“I do stand-up, I work at my job, and I play League of Legends. That’s me in a nutshell,” says Kyle Bottom, quite bluntly. The 31-year-old comic is very much your modern comedian: laid-back, humble, but addicted to laughter.
“I used to monopolize my friends’ time when we hung out. I’d always be trying a wisecrack or getting people’s attention,” says Bottom. “I started doing stand-up because I thought I’d give my friends a break.”
Despite his self-professed attention-seeking, Bottom is not the Vegas showboat type, winking and nudging every important person in the room, schmoozing like it’s nobody’s business. No, Bottom is, as described on his website, “a nerd in a slacker’s body.”
“My favourite things are League of Legends and Magic cards, so I have nerdy hobbies,” says Bottom. “But I don’t think you have to be a nerd in order to be a slacker. You just have to be inactive to be a slacker.”
When asked how his nerdiness related to his comedy, Bottom says he tries to write nerdy jokes, but it’s always hard to tell what’s relatable.
“I did a Magic cards joke for a while that I really like, but people would come up to me after shows and didn’t get it at all. They’d be like, ‘So you do magic tricks?’ and I was like, ‘Aw, no. It’s like a really popular trading card game. Ah, never mind.’”
However, while Bottom’s nerd tendencies ring true, he seems to shed the slacker image when describing his dedication to comedy and what it takes to become a professional comic.
“Confidence is one of those things that you build over time,” says Bottom, shifting into his comedy-guru mentality. “You build it by working on your material a lot and by performing as many shows as you can. If you only do two shows a week and still consider yourself a serious stand-up, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing.”
Bottom even shows dedication to comedy in the jokes he tells, straddling the line between comic and method actor, albeit in a silly way.
“My opener used to be a moustache joke and I used to wear a moustache for two years just to tell the joke, which was a horrible life decision,” he says, going on to lament the moustache even as a concept. “I won’t do the joke unless I want to pull it out at a big show, which I can, because I have a full beard now, so I still have a moustache but it’s just hidden.”
Bottom, on one of his most memorable nights in stand-up:
“One time I was hosting at the Comedy Mix…when Craig Robinson from The Office showed up. And he was hammered. He came back into the green room and he didn’t want to do a spot or anything, so we just sat around the back room, just me, Craig, and Simon King, and then out of nowhere, Craig picks up a water bottle and whips it at Simon’s head. And Simon grabs it out of the air and goes, ‘What’s going on?’ And Craig said, ‘I don’t know.’
Then I had to go up after Simon’s set. I say, ‘Simon King, ladies and gentlemen,’ and then everyone starts screaming because Craig just walks through the curtain, puts his arm around me, grabs the mic, and screams, ‘What’s up Vancouver?’ then walks off stage. And no one got a picture of it, but it was a really cool moment.”
While Bottom’s moustache is currently on sabbatical, he has moved on to a new opener, one that he rather enjoys.
“I have names for all my jokes. This joke is called ‘What Women Want.’ I talk about how I’m single and how it’s confusing to me because I give women what they want. Like when I’m walking down the street and I see a beautiful woman, and we make eye contact, I know she’s thinking, ‘Mm, hope this guy doesn’t talk to me.’”
Bottom’s passion for stand-up has even evolved to the point where he teaches stand-up comedy classes for Instant Theatre. When asked how one goes about teaching stand-up, Bottom is once again blunt but succinct.
“You can’t. Because stand-up is an individual art form, there’s nothing I can really teach. I’m more of a coach. It’s really hard to tell people how to do stand-up, but it’s easy to watch them do it and then tell them what they’re doing wrong.”
And while teaching students how to create their own stage persona is difficult, Bottom seems to have his own stand-up mentality down.
“Lately my jokes have been a little cheeky,” says Bottom, a description he mentions was used by both his mom and CBC Radio. “I try to be funny and at the same time walk the line between what is offensive and what is not. I don’t ever want to offend people, but I don’t mind putting them on edge for a minute or two. I have a joke about feminists and it’s really fun to tell because I know I’m going to offend people in the audience when I tell it. The premise is that I recently decided to become a feminist, because when I found out there was an organization by women for women, I said, ‘Well they’re going to need a man around.’”
And what’s next for Bottom? Well, it’s quite simple. He’ll keep doing shows and he’ll keep being “a nerd.” And hey, the next time you’re playing League of Legends, remember that you might be placing turrets and killing monsters with one of Vancouver’s hottest, cheekiest comedians.
Bottom headlines the Comedy Mix September 12 to 14.
Bottom also runs the show Comedy at the Koz with Ivan Decker every third Thursday at the Kozmik Zoo. The next show is September 19.