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Monday, May 27, 2013

Podcast episode 315ish: Mark Leiren-Young

I had a great time with author/journalist/playwright/comedian/bon vivant Mark Leiren-Young a few weeks back. The Leacock Award-winner for Never Shoot a Stampede Queen talked about crime in Williams Lake, the art of writing quickly, taking cheap shots in reviews, and his undying love of Doug Henning. It's no wonder his latest book is called Free Magic Secrets Revealed, although he revealed none in this episode.
I guess we'll just have to buy the book. Oh, and we get to hear the classically-trained singer warble his anthem to pale heterosexuality, I'm White, I'm Straight, I'm Sorry with his comedy troupe Local Anxiety.

Enjoy! Click the gizmo below or go download it at iTunes and listen on your commute or while you're walking the dog or working out or painting the fence, etc.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This week in press releases: Andy Kaufman

For those holding onto the belief that Andy Kaufman faked his own death 29 years ago, here's further "evidence": a new comedy album by the master of the put-on is coming out soon. That's right – new. It's fun to believe he'll return one day asking what the fuss is all about, but highly unlikely (see death certificate on the right – click to enlarge).

I was a big fan of Kaufman when he first hit the scene. I'm not sure where I first saw him but I think it was on one of Dick Van Dyke's shows. As I recall, it was a variety type show but it was set in his house in the desert and Hope Lange was his wife. Makes no sense as I type it, but I think that's it. Then not long after that I saw him on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show doing the same Foreign Man routine. It was his first time on and he killed. I knew what was coming because I'd seen him a week or so earlier but still thought he was hilarious. I wasn't as into his wrestling shtick but I still thought it was funny the way he'd play the bad guy.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this upcoming album. Having used microcassettes a lot myself, I can't imagine the sound quality will be top notch, but I'm sure the best engineers worked on improving it. But if it sounds like a studio recording, I'm definitely jumping on the faked-death bandwagon!

Here's the low-down:

For Immediate Release 
Andy Kaufman changed the worlds of comedy and performance in the 1970s, showing fans and friends alike a determination to follow put-ons into territory no one had ever even considered "comic" before. His fervor was so intense that when he passed away suddenly in 1984, it seemed as if the ultimate disappearing act had been staged; one that some people believe is still ongoing, with the reveal soon to come.
Among the many things that Andy achieved in his lifetime (and in the years following), a phonograph album release, the staple of stand-up comedians in his time, never happened - until now. Andy and His Grandmother is material never heard before, a skimming from 82 hours of micro-cassette tapes that Andy recorded during 1977-79. Andy regarded the micro-tape recorder as a fantastic new way of capturing his hoaxing, and carried it with him everywhere, for use at any given moment. Real life was the ultimate frontier for him, and these tapes demonstrate the heart of Andy's comedy. With gusto, he involves those closest to him, as well as total strangers, in put-ons, falsehoods and other provocations, pushing the limit on logic and emotional investment in everyday situations from the trivial to the deeply personal until any suspension of disbelief is out of the question for all involved, and everyone becomes fully immersed in whatever scenario Andy is suggesting as the new reality. 
With so much material on hand, Drag City turned to a writer, producer and comedian whose resume indicated to us that he was a true child of Kaufman's twisted talent. Since the late 90s, Vernon Chatman's work has been experienced by television viewers and aficionados of South ParkWonder ShowzenXavier: Renegade AngelThe Heart She Holler, andDoggie Fizzle Televizzle, as well as fans of the Drag City DVD release Final Flesh. Vernon dug deeply into the tapes, working with editor Rodney Ascher (director of the notorious, controversial, and even acclaimed Room 237 documentary) to come up with a concept for a single LP that would include several dozen excerpts. Along the way, Vernon produced several tracks, adding effects to pieces that were clearly unfinished (in particular, "Sleep Comedy") and drafting SNL's Bill Hader to provide narration for the journey. The finished album, with liner notes from Vernon and Kaufman cohort Bob Zmuda is a work of comedy for our times - one that was performed over thirty years agoAndy And His Grandmother is out July 16th on Drag City.  
1. Andy Is Making A Record
2. Andy And His Grandmother
3. Andy's Land Live
4. Andy Loves His Tape Recorder
5. Slice Of Life
6. Andy Goes To the Movies
7. Kick In the Pants
8. Andy Can Talk to Animals
9. I'm Not Capable Of Having A Relationship
10. Hookers
11. Andy And His Grandmother Go For A Drive
12. Sleep Comedy
13. [HONK] vs. [DOG] A
14. [HONK] vs. [DOG] B
15. Andy Goes For A Taxi Ride 
16. Andy's English Friend Paul 
17. I Want Those Tapes

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19: Darrin Rose

It's a holiday tomorrow so why not celebrate by staying up late and listening to a very special edition of What's So Funny? OK, it's not all that special, but we do have a first-time guest so that's something. And he happens to be all over your TV set these days. Darrin Rose is a Toronto-based (soon to be Los Angeles-based) stand-up comic/actor/writer/game show host whose national tour made it to Vancouver last week so I sat down with him and we talked about his life and times. We hit all the major themes, such as rampant alcohol abuse on Match Game, the meticulousness of Mr. Dee, and family secrets. Sounds enticing, doesn't it?

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 at 11 pm here in Vancouver. If you're one of Darrin's Oshawa homeys, though, or a Rose fan outside the greater 604, livestream the episode at

Monday, May 13, 2013

Podcast episode 314ish: Shaun Majumder

The dark side of Majumder (right)
The lighter side of Majumder (left)
Breaking new ground with this podcast episode, folks. The hilarious Shaun Majumder has done standup in clubs and theatres all over the place, he's been on tons of TV shows as a regular, and acted in movies but until this show he'd never done a podcast before. I guess he was just waiting for the right vehicle. Glad he chose What's So Funny? to break into the podcasting world.

His agile and improv-trained mind made this a lively chat as we sat in an empty Comedy MIX showroom one afternoon. We talked about all sorts of things, from his obvious desire to become the premier of Newfoundland (which he denies, as all politicians would), to getting critiqued by Mike Bullard and Ron Vaudry, from the soul-sucking world of auditions to getting fired from Ellen DeGeneres' sketch show, which begat his unbridled optimism.

Have a listen. You won't be disappointed. Click below or go download the thing at iTunes (where you'll dutifully give the show a 5-star rating, I know).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Podcast episode 313ish: Marcus Ryan

G'day, mate. Isn't that what they say? Actually, this was the third appearance on the show by Aussie Marcus Ryan and he hasn't said it once. So sorry about that. But hey, he's got his own stereotypes of Canadians, which we talk about here. What else was said? The much-travelled one tells us about Guatemalan bus trips, I troll his tweets, and we discuss a career path for him that will put Rick Steeves out of business.

For good times, click below. Or download the ep at iTunes.

May 12: Mark Leiren-Young

Happy Mother's Day! To commemorate the day, we've got journalist/author/playwright/performer Mark Leiren-Young!... Wait, I'll come up with a connection... I'm sure he's been called a mother on a few occasions. Okay, that's all I got. When we booked this date months ago, who knew it would be Mother's Day? Not I.

But we're glad to have him any day of the year. I do believe he's our first Leacock Medal Award winner. He won it in 2009 for his memoir Never Shoot a Stampede Queen, about his life as a cub reporter in the wilds of Williams Lake. If reading ain't your bag, you can get the Coles Notes version at the Granville Island Stage where it's been mounted as a one-man play starring Zachary Stevenson and directed by TJ Dawe.

The guy also has a new book out called Free Magic Secrets Revealed. And he still finds time to write about the arts in newspapers. Damn go-getter.

Anyway, tune in tonight at 11 pm PST on CFRO, 100.5 FM and we'll get the low-down on all things Leiren-Young.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 5: Shaun Majumder

We've got a(n) historic episode of What's So Funny? tomorrow night (or Sunday, May 5, to make it clearer). Yesterday afternoon (i.e. Friday) I sat down with Shaun Majumder and recorded an hour of fun conversation as only Majumder can deliver. Why historic, you ask? Because this Canadian comedy veteran has never done a podcast before. Can you believe it? I guess he's been too busy with all his other projects: touring Canada with his stand-up act, producing and starring in the reality series Majumder Manor, writing movie projects for himself and his lovely bride Shelby Fenner, acting in any prime time TV series with numbers in the title, like Detroit 1-8-7 and 24 in the US, or This Hour Has 22 Minutes in Canada. But he made time for us. We're glad to have popped his podcast cherry.

So tune in at 11 pm PST for this unique experience. We're at 100.5 FM in Vancouver, or you can livestream us at And if those options aren't to your liking, wait a week and you can download the podcast on iTunes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

This week in press releases: Free Nick Cannon tickets

I have no idea why Mariah Carey's hubby is filming his Showtime comedy special in Vancouver. Or Richmond, for that matter. But he is. And you can be a part of it. Read on.

APRIL 30, 2013






Richmond, BC – Complimentary tickets are available for the taping of Nick Cannon’s upcoming comedy special on Showtime.

Recently cited by People Magazine as one of the “Top Ten most successful young people in Hollywood”, Nick became a household name after NBC tapped him to host their hit television show, America’s Got Talent in 2009. Two years later, he produced and starred in his first stand-up comedy special, Mr. Showbiz which was filmed at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The special made its world premiere on Showtime on May 14, 2011 and ended up posting the network’s highest numbers in key demographics and total viewers. 

Don’t miss out on a hilarious evening of stand-up and your chance to be a part of the exclusive live audience when Nick’s new television special is filmed at the River Rock Casino Resort on May 17, 2013! Admission is not guaranteed with all seating done on a first-come, first-served basis. Prospective audience members will need to arrive at least 45 minutes in advance of the show. Tickets can be picked up at the River Rock’s Box Office, Boulevard Casino’s Box Office and Guest Services at both Fraser Downs Racetrack & Casino and Hastings Racecourse.


1st SHOW   7:30 PM   &   2nd SHOW   10:00 PM 

Both shows: 18 years & over   /   Limit 4 tickets per person

Making it in America – Yakov Smirnoff

One of my favourite episodes over the years is the one when Yakov Smirnoff sat down with us in studio. He has such an interesting story: a small-time cruise ship entertainer defects from the former Soviet Union and makes it as a big star comedian in the United States of America. So many questions to ask (and I'm not sure I got to them all). This one aired in 2007. If you missed it, go back and check it out. It's still up there on iTunes or Meanwhile, here's a little video taster of it, with Yakov talking about his first jobs in America.