Wednesday, August 29, 2007


This morning Ernie Butler died a little over a month after being diagnosed with cancer. Ernie was the owner of Ernie Butler's Comedynest, the longest-running comedy club in Montreal at over 25 years. He was also the host of the CJAD Comedy Hour on CJAD News/Talk Radio. Between the club and the show, it is safe to say that Ernie has brought laughter to hundreds of thousands of people over the years.

I first worked for Ernie at the Nest in June of 1998 when it was located at the Nouvelle Hotel. It was a great room. I remember it most fondly as the site of my Just for Laughs Homegrown Competition in 1999, which remains the single most thrilling night of my comedy career.

Ernie was the first club owner to let me co-feature, then later headline, at his club. From the get-go he was giving me exposure at numerous outside gigs and was instrumental in getting me in two Just for Laughs Festivals as well as the Boston Comedy Festival. When I released my own cd, he insisted on buying the first one, a veritable collector's item. He was constantly letting me know he believed in me.

We didn't talk much outside of work. 95% of our exchanges were gruff phone calls usually focusing on matters of "where", "when" and "how much". In the last couple of years I've had occasion to share some car rides with him where we were able to chat about looser topics (the guy loved his comedy, that's for sure). Most recently, we had my impending fatherhood as common ground on which to relate. My last conversation with him was decidedly non-business: he called to congratulate me on the birth of my son, Clancy. His voice exuded a warmth and happiness quite distant from the gruffness to which I was accustomed. A week later he played some of my stand-up on air as a tribute to the latest Pryde of Montreal.

I had wanted to send him some photos by way of a thank you for that very special shout out. But procrastination set in. Even after the cancer became news, I hesitated, not sure whether he may be too preoccupied for baby pictues. Finally figuring that was silly talk, I decided I'd get around to it this week. Then this morning's news hit and suddenly he was gone.

News of death is always strange. After the initial shock, there's usually a bit of guilt from the speed with which we go on with the business of living. It's easy to imagine that's how Ernie would like it. The man was always moving, never slowing down.

Still, gatherings have been arranged, both formal and informal, in the upcoming days. During those days I expect to find myself pausing often to think about Ernie and his family. And I'll think of how my own life was enriched by knowing this man. He made his mark and left the world the better for it.

Rest in peace, Ernie Butler.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I have totally neglected mentioning stand-up because Clancy's learned how to smile and I've spent the last three weeks making him laugh with the "daily bugle" riff from the old 60's Spider-Man cartoon.

I wanted to post some pictures of him but the jpegs my mom sent don't work on account of she still uses beta.

But I will mention that tonight, Thursday and Friday I'm doing some old stuff, some baby stuff, and some new stuff that's been going over great at Jimbo's during the last few open mikes. I'm at:

Wednesday August 22, 2007; Comedy Off the Main; Oliveira's; 213 Rachel St. East, Montreal, Quebec; 9:30 pm

Thursday August 23, 2007; Comedyworks; 1238 Bishop St., Montreal, Quebec; 514-398-9661; 9:00 pm

Friday August 24, 2007; Comedyworks; 1238 Bishop St., Montreal, Quebec; 514-398-9661; TWO SHOWS; 9:00 pm and 11:15pm

Starting late September I should be getting pretty busy so watch this space.

And imagine cute smiling babies!