Represented by Yuk Yuk’s, Patrick Haye has been performing as an actor and entertainer in the comedy scene for 14 years. With his genuine humour and natural charm, Patrick has delighted audiences and triggered tears of laughter at events all over Canada. He is versatile in his delivery and style, ranging from commentary on current events to musical comedy on the keyboard.
Vanessa Butera had the pleasure of being in conversation with Patrick and to hear more about his insights into the comedy industry. He shares his experience as a black comedian performing for a white audience, navigating the pandemic, and what it takes to be funny and successful.
Tell me about your journey into becoming a comedian. How did you get to where you are today?
Comedy is one of those things that you have to do a lot to get good at it. I had to put in many hours of writing, getting on stage, and continued to build a body of work. When writing new material, it is essential to stay current with what is going on globally. You have to do stand-up comedy a lot to be good at it; you have to be funny.
How did you navigate the pandemic as a comedian? What was that like for you?
Everything was shut down at first. We are doing Zoom shows now, which are weird because some people have their cameras off, while others have their mics on. In the summer, there will be more outdoor shows that will be smaller.
I noticed that you performed in a park around June. How many of those were you able to do?
That show was so much fun! I did that show three times throughout the summer. I also did patio shows at restaurants and bars when things were more open. Those felt incredible because I could see people’s faces and I could interact with them.
What is your experience being a Black person in comedy? How do you navigate the industry?
I’m with Yuk Yuk’s; they represent me the most. When I travel outside of the bigger cities (Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal) and perform in the smaller towns, I’m usually the only black person in the room. I don’t see as many black people in those smaller cities. So, I have to tailor my script because I’m not always talking to a black audience. I make an effort to create material that will be relatable to anyone. It does not matter if they’re old, young, or what culture they come from.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a comedian? And what has been the biggest reward for you?
The biggest reward is the laughter. As I got better at this craft, my invites to shows got bigger, my opportunities got more prominent, and the income got better. The ongoing challenge is to stay current and find things to talk about that are happening now.
What are some of your favourite performances that you have done?
I had a lot of fun with talking about Tiger Woods when he first got into all that trouble. I also liked talking about shows such as the Property Brothers and Criminal Minds at Yuk Yuk’s and Absolute Comedy. Those were good times, both in Ottawa and Toronto.
How has”political correctness” impacted your material? Is there anywhere you won’t go with your comedy?
There are some times where I’ve had to change the way I say things. They were just simple jokes, but all comedians have to be cautious of how people will receive things. I was never that offensive anyway, so if there is an English-speaking audience, there is nowhere I won’t go with my comedy.
Patrick is currently available for pre-taped and live virtual shows. For more information, visit patrickhaye.com