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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Comedy Bang! Bang! tour

This week in press releases brings us Scott Aukerman's latest inspiration, Comedy Bang! Bang!, coming soon to a venue near you (if you're in one of the cities below). Canadian fans of this hugely popular podcast (and now TV series) will note the last date on the tour: Aug. 10. Scott and his gang of merry mirth-makers will be performing at the Biltmore Cabaret right here in sunny Vancouver, thanks to the efforts of Will Davis and the local comedy festival. The poster doesn't reflect it, but it says so right here on the press release so it must be true.

Comedy Bang! Bang! LIVE! will feature a mix of live stand-up, character cameos, and improvisational games along with sneak peek clips from the series. Parts of each performance will be taped for Scott’s popular Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast. Scott will be joined by a rotating cast of Comedy Bang! Bang! regulars including comedians James Adomian, Tim Heidecker, and Paul F. Tompkins as well as special guests along the way. Comedy Bang! Bang! LIVE! begins in San Diego, CA at Comic Con on July 15, 2012 and picks back up in Minneapolis, MN on July 29, 2012; For more ticket information, visit:

Comedy Bang! Bang! LIVE! Dates and Venues:
Sunday, July 15                   The Casbah                    San Diego, CA
Sunday, July 29                   Cedar Cultural Center  Minneapolis, MN
Monday, July 30                  Logan Square Auditorium      Chicago, IL
Wednesday, August 1           Neptune Theater              Seattle, WA°
Thursday, August 2              Aladdin Theatre                 Portland, OR°
Friday, August 3                   Herbst Theatre         San Francisco, CA°
Saturday, August 4       First Unitarian Church    Los Angeles, CA°      
Monday, August 6                 Royale                                  Boston, MA°
Tuesday, August 7 -Two Shows  Highline Ballroom     New York, NY°
Wednesday, August 8             Howard Theatre        Washington, D.C.°
Thursday, August 9                 Trocadero Theatre    Philadelphia, PA°
Friday, August 10                      Biltmore Cabaret       Vancouver, B.C.
°Kurt Braunohler will be the opening act on these dates.

Comedy Bang! Bang! LIVE! is in support of Comedy Bang! Bang! which airs Friday nights at 10pm ET/PT on IFC. Cleverly riffing on the well-known format of the late night talk show and based on Scott Aukerman’s popular podcast of the same name, Comedy Bang! Bang! infuses celebrity appearances and comedy sketches with a tinge of the surreal, as if Fernwood Tonight had Hollywood’s A-list of the day and mixed in the dream sequences and talking inanimate objects of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. In each episode, Aukerman engages his guests with unfiltered and improvisational lines of questioning, punctuated by banter and beats provided by musical cohort Reggie Watts (Conan), to reinvent the traditional celebrity interview. Packed with character cameos, filmic shorts, sketches, games, abrupt dream sequence detours and talking set pieces, Comedy Bang! Bang! delivers thirty minutes of absurd laugh-loaded fun featuring some of the biggest names in comedy.

For continued updates on both shows and the tour check out:

Twitter: @ifctv/@scottaukerman/#cbbtv

Friday, June 29, 2012

Podcast episode 283ish: Harry Doupe

It's always a blast when Harry Doupe comes home. The man always speaks his mind. He takes shots at the Canadian Comedy Awards, Gerry Dee, the Calgary FunnyFest. But he also reminisces about days of yore with Norm Macdonald, Howie Mandel, Wayne Cox, Maureen Murphy, Larry David, Steve Landesberg, and the Tragically Hip. I'm pretty sure Harry would give this episode a 9 out 10.

We go a bit longer than usual but nothing too taxing. You can handle it. Have a listen here or download the episode at iTunes or wherever fine podcasts are dispensed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24: The Wet Spots

I knew it had been a couple of years since The Wet Spots (Cass King and John Woods) had been on the show but thought I'd check the exact date. Good Lord, it's been seven years! It doesn't even feel like we've been on the air that long.

Lots has happened to the singing pervs since we last talked. They moved away to some far off land like Chicago or New York or Toronto (we'll find out the details tonight), toured the world, wrote, produced and starred in the musical SHINE, and moved back home. Full circle.

They're getting back from Seattle, where SHINE was playing this weekend, today and will join us in studio. And on Friday (June 29) they're doing a show at the Rio Theatre (with special guest Graham Clark).

So join us tonight at 11 pm PST on CFRO, 102.7 FM. You can livestream the show at, too.

"Singing pervs"? I like it. In case you're not familiar with their oeuvre, they are a husband/wife team who sing sophisticated songs about sexuality in all its forms, deviant or otherwise. Here's perhaps their signature song:

Roy Zimmerman at the Unitarian Church

People of Earth... or at least People of Vancouver: The world's preeminent singing political satirist is playing your city on Monday night. If you're a fan of Tom Lehrer, you'll love Roy Zimmerman. Tom Lehrer does, too. And Joni Mitchell. If you're a progressive thinker, you'll love Roy Zimmerman. If you enjoy brilliant lyrics and great musicianship, you'll love Roy Zimmerman.

What's my man-crush on this Roy Zimmerman fella all about? Is he paying me to shill his gig? Absolutely not. While I interviewed him for What's So Funny? last year, I can't say I know the guy. I'm just a huge fan and quite coincidentally (while singing his praises to a friend) checked his website and noticed he was coming back to town. Since he's playing the Unitarian Church at 49th & Oak, there's a good chance you don't know about the show. And since last year, he played to a smattering of people, I'd love to see him get a bigger welcome this time around. I absolutely guarantee won't be disappointed. It starts at 7 pm so it won't even be a late night. And if money's an issue, get a load of this: tickets are $18 or pay what you can. There are no excuses for missing this show. I'll be there.

Still need to be sold? He has so many songs to choose from (all equally wonderful), but here's one that's representative of his musicality, sensibility, politics and humour:

Friday, June 22, 2012

This is what it's all about

I've said all along how I love having two professional comedy clubs in the city (and three if you include Lafflines in New West). This weekend really drives that point home. Check out this rundown:

The Comedy MIX, 1015 Burrard St, in the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa
Ryan Hamilton: tonight & tomorrow at 8:00 and 10:30 each night
You might not know him by name. You may not even know him by face. But he's hilarious. I first saw him on Last Comic Standing, where he progressed quite far. Since then I've seen what he can do live numerous times (and will be back for more on Saturday night). He's the total package: great delivery, naturally funny looks and strong writing.

Yuk Yuk's, 2837 Cambie St, at 12th
Norm Macdonald: tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 and 10:30 each night
You know him by name. You know him by face. He's also hilarious. He's perhaps best known for his 3-year turn behind the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live, his various TV projects and movies, but he's always been first and foremost a stand-up comic. He's also just about the perfect late-night talk show guest ever. The last time he played Vancouver he was at the 950-seat River Rock Show Theatre so the chance to see him in an intimate nightclub is one you shouldn't pass up.

Rogers Arena, 800 Griffiths Way
Russell Peters: Saturday at 8:00
A true Canadian superstar. There aren't many comics who can perform in sold-out arenas but he's been doing it for years after graduating from theatres by way of clubs. If you're like me and skeptical of the comedy experience in such a cavernous venue, fear not. It's not like the old days when Steve Martin was driven out of the scene. The sound is great and there are two huge screens to watch if you find yourself in the cheap seats.

Lafflines, 530 Columbia St., New Westminster
Simon King: tonight at 9:30, Saturday at 9:00
Simon's one of the many local comics who flies under the radar in their own hometown but who destroys on stages all over the country. His frenetic pacing leaves crowds breathless as he rails about stupidity and injustice. It's amazing how fast his mind works. And his mouth.

So you see, there's lots to choose from. And you can have your cake and eat it, too. With the exception of Peters, every other comic is on multiple times so you can work your schedule around catching all of them, if you want, especially given that both Hamilton and Macdonald also played on Thursday night.

As I said before, it's a good time to be a comedy fan in Vancouver.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mike MacDonald fundraiser

While Norm Macdonald is playing tonight at Yuk Yuk's, another Canadian comedy legend by the name of MacDonald will be on the minds of many. Mike MacDonald is battling hepatitis C and needs your help. To that end, comedy clubs across the country are hosting a benefit for the Canadian King of Comedy tonight. With Norm Macdonald booked in advance, Yuk Yuk's held their benefit last week, but Lafflines in New West and the Sin Bin Sports Grill in Vancouver will do their part this evening (info on the links provided). We often hear horrors of the American style of the medical system and this is one glaring example. MacDonald has lived in Los Angeles for years and his medical costs are prohibitive. Thankfully he's still Canadian so can get help back home, where he's staying throughout this ordeal, but not being able to earn a living is taking its toll.

Check out this video to get a taste of his comedy (which he's unable to perform now while waiting for a liver transplant) and to see just how sick he is. Looks like he still has his sense of humour, though, which is great to see.

I can't count the number of times I've watched Mike perform live and he always – always! – destroys. I've only ever interviewed him once, back in 2002. If you want to check it out, follow the link to It's a good one.

Russell Peters interview

Russell Peters 
June 13, 2012
 "I think a lot of comics get to a certain level then expect that their next outing should be the exact same as the last one, as far as attendance and venues and stuff goes. And then they may not want to go work it out in the clubs. They may feel they’re above it. There’s no time in the comedy game that you’re ever above anything, you know? Except for maybe a comedy competition. You might be above those." – Russell Peters

Russell Peters: (heavily accented) Yo, Guy!

Guy MacPherson: (heavily accented) Hey, Russell! (normal) How are you?
RP: Hey, what up, Guy?

GM: You having a good day so far?
RP: You know, it’s a bit busy but it’s good, yeah.

GM: You’re always busy, busy, Russell.
RP: I’m trying, buddy, I’m trying.

GM: How’s fatherhood?
RP: Fatherhood’s great!

GM: How old’s the little one?
RP: She’s 18 months now.

GM: How often do you see her?
RP: Uh, when I’m home I try to see her every day. I go to her mom’s house and hang out with the baby. And then I usually leave around six o’clock.

GM: Oh, are you not together anymore?
RP: No, sir. I’m what they call happy now.

GM: (laughs) I didn’t know that. How long has that been?
RP: Since November, kinda. Yeah. I managed to keep it under wraps for as long as I could.

GM: It’s tough being in the public eye.
RP: Yeah, you know, you want to make sure it’s done before you make an announcement.

GM: I haven’t seen you since last time you were here. I don’t even remember when that was.
RP: Three years ago, I guess.

GM: Is your daughter now fodder for your act?
RP: No, I’m da fodder of her.

GM: Heh-heh.
RP: But no, she’s in there. My whole life is in there. So I talk about fatherhood and all that kind of good stuff.

GM: So that’s a new wrinkle.
RP: There’s new wrinkles and then there’s the old wrinkles I’m ironing out.

GM: There’s the Louis CK model, which is to shit on your kid.
RP: I’m not shitting on her so much but I’m more shitting on myself for not really knowing what I’m doing. I went from my perspective. You don’t want to copy anyone else, either.

GM: Norm Macdonald’s playing at Yuk Yuk’s the weekend you’re here.
RP: I did not know that. What an odd twist. I love Norm. He’s hilarious.

GM: Is it still a rush playing arenas or is it just old hat by now?
RP: Of course it’s still a rush. I mean, the fact that I can still do it. This is my third arena tour. People are lucky to get one arena tour ever in their life. So to be on the third one is pretty incredible for me.

GM: I’ve heard that Kevin Hart is the new biggest guy in comedy. And I go, “Who’s Kevin Hart?”
RP: Kevin Hart’s hilarious, actually. I would say Kevin Hart is the new Eddie Murphy, you know? He’s in movies, he’s on TV, he’s selling out around North America, white people like him. He is very funny, though, so that’s the good news about Kevin Hart is that he’s very deserving of his success so I’m very happy for him. He’s a good guy, too.

GM: I know you work some clubs in the States when you’re developing material. If the money were equal, would you prefer to play in clubs? Is there a venue that suits you best?
RP: I love playing clubs. The only problem is it takes its toll on you because you have to do so many nights and so many shows a night. You’re trying to service all these people and it’s just easier to knock it out all in one night in an arena, you know? Being in the clubs is like being in the gym, you know?

GM: I was surprised when I saw you at how intimate it seems.
RP: Yeah, that’s your job as a comic is to make people feel like… It’s up to you to make them feel how you want them to feel, and I want them to feel like, look, we’re not in this arena because I’m trying to be an arena comic; we’re in this arena because I just want us all to be together at one time, you know? And I sew it together with the cameras.

GM: We’re attracted to the big screens so it’s kinda like watching TV. Is there a different reaction when people are watching the screen as opposed to watching you?
RP: Um, I don’t know because… That would be a good audience question since I’ve never really watched myself from the audience. I’ve tried, but it’s just hard to do both.

GM: I heard you on Marc Maron’s podcast. Did that get a good reaction?
RP: That did a lot, actually. A lot of people who didn’t know who I was, learned who I was. And a lot of people knew my comedy but didn’t know anything about me, got to learn a bit about me. I think it was beneficial for everybody: Marc won, I won, we all won. Yay!

GM: Yay! It’s neat seeing the progression you’ve had in your career. Canadians have seen you growing up wheras the rest of the world just sees you now. I remember you on a David Frost special with comedians from different countries.
RP: Probably. I’ve done a bunch of those things. But I forget half of them. Especially the TV ones. I forget a lot of them.

GM: It was early on, before you broke. I went, “Hey, there’s Russell Peters!”
RP: I think I remember that. That was at the CBC here in Toronto.

GM: You’ve achieved way more than you---
RP: Than I deserve? (laughs)

GM: That’s what I was going to say! No, probably beyond anything you imagined. Do you still have goals?
RP: I don’t really think about that. I just think about coming up with the material. I just want to make sure I’m able to do my job for as long as I can do it for.

GM: And how do you do that?
RP: Well, you’ve just got to stay out there, you’ve got to stay working. I think a lot of comics get to a certain level then expect that their next outing should be the exact same as the last one, as far as attendance and venues and stuff goes. And then they may not want to go work it out in the clubs. They may feel they’re above it. There’s no time in the comedy game that you’re ever above anything, you know? Except for maybe a comedy competition. You might be above those.

GM: It’s a matter of keeping it fresh and not trotting out your old hits.
RP: Yeah, no, you gotta keep writing. I stay writing all the time.

GM: But then there’s that faction who want to hear the old stuff, right?
RP: I think eventually I’ll possibly do a greatest hits tour but artistically I can’t bring myself to do that yet. Maybe when I do a Vegas run or something, if I ever get booked to do Vegas and I’m there for an extended period of time, maybe a year or two, I’ll possibly do a greatest hits show. But until then I’m going to keep writing.

GM: My brother-in-law is an Indo-Canadian—
RP: I’m sorry about that.

GM: --who loves you, but he says sometimes he gets the feeling that white people are laughing for the wrong reasons, laughing at who you’re representing, rather than with you.
RP: You know, everybody’s laughing for a different reason. Everyone is connecting with it on whatever level they’re connecting on it with. I mean, I can’t guarantee that you’re going to understand the joke for the same reason that the people are laughing beside you, you know? Who knows? I mean, that could be his own sensitivity. He may feel that people are just laughing at him. That’s also a personal thing, like, “Oh, they’re laughing at us.” No, no, no, you’re missing the point here. They’re laughing with us.

GM: And an artist can’t really be concerned with how somebody is reacting to their work.
RP: Yeah, it’s all subjective. It’s what you take away from it.

GM: Have you done the Louis CK model, not that you want to copy him in this, too, but a lot of comics are doing it now where they’re selling their own special—
RP: Now, see, here’s the thing. This is the only reason it bothers me that everybody making a big deal out of this and calling it the Louis CK model is that I have been spending my own money and producing my own specials since ’06. And I never made a big deal out of it. I would spend all my money on videoing it, editing it and putting a dvd out and I would collect all the cash myself however way I did it. And all of a sudden Louis does it and he’s a more marquee name as far as the mainstream goes, and people are like, ‘Oh, how fresh and ground-breaking!’ I’m like, ‘Uh, I’ve been doing this for years.’

GM: But isn’t it that his isn’t a physical product? It’s a download.
RP: No, no, he did the $5 download and do what you want with it, but the difference is my fans found me on the internet so it’s going to be difficult for me to get them to all of a sudden pay for something that they were trying to get for free all this time. I don’t know how successful it would be for me. And because somebody else did something makes me not want to do it. I need to be the guy who comes up with his own ideas and does something out[side] the box.

GM: I was thinking you could do it his way and blow him out of the water.
RP: Um… No, because I don’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, he saw what like Louis did?’ And I’m like, ‘Ugh, no, not like what Louis did.’

GM: ‘Like what I did first.’
RP: Yeah.

GM: Okay, I’ll say it’s the Russell Peters model from now on.
RP: You bet your ass.

GM: So this is all new material in the Notorious World Tour?
RP: Yes, sir. All 100% new.

GM: Is it harder to relate now? You’re kind of living the good life.
RP: I mean, yeah, I’m successful and I got a lot of good things going on, but my personal life… Russell Peters has changed, but Russell the guy is exactly the same. All my friends are exactly the same and the things I do are exactly the same. Sure, some of things may be better than what I used to be able to do, but as far as I go, I manage to stay the same. People’s perception may have changed but I feel I’m still the same guy. I’m still the same goofball who’ll want to go to the mall and just hang out, and my friends are like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘I dunno, let’s go to the mall and hang out.’

GM: As Newhart said, though, there got to a point where he didn’t take the bus anymore so he couldn’t do his old routine about bus drivers. He can’t relate to what a lot of his fans are doing.
RP: Yeah, there are certain things that I probably never did that people do every day but that doesn’t mean I can’t comprehend it; I just don’t talk about it if it doesn’t make any sense to me.

GM: So do you go to the mall and hang out?
RP: I do go to the mall and hang out. I put on a baseball hat and hang out. My friends that go with me always hate it because, ‘Oh, dude, we’re gonna get mobbed in there.’ I go, ‘No, we’re not. We’re fine. I’m wearing a hat.’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, you think people won’t know that’s you with a hat on?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, they don’t know.’ I try and kid myself. But I don’t care, you know what I mean? Like, what’s the worst that could happen? Somebody wants a picture or an autograph? The downside of that is nobody wants your picture or autograph and that sucks worse.

GM: That’s a good attitude to have. Do you read the internet about you?
RP: No. You know why? Because the internet is one of those places where people can put anything out there. They can fabricate. They can say what they want about you. And everyone’s an internet tough guy. And I don’t have the patience to read what some dork sitting in his bedroom says or what his opinion is or what he thinks I may be like. Until you’ve met me and we’ve had some sort of interaction, you can’t really say. People speculate. And people never speculate somebody’s nice; they always speculate that somebody’s a dick. Especially with me, they see the persona on stage and they just automatically assume I’m this cocky guy. And that’s not who I am at all.

GM: That’s true for any performer. We only get a really small window into who they are and people extrapolate from it that’s how they are all the time.
RP: Absolutely.

GM: So are there misconceptions besides that you’ve heard about you?
RP: No. Again, I don’t really look for it at all. I’ll give you an example. I have something like 230,000 or 240,000 followers on Twitter. Ninety-nine percent of the time people are saying nice things and then there’s that one person who says something fucked up and that’s what sticks in my head the most. That bothers me more than all the compliments because I’m like, ‘Well, what’s your problem?’ Not like, ‘Why can’t you go along with everyone else?’ but ‘What have I done to you that you’ve decided to be this tough guy on the internet?’

GM: So were you always the guy when you were working the clubs to focus in on the one person sitting there not laughing with his arms crossed?
RP: I think that’s every comic. That’s what we do. Our job is to focus on the people that aren’t laughing: ‘Why aren’t you laughing? What can I do to make you laugh? How can I make you happy?’

GM: You’re a pleaser.
RP: I’m a pleaser. Russell Pleasers.

GM: Your Wikipedia entry says Canadian comedian, actor and disc jockey.
RP: That is correct.

GM: Disc jockey, really?
RP: Yeah, I used to deejay. Since 1985.

GM: Professionally?
RP: Yeah, I used to play clubs and parties. I even entered a few deejay competitions back in the day. Scratching and mixing, yeah.

GM: You bring deejays on tour with you, right?
RP: Yeah, I bring Starting from Scratch and DJ Spinbad with me. They’ll be on tour with me all over the place.

GM: Who opens for you?
RP: On this leg of the tour, it’s Ryan Stout.

GM: That sounds familiar.
RP: He’s an up-and-coming kid out of LA. Really funny, though. You should YouTube him. He’s been on some things. He’s on Chelsea every now and then. Very funny guy.

GM: I see you on the sides of buses here in town.
RP: See? Huh? Who says I don’t take the bus?!

GM: (laughs) Nice callback. Good job. Alright Russell, you’ve got a million other press things to do today?
RP: Yeah. It’s pretty hectic today.

GM: I thought I had the scoop but I guess not.
RP: You do. You have the Vancouver scoop.

GM: Perfect. Okay, see you in a couple of weeks.
RP: You bet your ass, you will.

GM: There’s that cocky Russell Peters.
RP: (laughs) Are you coming to the show?

GM: Yeah, I am.
RP: Okay, great.

GM: Thanks.
RP: See ya, buddy.

Podcast episode 282ish: Jay Ono & Pearce Visser

We're a few days late with this latest podcast episode. But there were two guests so I had to work twice as hard. Jay Ono and Pearce Visser from Vancouver TheatreSports League dropped by the What's So Funny? studios to talk improv comedy. In it, we learn that Ono taught Visser how to bomb on stage, that Visser shoved something up his ass once, and learn the trick behind Broken Ankle Guy.

Listen here or download at a place like iTunes. You know how to do it by now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Norm Macdonald interview

There are a few comics who make me laugh without even doing material. Norm Macdonald is one of them. It's part delivery, sure, but also the guy just thinks funny. When I interviewed him over the phone six years ago, we talked for 90 minutes. Keep in mind most comedians treat press like medicine – they don't want to do it, but they're told it's good for them. And most, I gotta stress, are great. But they aren't necessarily gonna sit and gab with you any longer than they have to. You can read that old interview at It still makes me laugh. Check out this line, about him growing up in Quebec City but not learning French:
No, I don't speak French. My father would never let me learn it because the English and the French don't like each other. So I took Latin in school instead of French. Yeah, it didn't make much sense because Quebec City, where I lived, was virtually 99 percent French and zero percent ancient Roman.
I spoke to Norm again last week ahead of his weekend at Yuk Yuk's on Cambie. The story is up at now and will hit the newstands in the morning. He proved once again to be a great guy. We only spoke for 45 minutes this time, but check out his greeting to me. Needless to say, that's a first. It's usually what I say by way of introduction to comics, not the other way around.

It's interesting, if you Wikipedia him (that's a verb now, right?), half the info is gleaned from that interview I did with him six years ago. I was glad to have helped clear up the misconception that he became an American citizen (which he hadn't, and still hasn't). Now, hopefully, the information from this new interview will help clear up another misconception some have. Maybe some of you have heard that he's a right winger, a conservative, a Republican-backer. Wikipedia hints at it, without coming right out and saying it. While the facts they cite are true, the inference drawn from them by many is not. I asked him straight up about rumours. Here's what he said:

GM: There’s also a perception that you’re conservative politically.
NM: Yeah, that one bothers me a lot. I don’t like that one. I don’t like that misconception. Yeah, I don’t like that at all.
There's more, of course. So why not read the whole conversation here. You'll like it.
Norm Macdonald 
June 12, 2012
 "Probably people thought I was a very sardonic person. But none of it really matters because I understand it. People don’t like to be pigeon-holed but you can’t go around fucking trying to figure out a guy’s whole fucking life; you may as well just pigeon-hole him, so you go, 'Yeah, that’s the guy with the red hat. He always wears a red hat.' Because it’s an easier way to go through life." – Norm Macdonald

Guy MacPherson: Hello, Norm.
Norm Macdonald: Oh, hi, Guy, how are you doing?

GM: Good, how are you?
NM: Good. I spoke to you a couple years ago. I don’t know if you remember. I was doing the River Rock.

GM: No, I don’t remember that… Of course I remember that, Norm! I’m surprised you remember that. You must do a lot of these.
NM: Oh… no.

GM: It was six years ago.
NM: Goodness gracious, it was longer than I thought.

GM: And it remains to date the longest phone interview I’ve ever done.
NM: It was a long one, I remember! (laughs)

GM: It was about 90 minutes. I was just re-reading it last night. It was pretty good… So now you’re coming back to a club, which is perfect for me; I don’t know if it’s perfect for you. But I love seeing comics in comedy clubs.
NM: Oh, me, too. Yeah, yeah. I much prefer it, yeah.

GM: Do you? Money being equal… Obviously if you get paid more in a bigger venue, you’d go there.
NM: No, but you don’t really get paid more unless you’re one of those few people that do arenas and so forth. But I found if you do a theatre, first of all you only do one or two shows compared to, like, five. I’d kind of rather do five, you know, in a way.

GM: Oh really? Why is that?
NM: I don’t know. Just I’m there, you know, and I’d rather do more shows. And then in the theatres you don’t make as much as you’d think because there’s like 30 people… There’s union guys, the guy that pulls the rope to open the curtain. There’s all these people. But mostly it’s because I’ve experienced, like you, comedy in a comedy club setting rather than in a theatre setting. I remember every time Brian Regan came – he’s one of my favourites ever, so I’d always take people to see him at The Improv, you know? He hasn’t played clubs for a long time; he just plays theatres. And then in theatres, you’re kind of disconnected and you end up talking to the guy next to you a lot. It’s completely different. And also it’s way too big for the likes of me. Unless you’re Robin Williams or someone that can fill a stage with movement and energy or something, it just looks like a small man on a big stage, you know? Completely different.

GM: You’re here the same weekend Russell Peters is playing the arena.
NM: Oh, yeah, Russell plays arenas. It’s amazing.

GM: You talk about 30 people at a theatre, I can’t imagine the cost of renting an arena and all the people that work there. Plus he’s on the sides of buses, so there’s advertising.
NM: I know. Yeah, it seems like no matter how much money people make, they end up getting a retinue – I don’t know if that’s the right word; what do you call it?  – an entourage with them. Everything seems to become more expensive as they make money but my God I wouldn’t know what to do. I don’t even know how an arena… I’ve never seen a comedian in an arena. I remember Steve Martin, who was maybe one of the first arena comics, used to come out in front of like 50- or 75,000 people. He’d do a magic trick. He’d go, “I hold in my left hand a dime.”

GM: (laughs) Although I went to one arena show skeptical like you, but they have huge screens and everything is televised. So it’s like going to watch it on TV.
NM: Yeah, but I don’t like that, either, because even at big clubs they’ll put up screens and what happens is people will watch the screen, because you always watch the screen rather than the person. One time I saw Springsteen and I was like only eight rows back and I started watching the screen, you know? In comedy I find that if people watch the screens they don’t laugh. It’s like they’re watching television, you know? It’s a whole different thing.

GM: Yeah, so I’m thrilled you’re going to be playing in a club. It’s the new club in town.
NM: Oh, it’s a new one? Oh, cool.

GM: I was at the competing club on Saturday night.
NM: There’s always that big Yuk Yuk’s rivalry that’s been going on even since I was there. I remember when I was starting out, I felt like I was in Hoffa or something with all the fucking union talk all the time. Jesus Christ, we’re making fifteen dollars a set, who fucking cares about… (laughs) Like, I was always very grateful to Mark Breslin because he started comedy and if it weren’t for him I never would have found it, you know? Just all the way through my career I realized that the owners make the money. In everything. Like, Lebron James doesn’t make as much money as whoever owns the fucking team. What’s the competing club called?

GM: It’s called the Comedy MIX.
NM: I remember there was another club, but I can’t remember the name of it, in Vancouver.

GM: Punchlines.
NM: Punchlines, yeah.

GM: The last time we spoke you said you were rededicating yourself to stand-up. We tend to forget your roots in Canadian stand-up even though we all know you’re Canadian. You were a Yuk Yuk’s guy, right?
NM: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been one of my tougher things. I never really stopped doing stand-up but like you say I rededicated myself strongly to it I guess six years ago or whatever. But it was always a little odd to me – although I understand it… I thought for a long time, well, people know I was a stand-up because I was a stand-up way more than anything else. But they don’t know that. They have weird expectations of you, you know, depending on what they know you from. But you think of yourself as a stand-up because that’s what you do and you are what you do, kind of.

GM: Do you have good memories of your time on the road in Canada starting out?
NM: Oh yeah, certainly. They were my best memories. It sounds like I’m doing PR for Mark, but it was great how Breslin would do it because he would send the feature, the middle and the emcee on the road together. So he’d send you on the road. You’ve only been doing it like six months and you get to go with two guys who were real good, so you weren’t lonely and you’d learn from them. It was awesome. And when I came to America, my God, the emcee’s driving their car for hours to get to a gig and then they can only do three minutes. They’re treated so badly. But we were all kind of treated equally. And even the money was very close to each other. So it was great camaraderie and there wasn’t a lot of competition because we weren’t really competing for much.

GM: Very socialist.
NM: Yeah, yeah.

GM: Congratulations, by the way, on being the new face of Safe Auto.
NM: Oh, good Lord. Where’d you see that? Was that in the newspaper already? (laughs) Yeah, no, that’s good. Listen, if you want good auto insurance and you want safe, you can’t do better than Safe Auto.

GM: (laughs) I see why they hired you… Your website is a wealth of information.
NM: (laughs) Did you actually look at it?

GM: Yeah, I was looking for something. There’s nothing. There’s a good picture.
NM: All I’ve done is just paid people money once in a while and then I never look at the computer and then I just stop paying them after a while. I’ve been told I have a weak web presence. (laughs)

GM: That’s accurate, I think. So then I went to Wikipedia and they lifted a lot from the interview I did with you six years ago.
NM: Oh yeah?

GM: So I’m just reading what I already know about you. Is there any misconception out there about you that you’ve heard? Last time we cleared up the fact that you’re not an American citizen.
NM: Yes, I’m not.

GM: And that was the common knowledge out there, that you had become an American. With a lot of people in the public eye there are misconceptions so I always like to clear them up. But you say you’re not on the computer a lot so you probably don’t even know what’s out there about you.
NM: I’ve heard things about myself that are not right. Not facts as much. But some people think I’m crazy (laughs) and then some people think I’m hard to work with and stuff like that. Or some people think I’m mean or something like that. But it all comes from certain specific things they’ve seen or something. Like I think looking back, Weekend Update I did in a certain specific way. Probably people thought I was a very sardonic person or something like that. But none of it really matters because I understand it. Like, people don’t like to be pigeon-holed but you can’t go around fucking trying to figure out a guy’s whole fucking life; you may as well just pigeon-hole him, so you go, “Yeah, that’s the guy with the red hat. He always wears a red hat.” Because it’s an easier way to go through life. But I guess I’m not that misconceived.

 "I’m not political. But if I was going to be accused of being either, I would rather not be [conservative]. That one really bothers me a lot." – Norm Macdonald

GM: There’s also a perception that you’re conservative politically.
NM: Yeah, that one bothers me a lot. I don’t like that one. I don’t like that misconception. Yeah, I don’t like that at all.

GM: Because you’re not political or because you’re not conservative?
NM: Because I’m not political. But if I was going to be accused of being either, I would rather not be that one. But no, that one really bothers me a lot.

GM: Well, haven’t you done spots on O’Reilly?
NM: I did an interview one time with Bill O’Reilly and then Dennis Miller had me guest host a number of times. But Dennis Miller gave me my first job, you know? And his show is political. It’s not when I’m guest hosting it because I don’t know anything about politics. I can’t even interview anyway, but I just talk to actors or comedians and when they force some political guest on I just ask them who the Ayotollah is or something, I don’t know. I have no viewpoints. So I’m sure, yeah, that’s where that started. But I’ve had people in Hollywood ask me about that: “How could you support…?” I don’t support anybody. I’m fucking not even American. I don’t know what you’re talking… I don’t know what anything’s about. Just because I’m so apolitical and I’m supposed to be a comedian, I hate political comedy so much that that one really bothers me a lot.

GM: And also when you said to vote for Dole.
NM: Ah, it was a joke.

GM: Yeah, it was clearly because you wanted to keep doing the impression.
NM: Yeah, of course. It’s so ridiculous.

GM: People are so literal. Especially these days with comedy. A comedian says something on stage and you see it making the news.
NM: I know, it’s silly. My goodness. It’s funny, like Tracy Morgan was accused of homophobia because of something he did in his act. But the interesting thing was no one had recorded it or anything and a guy went home and blogged what Tracy Morgan had said, or tweeted it or whatever. From memory! Then that became the truth of what he said. And then Tracy was forced to apologize. I don’t know what he said but it wasn’t on camera. And even sometimes when it is on camera it’s out of context because you don’t see the entire act. It’s all silly.

GM: If you were in that position, would you apologize?
NM: No, I would not apologize. I’d apologize if I said something wrong but I wouldn’t apologize for the sake of apologizing. And also I don’t even believe apologies should count anyway if you say something bad. Like there’s this crazy idea that if you immediately apologize… There are all these rules now so if you say something evil you can just apologize the next day in the vaguest of terms, you can say you “misspoke”, you “made an error in judgment”, an Orwellian phrase, and then it’s all forgotten. Most people, of course, if they said something terrible would immediately deny it – that’s the human thing to do – and then later apologize. But there are all these stupid rules they have now. Another big thing they do is they go to rehab for alcohol and then that absolves them from all their, you know, sexual misconduct and abuse of power and all that. They go, “Oh, I was a drunk. I was a different guy.” It’s sort of a silly time we live in. And with racism and stuff like that, it seems to me if someone says a racial epithet in public, he’s probably not racist. Because when I see the Ku Klux Klan guys and the Aryan Nation guys on TV, they don’t even say it. So the actual racists have code words. So whenever I hear it said really blatantly, I always think there must be quotation marks around that. Unless a man’s insane, even a racist wouldn’t go on stage and yell this racism. Guys in the Klan will never say the n-word in public. He talks about whites and protecting them and stuff like that.

GM: You’ve got a new talk show coming up, is that right?
NM: Well, they call it a talk show but it’s not really a talk show. It’s just like a 30-minute show every week. It’s called Trending Now. We just take whatever’s trending on the computer and do jokes.

GM: So you’re going to have to look at a computer.
NM: Ha! Well, I’m going to hire one of those computer experts.

GM: You’ll have your big entourage, I guess.
NM: Yeah. Hobos…

GM: When’s it airing?
NM: I don’t know. We’re doing a pilot; I don’t even know if it’s going to go on but I firmly suspect it will. We’re taping the pilot in the middle of July.

GM: I liked your sports show.
NM: Oh, thanks, man. I liked that a lot, too. It was funny, it didn’t work because – I mean, I’m making excuses, but I think that one was actually a good show. But I was trying to say this to Comedy Central and it turned out I was right. I was saying I don’t think any women will watch this because it says “sports” in the title. They had tested it and women liked it, you know? But when they test it, they forced the women to commit to the room to watch it. But on TV, if you’re not interested in sports or if you’re a woman, then you won’t watch anything that says sports in it. So we were getting really good numbers but I think if we didn’t have sports we would have doubled the number.

GM: You got really good numbers so what was the reason they gave you for cancelling it?
NM: Well, I don’t think they were quite as good as they could have been. Still, it was such a cheap show to make. I mean, Comedy Central is great, but they don’t wait too long. They’ve had a number of very talented – not me – but they’ve had a number of very talented comedians have shows on that network and they just go away. It’s very strange because everybody wants to do a show on Comedy Central because they can be dirty, I guess that’s why they want to do it, and it’s called the Comedy Network but— I mean, it’s called Comedy Network in Canada but it’s called Comedy Central—but for some reason… Like, I loved Sarah Silverman’s show and then they just killed it. It was bizarre.

GM: So this new one is going to be on TBS.
NM: TBS. Yeah, it’s very funny.

GM: Oh, good.
NM:  No, that’s their thing.

GM: It’s what?
NM: That’s their catchphrase: “TBS: Very Funny”. Do you guys get TBS?

GM: We do, yeah. I think.
NM: It’s interesting what TBS did. I don’t know why nobody else thought of this, but they just got a whole bunch of good sitcoms. Took all the best syndicated ones and all these kids started watching. My kid watches TBS all the time. Because kids don’t give a fuck about networks. But me, I’m more like my grandmother: I just watch like three networks. My grandmother actually only watched one. She had three, but only one had The Edge of Night or whatever the fuck it was. So she would freak if you turned the television channel because she would think she would never find it again. (laughs) So it always had to be on the one channel.

GM: Right, because there were twelve other channels it could be on.
NM: It was less than that. I’m older than you.

GM: No, you’re not. You’re a year younger, buddy.
NM: (laughs) Oh. You had a better system.

 "I was so happy when they stopped internet poker because it freed up all this time for me. I didn’t even understand what Twitter was and some fucking guy put me on it and told me to do it. And then I just became addicted to it. So I’m trying to not do it as much, find a happy medium." – Norm Macdonald
GM: You’re not on Twitter as much as you used to be.
NM: No, not as much. I was a little addicted to it for a while.

GM: So did you consciously say, “I’m going to step away”?
NM: Yeah, yeah, because you know these indulgences can become crazy that you can get, you know? I don’t go out. I never go out, you know? And I don’t drink or do drugs or anything so sometimes I’ll get fixated on something else to waste time with. Like, I was so happy when they stopped internet poker because it freed up all this time for me. I didn’t even understand what Twitter was and some fucking guy put me on it and told me to do it. And then I just became addicted to it. So I’m trying to not do it as much, find a happy medium.

GM: Well, I asked my 180 followers if they had any questions for you and I got one response.
NM: (laughs)

GM: I got several that weren’t usable.
NM: That’s another thing about the fans. I love that they’re fans and they’re like, “Fuck you!” That was the other thing about… You know, I’d post like ten jokes a day on Twitter for a while and then I go, “Hey, by the way, I’m doing this date.” And they go, “Fuck you. I just want to hear jokes. Stop shilling for your…” And you’re like, “This is my fans?” and you get all depressed, you know? What is the cyberspace question?

GM: “Which Saturday Night Live cast member did you hate the most?”
NM: See, everybody’s negative.

GM: This guy’s bet is that it was Chris Kattan.
NM: (laughs) Well… hate the most means I hated more than one. No, it means I hated more than two. Uh, I don’t know. I didn’t really care. I didn’t hate anybody because I was doing Update and I was just completely separate from everybody else. And I came from a culture of stand-up where everybody was constantly making fun of everybody else, as a friendly thing. When I got on Saturday Night Live, I was working with people that came from a world of improvisational acting and stuff and they were very generous toward each other and helpful. And if something went wrong or bombed, they’d hug them or something. But as I say, that’s not the culture I came from. So me and Sandler and Rock and guys like that would just savage each other all the time. Because that’s just how we did it because we were men and this was our little terms of endearment. When I got mixed up with actors, I started doing that with them and they took it very personally because that’s not the way they operate. They’re more womanish, you know? So it wasn’t my fault! (laughs) But I didn’t hate any of them.

GM: They hated you.
NM: Yeah! I’m sure they hated me! (laughs)

"People are always shocked that comics aren’t complete fucking idiots, you know? So if you say anything that’s not entirely frivolous, they probably take it as a little deeper than it actually is. A normal person is much more in depth than me." Norm Macdonald
GM: You were on Marc Maron’s podcast not too long ago.
NM: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

GM: That created quite a stir. People were amazed that you were so sensitive.
NM: What? It created what?

GM: A lot of people were talking about it. They just said it was the most amazing interview…
NM: Oh, I thought you meant a bad thing.

GM: No, no. It was positive. They were surprised that you had this depth of emotion.
NM: Yeah, well he asked me stuff about other stuff. Yeah, I don’t know, I think he caught me unawares that day. He has a set-up kind of where you forget you’re on radio. You do it from his garage and stuff and you think you’re just talking to him so you just talk. People are always shocked that comics aren’t complete fucking idiots, you know? So if you say anything that’s not entirely frivolous, they probably take it as a little deeper than it actually is. A normal person is much more in depth than me. People do tell me and I listened to it again and thought, well, it seems like a normal conversation. I’m not being funny all the time but it didn’t seem there were any deep revelations or anything. It was just a conversation that I would often have with another person that I knew and was a friend of mine. Probably because I know Marc and stuff, you know.

GM: You don’t regret saying anything then, do you?
NM: I don’t really remember what I said. Why, did I say something bad?

GM: No, not at all. You said you kinda forgot it was being recorded so I wondered if you would have held back some?
NM: No. The only time I’ve ever heard anything was with Stern. Stern does this thing where he’s so insanely honest about everything and then when he asks you a question it kind of compels you into a… Like, you don’t have to say everything about everything. There’s this new thing in comedy that happened recently that’s to me a little flabbergasting but I’m sort of an old man. It’s this sort of new style of almost confessional comedy where the idea is you go on stage and you say how when you were young you blew a priest or some fucking thing. I’m old and my dad taught me you don’t have to say everything of whatever happened to you. A person has dignity and doesn’t have to expose everything to the world and leave nothing. There’s a difference between being provocative and being outright pornographic about something. And I don’t think that pornography can ever be art. But I have noticed this ultra-confessional new type of comedy that’s supposed to be very shocking but it doesn’t shock me. It’s just kind of unseemly.

GM: Maron is a big proponent of that style.
NM: Yeah, yeah, he does. (laughs) To me, it’s rather uninteresting when it becomes so indulgent. Like, if your subtext to everything is, “Look at me, I’m real smart” or “Look at me, I’m real honest”, if this is your only reason for saying anything, then I don’t want to hear it. It just seems to be wallowing, in my mind. You have to pick and choose and first and foremost make some comic point.

GM: In this atmosphere of confessional comedy, does your act get mixed in with it. Like when you’re talking about killing a woman and burying her. Do people think, “Oh God, these are his thoughts! He is crazy!” And maybe you’re thinking, “No, these are jokes. This is what comedy is.”
NM: Yeah, well it is funny because I did a special for Comedy Central. I don’t really like doing specials but because I did the sports show, I did a comedy special for them. And it was funny because it was often described like, “And then Norm described how he would murder.” I wasn’t describing that! I was saying, you know, if I was in that position what I would do. It was obvious, ridiculous. That was a very difficult piece to write and I had to insert myself into it to make it work. It would not have worked had I used a third person omniscient voice. That just wouldn’t have worked. I had to be the person at the centre of that bit. So that’s the reason I chose to do it.

GM: I thought it was clear that it was a conditional; it was an ‘if’ thing.
NM: Yeah, there was an ‘if’ there!

GM: And in this culture of media reporting on everything a comedian says, that kind of gets lost.
NM: (laughs) I did a lot of interviews for that special and I got all these crazy questions. People forget it’s comedy. There was this one line that I really liked and a lot of people asked me about it in horror because I said, “Even in today’s enlightened society, there still remains a stigma to being a psycho-sexual sadist.” I like that line.

GM: It’s a great line.
NM: And people go, “Really? Was there ever a time…” I go, “No. That’s the point.” (laughs)

GM: That’s the joke!
NM: It’s hard to say that’s the joke. I’ve always found if the joke doesn’t work… Like, if you try a joke on a person and they’re like, “What? That doesn’t happen.” So if a joke doesn’t work, it’s just a lie, basically.

GM: But that’s not true across the board because it works with lots of people. It’s just the ultra-sensitive ones or ones who don’t get irony that don’t get it.
NM: Yeah, it’s critics. It’s—

GM: Hey, I’m one, too.
NM: Yeah, I know, but you’re a fan, too. I’ve found with critics and I’ve also found with comedy writers that some are incapable of laughing. I’ve worked with head writers on comedy shows and stuff and they won’t laugh. They look at it purely from craft. They don’t understand the magic of it. And to me, if you don’t laugh, you don’t know anything about comedy. I don’t know if they’re doing it out of power or why they’re doing it.

GM: Can I say, as somebody who’s not a big laugher, that it’s not out of power. I was like that as a kid.
NM: Okay, well maybe I shouldn’t say laugh. Because I don’t really laugh that much, either. But I smile. I appreciate. I like comedy. And I think some people have it right down to where they’re just critics of the exact craft and they try to figure it all out and they don’t enjoy it. Of all the different arts – I don’t want to say it’s an art, but it’s a certain type of vulgar art – that one requires a gut appreciation that goes beyond intellectual surgery, you know? Some things can’t be explained in comedy. Sometimes I try to figure it out. Like, I really laugh at Gilbert, and I really laugh at Brian Regan, and I really laugh at Bill Cosby. It’s not my job like it is for you but I find it a lot better if I don’t try to figure out how a guy did it. Like one time I asked Shandling. Just out of craft I couldn’t figure out how he did this one particular joke. He used to do this joke. He’d say, “So now I’m going out with Miss Georgia. Alright, it’s the former Miss Georgia… Okay, it’s George Foreman.” I couldn’t understand how he came up with the joke. You know what I mean? Like how the fuck did he… Did he start with George Foreman and work backwards? How the fuck do you do that? So I asked him. Like an idiot I fixated on this one joke that really made me laugh. And then I asked him and he didn’t remember. And I was like, “Why do I care where it came from?” It’s funny because it was so mysterious to me as another comic how that joke came into existence because it doesn’t fit a paradigm of usual jokes.

GM: It’s kind of like a reverse pun of some sort, isn’t it?
NM: Yeah. But I don’t know how he went from Miss Georgia to George Foreman. It had to have come from the name George Foreman somehow. Yeah, it had to have been a reverse-engineered pun.

GM: The former Miss Georgia/George Foreman. Anyway, I had Gilbert on my podcast.
NM: I love Gilbert. He’s great. That guy’s a funny motherfucker. That guy’s so funny, always trying to sell his stupid merch and shit.

GM: I drove him back to his hotel after and I asked if he still enjoys getting out on the road or if it’s a grind. He said it’s a grind. “I feel like Willy Loman.”
NM: (laughs) And it’s almost unbelievable that he has children.

GM: Have you asked him about his children?
NM: He talks like a regular father and stuff. But it’s so bizarre. You know, the last time I was in his apartment, you know he never spends money so in his apartment he had a little TV that had rabbit ears (laughs) – and this was only like fifteen years ago – and then lawn chairs. He had six lawn chairs. You had to sit in a fucking lawn chair. (laughs) So I don’t know, his wife must be a functioning human being.

GM: I asked him about his kids and he didn’t seem that close to them, but maybe that was part of the schtick. So I’m glad to hear that he talks like a regular father in real life.
NM: Well, I mean a little bit. But he’s certainly the strangest comic ever, I think, if you don’t know him at all because he seriously takes nothing seriously. At all. And that’s why it was too bad about the Aflac thing and everything because Gilbert sees the whole world as ridiculous. He’s sort of this existential guy. He’s very interesting. You know, art has a sort of criminal nature to it in the first place and his is almost like psychopathic. But harmless. I mean, he’s the most harmless person in the world but just the way his mind works is the joke comes before everything else. Almost like Groucho Marx or something, where everything is secondary to the joke.

GM: He’s another great example of the media going overboard with comedians’ words. As he said, everyone was talking about his “comments”, framing that way instead of saying his “jokes”. Because comedians make jokes.
NM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

GM: He didn’t make comments about the tsunami; he made jokes.
NM: Yes. Yeah, that’s a good point. Is that what he said?

GM: Yeah.
NM: Yeah, that’s a very good point. He did not make a comment. Yeah, you’re right.

GM: Maybe had he made a large point about it as a comment, then maybe he would deserve to be fired.
NM: Yeah, I would agree with that. Since he’s never made a comment about anything in his life (laughs), everything with Gilbert is an act. His entire life. It’s almost like a piece of performance art, his life. Whereas Janeane Garofalo is the exact opposite, you know: everything’s a comment. It’s a good point, that he never makes a comment; he just makes jokes. And the world is his set-up.