By Mike Pearson, News staff
He’s known to children all over the world as Vane, the zany host of YTV’s reality game show, Splatalot. It’s Wipeout meets American Gladiators, and it reaches kids in 150 countries.
He’s performed in front of crowds since the age of six, first as a dancer and later as an actor. But Eric Johnston’s biggest satisfaction comes from performing for people close to his hometown of Stoney Creek.
Johnston is preparing to join an evening of stand-up comedy next week at Lotos Banquet Hall at 275 Barton St.
A Comedy in the Creek Christmas will include performances by Johnston along with Pat MacDonald, Melissa Story, professional headliner K. Trevor Wilson and special guest Mark DeBonis.
A seasoned entertainer, K. Trevor Wilson launched his career as a child actor before entering the world of comedy more than a decade ago. As a performer, he’s worked alongside such notable names as pop star Nelly Furtado and actors Matt Dillon and Jay Barushel.
Like Johnston, Wilson made the move to stand-up and has headlined shows across Canada. He’s the only two-time winner of the Toronto Comedy Brawl. He appeared on a CBC gala at the 2011 Winnipeg Comedy Festival and won the Irwin Barker Award at the 2012 Homegrown Competition of Just For Laughs.
As an organizer and promoter, Johnston has enjoyed a steady following for his monthly Comedy in the Creek showcases at Lotos. As a semi-professional stand-up comic, Johnston loves to interact with audiences with his own unique style of observational humour. A graduate of the prestigious Humber College Theatre Performance program and the Vancouver Film School, Johnston made his first foray into stand-up five years ago and has never looked back. His Comedy in the Creek shows are organized by Johnston’s own production company, Bullwhip Productions.
Johnston is the son of the late pro wrestler Bullwhip Johnston.
In recent years, Johnston has performed in New York City with Tom Green, Howie Mandel and America’s Got Talent finalist Taylor Williamson.
“I’ve been travelling and doing these shows and I just thought, Stoney Creek doesn’t have anything like this,” said Johnston. “There’s no real professional, tightly run comedy shows any more.”
Johnston compares Comedy in the Creek to the 1990s TV series Comedy at Club 54, which aired on CHTV. For his upcoming showcase, Johnston will ask guests to bring non-perishable food items in support of the Stoney Creek Community Food Bank.
Guests who attend Tuesday’s showcase can expect a professionally run event, with an all-star lineup, said Johnston.
“It’s really great. I’m really happy with where I’m going with it,” said Johnston. “People know about the show. I don’t have to do any hunting anymore. People are coming to me. It’s exciting.”
With a stage and bar area at opposite ends of the room, Johnston said Lotos offers an ideal venue for stand-up comedy. His shows have routinely attracted between 200 and 300 guests.
Tuesday’s showcase runs from 8-10 p.m. and tickets are $10. Table reservations are available by calling 905-870-1419.
Hosted by Clifford Myers, the showcase also features special guest Mark DeBonis, a finalist in XM Radio Canada’s Next Top Comic contest.
A winner of The Great Canadian Laugh Off, DeBonis captured a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Stand-up Newcomer. He’s performed for sold out shows at Toronto’s Rivoli Theatre, co-headlining with Opposites Attract and Toronto’s famed Second City as the headlining act of NBA Comics. DeBonis also hosts and produces numerous successful comedy shows in his hometown of Toronto.