Colin Cowan

Choose between comedy and music? "Impossible."

Illustration by TJ Reynolds
Illustration by TJ Reynolds

If you were to apply a razor to Vancouver’s burgeoning comedy scene, you would discover that a few key players are responsible for weaving a fine tapestry of laughs. Colin Edward Cowan is certainly one of those players. His name graces the rosters of several comedy troops including the tentatively named Vancouver Comedic Players and the Ryan Steele show, of which he said he is “proudly one of two straight members.” And if you’ve ever visited China Cloud you’ll remember him as the outrageous bartender.

The Comedic Players perform the third Tuesday of every month in the Chinatown venue China Cloud, which is run in part by Cowan with his friends and co-performers Cam MacLeod, Craig Anderson, Ryan Beil, Tazman VanRassel and Chris Kelly, who among other things produces a podcast for CBC Radio 3 and performs with Analog Bell Service. Some of the skits at China Cloud seem a little more rehearsed than others, leaving a window for improvisation and even a little crowd interaction, which is where Cowan shines. Cowan often purveys his unique style of character driven sketch comedy from behind the China Cloud’s fully functional bar. At the most recent performance he tended as Colin’s cousin from Newfoundland, Squid Cowan, no doubt drawing on his formative years in New Brunswick, which also included some time on the road with the infamous Picnicface, which hail from Halifax [ed. Actually, one of the members of Picnicface, Mark Little, is from Vancouver.].

Cowan’s foray in show business does not stop at comedy. It’s no secret that he is a successful musician in his own right; he plays bass guitar with his own band Analog Bell Service and gigs regularly with numerous musicians, including a present tour with Dan Mangan. And if forced to choose between comedy and music? Cowan’s response is a single and unsimplifiable: “impossible.”