Laughter is the best medicine for this army wife
By Leslie Dunnett
There’s an old saying that laughter is the best medicine. If that’s the case, then actor/comedian Laura Earl could fund her own healthcare system. This "army wife" has been wowing audiences for over a decade, sharing her experiences as both a bridesmaid and a military spouse to rave reviews. To top it off, she also runs a successful communications and consulting business, Blue Poodle Entertainment.
Earl says her first laugh came during a Christmas concert when she was five. “I couldn’t remember the words to Silent Night, so I sang the first verse again…and I think being five years old, no matter what the mistake, the audience is on your side,” she says. It was an experience that would prompt Laura to embrace her comedic talents and find a way to earn a living making others laugh.
In 1999, she hit the stage with comedy partner, Darryl Bautista, in the sketch comedy, 2ToGo! In addition to performing across Canada, this comedic duo has preformed at the Melbourne Australia Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Earl met her husband on a Thanksgiving weekend in 2000 through a mutual friend. In a funny twist of fate, they discovered that they had actually grown up within five minutes of each other–she in Warminster, ON and he in Prices Corner, ON. They had both gone to the same high school together, but never met. Of course, that’s only the short version of the story. The longer version is “a hoot!”
In 2003, Earl created her popular one-woman show, 10 Times a Bridesmaid… Now What?, which would go on to be declared a “Hit of the Fringe” at the Atlantic Fringe Festival. Based on her own experiences as a bridesmaid, she takes the audience on an uproarious voyage through the world of bridesmaids, tackling everything from the embarrassing hairdos to the unexpected duties of those chosen to don the dress.
She later featured her second one-woman show, I’m an Army Wife… Now What? on her first National Radio Special for the CBC in 2007. Earl's latest solo project details her introduction to life in the Canadian Armed Forces and starting a new life as a military spouse. While she may not yet be done with her bridesmaid duties, when it comes to which role provides more comedic material, “I can say with complete confidence that the Army is the comedic gift that keeps on giving…and giving and giving."
Before she and her husband were posted to Moncton, NB, she worked as a radio news anchor and morning co-host in Ontario. “Sadly,” she says, “my French sight reading skills are appalling, so working on-air in Moncton wasn’t an option.” So she became involved in public relations, as well as some production and comedy work.
Eventually, Earl made the brave decision to make her own opportunities and started up Blue Poodle Entertainment, Communications and Consulting because as Earl explains, “my incredibly supportive husband kept saying to me everyday for months on end, ‘You know, you should really start your own business.'
Blue Poodle Entertainment provides a unique opportunity for companies to share their corporate message using custom comedy performances, through staging scenarios to aid discussion, educational videos, webinars, and promotional videos.
Earl has written, hosted, and co-produced media on everything from military family issues to organizing a home. She has also volunteered with the “Take a Veteran to Dinner” organization based in Ottawa, where she handled public relations, marketing and fundraising for the group.
What’s her advice to other military spouses interested in starting their own business? “Think big! You’re going to be moving around the country… Don’t be scared to move your business around.” She also recommends taking full advantage of the services and support offered through local business development centers. “Those contacts have been invaluable as we’ve moved, says Earl.”
One thing Earl really enjoys is using her comedy shows to connect with her audience, especially when it comes to dealing with the everyday stresses of military life. She admits that connecting with other spouses, knowing they are all in the same boat has helped her manage difficult times.
One memory that stands out for her is a performance at CFB Shilo. “I was performing for a group of fantastic women who were about two or three weeks into a big tour and it just happened that my husband was also on tour… it was a link that went beyond audience and performer. That night was group laughter therapy!”
From Canada to across the world, Laura Earl has carved her own place in the entertainment industry. In the end, however, it’s the sheer joy of performing that drives her on. “If I can help someone forget about their bills or the pile of work they didn’t get done, it’s really a thrill for me to know I’ve given them a bit of happiness at the end of the day.”
Currently, Earl is using her down time to write her next show, tentatively titled, I’m an Army Wife Part II: Revenge of the Bride! and preparing for their next posting. “I’m sure there will be one or two new tales to tell!”