conclusion to a weekend of comedy.

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