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A screen advertising Kevin Hart's upcoming show in Regina

Regina is moving away from its fly over status as more and more international standup comedians are bringing their act to the Queen City.

The announcement of Kevin Hart’s Regina stop on his Irresponsible Tour adds another big name to the list of standup comedians who have booked shows in Regina over the last few years including Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Burr, Bo Burnham and Jimmy Carr.

The ‎VP of Operations & Business Affairs at Just For Laughs, Christine Melko Ross, said that Regina has become a popular city to book shows.

"We've seen throughout the years that it’s a really good comedy market for us. So when we do national tours, from our Canadian tours, to Jimmy Carr, to dates with Bill Burr it's definitely on our radar as a market we need to go to."

Although many big name international acts are bringing their shows to Regina now, it hasn’t always been that way.

“It was an uphill battle trying to get people to even know that it existed. Because Regina is kind of a small city it’s known as a fly over, so a lot of bigger acts won’t come here,” said Dane Imrie, host and performer at Pass the Hat standup comedy in Regina.

Pass the Hat started out in 2006 as a venture among a group of friends to perform standup for each other, but it has grown along with the rest of the standup scene in Regina. They now perform monthly for crowds at the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange in Regina.

As a relatively small standup scene in a Canadian city, the culture is a bit different in Regina. “It's fun, there’s no people fighting over stage time because there’s as much as you want to get,” said Imrie. “It’s kind of like a team environment to a lot of performers,”

“I feel like it makes the scene more attractive. It makes coming to a show that much more fun,” said Imrie.

This uptick in big name performers has been a boost for the local scene as well. Imrie has noticed quite a lot of growth in the Regina standup scene since he started with Pass the Hat in 2009.

“There were literally shows when I took over where there were 3 people in the audience and that’s it, it's really turned into its own thing,”

Imrie also noted that there are “a lot more voices in the scene than there were maybe even 10 years ago.” 

Christine Melko Ross attributes a part of the increased success of Just For Laughs Canadian tours, to their presence on TV.

"That’s why we are able to sell in markets like Regina because the audience has grown up watching Just For Laughs, knowing that the product of what we put on TV is the quality product that we put on stage. So the Saskatchewan market has just been receptive to it, especially in the last five years."

As the fan base grows, it only encourages more international acts to come perform in Regina.

"We get a lot of comedians that want to see Canada and go to markets where they feel like the experience is going to be strong, and Regina has been very consistent with that," said Ross.

Imrie said that audiences in Regina are driving this demand. They “want to see more standup” and “they’re hungry for it.”