By Chris Servais

One of the first questions I ask local comedian Ron Kanutski is how he handles those moments when a joke just tanks. He breaks out a huge grin and says that he doesn’t know—it hasn’t happened yet. “I’ve had people say to me that one day I’ll bomb,” he says. “I’m sure I will, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

For Kanutski, a job in comedy had merely been a long-standing dream—that is, until a few years ago when he entered a comedy competition hosted by the Fort City Kinsmen and placed runner-up. He has since gone on to perform at numerous shows in the Thunder Bay region, and on the casino circuit in the American Midwest. And though he was recently crowned King of Comedy at Thunder Bay Comic Idol, Kanutski’s eyes are still firmly set on what comes next. “There’s some pretty steep competition,” he says. “It’s as important to promote your comedy these days as it is to perform. You need a consistent brand in order to build any kind of longevity.”

Kanutski’s own brand of comedy is an evolving work-in-progress: “I’m doing everything from skit, to prop, to impressions, to clean comedy. It’s hard of course, because there have been so many people who have tried all of these different angles and gimmicks. I generally try to do everyday material based on the audience I have at the time.” Kanutski feels that a certain degree of shock value is a key element in the most engaged audiences. He began his comedic career emulating the harsh material of stand-up routines by Eddie Murphy, Sam Kinison, and others, but found that that style only went over well with a very specific niche audience. “Some nights it was fun,” he says, “but some nights I would kind of get disgusted with myself. There wasn’t really much substance to that and I try to build acts now that are a bit deeper.

Look for Ron Kanutski at the Finlandia Club’s upcoming Christmas Comedy Special, December 19, where he’ll be sharing a stage with Craig Lauzon of Royal Canadian Air Farce fame.