Danny Martinello returns home for Edmonton Comedy Christmas Extravaganza charity show

The comic talks television, from the improv inspirations of Richard Lewis to his own roles including a poisoning death on Star Trek

Article content

For Danny Martinello, stand-up comedy is a little bit like a combat mission.

Advertisement 2

Article content

“You’re a sniper, and you’re picking off jokes, but sometimes your gun will jam,” says the Edmonton-born comedian, now living in Toronto. “Things go awry with a heckler and you gotta drop your firearm and get in there with hand-to-hand combat.”

Article content

Martinello, back in town for both some family time as well as a headlining appearance at the Edmonton Comedy Christmas Extravaganza on Wednesday, has been working on his metaphoric fighting chops since his teens. An alumnus of Eastglen High School, he caught the attention of the school’s drama teacher, who noticed he was not only a bit of a troublemaker, but also had some talent. When Martinello stepped far enough over the line that it looked like his academic career may be somewhat truncated, it was his teacher who stepped in and calmed troubled waters.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“I was very fortunate to have her in my corner,” Martinello admits. “She fought for me and put me on the path to art. She was also the one who noticed that I was having a lot more fun during the opening scenes, where I was up there delivering monologues. Then she and her husband brought me to go see Richard Lewis, which was a big deal. It was just funny to see this neurotic guy just going off on these small, subtle things. Then he would just riff and improvise on a whole bunch of ideas and that really interested me because it was what I was doing.”

Lewis, perhaps best known these days for his appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, was among the first stand-ups to reaffirm Martinello’s belief that he was meant to be on stage. From those early days as a theatre kid, he’s gone on to a career that’s seen him win the Seattle International Comedy Competition in 2021, headline shows in Australia, and even a number of appearances at the Comedy Store In Los Angeles. The pathway wasn’t exactly clear, though.

Advertisement 4

Article content

“There were a large number of really bad shows,” he laughs. “But even those I came out thinking that I really loved doing standup. So I just kept with it, went on the road with other guys, and pretty soon I was doing my own tours.”

It was on those early tours that Martinello noticed how important his background in theatre improv was in dealing with raucous crowds.

“It’s funny because from what I’ve seen, stand-ups generally seem to hate improv,” Martinello marvels. “They get kind of butt hurt because these guys go up there and make an amazing scene out of nothing and get applause. Whereas we’ll sit there, write and rewrite and do all of this advance work. But improv has been a massive help for me, one of the greatest tools in my belt. If something comes my way onstage I have the understanding to use it or discard it, but it’s always there. My act is pretty much derived from improv, so I know where I’m going with my bit but it’s fresh every time. I can do the same show three times, but it’ll be a different show every time because I can do this.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Martinello has made fleeting forays into the world of television and cinema, picking up work on CBC, CTV and NBC, and hopes to do more. Top of his list, if you happen to be a Star Trek fan, is a brief onscreen moment during the Star Trek: Discovery episode What’s Past is Prologue. Top of the list if you happen to be a Star Trek fan, that is.

“I’m actually more into Star Wars,” Martinello sheepishly admits. “But this was really cool. I was a red shirt on the show and I died from poison gas in the first few minutes. It was pretty surreal to be walking around a spaceship. It’s just a flyover pan, and then you see me choking on poison gas and then convulsing. The special effects were just, oh, I’m taking Alka Seltzer, these little tablets, and then I slide under the camera, my mouth foams and I do my best death scene.”

Advertisement 6

Article content

It’s a long way from drama class at Eastglen, but Martinello credits the early years workshopping in Edmonton with his ability to thrive and adapt in the wider world. His act is ever-evolving, morphing through trial and error, and now in his mid-20s he notes that life experience has started to inform what he does. Whereas his initial efforts focused on what he describes as “frat-boy humour,” he’s now moved into observational humour, not unlike his early hero, Richard Lewis.

“I guess when you travel a lot and see not just our country but other countries that’s what happens,” he reflects. “Now I’m just finding the humour in what’s going on. I guess I’m growing up and seeing things a little differently.”

Don’t worry about Martinello maturing too much, comedy lovers. He might be growing up, but he still sees comedy as a battle of sorts. Martinello will die like a red shirt if the cash is right, but try him onstage and you’ll find a very different outcome.

Advertisement 7

Article content

“It’s because I like martial arts and I come from a sports background,” he laughs. ”I always tell the other comedians before shows, especially big shows, that we’re like gladiators in the arena. We have the noise of the crowd, we have the ambiance, the wait staff going around, drinks being made. It’s very much like a fight or a dance to me, but I also see it as me versus you.”


What does Martinello think is at stake in this duel between performer and audience members?

“Your dignity and laughter,” he says. “Wondering if you’ve made the right choice in life.”



Edmonton Comedy Christmas Extravaganza

Featuring Danny Martinello, Jim Kerr, DJ Nick Degree and others

When Dec. 21 at 8 p.m.

Where Station On Jasper, 10524 Jasper Ave.

Tickets $20-25 at the door or Showpass.com 

Comedian Jim Kerr is co-headlining the Edmonton Christmas Comedy Extravaganza with Danny Martinello Wednesday night at Station on Jasper.
Comedian Jim Kerr is co-headlining the Edmonton Christmas Comedy Extravaganza with Danny Martinello Wednesday night at Station on Jasper. Photo by Kyle Canniff /Supplied

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *