Bonnie McFarlane Comedian – one on one interview

Bonnie McFarlane

The 37th edition of the Just for Laughs comedy festival is only weeks away, and Montreal is ready to get nasty with The Nasty Show. A constant festival highlight, this year is sure to be no different. One of its stars is Canadian-American Bonnie McFarlane. A writer, director, wife to comedian Rich Vos (listen to their hilarious podcast; “My Wife Hates Me”), mother to a young daughter, and you guessed it, stand-up comedienne.

Bonnie McFarlane
Bonnie McFarlane

Bonnie McFarlane is ready to take the stage. I had to the chance to speak with Bonnie about her upcoming gigs at JFL, and here’s what was said:

Montreal Times: The Nasty Show is a JFL staple, how excited are you to be in Montreal and to be part it?

Bonnie McFarlane: I’m super excited to be doing this show. Montreal is so fun and I’ve played here many times, but I’ve never done The Nasty Show. I was reading up on who’s been on the show before and there were some pretty high caliber names on that list. It’s the big one, and I’ve heard people love coming to the show, so I can’t wait do it.

MtlTimes: You were born in Alberta and now live in the U.S., what’s it like when you come back to perform in Canada?

BM: I love coming back and performing here. The people are different, culturally it’s different, the people talk much quieter here then they do in the States. I do have to admit that when I go back home to Alberta I do get irritated, because do you really need to say “Hi” to everyone you meet!?

MtlTimes: You were profiled by the New York Times as one of the “Top Rising Comics”. How does it feel to be on that list?

BM: Getting profiled by the New York Times is one of the greatest to happen. None of my friends read the NY Times, so I had to send them the entire article, ha-ha. It was a really cool experience for me.

MtlTimes: How did comedy start for you?

BM: I was living in Vancouver at the time as a freelance writer and I was also waitressing, and someone told me there was this hostess job opening at a comedy club. I thought that sounded amazing, and I got the job. I then started to think “I’m going to write jokes for these comedians”… I also realized that’s not how comedy works. After about a year of writing, I worked up the courage and just went on-stage. It was fun because my first love is writing and I had to learn how to be a performer, and I loved that.

MtlTimes: Do you have a creative process?

BM: I write every single day. I don’t always write comedy, but I write scripts, for other comics and also a lot of roast material. It takes a long time for me; I’ll write a joke, and then a different version of that joke, and then another version of that same joke.

MtlTimes: What qualities do other comics have that you admire?

BM: I admire the quality of not caring about what the audience thinks. I don’t want to not care completely but I want to stay true to myself. Sometimes when you’re on-stage your ego gets in the way and you just want to make them laugh, and you’ll say things you don’t normally say. I also admire comics who can handle silence, like Anthony Jeselnik. He’ll just do his joke and wait. I wish I had more of that.

MtlTimes: Was there ever a moment when you thought you were funny, but you weren’t quite there yet?

BM: In the beginning there was plenty of bombings, but I also remember early on getting my first standing ovation. When I got off stage the emcee told me to soak that up because it wasn’t going to happen for a long time… he was right.

MtlTimes: How do you deal with hecklers?

BM: I get heckled a lot; I don’t know what it is about my persona. I think that 90% of people who heckle are just trying to have fun, and not actually ruin the show. I have a lot of fun with those people.

MtlTimes: What’s your favourite movie?

BM: “The Princess Bride” or any Albert Brooks movie.

MtlTimes: Who is your favourite artist or band?

BM: R. Kelly. No, that’s wrong. I can’t believe I just said that, ha-ha. I don’t know, right now I only listen to stuff that my daughter listens to and that’s Billie Eilish. I think she’s really talented.

MtlTimes: Who are your favourite comics?

BM: I have to say Rich Vos, not just because he’s my husband. I also love Colin Quinn, I love a very of New York style comedy. I recently worked with Tig (Notaro) again and she made me laugh so hard. Jessica Kirson, Rachel Feinstein, there’s so many.

MtlTimes: What keeps you going in this comedy world?

BM: I can’t quit it, I’ve tried, I want to quit. It’s a love/hate with this thing. When you have a good show it’s amazing, and then you have three bad ones and you want to quit again. I just keep going.

MtlTimes: What is your ultimate goal?

BM: My ultimate goal would be to write and direct a feature film. When I get to the point where I could walk into a comedy club and they ask me to go on-stage, that feeling is better than getting paid.

MtlTimes: And now for our signature question: what song would you have played at your funeral?

BM: It won’t be an R. Kelly song.

You can catch the amazing Bonnie McFarlane along with Jessimae Peluso, Andrew Schulz, Big Jay Oakerson, Chris “Comedian CP” Powell, and host Bobby Lee at The Nasty Show. Don’t miss this epic edition running July 17th through the 27th at MTELUS. Tickets are on sale now at

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