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Comedian Katie-Ellen Humphries rediscovers an appetite for ‘joy and silliness’

The Vancouver comic co-headlines show alongside Julie Kim a part of Arts Whistler Live! on Jan. 28
Katie-Ellen Humphries is co-headlining a comedy show at the Maury Young Arts Centre with comedian Julie Kim on Jan. 28.

Katie-Ellen Humphries doesn’t mind all the predawn wake-ups her stand-up comedy career sometimes demands.

“It’s nothing for me to get up at 4 a.m. for a flight,” she confirms. “I used to get up at 4 a.m. before high school.”

That’s because growing up in Victoria, she trained 30 hours a week to become a three-time national champion of the five-kilometre, open water swim.

“Sometimes when I think about swimming and the amount of time I put into it—there’s not a transferrable talent in the same way there would’ve been had I been a gymnast or an ice skater. There are performance arts elements you can transition into with other sports. A backflip is always cool. Swimming doesn’t have one of those. ‘If you have a couple of hours, I can swim for you’ isn’t a cool party trick.”

But she did glean one transferrable skill.

“What I do carry over into elements of life is a pretty intense work ethic,” she says. “In particular, building this career, it’s not one that’s particularly lucrative, especially starting out. You end up having to juggle different revenue streams, working a day job and working a night job and fitting in travel.”

After toiling away—splitting her time between Vancouver and New York City, touring the U.S., contributing regularly to CBC’s The Debaters (where she’s also served as a writer and associate producer), and becoming a founding member of The Lady Show (a variety show that combines stand-up, music, and sketch comedy)—for a decade, last year, Humphries also carved out some time for life.

“Certainly 2022 was very personally enriching,” she says. “I caught up on a lot of life stuff, social things … There’s a beautiful element in live performance. It’s social, you’re having a social experience and using enormous amounts of social energy, but it’s not the same as spending time with a couple of loved ones or dating—that energy.”

Judging by her onstage confidence and polish, it’s hard to imagine Humphries as an introvert with some level of social anxiety. It’s actually not that uncommon for comedians, she says.

“I’m often more comfortable addressing a crowd than a one-on-one interaction or a regular social interaction,” she says. “There’s a lot of constraints in a stand-up performance in terms of knowing you need to speak for this length of time. After that, the pressure is off. It’s not your turn anymore. It’s not the same as a back-and-forth conversation.”

But within those parameters, coming out of the height of the pandemic, she found herself drawn to silly humour—harkening back to her earliest days behind the mic in Victoria.

“I feel like my delivery has matured and refined and I do think I have a greater appetite for joy and silliness in my act,” she says. “When we couldn’t perform, what happened was I was writing in a vacuum a little bit. I wasn’t going out every night, I wasn’t in a comedy club environment. I got back to the real origins of where I started—a little bit weirder than where I ended up after honing my voice in clubs.”

Whistlerites will have a chance to check out Humphries’ brand of humour on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Maury Young Arts Centre as part of the Arts Whistler Live! series. She is co-headlining with Julie Kim and will share the stage with special guest Henok Meresa.

“I’m so excited to be co-headlining with Julie Kim,” she says. “We were just in New York this weekend. I got to watch her headline a sold-out Lunar New Year show. I think she’s at the top of her game and it’s such a treat to see. And Henok Meresa is one of my favourite acts to watch. He has such a unique take and voice and he has a really beautiful heart. There’s a real kindness, even when he talks about difficult or challenging stuff—or what might seem on the surface like an angry topic—there’s a beauty to it.”

Tickets for the (nearly sold-out) show are $25, available at