A Terry Fox secondary graduate is back on the stage in B.C. and Alberta this and next month to perform stand-up comedy.
Speaking from Whitecourt, Alta., Durena told the Tri-City News that the gigs are going well — and many younger audience members are coming out to see him because of his large TikTok following.
Since December, when Durena started to take the social media platform more seriously, he has acquired more than 3.1 million followers; on his channel, he makes funny (and often raw) comments on trends and other TikTokers.
“It happened very fast,” he said, referring to the popularity of his channel.
Creating and performing his content for in-person and digital formats have been Durena’s dream for the past eight years.
After graduating from Terry Fox secondary in 2010, Durena attended Capilano University and then relocated to Playa del Carmen in Mexico for three years; there, he plied his trade as a scuba diving instructor and, for the last year, as a bartender.
Durena also did stand-up routines but he knew that if he wanted to become successful and make money as a comedian, he would have to move to the big city. In 2014, he left the sunny weather for Toronto, where he now lives full-time.
Durena remembers when he started at a comedy club, he heard an MC introduce a veteran performer as “one of the hardest working comedians in Toronto.”
“I thought, I want people to say that about me,’” Durena said, adding, “I try to put a lot of work into my shows. I’m writing as much as I can and I’m truly enjoying it.”
His diligence has paid off: He was the runner-up in SiriusXM’s Next Top Comic, headlined Just For Laughs (JFL) shows, appeared on JFL All Access on Comedy Central and opened for American comedian Michelle Wolf.
When the opportunity came up to perform live in B.C. and Alberta this summer, Durena said he jumped at the chance to try out his new material and to get the juices flowing again.
“There seems to be a bit of a window right now between the third and fourth stages of the COVID pandemic,” he said. “We’re not quite sure how Stage 4 is going to go, so we thought this was the best time to get out there and make the most of it.”
Durena said he hopes to have the JNT Comedy Tour land in Vancouver — or even Port Coquitlam, where his father and friends live — in a future year, when it’s safe to travel.
The 2021 tour ends on Sept. 5 in Camrose, Alta.