Standup comedian Noel James performs his routine

Standup comedian Noel James performs his routine

Comedian takes risks

NANAIMO - Industry veteran views Nanaimo Fringe Festival as ideal testing ground for new standup material.

Welshman Noel James was studying physics in college when a tragic event forever changed his direction in life.

“When I was in university my mother died,” James told the News Bulletin. “She died just before I finished university. That was a great shock as you can imagine.”

At the time, James, who had always held an interest in comedy and humour, began to explore his love for laughter.

“I just changed my mind and decided to do something that was a bit more risky and had a bit more passion in it,” he said. “So I went to London because I had heard about the comedy circuit.”

It wasn’t long before James found himself doing five-minute standup routines at clubs in London and since that decision over two decades ago, humour has taken the Welshman all over the world.

“Since then it has been a job that has been better than working in an office,” James said, laughing. “I get to travel all over the United Kingdom. I’ve travelled all over the world to some extent. I’ve been very lucky.”

On Aug. 15 James, who has performed in Canada multiple times, will be doing his standup routine, Stick Man, at the Nanaimo Fringe Festival.

“Every time I come to Canada I look forward to it very much because I find that it is a very friendly place and a very friendly country generally,” he said.

According to James, those who take in Stick Man will hear “clever” humour.

“I am going to be doing a lot of fresh material, which I have written in the last few months,” James said. “I’ll be talking about myself and I talk about things honestly, but I put it in a funny way … Sometimes I use wordplay that uses scientific reference and logic.”

James sees his upcoming performance at the Nanaimo Fringe Festival as an opportunity for him  try new jokes in front of a foreign audience.

“I look at a place like Nanaimo as a place where I can be more experimental. I can try things on an audience of a different culture.”

Throughout his comedy career, James has faced many challenges. In order to help seperate him from other comedians, James can also do routines in Welsh, which has helped him land more paying gigs.

“I can speak Welsh, but to actually be able to do gigs and do comedy well enough to make audiences laugh was challenge,” he said. “You have to try and find other avenues. If you’re up against a brick wall in one avenue then you have to go down another avenue.”

When James looks back at his career, he said he is proud of a performance he did last year at the Glee Club in Cardiff, Wales.

“I managed to draw on all of my 20 years of experience of all the gigs I’ve ever had,” he said. “If you keep doing comedy, you find that keep learning stuff no matter how long you have been doing it.”

Noel James performs at the Nanaimo Fringe Festival on Friday (Aug. 15) at at 7 p.m. at the Nanaimo Museum. James also performs on Aug. 22 at 9 p.m. and Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. at the museum.

For more information on the Nanaimo Fringe Festival including a full schedule, please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod