World’s Funniest Optometrist
How does a small town girl from Rosenfeld Manitoba become a comedy sensation in Melbourne Australia? That is the story of Ms. Rachel Sommer part -time Optometrist, part-time Stand-Up Comic and full-time Wife and Mother.
Rachel Sommer was born in Altona Manitoba and raised in the community of Rosenfeld Manitoba. Rosenfeld is a farming community near the Canadian/US border and according to Rachel; "My family life growing up was very much the life of a farming family in a fairly religious town located in the Bible Belt of Canada."
Young Rachel was the baby of the family and also the most outgoing of the children. She was a non-stop talker and when Rachel was not talking she was singing. "I was always being punished for being a 'smart mouth' or for 'showing off' and for 'being lippy'. Little did they realize those were assets!"
Rachel moved to Australia in 2000 to attend Optometry School and in 2002 was offered a job in Darwin Australia. In 2003, while walking down the street one of Rachel's roommates saw a sign for the Triple J Raw Comedy Competition. Rachel's friends encouraged her to enter the competition. Little did Ms. Sommer know that it was the biggest comedy competitions in Australia.
According to Rachel; "There were 12 competitors, 300 people in the audience, and Triple J had flown a famous comedian from Melbourne up to Darwin to host the night. I felt like vomiting. Backstage, they asked all the competitors if they had a preference on when they would like to go on stage and I was the only one who volunteered to be first up. I just wanted it to be over so I could remember what it was like to relax again. So, I did my 5 minutes and I ended up winning the competition."
Winning the Triple J Comedy Contest lead to a spot in The Melbourne International Comedy Festival and her second gig was in front of 2000 people and broadcast of ABC-TV in Australia.
Comedy was good to Rachel in Australia; the other comics nicknamed her "Canada Dry" to go along with her act. She was the pretty Canadian girl with the funny accent, the funny Optometrist with a dry sense humour unlike the British humour of local comics. "I always found that Australians have more of a British sense of humour. I suppose more witty and elegant. Australians can also be a bit more 'tell it like it is' which I like. They are wickedly funny."
In 2007, Ms. Sommer was at the Adelaide Fringe Festival getting rave reviews for her sold out show "Titters". The show won the Peoples Choice Award at the festival. Shortly after, Rachel and her Australian husband Stu moved to Winnipeg. And it was Comedy culture shock. Rachel states; "We came to Winnipeg and I was enquiring about doing some gigs at the local comedy club and they were like, "There's an open mic night at the local hole next to the motel, why don't you try there?" I was not known here so no one wanted to take a chance on me"
A Hawaiian born "Titters" alumnus Kehau Lee Jackson calls Ms. Sommer "Optometrist Barbie"! According to Kehau; Rachel is so darn normal...where does she get the funny? She's so deceptive...she'd be on stage with her little blue polka dot dress with white peter pan collar and a string of pearls, her glasses on, and killing the audience with her dry witty delivery. It's always the quiet ones! And she's great to work with, very professional, and a sweet disposition as well.
Once again luck was around the corner for Ms. Sommer, the MC at the local hole was friends with Canadian Comedy Headliner Big Daddy Tazz. Rachel found a mentor in Tazz and she became his opening act. Rachel says; He is a fantastic mentor and I've learned so much from him. Tazz can kill anywhere."
According to Big Daddy Tazz; "Rachel has an endearing quality about herself and her comedy. The material is original and with some more experience Rachel should be able to take the next step in her career."
Today Ms. Sommer is the Mother of a Toddler, an Optometrist a stand-up comic, and the wife of a relocated Aussie. Rachel's husband Stu has no problem with her telling jokes about him. He has adapted to the Canadian lifestyle even learning to skate, and curl.
According to Rachel; "He also loves that he's a bit different and everyone notices his accent. He's the novelty now! And everything he says is funny! This role reversal thing sucks! He is a constant source of entertainment. He is also my barometer of whether things are funny. I have basically lifted parts of our conversations into jokes."
Rachel's husband Stu says; she is naturally funny and makes him laugh in their everyday life and he hopes he makes her laugh as well."
Rachel Sommer cannot prove she is the "World's Funniest Optometrist" but after 10 years of conventions it is a good bet. She is known as the funny Optometrist and most other Optometrist's are fascinated by her stand-up career. "I was telling an Optometrist at our last conference that I did stand up in the evenings as a hobby. She said, "That's cool. I wish I had a hobby." These are the people I'm dealing with."
These days Ms. Sommer has a busy life as an Optometrist, Wife, and Mother. Spare time is spent on TV writing projects and stand-up comedy.
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