Exclusive interview with Gina Harms

Blog post by Ross Munro for Wholly Cinema.
Original photos by Maria Munro.

If you thought twenty something dudes with beards and trucker hats was the only option in comedy clubs nowadays you just might have to put down the vape and reconsider.

At least here in Vancouver the comedy scene is becoming very notable for its thriving and diverse number of comics descending upon the growing amount of venues embracing comedy nights across our fair city and its chuckle-starved suburbs.

And no one is making more of an impression than up and coming local comic Gina Harms as she prepares to take the stage once again at Vancouver’s venerable cinema The Rio as part of the hilarious live movie riffing trio The Gentleman Hecklers as they offer up their comedic payloads and wiseacre jabs at some of the cheesiest movies Hollywood has to offer.

Along with fellow Hecklers Eric Fell and Patrick Maliha, Gina will be throwing down this Wednesday, September 12 at 9:30 pm on the classic stinker “Batman and Robin”. Note: The Rio Theatre has awesome popcorn and stellar craft beer so don’t you dare miss The Hecklers if you live in Vancouver!

Also, Gina will be starting a new emceeing gig every Monday evening for Open Mic Night at The Kino here in Vancouver.

Luckily, the extremely affable Ms Harms was able to take some time from her busy schedule to grab a coffee and chat with us ink-stained wretches (ok- we use computers) at Wholly Cinema for the following interview.

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Wholly Cinema: What was your path that led you to the world of stand up comedy?

Gina Harms: I was born and raised in Kamloops, BC and moved here to Vancouver three years ago and did a six month acting/film school program. I always wanted to do comedic acting and writing like Tina Fey- who I basically idolized. The school I was at then offered a nine-month intensive course on comedy that included sketch, improv, stand up- even singing and dancing. Stand up comedy ended up the thing that I liked the best.

WC: What are some of your earliest memories of performing stand up?

GH: Actually, you could go way back to when I was in high school. I took acting class and in grade 12 my acting teacher decided he wanted us all to do stand up in front of our class- so that technically could be the first time I tried it.

The next time would’ve been in my previous class where we ended up doing a showcase at Yuk Yuk’s in front of teacher, friends, family- so it was a really supportive environment actually to do stand up for the first time.

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WC: What was your first professional gig like?

GH: After graduating from my class, I went to a few Open Mic nights. I went from school thinking I had lots of confidence to the Open Mic where you’re sitting there waiting to go on and two hours go by and you haven’t gone up yet and most of the comics have left. You end up doing your five minute set in front of three other comics who are sitting there thinking about their own material.

From there I did a couple of Amateur Nights at Yuk Yuk’s which is a real good place to gauge if your material is good. Some people do alright and some people bomb.

WC: What stand up comics were you influenced by?

GH: I really love Ellen Degeneres. She’s just so funny and seems like a real good person. As far as other comics- as a teenager I used to watch Saturday Night Live which was probably my first introduction to comedy. I also started watching Sarah Silverman.

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WC: Do you have a specific process on how you create your stand up material?

GH: I like to talk about a lot of things that have happened to me and things that I do- I like to tell stories of my life. A lot of times I’ll be talking to my friends and if they laugh I’ll quickly write down a note in my phone about what I said and revisit that later.

Usually I’ll just think of something and then write it out word for word how I think it will go and just try it out on stage at Open Mic nights.

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WC: How many minutes of live material do you have presently?

GH: I actually had to think of that recently as I was asked to headline and was told I could have twenty minutes. I had to ask myself- do I have twenty minutes? So I ended up doing what I thought was a pretty cohesive fifteen minutes that all really flowed in a good order. So I guess you could say I have a tight fifteen.

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WC: Where do you see yourself professionally in the near future?

GH: I love Vancouver and the stand up scene here is great so I’d like to keep going with that for a while- maybe try and get weekend spots at clubs. Eventually I’d love to work enough to actually get paid to do comedy. I also really like acting and hosting comedy shows which I’ve been doing a lot lately- basically emceeing.

A long term kind of dream would be to be a talk show host or some kind of host- that would be something I’d really be interested in doing.

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WC: The Gentlemen Hecklers are Vancouver’s long running and beloved live movie riffing team (a la Mystery Science Theater 3000) featuring local comics Eric Fell and Patrick Maliha. Now that you’ve recently joined them, what’s it like to prepare for their show?

GH: We all watch the movie separately- however many times- and then we write our jokes. Then we all watch the movie together and make sure we’re not talking over each other and then we cut this joke or say that joke’s funnier- just editing until we have the final script that we perform onstage.

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WC: What advice would you offer a comic starting out?

GH: I would say to get on stage as much as possible. I started out thinking I’ll do one Open Mic per week but then you realize every comic is going to all of them. The only way to get better at something is by doing it. Also, be grateful.

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Tickets: Riotheatre.ca/movie/the-gentlemen-hecklers/

Follow Gina Harms on Social Media:

Twitter @ginaharms

Facebook facebook.com/Gina Harms

Instagram @hinagarms

Viva La Cinema!