Four years ago when Paul Thompson started Jokes on the Water, his weekly comedy show at Vape on the Lake, there were only a few other comedy shows in Toronto’s vapor lounges. Now, you can blaze and watch stand up comedy every night of the week. I sat down with Paul to ask his thoughts on the canna-comedy scene.
What is your favorite part about performing comedy in vapor lounges?
“I love how real it is, I feel like it is the ultimate test for any comedian. A lot of people say that it's harder to get laughs in weed rooms, but I think there is just no fake laughter in weed rooms. They feel you and they know when you feel it too.”
For sure! Everyone is too baked to be fake. I know I have seen crowds tense up and go silent on comedians with material they perceive as offensive - do you think stoners react differently to controversial material?
“I would actually say weed rooms are some of the safest places to work on edgy material. There are times where something you say will turn the entire crowd, but the worst thing that will ever happen is no one will laugh. I've been attacked on stage, had bottles and glasses thrown at me, been followed out, but never at a weed room.”
Yes, we are a peaceful people! I think that’s a factor in how vapor lounges have operated under the radar for so long. As cannabis becomes more mainstream, how do you envision the future of the weed comedy scene?
“I think it definitely can and will get bigger. There is still a stigma attached with cannabis that forces a lot of people to keep their medicating a secret. There are people who don't want anyone to know they smoke, so the they definitely won't be lighting up at a comedy show anytime soon. I think once more people are educated, more people will be open with it and the vapor lounges will see a whole new wave of people looking to learn more about cannabis.”
I can’t wait! As a member of both the cannabis and comedy communities, do you feel a responsibility to be open about weed at non-weed venues?
“It really depends on the audience and the amount of time I have with them. If I'm performing 5 minutes for a legion hall it’s sometimes best just not to get into it. If I have 30 minutes I'll generally find a way to ease into it if. As comedians in the weed scene we hold a great opportunity to educate and I believe we already do. We often have jokes laughing about stoner stereotypes and tell a more truthful side of the life of a cannabis user.”
On behalf of stoners everywhere, thank you for doing your part to normalize cannabis - we can’t wait to see what the future holds for you & the canna-comedy scene!