Acclaimed comedienne Nikki Payne isn’t shy about using the power of celebrity, especially when it comes to helping ensure the welfare of animals.
Payne, an avid animal lover, and proud parent of a canine named Emilio Estevez, promises to bring the laughs and more to Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Friday night where she will be performing Funny 4 Fur, a fundraising show benefitting the Moncton SPCA animal shelter.
The shelter’s executive director, Karen Nelson, tells us that fundraising events like Payne’s show are critical to keeping the Moncton SPCA wheels turning.
“Events like this are absolutely necessary to the ongoing operation of the SPCA. Aside from a grant from the City of Moncton relating to the animal bylaw, we receive nothing in the way of government funding,” Nelson says.
She shares that the month of February was particularly good in terms of the number of animals adopted, when the shelter was able to give homes to 83 animals that had been housed at the facility.
Nelson acknowledges there is indeed an ebb and flow to both the animals being surrendered to the shelter as well as those leaving the shelter in what they hope will be their forever homes.
With that flow comes an inherent stress, but is one that she says seems to work out for the best just when things seem to be going in the opposite direction.
“It is stressful to make sure the wheels keep turning, as the amount of animals housed at the shelter is in constant flux. It can be difficult to control our expenses, but just as the panic and worry starts to set in, it somehow always works itself out.”
Nelson stresses that while not everybody may be able to make cash donations to the shelter, the general public is invited to lend a hand to the Moncton SPCA in other ways:
“We maintain an updated list of supplies that are needed on our website, which people are able to drop off during regular business hours. Additionally though, we are always looking for volunteers to socialize with the animals as well as volunteer for the various events we conduct throughout the course of the year. Having people donate their time has proven to be equally valuable to monetary donations,” Nelson says.
As far as Nelson is concerned, Nikki Payne is one of the Moncton SPCA’s best secret weapons.
A frequent performer of Moncton’s renowned Hubcap Comedy Festival, Payne has earned her place atop the Canadian comedy heap, appearing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Video On Trial, along with a plethora of other programs.
“I’ve lived in the Moncton area for a few years now, but I have always liked to use what I do to do some good in the community.” she says. “When it comes to animals, I don’t have any particular skill set aside from snuggling them, but I do believe in the work that the Moncton SPCA does, and am happy to lend my talent to support that.”
In addition to volunteering her time with animals at the shelter – dogs and cats are a particular favourite of hers – Payne proudly notes she does her best to regularly collect supplies for the facility as well, echoing Nelson’s earlier statement that supply donations are sorely needed.
“Even if you’re not in a position to donate cash, find out what the Moncton SPCA needs and just throw in an item or two into your grocery shopping. It may seem like you’re not going to be able to make a significant difference when in fact the opposite is true. If everybody took the initiative to collect even just one item per week for the SPCA, it would make a tremendous difference to them.”
In addition to her sidesplitting work on stage, Payne excitedly notes that she is lending her voice to a new cartoon show that will be airing on Teletoon later in the year. The Bagel and Becky Show chronicles the misadventures of brother-sister duo Bagel the dog and Becky the cat, the latter of which Payne is voicing.
“So far, doing this show is the closest I’ve come to having a real job, but I have to say it has proven to be just ridiculous amounts of fun,” she says.
What: Funny 4 Fur Starring Nikki Payne with special guest James Mullinger
When: Friday March 18, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $49.50 plus service charge. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at www.capitol.nb.ca