Thunder Bay comedian bringing comedy to Rainy River District

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

After COVID-19 shut down the only comedy club in Thunder Bay, Mark Menei went without a place to perform. What he did to get back into comedy inspired his new business.

Mark Menei got into comedy at a local Thunder Bay comedy club called Crickets. After watching comedy there for a long time, he thought he’d give it a try.

“They’d usually have local acts opening, and I thought ‘I could probably do that. I just gotta get over that barrier of being able to talk in front of people,’” Menei said.

“Then they were doing some sort of charity competition and I entered it. That was the first time I ever tried it, I was terrified as could be, then I just kept going back for more and more to the club and just building up my comfortability on stage after that.”

In an effort to bring comedy to smaller communities, Menei is taking his show on the road. Among other stops around northwestern Ontario, Menei is bringing his show to the Fort Frances Royal Canadian Legion on June 10, and to the Rainy River Legion on July 13.

Menei started his own comedy promotion company over the last little while, inspired by the loss of his performance venue in Thunder Bay.

“It kind of started around the pandemic time when everything really closed,” Menei said.

“We did have a comedy club here in Thunder Bay, that’s kind of where I learned comedy, that shut down with the pandemic and it never reopened.”

Because of the restrictions, as things started to open back up, Menei started to do shows outside for people in their backyards around campfires. This led to the name of his company, Campfire Comedy.

“Because the comedy club in town never reopened I started reaching out to some venues,” Menei said.

Thunder Bay comedian Mark Menei will be bringing his comedy show to the Fort Frances Royal Canadian Legion on Saturday, June 10, 2023, and returning to the district for a show in Rainy River on July 13, 2023. – Facebook photo

“We do have smaller venues, bigger venues that are like small theatres like 200-300 people. So I’ve been putting on shows all over different venues in Thunder Bay.”

Over the last while, he’s been working to spread comedy across the region.

“I started reaching out to other small towns throughout northwestern Ontario to put on shows even further than Thunder Bay,” Menei said.

Menei’s sets feature material from his own life, experiences with his family – he has a wife and two-year-old – as well as his Italian heritage, and generally working the crowd. He also likes to walk the fine line around dark and dirty jokes as well.

“I do have some dirty or darker jokes, but I like to, you know, keep an even balance,” Menei said.

“So half of it is kind of clean and half of it gets a little edgier. So everybody can come and see and everybody gets a little bit of what they might want from a comedy show because some people do like a cleaner and some people do like a dirtier.”

Joining Menei at the Fort Frances Legion this Saturday will be Brandon Cordeiro and Aaron Gee.

Tickets are available in advance on Eventbrite for $20 plus fees and taxes and will be available at the door for $25. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show set to start at 7:30 p.m.