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Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29: Jamie Hutchinson & Tim Rykert

What a gorgeous day. I think, just maybe, it might be the time to hang the long-johns up for the year. That's always a special day. (If you're reading this from a far-off land, don't get the wrong idea. Vancouver is barely in Canada, temperature-wise. I just like to feel snug and warm all the time.)

Speaking of special days, since our show went on the air in 2004 I've been trying to get Jamie Hutchinson on as a guest. Persistence finally paid off. He'll be joining us, along with his good buddy, and former guest, Tim Rykert. The two of them have a new room opening up at the Cellar Jazz Restaurant every Monday night. I'm looking forward to it. Fans of Corner Gas may remember Jamie as Rocket Ronnie from season one. And if you've ever seen Brent Butt live, chances are you saw Jamie open for him.

Fans of The Newsroom might remember Tim as a recurring character. Or if you've ever seen Michael Bublé in concert, chances are you saw Tim opening for the young crooner.

There you have it. That's all you need to know.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Todd Allen

Yes, folks, that youngster we saw crossing home plate in 1991 was none other than Todd Allen. I had no idea who he was when I snapped that photo. Todd is one of at least five standup comics that I know of to come from my alma mater, Oak Bay High School. The others are Steve Ivings, Dr. Russ Kennedy, Jason Lamb and Kristeen von Hagen. When I was going to school, our rivals would call us Joke Bay, but for other reasons. Little did they know it was a hotbed of future comedy.

Here's little Todd making good last year on CBS's The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson:

Todd is also a three-time visitor to What's So Funny?. The last one isn't yet up on the podcast. Before that he guested in April of 2005. His first visit was with Phil Hanley was in November of 2004.

ADDENDUM: Oops, forgot James Ball, another standup comic alum of Oak Bay High. (Back then he was Jamie.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quiz time!

A friend of mine sent this to me this morning. It's a photo I took back in 1991 when my buddy was coaching a little league team (I won't say where because that might give it away). The player shown scoring above went on to become a stand-up comedian. Who is it? Make your guesses in the comment section below. Winners receive the respect and admiration of their peers.

(Click on the image to make it larger.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Still more interviews

I'm slowly getting caught up on old podcasts and transcribed interviews. Today I offer you – free of charge, by the way – two new interviews. At least new to you. One is the second one I did with Colin Mochrie, of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame. This one was conducted in November of 2007 (I told you I was getting caught up). Here's a random quote to whet your whistle:
The whole thing was just surreal for a little Canadian improviser to all of a sudden be doing a rap with Karl Rove. Then the next day he called us and invited us to the White House. He took us around. We went into the Oval Office and President Bush and Vice President Cheney were there, so we talked to them for a while. It was just surreal.
If you're so inclined, you can read the first one, from May of 2005, here. And a random quote from that golden oldie:
The best thing about improv is that once it's gone, it's gone. You can't think, 'What I should have done was...' To me, I just can't remember. Even great scenes I've been involved in, I can sort of remember parts of it but I could never remember what the suggestion was or how we got there. I'm sure there are sometimes where you go 'I got nothing.' And sometimes from that magic happens.
And then there's an interview with Harland Williams from November 2006. It was also the second time I'd interviewed the funnyman, but the first one, done years and years ago, is long gone so this will have to do. Finally, a random quote from Harland, on taking on the role in Half Baked despite not being a pot smoker:
At the end it was kinda my manager. He said, "You know what? It's just a movie role. It's going to really widen your fan base and a lot of people are going to see it." And taking that I kinda went, "You know, I've played a guy on Mars, I've played a cop drinking pee, I've played a serial killer in There's Something About Mary. You know what? They are just roles." And so I kind of justified it that way. It kinda helped. I look back on it and I've had a lot of kids come up to me in the streets and go, "Hey, man, thanks to you I got into the bud." I'm like, "I don't really like that." So it was a bit of a mixed thing for me.

Don't Podcast Yourself

I do believe not too long ago I mentioned the podcast that's taking the internet by storm, Stop Podcasting Yourself, hosted by Vancouver's own Dave Shumka and Graham Clark. Maybe that one mention got me booked on the program. Either that, or after 54 episodes they'd finally run out of decent guests. Be that as it may (and I think you'll all agree that it may), there I was on Saturday afternoon drinking brewskies* and eating Hershey's Kisses at Shumka's place, recording episode #55. Billed as "Vancouver's top comedy podcast", it's an hour-plus of shooting the shit. I was out of my element not asking questions and trying to keep up with two top comedic minds, but I hung in there.

Dave harangued me about not laughing, but here's the thing: I just listened to the show, and I gotta say I laughed (in my own inimitable way) at least as much as Shumka. Clark is in a league of his own, though.

Check out the show. If you haven't heard any of the previous 54, you should listen to some when they have actual funny guests.

Meanwhile, they have this posted on their latest blog entry, but it's deserves even more exposure. A little film by the name of "Fudge Cops", starring both Clark and Shumka, hit the YouTube station over a year ago and to date has 473 views. Let's get that number up, people. It's 1:12 of action-packed hilarity:

* I'm pretty sure Shumka would find that expression "douchey".

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22: Toby Hargrave

Happy spring. To commemorate the season, we have a comic with one of the sunniest dispositions in the business.

Back in the summer of 2005, Toby Hargrave made the big move from Edmonton to Vancouver. I know this because he did our show that very week. He was already an established headliner at that point. Two months later, he rudely won the Vancouver edition of the Great Canadian Laugh-Off. Can you imagine? Those poor Vancouver comics who toiled for years in our city, and this upstart comes in and kicks their collective asses. But it was well-deserved. Five months after that, he was a finalist in Corner Gas's Comic Genius competition, too.

Toby is still a big presence on the Vancouver comedy scene. And tonight he'll visit us again to catch up on his career.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More podcasts, as promised

As reported on these pages earlier this week, the promised podcasts are upon us:
  • from January 27, 2008, we've got the creator and producer of CBC radio's The Debaters, Richard Side (who also happens to be a very funny guy himself).
  • from February 3, 2008, we've got American Dwight Slade, who was also the very first stand-up partner of the legendary Bill Hicks. Among other things, Dwight talks quite emotionally about his late friend.
  • from July 22, 2007, we've got stand-up comic, writer and stay-at-home son, Phil Hanley, in a feisty tete-a-tete.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15: Irwin Barker

Okay, it's not a new one, but it's a good one. Tonight's show originally ran last February, but it's never been up on podcast so if you missed it then, now's your chance. I sat down with Irwin Barker in an empty Yuk Yuk's club on a Saturday afternoon and chatted for an hour. We talked about Irwin's terminal diagnosis, the writing process and his advice to young comics. We didn't talk about the award-winning documentary on his cancer odyssey, That's My Time, nor his comedy dvd Do the Math because they weren't out yet. But it's still a fascinating discussion. And just the other day Irwin told me that there will be another star-studded cancer benefit at the River Rock Show Theatre on June 13. Along with raising money, the show will celebrate the 2-year anniversary of him being given one year to live by the doctors. Stoopid doctors.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go buy Do the Math because Irwin is one funny dude. He's the only guy I know who appeals to every demographic. Once a friend's younger brother – a hard-drinking partier – wrote me saying, "I just saw this comic at Yuk Yuk's. His name was Irwin something or other. Funniest guy I've ever seen in my life."

Amen to that.

So tune in. All the info on how to listen is right over there ––> somewhere.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Podcasts!

It's been a long time coming, but we've got two more podcasts up and running. The last one was from the end of December, 2007. But today starts a long process of getting caught up. We begin with a April 20, 2008 return visit from the Tony Randall of What's So Funny?, Graham Clark. Graham now hosts his own podcast (with lackey Dave Shumka) called Stop Podcasting Yourself, but to really get to know the man they call "Graham" you have to listen to our program, which you can do right here.

The second new podcast up is a very fun, and interesting, visit from first-time WSF? guest, Joel Walmsley. The Wombat dropped by our studio on February 10, 2008 and talked about street performing and Brent Butt's first ever time on stage, among other things. Hear that show right here.

Thanks to Raegan Birch over at for getting these shows uploaded and for hosting them on her site.

Coming soon: Richard Side, Phil Hanley and Dwight Slade.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Patton Oswalt

A few weeks ago I wrote about interviewing Patton Oswalt, saying he wasn't the most forthcoming subject I'd ever spoken to. Well, now you can see for yourself. Will you notice? I'm not sure. As I wrote, he was polite enough. It was just a sense I had at the time. Now you can see for yourself. That interviewed is now available at a computer near you. In fact, probably on the very one you're at right now. Just follow this link and presto, you'll be taken back to February 21, 2008 to relive that magical moment. If you disagree with my assessment, feel free to leave a comment after the interview. Or right here on this blog, if you'd rather. Or ignore me altogether.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8: John Wing

We've got a good show for you tonight. How do I know? Because it's in the can, baby. Done. I can sit back and relax and listen along with you for a change.

After helping comedian John Wing choose a new chapeau on Granville St. yesterday, he and I sat down at a local coffee house for an hour-long conversation. And as luck would have it, it just happened to be recorded. So you'll hear us, along with background tunes, coffee grinders and bathroom doors being buzzed open. It's historic.

Wing is one of my favourite comics. Dry, thoughtful, sarcastic, just silly enough and a real wordsmith. The veteran of 29 years has been living in California for the past 21 years, but he's still a national treasure. He's done six Tonight Shows (one with the legendary Johnny Carson) and tons more TV and radio work. Not acting, though. He'll explain why tonight. We'll also talk about bow ties, poetry, and the perils of performing on the high seas. I think you'll like it. To warm yourself up, check out his YouTubeclips over in the right-hand panel.

Besides being a headlining stand-up comic, Wing is also a prolific writer, who's written five books of poetry (with one more on the way) and a memoir. Despite a BA in English, I don't "get" a lot of poetry, but I own one of Wing's books (A Cup of Nevermind; Mosaic Press)and I really like his work. I thought I'd end this entry with two of his poems, one about his job; the other about mine. Reprinted here without permission:

THE COMEDIAN by John Wing, Jr.

In the red brick room
where the lights bleed smoke,
I have spent my bloom.

I have shed my cloak
and exposed my plume
to amuse these folk.

For above the gloom
and the days on coke,
in the spotlight's broom

I am swept, and soak
in the yellow spume
for my hour's croak.

Is the stage a tomb?
Will the dry throat choke?
In the night's cold womb,

I revoke, revoke
the all-seeing doom,
where the lights bleed smoke
in the red brick room.

by John Wing, Jr.

Your assessment of my poems,
I am forced to admit, is quite correct,
although you tempered it by saying
it was not in any way a lack of talent,
but more an absence of emotion,
a lack of gutsy, visceral, true telling
of events with the poet unremoved.

I have spitefully reread 20 years
of work as though it was composed
by someone else, and you're right.
I am the wallflower, the high-horseman,
silent and between the lines, hiding
real feeling and heart, strangled
in form and rhythm.

I needed to hear this.
And the new perspective will free me,
allowing poems to come straight
from the heart, allowing me
to say what I've always wanted:

I hate you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New old interviews

Finally getting around to posting some more transcripted interviews. Got more on the way, too. So if you haven't noticed already on the comedycouch home page, there are four new ones for your reading pleasure. There's Dave Coulier, of Full House fame, from October of 2007, Greg Behrendt, of He's Just Not That Into You fame, from November 6, 2007, Tom Papa, of... um... I guess Bee Movie fame, from November 7, 2007, and a new one from Brent Butt, of Corner Gas fame, from January of 2008.

Happy reading, everyone. Oh, and vote in the new poll over there on the right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1: David C. Jones

March already? Seriously? That's good, I guess. Only six more months until summer!

Meanwhile, the show marches on. Tonight our guest is Mr. David C. Jones. I figure if you've got a middle initial, you need Mr. in front of your name. Even if that initial is for something as zany and kooky as "Comedy". My guess is he needed the C. in there to separate himself from diminutive dreamboat Davey Jones, of Monkees fame.

This Jones is a man of many, many hats: Actor, writer, producer, director, teacher, comedian, emcee. That's six hats, folks. And not one of them a baseball cap. Tonight we'll be touching on many of these chapeaus. One of the topics will almost certainly be this fascinating bit of merde disturbing Jones was in the centre of. We'll hammer out a solution and be saviours to thespians everywhere. We'll also talk about his upcoming gig in Rome. And he's bringing along the comedy stylings of Dudley Moore & Peter Cooke as well as former WSF? guest, Richard Side. And we'll play those very stylings if our equipment works. That's a promise to you, the listener.