• Anna Robertson

Laugh your way through winter, in both languages

Imagine finding yourself on a dark winter night in a room full of happy people, maybe with a drink in your hand, enjoying some thigh-slapping laughs. If this sounds like a good idea to you, the Dionne Comedy Club Series has you covered.


The series opens at la Fab sur Mill in Chelsea on Nov. 25 and will continue through the winter, offering monthly comedy shows for both French and English audiences to look forward to.


The series is the brainchild of the Wakefield Mill co-owner Lynn Berthiaume, according to Wakefield comic Julien Dionne.


“This was all her idea,” he said. “She loves comedy and she’s very passionate about it.” Although there have been plenty of one-off comedy shows in the Hills over the years, Berthiaume wanted to see a consistent comedy series, Dionne explained.


Dionne hosts the English opening night with headliner Rick Currie. The shows will take turns entertaining anglophones and francophones alike, each with their own particular style of humour. The monthly events will alternate between English and French shows from November to May with a break for the summer and plans to resume again next fall.


Dionne said that Berthiaume wants to bring more comedy to the area, but she also wants to give visiting comics the royal treatment.


“Her idea is for comics to come here, stay in the hotel [Wakefield Mill], and eat great food,” Dionne explained. “As a comic I’m like, ‘Yes, I want that too!’”


Dionne said he is excited about hosting the shows at La Fab, as he said it’s a fun, intimate venue with good acoustics. La Fab’s performance arts director Roberta Walker was instrumental in securing the venue and providing the bar during the comedy nights, he explained.


The two-hour shows will boast local opening acts and a brief intermission before headliners. Dionne is the French headliner during the second show on Dec. 9.


According to Dionne, Berthiaume initially approached him about doing actual bilingual shows, but he instead suggested alternating English and French shows each month. Dionne said that in his experience, “bilingual shows never work.” They tend to attract a francophone audience. French speakers will understand English jokes, but it doesn’t always work the other way, he explained.


As an Acadian from New Brunswick, Dionne is a rare breed and can make people laugh in both languages. He started doing English comedy in 2006 and added French comedy to his repertoire in 2018. He explained that comedy in Quebec is revered by audiences and outshines music, theatre, and every other art form. They “freak out over comedy in Quebec,” he explained. Dionne contrasted this with comedy in English-speaking Canada, which he says often ranks, “somewhere behind backyard amateur wrestling.”


Dionne, a former Low Down columnist, described English-speaking crowds as more “comedy savvy” and sophisticated in their humour, while French speaking audiences are “way more corny.” French audiences will laugh at a sound effect or slap-stick humour, which would never go over with an English crowd, he explained. Both styles have their merits, but for him he said it is best to keep the actual shows linguistically separate. Dionne is hoping that the appeal of the series, and laughing our way through the winter, will extend to people from the Hills, but also to people in Gatineau and Ottawa.


La Fab sur Mill seats just over 100 people, so grab tickets while you can.


For tickets, go to dionnecomedyclub.com. Show dates are: Nov. 25, Dec. 9, Jan. 27, Feb. 24, Mar. 24, Apr. 28, and May 26.