Dennis Trainor makes me laugh.
I enjoy the facial expressions and the comical characters he creates whenever he gets in front of a camera.
He’s been on my giggle radar ever since I saw him scrunch up his face in a television ad for Advance Rentals, well over a decade ago.
“It played on CBC for nine years. The royalties were so incredible I could retire or at least rent tools for cost,” jokes Trainor, when I meet him for coffee on Thursday.
Those were his early days.
Since then, the P.E.I. actor has gone on to star in popular shows like “Just Passing Through” and “Pogey Beach” as well as the up-and-coming web series, “Wharf Rats”, which debuts this fall.
But, lately he’s been doing something different.
After collaborating with others on film and video projects, he’s changing his focus.
“The medium of film and web series has become congested and, in an ocean of great productions and a lot of junk, it’s difficult to navigate, especially when you’re trying to produce something. So, I’m taking a bit of a step back.”
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Trainor is redirecting his energies into a one-man comedy show.
“I’m stepping out on my own. I want to rely on myself. . . . And I don’t know if I can unless you take that long journey of the heart,” says Trainor, who is creating and producing a one-man comedy show, “Know Your Audience”. The countryside tour kicks off Friday, Sept. 13, at Bogside Brewery in Montague.
The idea for the show was inspired by the notion of human interactions.
“People want to connect with core emotions. They are not just (satisfied) being an Islander or a person who has watched the season finale of ‘Game of Thrones’ and shared it at the office.”
And, he thought, if he explored his own core emotions, would audience members experience the same thing?
“You set people up with emotions like love, hate, jealousy or envy – a really awful thing – those core feelings that we all share.”
Sometimes audience members don’t get them right away because they’re there to listen to a comedian.
“But, by building the pretense and having them go along for the ride they realize that they’re at the front of the roller coaster and I’m at the back, operating the brake. That’s because I’m really talking about them.”
Taking this step is also dangerous for him.
After building a solid reputation as an actor who plays off other actors, he’s alone in the limelight.
“When I’m on stage what I’m solely operating solely is the limbic system – fight or flight. And this is really me,” says Trainor, who adds that while it's necessary, getting to know your audience in a personal way is becoming harder and harder to do.”
That’s true in comedy, especially.
“People have different ways to obtain comedy. It might be around the water cooler, it might be at a comedy club, but the methods today are Netflix and You Tube. You punch in the keys and watch the comedy (on the screen). People are watching it in bed.
“And, I’ve been laughed at many times in bed, but it’s never watching Netflix together.”
If you are going:
What: “Know Your Audience”, a one-man comedy show by Dennis Trainor
When and where: Countryside Tour kicks off Friday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m., at Bogside Brewery in Montague
Complete list of dates: Go to https://alkarim-ux.github.io/dennistrainor.github.io/
Tickets: Available from https://www.eventbrite.com
Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at sally.cole@TheGuardian.pe.ca or by phone at 902-629-6000, ext. 6054.