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White Mocha: The Calgary documentary that’s no joke

Spencer Streichert got his own start on the stage at Comedy Night Monday. Now he’s set to tell the story of the man behind the Calgary comedy tradition.

The upcoming documentary film will tell the story of James “White Mocha” Moore, the man behind Comedy Night Mondays at Broken City,

Streichert said he wanted to shine more light on the comedy scene in Calgary.

“I decided now was a perfect time to do it because there’s not a lot going on in the world of comedy, especially in Alberta,” he said.

“It’s such an interesting story how the room developed and how it’s grown over the years. It’s a pretty positive story.”

Streichert said Comedy Night Monday feels like a sort of “home room” for him, and he wants to share how important the event is both to him, and the local comedy community.

Spencer Streichert is directing a crowd-funded documentary titled White Mocha. The title of which is an homage to the film’s subject, James Moore, who runs Comedy Monday Night at Broken City. JOHN WATSON / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

“It’s such a key part of the Calgary art scene that I don’t think has had enough light shone on it as it deserves to have,” he said.

“What drew me to the project was seeing how important the room was firsthand to not just the comics, but to the venue and the arts community.”

It began as an outlet

Moore began the event as an outlet for both himself and other amateur stand-up comics to have a reliable, comfortable and friendly stage to practice.

“There’s certainly ageism in comedy, and at 40-something getting started, it’s hard to be taken seriously,” said Moore.

“Comedy Monday Night was really the result of not being able to get on stages anywhere.”

He said most comedy agencies and bookers tend to look more at young comics who have the potential for a long and lucrative career.

For Moore, who began doing stand-up after more than 20 years in commercial real estate, he simply wasn’t going to get the time of day.

“The only way I was going to get any stage time or get any opportunity to tell any jokes was if I created my own opportunity,” he said.

Broken City is the third venue to host Comedy Monday Night since its inception in 2005. The first location was at Dickens, where it was hosted for the first three years.

Spencer Streichert (left) talks to James Moore (right) about the nest steps of the documentary, White Mocha, based on Moore and his show, Comedy Monday Night at Broken City, Monday Mar. 15, 2021. John Watson

After that was a brief stint at the Lord Nelson, according to Moore.

“It’s been one of those things that got off to a very slow start, and there were a number of things that happened very early that were discouraging but I wasn’t about to let it die,” he said.

“It wasn’t until we landed in Broken City in 2009 that we really started to get a solid foundation and a polished show.”

Longest running comedy night in Western Canada

Broken City co-owner Alan Lindsay said Comedy Night Monday has turned into a huge success both for Moore, as well as the venue. It’s now the longest-running comedy night in Western Canada.

“There was a need for an amateur comedy night in Calgary and they didn’t know if it was going to work [but] they gave it a shot,” said Lindsay.

“It just exploded… It went from this little amateur night to being crammed [full] every single Monday.”

Streichert added the title of his documentary, White Mocha, was too perfect a sitting title not to use. It pays a direct homage to its subject.

Moore said the nickname of which he is now commonly associated, originated from a joke he tells on stage.

“Some people believe they are what they eat, but I’ve always believed that you are what you drink. That’s why whenever I walk into a coffee shop, I always ask for a smoking hot extra tall white mocha.”

Streichert is crowdfunding the production of White Mocha. In the first two days of making the project public, he raised $1,100 of his target $11,000. It now sits at $1,800.

He said the goal of his production is to shine more of a light on Calgary’s comedy scene. He wants to expose a larger audience to Comedy Night Mondays.

“I want to ensure there’s a room to come back to at the end of all this,” he said.