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A late comic bloomer

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Comedian Debra DiGiovanni will perform at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Feb. 6.
By her own admission, comedian Debra DiGiovanni may have come to her career a bit later than many, but she's reaping the rewards for the wait.
"It was sort of a long trip around," she said. "But making people laugh is powerful. It's unbelievable … and it's satisfying. Now I'm at a point where I know I'm lucky and I'm grateful every day.
"I know I'm funny and I know I'm talented, but I know it's a bit of a fluke."
DiGiovanni will bring her brand of humour based on observances of everyday life and her "loveable, awkward confidence" to the Kelowna Community Theatre on Feb. 6. She's on a cross-country tour that has already proved to be a bit more interesting than she perhaps envisioned.
Having a few days off in her former home of Toronto after kicking off the tour in the Maritimes at the height of the epic early January storm that pummeled the area, she was able to make light of that situation.
"We barely got out," she said. "Actually, we were delayed about six hours. It got to the point where they were cancelling every flight. It made for great jokes … pain is funny.
"But the shows were amazing; it was a great start to the tour. The East Coast is always a pleasure because they're just the world's best laugher. They just are."
Now 42, DiGiovanni moved from the small southwestern Ontario town of Tilsonburg at 19. It was while studying art at Ryerson College in Toronto that she figured the art world wasn't exactly for her.
"It wasn't giving me what I wanted," she said. "And then on a whim, I got a job at CITY-TV, at MuchMusic, and that sort of planted the seed and that's when I really thought, 'Hey, I could perform.'"
Although that job mostly entailed leading tours of the station, DiGiovanni also wrangled some bit parts in shows and one thing led to another. While attending another school in the Toronto area she started a comedy-writing workshop where she and others were able to hone their humour.
"It built up more and more until all my friends said 'Finally do it, would you,'"
So at 28, she quit her job and pursued a career in comedy, starting out in standup around the year 2000, playing the clubs and all the while working on her craft and making audiences laugh with her ebullient delivery.
She's since built up a fan base across the country and since moving to L.A. a few year ago, has been making inroads there as well.
Three times a winner as Best Female Comic at the Canadian Comedy Awards, she's also been a featured panelist on The comedy Network's Match Game show and has been a regular on CBC Radio's popular show The Debaters, which earned her a Canadian Comedy Award nomination for writing.
She is also a Gemini award winner and has been a regular at the Just For Laughs festival, was a finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing show and has starred in her own U.S. special, Single Awkward Female, on Showtime. She recently made her acting debut in an independent comedy entitled Unlucky, and plans on pursuing more opportunities on the big and small screen when they come up.
But even with the success and accolades she's achieved, she said it's still a bit weird to explain what she does when others ask about it.
"It's not really disbelief," she said. "But I think people know it's a hard gig, so they're like 'Wow, that's something.'"
DiGiovanni has been called the "best comedian to see after a messy breakup," a description she embraces.
"I love that title, I really do," she said. "If I could wear it on a banner on my shirt, I would.
"But obviously, laughter will get you through anything … and misery loves company. It's just one of those things."
Being so busy on the road and in the rest of her career, DiGiovanni could be forgiven for not taking time to be grateful for what she's achieved in a notoriously unforgiving business, but that's not the case with DiGiovanni.
Perhaps the fact she came to the business a little later than most is a factor, but no matter what, she's excited about her career.
"Comedy never bores me," she said. "I'm always excited to be on stage.
"I always want to be on stage and it hasn't dimmed at all.
It's the most fulfilling job I've ever had in my life."

QUICKFACTS
Who: Comedian Debra DiGiovanni live in performance
Where: The Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water St.
When: Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $44.25 plus applicable fees and taxes. Available online at ticketmaster.ca or by calling 855-985-5000
More info: Hahaha.com or go to debradigiovanni.com

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