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Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 is in the books

Look at that: another year come and gone. Thanks for hanging out. Tonight's show will be a repeat... er, a special encore presentation. I haven't decided which one yet, so it'll be a surprise for you. It'll be one from the past year, I know that.

Which brings us to our yearly stats, a grand tradition started last year. Okay, not so grand and not quite a tradition, but let's make it one. Before we break it down for you, let's recap the record books back to 2009 (although we've been on the air since 2004).

In 2009, we did 42 shows (some weeks, like tonight, are repeats while others we play comedy clips. I'm talking only of the shows with guests.) Some weeks we have multiple guests so we can assume there were more than 42 guests in 2009, but I'm not about to check.

In 2010, we did 38 shows, which marks the low point in our records.

Last year was the high point: We did 44 shows in 2011 with 53 unique guests (and two of those guests made it on twice).

2012 was somewhere in the middle. We did 41 shows with guests with a total of 47 guests. We'll take that.

Here's a list of everyone who was on What's So Funny? this past year. A big thanks to each and every one of them. And Happy New Year to all of you. Oh, and thanks to my manservant, Kevin, for all that he does (whatever that may be).

See you next week/year!

(Guests listed in order of appearance.)

  1. Alistair Cook
  2. Dylan Rhymer
  3. Glenn Wool
  4. Kliph Nesteroff
  5. Darcy Michael
  6. David DJ Roy
  7. Will Davis
  8. Rob Mailloux
  9. Mike Storck
  10. Paul Hooper
  11. Chris James
  12. Jay Brown
  13. Mark Breslin
  14. Sunee Dhaliwal
  15. Ari Shaffir
  16. Glen Foster
  17. Darryl Lenox
  18. Paula Antil
  19. Baron Vaughn
  20. Ivan Decker
  21. Katie-Ellen Humphries
  22. Gilbert Gottfried
  23. Nikki Glaser
  24. Jay Ono
  25. Pearce Visser
  26. Harry Dope
  27. Cass King
  28. John Woods (King & Woods are The Wet Spots)
  29. Dwight Slade
  30. Lee Camp
  31. Norm Macdonald
  32. Graham Clark
  33. Roman Danylo 
  34. Ken Lawson
  35. Chris Casillan
  36. Sean Patrick Shaul
  37. Steve Bays
  38. Iliza Shlesinger
  39. Tim Rykert
  40. Lynn Shawcroft
  41. Gerald Gerald Geraldson
  42. Myq Kaplan
  43. Lori Gibbs
  44. Kevin Banner
  45. Brent Butt
  46. Richard Lett
  47. Nate Bargatze
If you missed any of them, they're all available in podcast format. Do a search for them on this blog or at iTunes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Podcast episode 301ish: Nate Bargatze

Everyone have a good Christmas? Enjoy your Boxing Day? Now you've got some time to relax before the big New Year's celebration so why not download the last What's So Funny? podcast episode of 2012? It's a good one. Bargatze made his annual trip to the Comedy MIX in Vancouver a few weeks ago and we sat down and talked about all sorts of stuff. Bargatze got a boost when he appeared on Marc Maron's WTF podcast a while back, but this is the episode that's going to take him over the top. Sure, he's done Conan a few times and headlines all over the world, but after today, look out. We talk about military tours, wearing ball caps, getting cut from his high school basketball team, peeping into windows, and gives us the true versions of his jokes.

And after you're done with the podcast, you'll want to go download his hilarious album, Yelled at by a Clown, to hear the routines we talk about. Listen to the episode below or get it at iTunes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Podcast episode 300ish: Richard Lett

The kinder, gentler Richard Lett (left) and puppy
Is this a milestone episode? Number 300? We've done more shows than 300 on the radio, but I have no idea how many (which explains why I always use the qualifying suffix -ish in the count). But I suppose it's something. And what better guest to ring in podcast episode 300 than Richard Lett. Last week I wrote that it would be his sixth appearance, but further digging reveals it was actually his seventh time with us in studio. But this might have been Lett at his most lucid, now that he's sober (but never clean) for almost three years. In this episode we talked about his obsession with quitting things, his move to Toronto, and making amends. Along the way, he recites a poem he wrote in tribute to Tom Waits, deconstructs a fart joke, and itemizes our sometimes confrontational relationship over the years. It's a good one, as it always is with him.

So here you go. Episode 300. Cherish it. Listen right here, right now, by clicking on the gizmo below or download it at iTunes at no cost to you.

Dec. 16: Nate Bargatze

Tonight we've got the hilarious Nate Bargatze on the show. Nate was in town a couple weeks ago headlining the Comedy MIX and kindly dropped by... well, his hotel room to chat for an hour. If you've never seen or heard Nate before, the guy is hilarious. If you've seen him live or caught one of his appearances on Conan, you already know this. He's a proud Nashville native, spent 8 or so years in New York, and just a few weeks ago moved with his wife and baby to Los Angeles. We talked about that, his chameleon-like looks, his stint in the NBA, and his love of Sinbad. He also tells us the true story behind his Davie St. experience, which is a bit he's included on his CD, Yelled At By A Clown.

Tune in tonight at 11pm PST to CFRO, 100.5 FM, in Vancouver. Or livestream it at And next week, as always, the episode will be available as a podcast just in time for Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Podcast episode 299ish: Brent Butt

This one was seven years in the making. At least it felt like it. No, wait, that sounds wrong. Let me explain. Brent Butt first graced our studio back in the early days. December 2005, to be exact. Seven years later, to the month, he returned to talk about Corner Gas, Hiccups, his new movie No Clue, corporate gigs, working blue, and getting soft. It was a good one, as to be expected. He's a pro's pro who can't help but be funny even when he's being serious. A perfect guest, in other words.

Have a listen right here, right now at this gizmo below. Or why not savour the episode by downloading it at a podcast distributor of your preference, such as iTunes, then listen to it over and over again on your personal listening device.

Dec. 9: Richard Lett

Richard Lett is baaa-aack! This will be the former Vancouverite's sixth appearance on What's So Funny? and what a roller coaster ride it's been. He first visited us in 2004 with Vince Fluek and has been back on his own four more times, in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Lett has been clean and sober for almost three years so let's do the math here at the end of 2012, shall we? That means his last visit was his most lucid one. But each has been fascinating and highly entertaining.

When he last dropped by, I believe it was his last day in town before packing up and moving to the centre of the universe. Tonight we'll see how the sobriety is going, how Toronto is treating him, and if he's made amends for all his past transgressions. He's also got a new CD so we'll play a track from it.

As always, we're on the air at 11 pm PST until midnight at 100.5 FM in Vancouver. If you're outside the lower mainland, you can livestream the show at

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nate Bargatze interview

I've got Nate Bargatzi coming up as a guest on the show on the 16th, but I thought I'd run this recent phone interview I did with him now. It's different from what you'll hear in a couple weeks.

Nate Bargatze – November 22, 2012

"I don’t mind opinions and stuff. I get it. But I don’t try to drive anything home; I’m just trying to be funny. I’m not here to change anybody’s mind." – Nate Bargatze

Guy MacPherson: Hello, Nate?
Nate Bargatze: Hey.

GM: Guy MacPherson in Vancouver.
NB: What’s up, man?

GM: How are you? I’m good.
NB: I’m good. I’m in West Palm Beach, Florida.

GM: Visiting or performing?
NB: Performing. We’re doing some shows for the troupes again. We went to Greenland, then El Salvador, Honduras. We have a day off here then we go tomorrow to the Bahamas and I fly home Saturday.

GM: What’s in Greenland?
NB: It’s pretty amazing. I thought nothing, so you’re thinking what’s the point of people being up there? But it’s a first response. If there’s ever an attack, like a nuclear attack or a bomb or something shot at America, they’re the first ones to know. Or for Canada, too. So if one comes over this way, they’re the first ones.

GM: Then we all escape to Greenland if we’re attacked because no one’s there.
NB: That’s the plan!

GM: How many of these type tours have you done?
NB: This is, I think, my seventh one now. They’re pretty awesome.

GM: So you’ve been all over the world.
NB: Basically. There, Bahrain, Djibouti, Africa, then Iraq and Kuwait. And Guam.

GM: You’re a family guy. You’ve got a wife and kid.
NB: We just had a kid, yup. She is four months old. July 8th.

GM: Now are you thinking twice about going on things, potentially putting your life at risk when you’ve got a kid at home? Or is it more like you want to make some money for your kid?
NB: You wanna go make some money. But I still want to go do this stuff because it’s important. But now when I go, I do miss being at home. This is like ten days and I don’t want to be gone ten days if I don’t have to. I don’t mind doing clubs and stuff on weekends. Like Vancouver’s like Thursday, come back Sunday. That’s fine.

GM: How long have you been married?
NB: Seven years.

GM: To a civilian.
NB: To a civilian. We’ve been together since I started comedy. I was 21 when we got together. I’m 33 now so almost 12 years.

GM: She’s from Chicago?
NB: No, she’s from Alabama.

GM: Oh, but she was in Chicago when you were there?
NB: No. We met in Nashville, then I moved to Chicago to start comedy and we just did long distance for about four years.

GM: Interesting. You were in a relationship then said, ‘Hey, I gotta go try this’ and she said, ‘All right.’
NB: Yup. Yup, she’s been very cool about the whole thing and luckily it kinda worked out where I got some stuff where it at least looked like I was doing what I should be doing.

GM: It’s nice that you can share your success with someone.
NB: It is. It’s great. And we both got to do it all from the beginning, the same thing. It’s not like I was a comic and met her at a club; it was all from the very beginning when I wasn’t funny.

GM: You were always funny, just not professionally. It’s a different thing being funny professionally, isn’t it?
NB: It’s very different. Sometimes you get people come up to you and talk to you. Most people are very polite but then occasionally you get people that’ll be drunk and they’re like, ‘I can do this. You’re not funnier than me.’ But there’s a complete difference. It’s easier to be funny with your friends because they know you. It’s tough when you have people that don’t know you because you’ve got to make them get you and laugh at you and have fun. So it’s a completely different thing, yeah.

GM: Is one more enjoyable than the other? Because there’s nothing better than sitting around and making your friends laugh, right?
NB: No, no, it’s the best. Especially hanging out with comics, it’s so fun. You just die laughing with each other. But there is something great about making strangers… Like, sometimes you do a show and you hear strangers really dying laughing and it makes you laugh. It’s almost like you can’t believe they’re laughing that much. That’s a pretty amazing thing. I’ll be doing a show and it’s going really good but I’ll hear like a few people laughing harder than the rest and those are the times you’re like, those people get me completely. There’s like a couple a show so I gotta go find them and get them all to meet up in one place and record something with those people. Just those, no one else.

GM: Does your wife have a good sense of humour?
NB: She does. She’s very funny. When we first met, she made me laugh. She does little stuff that’s very funny to me. And she’s funny on Facebook. All her friends talk about stuff that she says that’s really funny. But she’s scared to death to talk in front of people so hopefully she won’t take over my job.

GM: So she’s like one of the obnoxious people who say, ‘I’m funnier than you.’
NB: Yeah, yeah. That’s what she tells me every morning.

GM: It’s an interesting thing. You must know people, like your wife, who you think are really funny but they just don’t have the urge, or the balls, to go up on stage.
NB: Yeah, yeah. There’s plenty of people. That’s the weird thing: Everybody can be funny. Everybody’s been funny. I had a friend who was not funny but he would make me laugh at just how unfunny he was. So it is the one thing that everybody can do and everybody does do with each other. So it’s just a matter of doing it. I tell a lot of people the difference between me and most people is I did it. For whatever reason you do it or you don’t go do it.

GM: It’s like sports. I play basketball but I couldn’t turn pro.
NB: Yeah, but there isn’t that much of a leap. Like, when you see LeBron James, you’re like, ‘Well, I can’t do that because I’m not 6-9.’ It’s a freak of nature how big some of those guys are. We don’t have that.

GM: I was at your show last year at the Comedy MIX.
NB:  Yes, I remember meeting you.

GM: I’m trying to remember. During that show, was that when there was that screaming fit in the back with women fighting?
NB:  Yes. They lost it. And they went to the back area by the green room and they just kept yelling at each other. There was another fight, too, but it was after the show.

GM: Oh yeah? Is this a common occurrence at your shows?
NB: Not really. You know what’s funny, talking about heckling, I don’t think I really get heckled much . It doesn’t happen as much as people think, like the typical what you think heckling might be where someone yells, ‘You suck!’ That doesn’t always happen. What happens is just people are talking. They just don’t pay attention. They’re talking and they’re being loud and then it has to be addressed. That does happen quite a bit. Usually it’s going to be a Friday or Saturday show when people are drinking. Usually Friday late shows are the worst. Steve Martin said he quit comedy because of Friday late shows.

GM: I don’t know if that’s true because he was playing arenas by that point.
NB: Yeah, well that’s just like a quote. But on Fridays, people work so they’re tired, then they drink a lot and it doesn’t pan out. So people talk and they get drunk. It’s annoying. I try to not talk to them. I don’t try to draw any attention to them. As much as I can. I’d rather just move on. It’s hard sometimes because I can hear everybody on stage. Sometimes I can hear people that other people can’t hear. Sometimes it gets to a point where you have to address it because it messes up… I can’t even think. All you’re doing is hearing them just chatting away. And that’s usually when they sit up front. That’s the worst.

GM: When that happened, I was impressed with how in the moment you were. You weren’t in a hurry to get to your stuff, you just let it ride. Is being in the moment something you had to learn or has it come naturally to you?
NB: I’ll try to plow through if it’s little. I’ll try to talk louder and hopefully, if they’re good people, they’re realize they’re talking loud. That way you don’t have to disrupt the show and mess everything up. But in a situation like that one, there’s no way… That’s all anyone’s looking at. If you don’t draw attention to that, people are not going to pay attention. I don’t think I’m the best at crowd work. I just have to rely on instincts, so if it happens naturally, just go with it.

GM: Even if there’s no heckling or situation in the crowd, you’re in the moment in that you’re relaxed and if you hear or see something, you’ll let it soak in rather than going by rote. You have a nice, relaxed speaking pace. When you were starting out, were you more panicky? It takes a lot of confidence to have those pauses.
NB: Yeah, definitely I was. I’ve always talked slower than everybody. Growing up in the south, we have a slower pace. Some people speed up and have to slow down but I’ve never had that problem because I just naturally talk slower. Even when I think I’m talking fast, no one ever goes, ‘Man, you were flying.’ In my head, it’ll be faster than I normally talk but it’s still not as fast as I think it is. But the pausing, sometimes I’ll go on stage and I’ll start kinda weird and slow down at the very beginning because I’ll follow people that are very funny or very fast so I need to get everybody into my rhythm so it’s like, ‘Alright, we’re making a change.’ If I try to match whatever they do, I can’t do that. It won’t come off right. So you just do a nice pause. And I’ve been doing this almost ten years so I have jokes that I know are 99% going to work. And they’re quick jokes and they just kinda work with everybody. It’s not a long story or something. So I have confidence I’m not going to lose them. That’s when you can pause, like, ‘I can get you back. Everything’s fine.’

GM: When did you start to headline and tour?
NB: I think my first headlining was actually in Canada. It was in Montreal. It was about 2008. Then I would do it here and there after that but never a lot. So I think consistently it has been the past couple years where I’m pretty much now just headlining. If I open for anybody, it will be a big act.

GM: I heard you on Maron’s podcast.
NB: Oh, awesome, yeah. That was awesome to do, for him to let me do that.

GM: I’m curious to know about the Maron effect. Like back when Johnny Carson would have somebody on and it would boost their career, or not. Did you notice anything significant or different after doing the show.
NB: I did. I told Maron that exactly, that idea of saying it’s kind of like a newer version of Carson.

GM: Oh, was that you? I listen to them all and they all blend together.
NB: Yeah. I feel like Carson got everybody. Because everybody watched Carson. There were like three channels so that’s all anybody watched. So now with Maron, obviously it’s not everybody but it’s the people that want to watch comedy. So even though it’s smaller, he’s the guy right now. He interviews everybody, from Jud Apatow to me. The range is so far. I think it helped. My name got out there more. He has so many listeners so I guess people just knew my name more. And it helps with other comics. I think it gives you some credit. It’s more clout with other comedians. And it’s great because it’s not like stand-up; it’s your background so people are going to learn about you. It’s not like no one knows you. I think they really get to know who you are, in a sense.

GM: Carson used to give his sign of approval with an invitation to the couch or an okay sign. You kind of got that with Maron because he kept talking about how funny you were, even beyond that episode, and how much you make him laugh. So there was that added boost, too: “Wow, Maron really likes this guy. I’m gonna check him out.”
NB: Yeah, yeah. That was enormous. He’s been so nice to me. It’s funny how comedy works in the sense where I just randomly did a festival and he saw me and was nice enough to tweet about me and has been very complimentary. Yeah, it was amazing. That could be the most helpful thing that I’ve had in comedy. Because all the other stuff is kinda great, but to really get vouched for is a big deal.

GM: You guys talked a bit about your dad, the magician. Magicians kind of get a bad rap but I have a soft spot for them, probably because I liked them as a kid. Are you a big defender of magicians?
NB: Oh, yeah, yeah. My dad’s been doing it for 35 years. He was just in London. They got back yesterday. He was ranked as one of the top funny magicians in the world, voted one of the top 30 funniest. I mean, my dad’s really good. If magic was bigger than it is, where you’re famous, he would be very famous. But there’s like five who are very famous. So I do defend ‘em. I’ve met a lot of them and it’s amazing stuff that they do. And my dad is very funny. It’s funny to grow up with it. It’s never been anything out of the ordinary to me after seeing it regularly my whole life.

GM: Is he based in Nashville?
NB: Yes.

GM: He must be thrilled with your success.
NB: Yeah, very thrilled. That’s what’s so great, my parents are so supportive the whole time I’ve done it. My dad’s completely on board with it and has been from the very beginning. And they get it. My mom has been there and watched my dad, now she’s watching me. It’s awesome and it’s exciting and it’s very fun to get to call him and tell him when stuff happens to me.

GM: Does he offer advice?
NB: Yeah. He’ll give me tags to jokes and stuff. Or ideas. And I’ll ask him advice about the road, like booking stuff or whatever. But we started in different times. When he started, it was the ‘70s and there was the comedy boom. But he always told me to do standup instead of magic because he has to carry around so much stuff everywhere he travels. If we’re ever together, I’m just walking around with nothing and he has suitcases of magic tricks.

GM: When you were in your early twenties and reading metres, or whatever you were doing for work, was he giving you guidance then?
NB: I think he was happy I was working. I was already out of college, already flunked out of college. So the job I had there was a good job. The benefits were good, the pay was fine. But then when I said I wanted to do comedy, he was like, ‘Aw, that’s great.’ And they just let me do it the whole time. He never pushed us in any way. Just very happy with whatever. Whatever we were doing, he just wanted us to be a normal person growing up, not some lunatic.

GM: Your material is clean but it’s not overtly so, where you immediately pick up on it.
NB: That’s exactly how I want it to be. I don’t want you to think about it. It shouldn’t matter. Same with the dirty comics. It’s not about the dirtiness. I shouldn’t be. It should all be about funny. It doesn’t matter how you say it; just make it funny.

GM: The last time I wrote about Brian Regan, I didn’t even mention that he’s clean because I’m sick of it. I’m sick of hearing about it. When it’s mentioned, I don’t like either outcome: either people will like you because you’re clean, or they won’t like you because of that.
NB: If somebody’s like, ‘He’s not dirty enough for me,’ that doesn’t even make sense. The ideas are the same.

GM: Was it a conscious decision to work that way?
NB: We grew up in a Christian house and were never really allowed to watch anything. I watched clean comedy growing up. And my dad’s clean. So it’s just what I grew up around. So it just went that way. I don’t really come up with dirty stuff. When you start, whichever way your mind goes could be the way you’re going to write. It’s kind of the way you’re going to be the rest of the way.

GM: Do you curse in real life?
NB: Yeah, yeah. I just don’t do it on the stage. Or in front of my parents.

GM: I interviewed Jim Breuer a couple weeks ago and he’s recently made the switch to family-friendly stuff because his daughters were looking him up online and he realized, ‘I can’t let them watch this!’
NB: Yeah. I like when my wife’s family – her brother’s a pastor, her dad’s a pastor  – so it’s nice that they can watch stuff. But I have a joke about prostitutes and I’ve done that joke in front of my parents. So some of it’s darker but all in all it is nice that everybody can watch it.

GM: You grew up in a southern conservative Christian house. Are you still that?
NB: Uh, yeah.

GM: But we don’t see that on stage. Is that too dividing?
NB: Yeah, especially in New York. You say that kind of stuff and people think you’re an animal. And I’m not the most political person. And I don’t try to force it. I was raised like that. If you watch comedy, I never been in the type of comedy where it’s like – I don’t mind opinions and stuff; like, I get it. I don’t try to drive anything home; I’m just trying to be funny. And I’m not a celebrity, but I like when you don’t know who big celebrities vote for. It’s like, who cares? You don’t want to end up not liking someone that you did like because now you find out they’re way against whatever you believe in. I’m not here to change anybody’s mind.

GM: So you voted for Romney is what you’re saying!
NB: (laughs) Yeah, long story short.

GM: (laughs) Could you have become a southern comic?
NB: Well, I moved up north. I guess I could have stayed down there. I would love to do all the southern stuff but when I moved to Chicago it all just kinda happened. I’m really glad I did. When I look at it, I’m a New York comic just because that’s where I got all my chops. I think the best comics end up going to New York. You just can go on stage so much and you can get so good just watching other guys. It’s just a faster pace. I’d like to go back to the south but I’m glad I went to New York so it’s not like what people think of southern comedy.

GM: We think of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
NB: Yeah, exactly. I don’t want to not be associated with it. I’m very pro-south. I’m from the south and I love the south. I don’t like when you see southern comics go up in the north and just make fun of the south. I don’t like to talk down about it, like, ‘Down in the south they’re a bunch of redneck idiots.’ No, they’re not. I’d imagine there are probably Canadian comics who leave Canada then trash Canada. Why are you not happy where you’re from? Same way about being clean, it’s an afterthought.

GM: I like that you are who you are, in that you’re saying you’re a southern conservative Christian, you’re clean, and I read that you have a fondness for Sinbad. There seems to be in a lot of the comedy circles a sort of groupthink about who or what’s acceptable to like, and who not to like. I like that you just say you think Sinbad is great, when many wouldn’t.
NB: He’s amazing. I remember watching Afros and Bellbottoms. It was one of the first stand-up specials I watched. It was the most unbelievable thing I remember seeing. It was so funny. And you know what’s funny? People will say that about Sinbad until they work with him and then they see how funny he is. I haven’t seen him. I saw his last special and I haven’t even seen him live; I just always have liked him. But I’ve seen guys who’ve worked with him and then they change. They’re like, ‘Oh. Nevermind. He’s the real deal.’

GM: I’ll tell you, that was my experience. He was a guy I saw on TV all the time and I couldn’t stand him. Everything about him I didn’t like. I didn’t like the way he dressed, I didn’t like the way he talked, I didn’t like his jokes. And then he came to Vancouver a few years ago and he blew me away. I thought this is why the guy is famous.
NB: Yeah, incredible. It’s ridiculous. I think it’s like the idea of people liking Bill Hicks. Not that he’s not great but they’re like, ‘Bill, he was saying something.’ Everything’s got to be about saying something. How about just being funny? Brian Regan’s about the only one I feel like that does get respect across the board. I don’t know if I’ve heard anyone say anything bad about him. He’s so funny that no one can say anything. Too many comics are concerned with saying something. Who cares?! You don’t even have to say something; just be funny. I can laugh at anything if it’s funny. If you get into a thing where you’re preachy, then you get in that crowd that agrees with you so you’re just with people that agree with you. It’s just like a rally: ‘Am I right everyone?’ And they’re like, ‘Yes, you’re right.’

GM: Now that you mention it, Regan may be the beneficiary of that kind of groupthink, too, because the leaders in the community all say how great he is so everybody goes, ‘Yeah, he’s great.’
NB: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. That’s true. That’s what I always thought with Hicks. Young comics will come up and be like, ‘Yeah, Bill Hicks was great.’ And I’m like, I bet you haven’t seen him. Not that he’s not great. But no one wants to say anything that’s going to be weirdly different. That’s the dumbest thing, like if you say you like Sinbad, that’s so weird and stupid.

GM: My nephew is around your age and he’s a hip-hop guy. And two days ago he posted on Facebook about liking Jay Leno’s Headlines. And I’m not a Jay Leno fan but I appreciated that he was brave enough to say he liked him because all his friends responded how Leno sucks. Because that's—
NB: Yeah, the thing to do.

GM: And he responded, ‘But Headlines is funny.’
NB: I agree with you completely. I love little stuff like that. I agree with you. I love when, especially like a kid, that’s what I want to tell my daughter: just be yourself. If you say you like stuff… Like, I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. The music I like is the music everybody hates for whatever reason. I like Nickelback. I’m not into music because I know a lot about it. I just listen to whatever people hate. I don’t know. But just enjoy what you like and if you do that, you stand out more than anything. And then you realize, too, that everybody else likes it. The stuff people hate is famous so someone likes it. So I agree, I love stuff like that, like your nephew saying that. That’s awesome.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dec. 2: Brent Butt

Brent will look something like this tonight.
Christmas is coming early this year. Tonight we're graced by the great Brent Butt, who has been absent from our studio since December of 2005. But we'll cut the elusive comic some slack. It's not as if he's been sloughing off. When he was last with us, Butt was still filming his hit sitcom Corner Gas. Well, since then he's gone on to create and star in another one, Hiccups. And most recently he's just finished shooting a feature length move, No Clue, which will be out... whenever it comes out. I have no clue but I guess we'll find out tonight. While those big- and small-screen efforts are great, I've been especially thrilled that Brent is getting back to his stand-up roots, making appearances in small weekly rooms around the city and still getting out and touring big venues around the country. This guy is having his cake and eating it, too. And no, that's not a fat joke.

So have a listen. We'll be on the air at 11 pm PST on CFRO, 100.5 FM in Vancouver. I know Brent has fans all over the world, so if you get this in time, you can livestream the show at If you don't get this in time, fret not. The show will be available in popular podcast format next Sunday. See, so you're getting your cake and eating it, too. Cake for everyone!

Podcast episode 298ish: Kevin Banner

Sooke's own Kevin Banner made his What's So Funny? debut last week. We talked about his lady-soft hands, travelling with giant novelty cheques, going undefeated between the ropes in pro wrestling, and being snubbed by a comedy hero. It was a solid first effort for the kid. I'm sure we'll see him on the show again.

Not only was it his first time on, the episode is the first one I've posted on my fancy new computer. Turns out it's something called an m4a rather than an mp3. But it works from my end. If you find a difference, let me know. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy. Hell, lean forward if you must. Or even walk about. However you choose to listen, though, you'll enjoy. Click below or go find it on iTunes. You know how to do it.

If that doesn't work, for sure it will work by following this link: Yeah, this one that's highlighted.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Podcast episode 297ish: Lori Gibbs

Your host going balls to the wall.
And having fun. Just like Lori Gibbs.
I'm a little late with this one but it will be all the more sweet with the wait. And it's pretty sweet on its own! Lori Gibbs returned to her hometown. That's right, we think of her as a Calgarian (which she is now) but she's a born and bred Vancouverite. In this episode, recorded on her bed, we compare head sizes and talk about gardening, piano lessons, motivational speaking, weight loss, and judging comedy. As an added bonus, I offer a possible revolutionary solution to depression.

So download to your heart's content over at iTunes or, if you'd rather, pull up a chair and listen right here on your computer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nov. 25: Kevin Banner

I'm a bit late posting this today but I've been running around all over the lower mainland and, well, I'm not that organized. Forgive me. Tonight's guest is a first-timer and homeboy. Actually, I think he's from Sooke, but we're all island people. I first saw Kevin Banner at Laffline's a year or two ago when he was competing in a Bite-TV competition. "How good can he be? He's from Sooke," I thought. No disrespect intended but I didn't know of any other Sooke comics. Turns out he was pretty good. And is even better now. He recently broke free from the island and moved to the big city. We'll see how that's going tonight. Talk to you then. 11 pm PST. 100.5 FM. Livestream at

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jim Breuer interview

Jim Breuer's hitting town tonight with the Just For Laughs Comedy Tour so I thought I'd run the full transcript of the interview I did with him last month.

Jim Breuer – Oct. 16, 2012
"SNL and Half-Baked worked for me big-time. It made me money, got me out there in the public eye. However it watered down my standup. So I had to get back to who I am as a standup and get back in there." – Jim Breuer

Jim Breuer: Hey, how are you?

Guy MacPherson: Hi, Jim. Good, thanks. How are you?
JB: I’m great, thank you.

GM: Where are you calling from, Jim?
JB: I’m calling from New Jersey, in my home.

GM: You’re touring Canada. Have you been to Vancouver before?
JB: The only time I’ve been to Vancouver was just to kind of warm up the crowd for Metallica about a month or two ago.

GM: Oh, right, I heard about that. And that was your first time?
JB: Yeah, that was my first time in Vancouver. Vancouver has an amazing reputation and I understand why now. I got to rent a bike and I rode around each day. It’s absolutely beautiful there and the people are great. I really enjoyed Vancouver.

GM: Well, you’ll be here in November so who knows if any of that will happen again.
JB: Yeah, it’ll be a little colder but that’s alright.

GM: You’re used to it. You’re a hardy soul.
JB: I’m used to it.

GM: And now touring across the country.
JB:  From east to west.

GM: I would assume if you’ve only been to Vancouver once, you’ve only been to Montreal, maybe Toronto.
JB: Correct. I have not toured Canada and it’s something that I’ve been really pressing to do for the last couple years. So finally when this happened, it made all the sense in the world. I think by the time I’m done with this tour I’ll have a really good Canadian following to the point where I can come out and tour on my own.

GM: I would think you would have that anyway, don’t you?
JB: Um, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Unless you’re on TV a lot, people forget about you quick. I’m still at that stage where people go, “Wha-, what was he doing? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, the Goat guy. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, the guy from that thing. Oh yeah, I know him.” So I have to establish where they go, “Oh my gosh, yes, that guy. Great comedian.”

GM: One of the top 100.
JB: Oh boy.

GM: Who was directly ahead of you in that?
JB: I have no clue. I don’t get into lists and all that nonsense. Like, I know where my best pizza place is in town; I don’t need to vote for it. I don’t ever refer to that list. It doesn’t change who comes to see the show. The only list I care about is who’s in the audience.

GM: I just thought maybe you’re really competitive and want to take them down a notch.
JB: No, no, that’s crazy.

GM: On this tour, with essentially four headliners each doing a shorter set than they normally would, will it be harder to quell the yahoos that will surely be there yelling out Goat Boy or Half-Baked stuff?
JB: No, not at all. That’s expected. If that’s what they’re a fan of and that’s what brings them in, well then that’s why I got in this industry. So I don’t have a lot of problems with people yelling and shouting out stuff. What I usually do is I hit them pretty hard with the standup and it stands on its own and keeps their attention. If I wasn’t able to pull it off, I’d probably have a real problem with them shouting stuff out. But I haven’t had a problem with them. What I usually do is when I’m finished with my set, I’ll ask, “Did you come here to see anything specifically?” And then if it calls for Goat Boy or Party in the Stomach or whatever they were really dying to see live, then I’ll give it to them.

GM: That’s a good healthy attitude to take because some performers maybe resent a past success.
JB: Oh, yeah, some do but you know what? I’m also a fan and when I go to see my favourite performer, they need to know what I’m coming to see. I’m a metalhead and I went to see Iron Maiden and they didn’t play any old stuff. I literally walked out, I was so aggravated and mad. “We’re doing new stuff tonight!” Well then I’m going to bed because that’s not what I came here for.

GM: So you’re still a metalhead?
JB: I am. I am. It’s like a fine wine. It’s the only thing that gives me a good buzz.

GM: It’s funny. You’re on the Relationship Show tour and the traditional image of a father or relationships is kind of old and safe, but of course metalheads are fathers and husbands and any type of person is, too.
JB: I consider myself a modern-day dad where I still got the rock and roll in me, but yet I take being a parent and relationships very seriously in life. And on stage. I’m married going on twenty years, I have three daughters. My father, who’s 89, lives with me. My mom is close by, she’s 85. So I take family very seriously. But on this tour and elsewhere I’m putting out there that I’m tired of the image of the father as a fat, overweight, beer-chugging stupid guy because it’s not in real life and that image has to change.

GM: And you’re changing it one city at a time.
JB: I’m changing it, baby, one city at a time!

GM: I saw a video of you hitting your dad over the head with a newspaper.
JB: (laughs) He needs to play. People forget when you get older you still gotta play. He loves to play and he likes the busting-chops type of play.

GM: You could see the real warmth between you guys but I would imagine some people look at that and go, “Hey, you shouldn’t do that.”
JB: That’s people who have a stick up their rear end. That’s people who can’t see comedy. Those are the people I don’t want showing up.

GM: Did you finally get the ramp built?
JB: Oh, that’s funny, yeah. I built the ramp. It came out great. But then we had to sell the house. So I had to take down the ramp about four or five months later. Hence why he lives with me now. In my house, I don’t need a ramp. I’m on the ground level so I don’t have to worry about that.

GM: How old are your kids?
JB: 13, 10 and 7. All girls.

GM: Are you constantly embarrassing them?
JB: (laughs) There’s a fine line, yeah. There’s a little bit embarrassment. When they get a little too serious, yeah, definitely I whip out the embarrassment card.

GM: I, like most people, first saw you on Saturday Night Live but I don’t know about your standup before then.
JB: I started in 1985 and I dabbled in it for a couple years. And then I got serious in 1989 and I never looked back. It was my standup comedy that led to everything. Every work, TV, film, commercial, it was all from standup comedy. In the very beginning, Comedy Central held me as one of their up-and-coming stars to watch out for. I was starting to make a name for myself and then I hit Saturday Night Live. Saturday Night Live and Half-Baked and all that, I wouldn’t say derailed me but it took me off course of what I was becoming as a young comic. So I’m kind of taking back that threshold when I started really refocusing back in 2008.

GM: Did you stop performing live when you got Saturday Night Live or just less frequently?
JB: No, no, no. But what would happen was the crowd that was coming out was a Saturday Night Live crowd so they wanted to see the characters. So it became more of trying to describe the characters. The standup was working but I also wasn’t able to work as much and work on the standup as much. You’re putting all your time and energy in Saturday Night Live and then boom, they send you to a college. And really, when you’re on TV everyone’s just there to see the star, the guy: “Ah! It’s the guy!” So thank God I worked my way up as a standup so I could hold court for years, but after a while, getting back to that original standup where it’s a set-up and a punch and a story and I set the story up here and I have a call-back and I really work the act the way I originally used to do it, that was kind of losing its sense for a while. Like I said, SNL and Half-Baked worked for me big-time. It made me money, got me out there in the public eye. However it watered down my standup. So I had to get back to who I am as a standup and get back in there.

GM: Is standup ultimately the most rewarding?
JB: Yeah, hands down. Because I control the writing, the directing, the editing, and whether I fail or succeed, I’m the one in control of it. And I can handle that. The most frustrating thing is when it’s not in your destiny; someone else is in control of how you’re put out there and you don’t like the way you’re being put out there. It’s very frustrating. Standup, I see right there and then what they like and what they don’t like.

GM: You changed recently to be more family friendly?
JB: Yeah.

GM: Does that mean you cut out curse words?
JB: Yeah, basically. At the end of the day, it’s not to be confused with soft comedy. I think if you look online and look up any of my current bits, there’s nothing soft about it. I just take being a role model with my kids and as a father and as a dad and as a family man – a real family man – I take it very seriously. And I want to be that role model. Being on stage is a big part of that. And that’s a major mission of mine. But I work on it to be hilarious. I don’t want it to be nice and soft and “Oh, he’s the nice family guy.” No. I want to be hilarious, really funny. It just so happens, oh yeah, he’s clean, by the way.

GM: Like Brian Regan.
JB: Correct. If I had to put an idol ahead of me, then that’s the guy.

GM: It’s a big responsibility being that role model.
JB: Not if you’re living it.

GM: With some performers who have kids, I wonder if they let their kids hear them.
JB: And that is one of the reasons why I went in that direction. Once I realized how powerful the internet was, when my kids started looking me up online, I’d see these routines where they weren’t filthy but I was cursing. And I realized, “Aw, man, I can’t let my kids watch this. That’s stupid. Why am I cursing so much? Who am I trying to appeal to?” And trying to write funny instead of just ending it with a curse word. And that major reason was I want my kids to be able to watch it, I want their families to be able to watch it, and I want them to go, “God, that guy is so good, so funny.” Just like you said, like Brian Regan. I really respect what he does.

GM: If we in the media didn’t even mention that you’re doing family-friendly stuff, people probably wouldn’t even notice.
JB: And that’s what happens. I’ve noticed that, too, where people leave and they don’t even really realize it. It’s more of an afterthought and they go, “You know, I don’t think he… I don’t think he said anything nasty.” I want that multi-generation show. I love watching families at a show.

GM: Your kids know you so they know you were an actor in Half-Baked.
JB: They don’t know that. They don’t know anything about that movie. (laughs)

GM: But they will eventually.
JB: Of course.

GM: I never understand if fans really don’t get it or they just don’t want to believe that you’re an actor doing a role.
JB: It’s a little bizarre. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and they’re like, “You got me through my teenage years and I was just like you.” And I’m like, “No, dude, you were like the character. You’re not like me. That’s not me.” Yeah, a lot of people attach themselves to that character but it’s a character.

GM: I think Harland Williams told me he doesn’t smoke pot at all.
JB: And that’s the crazy thing, is I did. I have no qualms about that. However, Harland didn’t whatsoever. It’s pretty funny, he started getting this following but he’s like, “I can’t keep up with this because I don’t do this stuff.”

GM: Who did you come up with in standup?
JB: Uh… Wanda Sykes, Chappelle, Joe Rogan, Jeffrey Ross. We had Keith Robinson, Jay Mohr was around a lot, Wanda Sykes, myself. Ray Romano was a little ahead of me. Those were all guys I used to see all the time. Dave Attell, Jim Norton.

GM: In New York.
JB: Yeah.

GM: It seems every comic now has a podcast but you’re old school. You’re on radio.
JB: I am on radio. I started a podcast and Sirius Satellite Radio was like, “If you do the podcast, we’re not giving you a cheque.” And a cheque is really nice. I don’t plan on walking away from that one.

GM: Yeah, that’s the thing with podcasts: everyone has one but three people are making any money from them.
JB: Yeah, not too many people make money. Maybe Marc Maron, maybe… what’s his name? The original guy… Carolla. I think besides those two, no one’s making money. Unless it’s driving their audience to come see you, maybe.

GM: There’s always that. What format is your radio show?
JB: It’s talk comedy. I have standup comics. I do characters. That’s where I get to do more… People say, “Do you do impressions on stage?” And I don’t really do impressions on stage but I’ll do them on my radio show. Sometimes it’s just real heart-to-heart real-life subjects, which is what’s great about satellite radio is no limits.

GM: Is it a weekly? Sorry, I should know this.
JB: Yeah, every Friday, 4-6 pm Eastern.

GM: There’s a great public appetite for comedians talking to comedians these days.
JB: Yeah. I’ve been doing it for about eight to nine years now. It’s funny because pretty much everyone that came on my show turned around and started a podcast.

GM: Exactly. I’ve been doing one on the radio and podcast for eight years and I had Maron on before he had his show so I like to think he stole my idea.
JB: (laughs) It’s a good possibility.

GM: Of course everyone listens to his and not to mine. When you were here a couple months ago, it was for Metallica, right?
JB: Yeah, they were filming a movie and the movie producer asked if I could go out and do seven minutes of warm-up. Five to seven minutes to warm the crowd up, get them excited, get their energy way up and then bring out Metallica. So I flew to Vancouver thinking I’m doing five to seven minutes and no standup, no show. The day of the first concert, Metallica’s people tell me, “Listen, it’s a Metallica crowd. You don’t need to warm them up. Go out and do 40.” Four-zero?! “Yeah, do 40. They’ll love you.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, this is not a standup comedy crowd. They don’t know I’m on the bill. You don’t just walk out in front of a raw metal crowd and just start doing, “Hey, I’ve got kids. Who’s got kids and who’s married 20 years?” Thank God I’ve been around long enough so when I did go out there, I believe I succeeded. It was the hardest… It was a hard thing to figure out because the entire floor was a stage, you’re constantly in the round so if I was faced in one area, 90 percent of the audience was to my back. And God knows what they were doing: drinking, smoking, whatever. So it was a little bit of a challenge but I conquered it and I succeeded both nights in a row. Was it phenomenal standup pieces? Absolutely not! But did I pull off the crowd control and amp them up? Yes. So my mission was accomplished but if you came to see me do standup comedy that night, I beg you please don’t judge that event.

GM: And if you were in the audience for that show, would you have wanted to see a comedian come out?
JB: Dude, I would have started throwing things at me right away. Right away. There’s no way if I was 19 years old and I was in the parking lot, or wherever I was, and I was putting whatever in my system and I think Metallica’s going on at 8 and some yo-yo goes up who’s going to try comedy, I’m looking for everything I can to throw at him.

GM: They know you, though. You know that now.
JB: That’s the good thing. They do know me. And I will say to not get booed off the stage, to be able to walk off the stage two nights in a row after blindsiding a Metallica audience, I felt pretty good. That’s going under my belt as a huge success.

GM: You have high standards! You didn’t get booed off the stage.
JB: (laughs) That’s right. I did well both nights and I stood up there 40 minutes both nights so I feel good about that.

GM: I look forward seeing you here doing your normal set.
JB: Yeah, me, too. (laughs)