The comedian is in: Peanuts-inspired stand delivers sidewalk comedy to pandemic-weary Vancouverites

·2 min read

There are all sorts of ways to make the world a brighter place.

For Vancouver resident Tanya Horne, bringing a little cheer to the corner of East 4th Avenue and Nanaimo Street is her personal contribution. That's where Horne has operated her "sit-down" comedy stand since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, weather permitting, Horne dishes out jokes between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to people passing by.

"My greatest belief is human beings are wired for connection," said Horne, who was worried in March that people could be housebound a very long time and wanted to find a way to offer some solace.

Horne's outdoor venue resembles a lemonade stand, and she credits the Peanuts character Lucy van Pelt as her inspiration.

In the cartoon, Lucy operates a roadside stand offering psychiatric help. Horne says the cartoon kid came to her in a dream and instructed her to do the same.

"A lot of people get it," says the comedian with a chuckle.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Using humour to heal is not new for Horne, who is part of a comedy group called Hilarapy that uses comedy to provide therapy.

She crafted the stand with some help from family. While it was originally planned as a "stand-up" comedy stand, it quickly became labelled the "sit-down" stand when Horne realized sitting was a superior idea.

"Standing out here for two hours was just going to be too much so I decided sitting down would be my schtick," she said.

Horne says she has got a lot of positive feedback from her ad-hoc audiences and she has had special requests to open her stand on Saturdays as well.

It's a source of fun for Horne, but also a form of outreach work to connect with the community during a difficult year, one that has taken its toll on many people's mental health.

Horne said she's lived with her own challenges with anxiety for the past 20 years and, when the pandemic hit, she made the decision to share her resilience with her neighbours and spread good cheer.

"I could either go to bed ... feel sorry for myself and be depressed, or I could actually put foot to the pavement and make some traction in the idea of being a mental health advocate," she said.

To hear the complete interview with Tanya Horne on CBC's The Early Edition tap the audio link below: