A High River stand-up comedian was featured in one of the world’s biggest comedy festivals.

Conner Christmas was among the up-and-comers featured in the Just for Laughs New Faces of Comedy: Canada showcase, held at the end of July.

The showcase was one of many held as part of this year’s Just for Laughs, which also marked the 40th anniversary of the Montreal festival.

Having auditioned in February and was told he made the cut in June, there was a solid month where Christmas had to keep quiet before the lineup was revealed.

“I couldn’t tell people for probably a month, so if I was distant to any friends from the period of June 25 to July 25, I’m sorry, it’s because I can’t keep secrets. There’d be moments when I’d remember it was happening, there’d be tears, like, ‘oh, this is happening, this is real!’”

With only a limited time for his set, Christmas was forced to hand pick his best material, a tall task for any comedian.

“It was my first recorded show, so I thought, oh, I’ll do all my jokes, I’ll do everything… jokes are like your children, it’s hard to pick.”

Christmas first got his start in stand-up in theatre school, and about eight years later, he’s still doing it and finding success.

“I didn’t know if it was a goal I necessarily had, I just kind of fell into standup, people were like ‘try it,’ I was doing theatre, I tried it, thought it was really fun, and kept doing it. I’ll keep doing it until they don’t let me anymore.”

Though he’s found some opportunities in acting, appearing in Under the Banner of Heaven, Black Summer, and Joe Pickett, among other productions, Christmas is glad to call comedy his profession.

In that sense, Just for Laughs was a pretty big step.

“Going there and getting something professional out of it, like professional development, it was like ‘well I made it to this spot, this was an accomplishment, be proud of yourself, but now look at all of this open water there is to swim in that you didn’t really know about, you didn’t have access to this.

“I described it to a friend, this might be a weird analogy, but it’s like the start of Finding Nemo when they go off this reef. There’s a lot of water out there. I thought I was the big fish; I’m not the big fish.”

Christmas has a few upcoming shows around Alberta, and regularly posts upcoming dates on his Instagram.