Christopher Hall loves to make music, and he loves to make people laugh.
He has found a way to combine clarinet and comedy, and Hall is currently touring with the Comic Quartet. He’ll bring his symphonic shenanigans to Quesnel Nov. 13.
Hall is the former principal clarinet of the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal. He found work in the orchestra far too serious, so now, instead of joking around while sitting in the orchestra, he performs as a stand up comedian and does various television and radio shows in both English and French.
In the past three years, Hall has performed his acclaimed concert “Comic Orchestra” throughout Canada alongside some of the best symphony orchestras in the country. He also performed the concert with a chamber orchestra in July 2014 at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival in front of a crowd of 3,000, to rave reviews.
Hall has appeared in such prestigious comedy festivals as Just for Laughs, The Winnipeg Comedy Fest, and the Grand Rire in Québec City. In 2010, he had the honour of hosting Whoopi Goldberg’s show in Québec City, as well as performing opening acts for several prestigious North American comedians.
As well, Hall — who is fluent in English, French, German and Italian — has hosted travel shows for CTV and won two Gémeaux awards (the French Gemini award).
Christopher Hall and the Comic Quartet are coming to Quesnel Wednesday, Nov. 13 as part of the Quesnel Live Arts season. They began their current tour Nov. 5 in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Hall says even with a snowstorm, they had a great crowd that laughed a lot and gave them a standing ovation.
“It was a great way to start off the tour,” he said, phoning from the road before travelling to their next stop in Airdrie, Alta. “I always find in the more rural areas, doing a show is actually more fun for us because the audience is so attentive. They really appreciate it.”
Hall has never performed in Quesnel, and he is excited to bring his show to the city.
“It’s the most fun classical music show you’ll see,” he said. “Laughter is not only allowed, but encouraged. Come hear the Top 10 from 1750. It’s great music with lots of laughs, and we’re so looking forward to playing.”
Hall plays clarinet, and he is performing with the Strathcona String Quartet on this tour.
“I think I’m really lucky because I get to do the two things I love most, which is making beautiful music and making people laugh,” said Hall. “I get to have my cake and eat it too, so to speak. What I love is getting the laughs and at the same time being able to play the Mozart Concerto … and see a mix in the audience of not only happiness and joy and mirth, but also the discovery and wonderment of discovering a new piece they’ve never heard before.”
Hall says his all-time favourite piece to play is Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the orchestra, followed by Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. He also loves playing Bach, Vivaldi, Stravinsky, Brahms and jazz music in his shows.
Hall spent many years playing in orchestras, and he says he always had fun making his colleagues laugh. They told him he should try Just for Laughs, so he did, and he actually stopped orchestra altogether and did comedy for 10 years, performing at festivals and on television.
Hall says comedy and music are very similar in that, with both, you need good stage presence, to not be nervous and to be able to memorize things, and timing is very important in both.
“At one point, I thought I should put these two things together because I missed music,” said Hall. “I thought it would be a great way to open up the concert hall to the 95 per cent of people who don’t go. Classical music organizations are struggling to bring people into their venues … people say they don’t go because they don’t know classical music. The laughter is the key to loosen the audience up and make them feel at ease and at home. Back in the day, classical music was the rock music of the time, and we try to bring new people into the concert hall.”
Christopher Hall and the Comic Quartet perform Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chuck Mobley Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and students and are available at Green Tree Health and Wellness, K-Max, Save On Foods, the Occidental and at the door.
To learn more about Christopher Hall, visit comicorchestra.com/en.
To find out more about Quesnel Live Arts, visit qla.ca.