Shaun Majumder earns his laughs

Newfoundland’s renowned comedian Shaun Majumder is getting set to embark upon a national tour, which includes a performance at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre tomorrow night.

Billing his journey as “This Tour Has 22 Cities,” the name of Shaun’s upcoming national voyage is a rather obvious nod to his tenure on the popular TV program This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where he spent more than a half-decade.

While continuing to indulge his comedic side, Shaun has since gone on to star in the critically acclaimed American series Detroit 1-8-7, which had found a home on ABC. Although the show is currently on the bubble to return this fall, Majumder says that despite a modest viewership, critics spoke highly of the program which he hopes will help increase its chances of making it back on the air.

Breaking into the American market is no easy feat for anyone, let alone a Canadian. With the United States boasting approximately 10 times more citizens than Canada, Shaun says that means ten times more competition for roles such as those he landed in Detroit 1-8-7.

“There is no question that competition for these roles is extremely tough,” he says. “I had agents and management sending off my promotional material to all the right people but up to my time in this role, those materials have been predominantly comedy-driven even though drama has always been an important part of what I do. Just to get in the door to audition for a role in Detroit 1-8-7 was an uphill climb.

“I think, however, that if you are good at what you do, that will eventually be recognized as long as you stay with it and focus on your end goal. Dealing with the emotional ups and downs, dealing with rejection and constantly shifting around the atmosphere of the industry are the biggest challenges.

“You never really have it made in the States though, and you can never think that you made it or ‘this is it.’ You have to keeping working as if every day is the last day.

“In Canada though, you can break with one show and then be a celebrity forever. Just look at a guy like Brent Butt who, in my opinion, is the funniest man in Canada. Corner Gas was amazing and really helped solidify his popularity in this country.”

Growing up in Newfoundland, Shaun says that a career in comedy was a semi-logical choice since he considers the Atlantic region to be a hub of hilarity. Influenced by the unique regional banter and sense of humour that Atlantic Canadians innately possess, he says that in high school, he was considering a career in sports or sports medicine.

“I decided that I had wanted to play volleyball for Dalhousie University and then go on to coach but right around that time, tuition got jacked up and I really couldn’t afford going to university. That forced me to look at what I would love to do more than anything and that was performing. I loved acting and being on stage and rather than opt to go back to school and be 80 per cent happy with what I was doing, I opted to pursue a career in comedy and be 100 per cent happy.”

Shaun says that his early attempts at stand-up were anything but stellar. He jokes that he lived through the horrible experience of thinking he was funny only to arrive on stage and have no one laugh at his jokes.

“Like anything in life, I realized that it was something that I had to do in order to get better at it. It took a few performances before I got some laughs but then realized that if I made small adjustments to my routine, it was those small ebbs and flows that change all the time that make people laugh. What might work in terms of content for a hometown crowd might not work in Moncton or anywhere else. You really have to adjust things for every city you perform in.”

One of Shaun’s biggest endeavors these days has nothing to do with television or comedy. He is in the process of building an eco-friendly lodge in his hometown of Burlington, Newfoundland which he hopes to throw open the doors to in the fall of 2012.

“I first bought the property 10 years ago for $2,700,” he recounts, “figuring that one day I would build myself a house. That idea then evolved to building a house that would be completely off the grid and do a documentary film around that. But after discussions with the government, Newfoundland tourism and my fiancée, we decided to make the lodge a five-room eco-lodge. Ideally, I would like it to be a bit of an economic engine to draw tourists to Burlington so that they can experience Newfoundland the way it should be – via rural communities.”

Article published in May 3, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript