White Yardie still remembers his first time performing in Canada. The Jamaican comedian, now based in the United Kingdom, says he’s learned over time that Canadian winters aren’t a laughing matter.
“England’s kind of cold, but it’s not Canadian cold,” he said.
“The first time I came, I had to buy a coat for my coat, just to keep my coat warm so it would keep me warm.
“First time I went on stage in Canada, I actually wore a winter coat onstage… I was scared to take it off.”
The comic, born Harry Gregory in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, will be dressing for the weather once again as part of his month-long Canadian tour, which sees him perform at Winnipeg’s Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain on Thursday night.
While he naturally attracts fans from the Caribbean diaspora, Yardie said his comedy isn’t tailored only for people from the islands.
“My jokes … are about life experiences, things that I observe, things that I’ve been through.
“Over the years, I have learned that I want my comedy to be universal to everyone. I don’t just want to be put into a bracket — ‘he’s a Jamaican comedian, if you’re not Jamaican, if you’re not Caribbean, you won’t get his jokes.’
“If I am telling a joke that is pretty much about Jamaica or things that happen in Jamaica … I break it down. I give information. So if there’s a word that we might use in Jamaica that no one else knows, I will then tell you what the word means.”
Yardie’s current tour — which includes a number of already sold-out shows — takes him to cities in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia through the rest of November, and he said based on his past experiences here, Canadian audiences are among his favourite, worldwide.
“I feel that Canadian people are very open to embracing other cultures,” he said.
“The majority of the public, it feels like they are keen to know more about other people’s cultures instead of just shutting it off, you know?
“I enjoy the vibe of Canada. I feel that Canada is a place I could live — if I could convince the wife, you know?”