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Fort McMurrayite hopes for title of Canada's best comedian

Last Updated Jul 26, 2018 at 10:11 am MDT

PHOTO. Supplied. Holmes PR Inc.

 Stand-up comedian Shirley Whalen, originally from Fort McMurray, is looking to earn the title of Canada’s best comedian.

Whalen is a semi-finalist in the Sirius XM Top Comic competition, which will earn her spots in some of the top comedy festivals.

According to her biography on several event websites she has performed “everywhere from a nudist resort in northern Ontario to a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi.”

She’s also been featured on CBC’s Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Montreal Sketchfest and Ottawa Comiccon and can be heard on Sirius XM’s Canada Laughs.

Whalen said that her time here definitely influenced her comedy and refers to life in Fort McMurray as a “different experience.”

She added that when she tells people she’s from here she’s often met with a groan or a sigh.

“They don’t get that it’s full of really awesome people that are there because they need to work.”

Although she currently lives in Montreal she said all of her memories from here are happy and vibrant.

As someone who always admired comedians, but didn’t consider herself funny, Whalen is the perfect example of working hard for what you want.

At a comedy show, she once heard a producer say that he never books women because they always bail. She said that’s when it clicked for her that she wanted to be on that list of funny women.

Over several years she worked to perfect her set, focusing on female empowerment and poking fun at things that tend to be stigmatized for women.

Canadians can vote online for their favourite semi-finalist from July 27 to August 17. At the end of the voting period, the six comics with the most votes will move on as finalists.

The grand prize is $25,000, spots on JFL Sydney, JFL42, JFL NorthWest, Just For Laughs Montreal and a JFL television special.