Comedian Pete Zedlacher can call himself a “Superior” skier.
Raised on the north shore of the largest of the Great Lakes, Zedlacher learned to ski in Wawa, Ont., a town most famed for its giant goose that sits at the junction of the Trans Canada Highway and Highway 101.
“We had a small ski hill in Wawa with one lift and three runs. I have some fond memories of skiing there,” said Zedlacher, who was taught to ski by his Austrian-born father. “Back in the ’80s there was some wear and tear on the lift and it would have cost too much to repair it so Wawa lost its ski hill.”
Zedlacher has come a long way from skiing Mount Wawa. The 44-year-old started his showbiz career in 1996 after leaving the swells of Lake Superior for the metropolises of New York and Toronto. He has since played at Montreal’s Just for Laughs and most of the major comedy festivals in Canada and abroad.
“Then the next thing I know, I am at Lake Louise, Banff and Revelstoke. It’s a long way from Wawa,” he said.
Zedlacher is referring to his three-year stint as a member of the Snowed In Comedy Tour.
Now in its ninth year, the once small Canadian comedy (and ski-snowboarding) tour has already played to a sold-out 1,400-seat theatre in Victoria to two sold-out shows in Kamloops to a packed bar in Fernie, along with many other venues across B.C. The tour also winds its way to Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Zedlacher is being joined on this leg by Snowed In founder Dan Quinn, MC Craig Campbell and Paul Myrehaug for two shows in Vernon – one at the Performing Arts Centre Feb. 4 and another at Silver Star Feb. 9.
Zedlacher originally joined the tour when fellow comedian Arj Barker (of Flight of the Conchords fame) had to leave suddenly.
“They asked me if I would fill in. I’ve known these guys my entire comedy career… It’s been a great fit,” said Zedlacher. “This is the only comedy tour where you have to physically train. This past year, I was thinking of all the skiing I had to do so I was hitting the gym constantly, getting my ski legs ready. We ski at least four-to-five days a week and do a show every night, but don’t think for a second that I’m complaining.”
The equipment has also changed since Zedlacher’s ski days back in Wawa.
“I’m on big, fat skis now and am also trying snowboarding. I am very bruised and was concerned that I was going to snap my wrists. You know you’re going to take a tumble or two, so you just have to learn how to fall.”
The same could be said about getting up on stage to perform stand-up comedy.
“I see that as a direct parallel to comedy,” said Zedlacher. “You go up there and take risks every night. You’re sometimes going to have a few falls, but if you don’t keep trying, you’re never going to get better.”
Those tumbles and falls – both physically and metaphorically – have also provided some of the source material for the Snowed In tour.
“We write about what we know. Comics have to find a unique voice,” said Zedlacher. “The tour started Jan. 2 and we usually know what jokes we’re going to bring to the tour every year. But as the shows go on, all those jokes get polished and we tag onto each other’s jokes.”
Zedlacher adds that he and his fellow comics have been bowled over by the amount of people coming to the shows this year.
“We’ve had way more shows sold out than not. That what’s happening with this branding; it has become a main staple of comedy out here.”
Presented by the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, the Snowed In comedy tour at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre starts Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (please note later start time). Tickets are at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. The tour winds its way up to Silver Star Mountain Resort Thursday, Feb. 9 at Restaurant 1609 in the Vance Creek Hotel. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com.