An advertisement for the Nanaimo Business Awards in the News Bulletin.

Comedian hosting this year’s Nanaimo Business Awards

Steve Patterson of CBC Radio’s The Debaters to host virtual awards ceremony

COVID-19 has forced some creative thinking from the organizers of the 2020 Nanaimo Business Awards.

As in previous years, the 2020 Nanaimo Business Awards will be presented from the Port Theatre, but other than Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO, and some technical personnel, the theatre will be pretty much empty.

There’s a joke in all this somewhere and for comic relief, Smythe has turned to Steve Patterson of CBC Radio One’s The Debaters show, who will guest host the awards remotely.

Fortunately, for this year’s awards, being forced to go virtual won’t mean a boring event with presenters and award recipients staring at their computer screens from their kitchens tables and home offices.

“I came up with the idea and presented it to staff that what we really need is a cool presenter. Somebody who can hold the thing together and do it virtually,” Smythe said.

Patterson will do a stand-up comedy act from his studio in Toronto to start the show and Smythe and Patterson will team up to present the awards with Smythe on the Port Theatre stage in what he describes as “an extremely empty building.”

I’m doing half the honours and Steve’s doing half the honours and the only thing that will probably save it is the 12-minute comedy stand-up show that Steve will be doing at the beginning,” Smythe said.

Smythe said the idea to bring in a comedian to guest host the show came from the chamber’s Christmas luncheon last year when Vancouver-based comedian Graham Clark was brought in to do a comedy set.

“So why not go that comedy route again because there was no way, without somebody special stepping into this thing, that it would be worth watching unless you were the winner,” Smythe said.

Doing the show from the Port Theatre also lends a sense of continuity to the awards, which have been presented there in past years. The awards are also the first show to be held on the theatre’s stage since the facility closed to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Tickets, $25 each, to watch the awards are available at the Port Theatre box office. Purchasers will receive an e-mailed password from the chamber to log into the show via Zoom on Friday, Sept. 18, 7-8 p.m.
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