Tragedy Plus Time: Vancouver Comedian Sean McDonnell

Based in Vancouver, Sean McDonnell brings a unique blend of observational humour and improvisational wit that captivates audiences across all age groups. We dive into the details of Sean’s comedic journey, exploring his influences, favourite performance spots, rituals, and the bits he holds dear.

Sean McDonnell

How would you describe your comedy style?

To be honest with you I don’t really know how I would describe it. I like to think my style is constantly changing or evolving but who knows? This question has made me realize I have to listen to my sets more.

Who are some of your influences*

When I was new I was heavily influenced by Mike Birbiglia and Jerrod Carmichael to a point where if I see earlier sets I feel like I am watching myself do an impression of them. I should put some out it’s odd to watch a 19-year-old me with the shifting style of an East Coast Italian American and Black gay man. As far as favourite comics though, Norm MacDonald is number one.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

Dave Chappelle, Louis CK and Conan O’Brien

Who is your favourite comedian now?

Hate to say, hasn’t really changed but tac on Katt Williams, Jerrod Carmichael, Norm MacDonald and Bill Burr

What is your pre-show ritual?

Drink a coffee or any kind of energy drink usually

What is your favourite place you performed?

Two-way tie. One is “The MOTN” I first performed there when I was 25 and I was so accustomed to playing comedy clubs or pub shows to older millennials and up-crowds. The MOTN was the first room I played in where the audience was all my age or younger. It felt like a comedy space specifically tailored to a generation I am more familiar with. I am 27 now and would categorize myself as a bit older than most of the regular audience there, but I still get a kick out of seeing a young comedian make a reference to “Ben 10” and everyone gets it without needing an explanation.

The other one would be The Comedy Ring’s: Parts Unknown. I think they keep the location somewhat secret because the topics people joke about could get the place raided. Located off Commercial Drive it is a room that seats 40-50 of the most Down-to-clown audience I have ever experienced in this city. I don’t know if it is from the lead paint in the walls, or just the giddiness of being somewhere that feels illegal but it turns the audience absolutely FERAL (in the best way possible). Something about this room fosters the most forgiving and crazy audience I have ever witnessed. It is the only space where depending on how your set goes you could get booed off or crowd surf.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

All the material I do I end up hating eventually. BUT, one bit I do that has been giving me a huge kick is I turn to the crowd and I ask an unsuspecting audience member “What do you do for work?” it’s truly timeless.

What is your medium for listening or finding new comics?

I like to listen to new comedy albums on Spotify. I also like to watch “Don’t Tell Comedy” a lot.

Tell us a joke about your city.

“What do you do for work?” You really have to be there to get it.

Where can we follow you?

Youtube, and all social media as @seanald_mcdoneld

PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comedian we should know about?

Darcy Boon Collins, Randy Neumeyer, Bobby Warrener, Ola Dada. It seems like you are supposed to shout out new people and none of them are but I figured to call them out because they are front-to-back KILLERS.