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B.C. comedian a Happy Camper returning to the North after global success

Alex Mackenzie will be hosting shows throughout Northern B.C. in “Happy Camper” tour

Alex Mackenzie’s life could have turned out very different than it has.

Having just finished an apprenticeship as an instrument mechanic in 2019, Mackenzie was set to enter a stable, well-paying career at a Prince George pulp mill and perform small-time comedy shows on the side.

But his fear of a monotonous life pushed him to take a life-changing leap of faith, one that has resulted in sold-out shows at arenas around the world and his own Amazon Prime special.

“It was scary. As soon as I finished the trade, I felt like I could see every day of my life for the rest of my life. I was like, ‘I’m going to come into this mill and do this job and walk through the same red door every day for the next 30 years,” Mackenzie said in an interview with The Northern View.

“Comedy was the one thing I kind of liked doing that I could see a way to monetize … I started going on the road with pro comics, then the plan quickly became, ‘sell your car, sell your house, buy an RV.’”

After touring Australia, Mackenzie is now coming back to the North for the first segment of his 28-city “Happy Camper” tour.

Mackenzie has a happy-go-lucky brand of comedy, which he said is part of his goal to spread positivity and joy at his shows.

“I think there’s enough people saying that the world is falling apart, that we feel more divided than ever,” said Mackenzie.

“I think there’s a lot of reasons why there’s never been a better time to be alive … I try to be very positive and uplifting.”

Representing the north on a global stage has been an honour for Mackenzie, who in his youth spent summers fishing in Prince Rupert, where his grandfather lived.

“I take a lot of pride in coming from northern B.C.,” he said.

“Most comedians have a joke about it, and it’s always about it being a laughing stock.”

Mackenzie — who used to play in the Central Interior Hockey League — also said the north has an underrated sense of humour.

“All my friends are the funniest people I’ve met. I don’t think I’m exceptionally funny,” he said.

“I was just the one who took the risk and tried it out.”

Growing up in Prince George, Mackenzie always enjoyed watching stand-up shows on TV, but only started performing in the area about a decade ago, when he would open for Vancouver-based professional comics.

“I was doing that for a while, getting to meet some people who were doing it professionally and it was just so fun. I really, really enjoyed it,” he said.

“But I still didn’t know if I wanted to do it … you suck at the beginning. So once the fun of the first few events goes by and the novelty is worn off, you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this is that fun, I’m going out there telling jokes and no one’s laughing.’ But I just stuck with it.”

Honing his craft has been a challenging yet rewarding journey for Mackenzie, who said his shows are much more personal than they used to be.

“When you’re just trying to learn to write a joke, it doesn’t really have much personal meaning. You’re just like, ‘how do I write a joke?’ And then it’s like, knock knock, who’s there? There’s nothing to it,” he said. 

“Now I’m at such a fun stage in my career, where most of my material is me talking about my life and experiences, and then using my craft of joke-writing to dispense it in a fun way.”

He added that he likes to incorporate emotional, serious topics into his shows.

“I always close my shows with some emotion from the heart,” he said.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert man paddleboarding to raise funds for Hike for Hospice

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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