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Vancouver comic Kyle Bottom strips away the senses for stand-up comedy show

Vancouver comic Kyle Bottom, a veteran of the local stand-up comedy scene, thinks he can do his act blindfolded.

Or at least he hopes he can, because on Friday at Little Mountain Gallery, that’s exactly what he’ll be doing.

Bottom is the creative mind behind Senseless, a star-studded night of stand-up comedy with a unique twist: each performer will do their set wearing a blindfold and noise-cancelling headphones, stripping away their ability to gauge the crowd’s reaction to their jokes.

“The whole idea is that in order to do stand-up comedy effectively you have to either be able to hear your audience or see your audience to know how they’re responding,” said Bottom, “but if you can’t do either of those things then it’s a real unknown. So we wanna see what happens.”

To further ensure performers can’t hear a single chuckle or titter, the headphones will also be playing white noise like waves or raindrops, Bottom said. And to ensure nobody falls off the stage, the evening’s emcee will be standing by as a spotter.

Bottom, who will perform at the show alongside several popular local comics, including Graham Clark, Sophie Buddle, Ross Dauk and Fatima Dhowre, said the idea was drawn from his own anxieties as a performer.

“I actually get fairly anxious onstage,” he said. “I’m always worried about how people are responding — are they having a good time? I just thought it would be fun to just remove all of that from the equation, take that out of it, and then have comedy be about entertaining yourself, really.”

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Although one wonders if the format will really strip away any anxiety when it effectively forces each comedian to be alone onstage with their own thoughts — something Bottom discovered during a dry run with sensory-deprivation gear.

“When you’re just alone with your thoughts, then when your ears are covered like that, everything you say just sounds so much louder in your own head,” he said with a laugh.

Bottom has high hopes for Senseless, which has already sold out its first night, suggesting the format might have a future beyond Friday’s performance.

“If everyone has a good time and if the audience has fun and the performers have fun, I could definitely see this becoming a new monthly show in Vancouver,” he said.

He added that the real mark of success would be if comedians in other cities began copying the idea.

But for now, Bottom is focused solely on Senseless’s debut. The hope, he said, is that almost everybody enjoys it.

“I would be happy if most people had a good time and then one person maybe just really couldn’t handle it,” he said. “And who knows, I might be that one person.”

Senseless: Sensory Deprived Comedy goes Friday at 10:30 p.m. at Little Mountain Gallery.

hmooney@postmedia.com

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