Thursday, October 19, 2006


Last Sunday I competed in a semi-final round of the second annual Great Canadian Laff-Off, a cross-Canada contest that culminates in a taped event in Toronto where the winner walks away with $25000.00. I sort of stumbled into it by accident. It was pre-empting a show I was already doing in Mississauga, and they basically asked me the Wednesday before, "since you're in the neighbourhood, do you want in?" So I didn't fret over it too much initially. But as the day approached, it seemed like it would be silly to enter and not try to advance, so I got myself pretty psyched.

One thing that helped was when I saw what number the show was going to be. I have kept a list of pretty much every show I've done since the beginning. After every show I add it to the list. I don't think it's a hundred percent accurate, because over the years I've counted some events, like improv, or going on stage for a duo-act, only to discount them later. So the precise number of stand-up shows is up for debate. But this laff-off was going to land at number 1713. That caught my notice because I remembered the number of my Just for Laughs contest in 1999 was number 213. So I thought, "Wow, 1500 shows later. Wouldn't it be cool if I won again?" I get really obsessed over symbolic, orderly developments, so the idea seemed really neat to me. Don't get me wrong, I don't have every show number memorized, I just know "213" and "666" (my first Just for Laughs gala, how cool is that?). So anyway, 1713 got me excited for the show.

The audience for the contest was very small, and very quiet. It was the sort of thing that throws these events into question, because it's ridiculous to judge people in a tiny show setting by the same criteria as people, in, say, Ottawa, who might be in front of a packed, fired-up crowd. Luckily, for me, when we drew numbers to see what the order was, I drew sixth, which was late enough in the show to benefit from the show's momentum. I want to say that I drew the same number at my Just for Laughs contest, just to add to the alignment-of-the-stars tension, but I honestly don't remember (but it could have been sixth!).

Despite some very good acts off the top, the crowd didn't start to come alive until mid-way, when John Steinberg did his set. Two acts later, I was up. I had a really good set, and it built in momentum such that I closed very strong (much as I had done 1500 shows earlier). I came offstage feeling good about the show, and even started to speculate about the magic 1500-shows-later factor. Maybe my time was coming around again?

I stifled those thoughts as I watched the act after me, Kevin Herod, tearing it up. It was increasingly clear that nothing should be taken for granted. And yet, the telltale cosmic numerology wouldn't let me down, would it?

Long story short, yeah, it did. Two names were advancing, and they announced them both at the end: "John Steinberg and Kevin Herod".

It was disappointing for both the regular reasons (such as 'winning is nice') and, of course, because my perfect full-circle 1500 nostalgia-blast didn't happen.

Sometimes, in a random universe, we cling to anything that gives the faintest semblance of order. These small patterns help us feel that there is something looking out for us, and that everything does indeed happen for a reason. When the pattern fails, we feel a bit more alone in the world.

Unless it didn't really fail. I walked off the stage feeling very happy with myself, as I did 1500 shows earlier. I got praise and congratulations and the sense that I did some good with the time I was given, as I did 1500 shows earlier. Now, the Just for Laughs experience was way more exciting for numerous reasons, but still, at its core the satisfaction was very similar to, you guessed it, 1500 shows earlier.

But in the end the contest went to a couple of younger comics, who have had relatively little exposure and are just beginning on the road to new opportunities in this crazy business.

Which is what happened 1500 shows earlier.

Okay, is this blatant shoe-horning of profound meaning into outright ambiguous circumstances? Well, yeah. Every other religion does it, so what the heck?

Anyway, I've got to go. I'm doing a set at the Toronto Yukyuks. Exactly two months ago (on the 19th) I was there and the set went really well. Tonight's the 19th, so who knows?

Maybe my number's up again.

THIS EDIT JUST IN: I'm back, and the set went really well. Co-incidence? "Oooh, spooky..."

Okay, it's not exactly a burning bush, but belief can be very flexible so, "Oooh, spooky..."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I can safely say that of all the titles, ranks and positions I’ve been given during my lifetime, “Godfather” is among the least expected.

Last weekend that was in fact what my sister asked me to be. She and her husband live in London, England, and gave birth to little Cameron last August. They’re coming for Christmas this year and have planned to have their son baptized at our family’s church in Town of Mount Royal, here in good old Montreal.

I was very honored to be asked, but there was (and perhaps still is) some trepidation. True, I regularly go to church. Like clockwork, Christmas Eve, in and out, see you next year. More to the point, I have, over the years, become less and less impressed with organized religion. Of course, it’s the fundamentalists who ruin it for everyone. I’m thinking at this second of the horrible Bible-humping zealots who would ban “Harry Potter” books because they promote Satan worship. Maybe it just hits a nerve with me, but once you ban stories, ANY stories, especially the type that fire up young imaginations, the type that at many points in my life could have been described as my REASON FOR LIVING, when you mess with stories like that, you’re on my shit-list. These are the same right wing Christian cum-catchers who run shows like “The Book of Daniel” off the air, which, to my understanding, told the story of a young Messiah-type finding his way in the world. I never saw the show. But from the reviews I read I wish I had, as it seemed like an intriguing premise, thoughtfully executed. But a few God-fearing mung-munchers decided it was blasphemy, so I guess I’ll never know.

Skimming that last paragraph, I guess I don’t need to explain in much more detail why I may not be the most appropriate god-parent. “Cum-catcher” isn’t exactly the stuff of scripture. So do I have the right to stand there before a congregation when I am less and less certain God exists, and downright positive that if he does exist, he’s not reading J.K. Rowling or watching TV?

Yes, of course I have the right to stand there, ‘cause I was asked. But how to reconcile taking a vow to ensure that little Cameron lives a life devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Well, the way I see it, my sister is just about the most Christ-y member of my family. She is selfless and considerate and steadfast in her dedication to be selfless and considerate. As a nurse she helps people every day. Off duty she is respectful and polite and kind to acquaintance and stranger alike. And her husband’s a swell guy, too. I would be comfortable standing there and pledging to let Cameron grow in that environment, whether any of them ever set foot in a church again or not. He’s in good hands.

As for me being a good godfather, I take a look at the standards. The most famous godfather in the world is a Mafioso scumbag who killed people, had people killed, extorted, robbed, and ordered rude things done to horses. Now I may not be the pillar of morality I should be, but based on those films, Cameron could do worse.

I am proud to be a part of my baby nephew’s upbringing, as a symbolic figurehead and as a loving uncle. And wherever possible I will contribute to his growth by cultivating in him a sense of humor, kindness, cheer and imagination.

Yes, there will be Harry Potter books.

Zealots be damned.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Here are some places where I'll be in October.

Thursday, October 12, 2006; Mississauga Yukyuks, 5165 Dixie Road, Mississauga, Ontario; 905-775-5359; 8:00 pm; (Co-featuring with Wafik Nasralla, hosted by Tony Krolo)

Friday, October 13, 2006; Mississauga Yukyuks, 5165 Dixie Road, Mississauga, Ontario; 905-775-5359; 7:30 and 10:30 pm; (Co-featuring with Wafik Nasralla, hosted by Tony Krolo)

Saturday,October 14, 2006; Mississauga Yukyuks, 5165 Dixie Road, Mississauga, Ontario; 905-775-5359; 7:30 and 10:30 pm; (Co-featuring with Lachlan Patterson, hosted by Tony Krolo)

Sunday, October 15, 2006; Mississauga Yukyuks, 5165 Dixie Road, Mississauga, Ontario; 905-775-5359; 8:00 pm; (Co-featuring with Wafik Nasralla, hosted by Tony Krolo)

THIS JUST IN: I was just told that this show on Sunday the 15th is not the regular co-feature show of the rest of the weekend, but a round of the Great Canadian Laff-Off Competition. And now I'm in it. So cheer extra loud.

Monday, October 16, 2006; The Rivoli, 334 Queen St. W., Toronto, Ontario; 416-596-1908; 9:00 pm; (alt.comedy lounge)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006; Spirits, 642 Church Street, Toronto, Ontario; 416-967-0001; 9:00 pm

Saturday, October 21, 2006; Bradford Community Centre, 125 Simcoe Street, Bradford, Ontario; 905-775-5359; 8:00 pm; (with Gerry Dee and Joanna Downey)

Thursday, October 26, 2006; Comedyworks, 1238 Bishop St., Montreal, Quebec; 514-398-9661; 9:00 pm; (with Ross Bennet)

Friday, October 27, 2006; Comedyworks, 1238 Bishop St., Montreal, Quebec; 514-398-9661; 9:00 and 11:15 pm; (with Ross Bennet)

Saturday, October 28, 2006; Comedyworks, 1238 Bishop St., Montreal, Quebec; 514-398-9661; 9:00 and 11:15 pm; (with Ross Bennet)

And that's it for that month, although I'll probably fill in a couple of gaps in Toronto. The Myspace schedule will be updated regularly to include extra shows.

It's good to feel busy.

This has been in the hopper for a couple of months, but I feel I can now safely say I've taken the first steps to creating a tv series.

Back in August a friend of mine went in to pitch some show ideas to some producers, and the weekend before asked me if I had any ideas. I have had a show idea for a couple of years sitting in a drawer. I gave him the gist of it and he pitched it. The producers liked it, we all had a meeting a couple of weeks later. After a couple of months of meetings and some phone tag, last week I signed an option agreement.

That basically means for the next six months I've agreed not to show the idea to anyone else while this production company shops it around to networks to see if they're interested. So whereas before I was lazy to keep my idea in a drawer, now I'm getting PAID to leave it there. If you had told me I'd make money in this way when I was a teenager I would have been thrilled (actually, more likely I would have been a bit uncomfortable, as I was very mindful of work-ethic back then and might have had moral qualms about taking money without actively working for it. Thank heavens I've grown since then).

The show would be a half-hour sitcom sort of format in an environment I've never seen portrayed on tv before.

In other writing news, I've been hired on to write for the next season of "The Business", a series on IFC in the U.S., and The Movie Network in Canada. Its first incarnation was "The Festival", where I actually had a recurring role as Marshall Stack the unscrupulous, unco-ordinated tobacco baron. I'll be writing at least one episode and help with some story breakdowns. It's cool to be back with a franchise after over a year out of the loop. Funny where life takes you.

So basically, I've got some career prospects that will make me that much less dependent on stand-up one-nighters in Northern Ontario.

For now, I should probably go play ball with my doggie. That option money won't earn itself!

Monday, October 02, 2006


10 years ago!

That's how long it's been since one of my bestest friends, George K., and I were creating prime, pointless distraction in his parents' basement hours after those parents had gone to sleep. Using his video camera, a futon, and a bucket of puppets (from MY parents' basement), we killed time by making an utterly pointless film. I laughed as hard as I ever had in the process. Three days later, trying to capture the experience once more, we made the sequel.

I've had both films on VHS ever since, dusting them off for only the closest friends, or people I had no compunction about frightening from my life. But in this year of webcasts and blogs, I figured, what the heck? So I opened an account on Youtube and, at long last, am presenting these wondrous opi for global consumption.

Bear in mind, we were young and stupid. Actually, we were both embarking on post-graduate degrees that fall so we were technically neither. But I will say it was a time before comedy had entered my life. Indeed, I had very little direction at all. Much like these films.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Lonely King and Lonely King II!!!

Don't think too much.

Okay, it's a silly title to get in one last reference to Emo Phillips, whom I worked with at the Ottawa Yukyuks this past weekend. It was really great to be a part of it all as the shows were fun, as they usually are in the nation's capital, and getting to watch a legend at work was icing on the cake. It was really cool to see some of the older customers clucthing cd's and even vinyl records of Emo's for him to sign after the show. Emo was a really nice guy, to boot.

Thanks to the customers who took the time to give me some kind words amidst the tumult of the post-show Emo meet-n'-greets. It's certainly a pleasure to perform in your neck of the woods.

The UPHEAVAL part of the title is a reference to some changes that have been made to the website. These include:

A new up-to-date bio.
New video clips.
New clip crypt clips (yes, finally, an update).
A mailing list.

And a price-change on the CD put there to keep it more consistent with the price listed at CD Baby. As it stands now, factoring in shipping, you'd pay about $18.00 U.S. at CD Baby and $18 Canadian at Slightly better deal at my site, although it's fluctuating pretty crazily. Depositing U.S. cd payments is starting to feel like playing the stock market; you don't know whether to deposit quickly or hold out for the US dollar to take an upswing. Okay, I pretty much deposit quickly, at least until those mid-term elections.

And here I was telling people the cd isn't concerned with politics. Guess there's no escaping it these days.