Follow GuyMacPherson on Twitter

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dec. 28: Harry Doupe

It's the last show of the calendar year so that can only mean one thing: Harry Doupe! It's a tradition dating back all the way to last year. Well, that's when we codified it. He appeared with us on Dec. 29 last year. The year before it was June 17. But the year before that, in 2011, it was Dec. 18. And his first live visit to the studio was in 2009 on Dec. 27. So when we recognized the trend and realized most of his visits were late in December, we made it a rule. And there's no one better to end the year with because Harry, a standup comic and producer, has an opinion on everything and keeps his finger on the pulse of the comedy world. He also has, without question, the best memory of anyone I've ever met. So we'll rehash the year in comedy and, of course, talk about other stuff. Join us, won't you?

We're on Vancouver's Co-op radio CFRO 100.5 FM at 11 pm. Also available online at and on radio apps aplenty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Podcast episode 371ish: Matt Besser

Here's our Christmas present to you: Matt Besser talking comedy (and music) on What's So Funny? Mostly comedy, though, because that's what he does best. Besser is an improviser, actor and standup comic who also happened to cofound UCB Theatre. He tells us here why "if then" is better than "yes and," explains why they don't pay performers, and throws out more sports analogies than cheerleader throws out t-shirts from a cannon. We reminisce about Steve Martin and Andy Kaufman. And I stick my big foot in my big mouth on the subject of Tim Meadows.

So start opening this gift by clicking on the gizmo below. Should that not work for you, you can always find us at all the usual podcast repositories like iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, etc. etc.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dec. 21: Matt Besser

Last week we had Ken Lawson on teaching us improv games. Tonight we've got Matt Besser talking the big picture. Professor Besser loves to talk comedy and we love to listen. The co-founder of the Upright Citizen's Brigade (UCB) was in town recently to record an episode of his podcast improv4humans with the Sunday Service folks. He was nice enough to sit down with me for an hour before his own show and we've got the fruits of that labour for you tonight. Say yes and listen, won't you? If you listen, then you might know what this sentence is all about.

We're on the air at 11 pm in Vancouver on CFRO 100.5 FM. Livestream us at or whatever radio app you've got on your device.

Podcast episode 370ish: Ken Lawson

Birdman Lawson (left) with one of his peeps
This episode was a whole lotta fun even if I sucked way more than usual. You see, Mr. Ken "Birdman" Lawson, improviser extraordinaire, put my manservant Colleen and me through the improv wringer. He taught us and led us through several improv games, much as he would at the Improv Comedy Institute on Granville Island. Colleen was a natural. Me, not so much. It's harder than it looks, people! But he sure is encouraging and positive, which is why I'm releasing this episode to the world.

Have a listen here. If you don't see the gizmo below, it's your server or your phone. Fret not: the show is also available at iTunes, PodcastLand, Stitcher, and a bunch of other places, too numerous to mention.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dec. 14: Ken Lawson

Tonight we go live in studio with Ken "Awesome" Lawson. It's his third appearance on What's So Funny? I had forgotten he once came in with the Comic Strippers. Tonight, though, he'll be keeping his pants on (we hope). Lawson, a longstanding member of Vancouver TheatreSports League, also teaches the art form at the brand new Improv Comedy Institute on Granville Island. He's going to come in tonight and tell us about that and maybe run Kevin* (aka Colleen) and I through some training. I can't speak for Colleen, but I might very well be the worst student he has ever faced. We'll see how he does. Regardless, it's always fun when Lawson visits.

We are on the air at CFRO 100.5 FM in Vancouver at 11 pm tonight. You don't even need a radio to listen to us as we stream worldwide at and on apps and devices and things like that. Join us.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This week in press releases, part 2: Bo Burnham

It's a busy day in the comedy promoting department. Here's another release I just got:




December 9, 2014, Montreal – AEG Live Canada and Just For Laughs are thrilled to announce that standup comedian, actor and writer Bo Burnham will kick-off his 24 city North American tour dubbed Make Happy Tour with a performance in Vancouver on Tuesday, February 24 at the Vogue Theatre. 

In 2008, a young Bo Burnham performed at Just For Laughs on Amp’d the Music Show which caught the eye of Judd Apatow and led to Burnham signing a development deal with the famed director.  Burnham became the youngest person to ever record a half-hour Comedy Central special at the age of 18. He has released two hour-long specials since then: Words, Words, Words in 2010 and what. in 2013. The latter, what., was released on Netflix and Youtube simultaneously (a year later, it has received 6 million views on YouTube alone).
Bo recently created and starred in the MTV series Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous and wrote a book of poetry,EGGHEAD, which became a New York Times Bestseller. Bo's live shows are a unique blend of stand-up, music and theatre.
A complete list of Bo Burnham’s North American Tour can be found at


Vancouver – Vogue Theatre
Tuesday, February 24 – 8:00 PM
Tickets available at the Vogue Theatre Box Office
by phone at 604-569-1144
or online
Tickets: $37.50 (taxes included + facility and service charges)

This week in press releases: Northwest Comedy Fest

This just in:

+ more to be announced!
FEBRUARY 12 - 21, 2015
TICKETS ON SALE Thursday December 11 at 10am

December 9, 2014 (Vancouver, BC) - It's that time of year again! NorthWest Comedy Fest is proud to make their first line up announcement for 2015 with special headlining performances by Craig Ferguson, Maria Bamford, Doug Benson, The Debaters, Hannibal Buress, Moshe Kasher plus the return of our stellar Comedy Club series with multiple shows by Ali Wong, Brian Posehn and Todd Glass. All shows go on sale Thursday December 11 at 10am PST at

2015 boasts the beginning of a beautiful friendship between NorthWest Comedy Fest and comedy festival heavy hitter, Just For Laughs who are lending some of their booking prowess to our Fest out West.  If this year’s announced lineup as well as the surprises we have up our sleeves, are any indication, the relationship is off to a stellar start.

NorthWest Comedy Fest has also partnered up with the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) and will be presenting a special series of currated film events at the Vancity Theatre including A Tribute to Robin Williams and An Evening of Comedy Short Shorts. 

Craig Ferguson's Hot & Grumpy Tour: Walking The Earth
Wednesday February 18, 2015
The Centre

Maria Bamford
Saturday February 21, 2015
The Vogue Theatre

Doug Benson
Friday February 20, 2015
The Vogue Theatre

Hannibal Buress
Wednesday February 18, 2015
The Vogue Theatre

CBC's The Debaters
Saturday February 21, 2015 *matinee show*
The Vogue Theatre

Moshe Kasher
Friday February 20, 2015
The Biltmore Cabaret

Ali Wong
February 13 & 14, 2015
Yuk Yuk's

Brian Posehn
February 12, 13 & 14, 2015
Lafflines, New Westminster - Official Satellite Venue!

Todd Glass
February 19, 20 & 21, 2015
Yuk Yuk's


A Tribute to Robin Williams
Friday February 13, 2015
Vancity Theatre
Description: Join comedian and host, Simon King for an evening honouring Robin Williams and his contribution to comedy, dramatic acting and bridging the two very different worlds of stand up and Hollywood. King, along with a panel of guests (to be announced) will also lead a conversation about mental health and addiction, the impact of these serious issues on the comedy community and the support and solutions available. The evening will wrap with a screening of the 1987 classic Good Morning, Vietnam starring the incredible Robin Williams 

An Evening of Comedy Short Shorts
Thursday February 12, 2015
Vancity Theatre
Description: Who likes short shorts? We like short shorts. The NorthWest Comedy Fest and VIFF are proud to announce An Evening of Comedy Short Shorts a delightful hodgepodge of original Pacific Northwest submissions and VIFF curated comedy pieces from up and down the Left coast.

All tickets on sale Thursday December 11 at 10am at

Follow us online!

- 30 - 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Podcast episode 369ish: Mark Forward

Mark Forward opens up! The Toronto actor/standup is a "ridiculously private" guy but we got him talking. He told us about his three years on CBC-TV's Mr. D and how that ended. That's a scoop, by the way. He also talked about being an overly emotional kid and going to therapy and how that made him a better person. Or at least a less angry one. But we talked about all sorts of other stuff, too, including poop, germs, Paul F. Tompkins, Jon Dore, Patton Oswalt, Greg Evigan, Matt Billon, Graham Clark, Dave Shumka, Norm Macdonald, Rob Ford, Bill Cosby, and journalists. It's guaranteed fun: 100 percent!

Listen now. (That's a suggestion, not an order. I can't control you.) If you don't see the gizmo below, it's your server. But we're also on iTunes and all the usual podcast places. Go find us.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dec. 7: Mark Forward

Tonight Mark Forward guests on What's So Funny? Is it live or is it Memorex? You be the judge. The Toronto standup was headlining the Comedy MIX a couple weeks ago and he sat down with me. Or did he fly back just to do our show? Maybe he's here and he just doesn't want to be bothered by paparazzi so he wants to leave the impression this is recorded. You'll never know. Maybe you know Mark as Mr. Leung, the seething school librarian, on the hit CBC sitcom Mr. D. Maybe you recall him from The Jon Dore Television Show. He's also the host of Joke or Choke, which will air on the Comedy Network on Dec. 12. Just a single episode but maybe if enough people watch, they'll pick it up for a season.

We'll talk about all of the above – and more! – tonight at 11 pm. Or will we? Maybe. I'll just have to see how it goes. Tune in to 100.5 FM in Vancouver, or find an app that plays radio stations, or livestream us at

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nov. 30: Darren Frost

Hey there, radio fans. Tonight we've got Darren Frost with us on What's So Funny? Or at least, we're airing the episode he recorded a couple weeks ago. And, in fact, the episode we dropped as a podcast yesterday. So it's out there and you don't have to wait up to 11 pm to hear it if you don't want. But I know some people love the warm crackle of a radio. This is for them. It's Darren's fifth time on the show, but this one's my favourite. Don't know why. And I'm not just saying that to get you to listen. But please do.

We're on the air at 11 pm in Vancouver on CFRO 100.5 FM. If the streams are working, you can always livestream us at

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Podcast episode 368ish: Darren Frost

Are you ready for another pre-pod? This is something I'm doing now with pre-recorded shows. I'll drop the podcast episode before the radio episode airs. I hope no one minds. Today we've got my latest conversation with Toronto comic Darren Frost. Darren thought this was his fourth appearance on the show, but further research proves it was his fifth. A high honour, indeed, for an out-of-towner. We had a fun wide-ranging talk that included his opinion that standup is, if not dying, then evolving, his marriage to Mark Breslin, his funnypants era, werewolf babies, working with bigtime movie stars, jumping the shark career-wise, the death of his podcast, and, of course, his nominations at the latest Canadian Comedy Awards.

So get a jump on the radio show and listen to this one today. Click below. Or, if you don't see it (some servers are weird, let's face it), go check out iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, TuneIn, Player.FM, or even the Danish site And if all else fails, let Google be your friend.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nov. 23: Orny Adams

If you're a radio listener who hasn't yet figured out the whole podcasting world, tonight's your night. For the first time in our 10-year history, we released the podcast version before it aired on radio. A couple weeks ago, the podverse received our Orny Adams episode into its clutches. But some of you prefer the old-fashioned way, over the airwaves. Tonight we play that episode and it's a doozy... Wait, is 'doozy' a good thing? Because this is. Orny and I talked for almost two hours (the episode runs 1:46) about all things under the comedy sun. Best of all, we hashed out our differences in a most cordial manner. He's a good guy. And a great comic. Apparently he got standing ovations at every show he performed at Yuk Yuk's the week he was in town. I witnessed two of them myself.

So tune in tonight for this extend-o episode to 100.5 FM in Vancouver at 11 pm. You can livestream us at, too. Because we care.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Podcast episode 367ish: Mike MacDonald

Ten years on the air and we finally got Canadian standup legend Mike MacDonald. And it was awesome. As anyone who follows comedy in the country knows, MacDonald went through a lot in the past few years. Diagnosed with hepatitis C, he lost 100 pounds before getting a liver transplant. He walks us through his ordeal, which included a suicide attempt. But as heavy as that is, he's still the hilarious sarcastic guy we'd grown to love over the past 30-odd years, and he shows it in this episode. There was lots more he talked about, too, besides his illness. He talked about his early days working rock clubs, his problem with TV comedy editing, how he met his wife, why he doesn't like to be talked to before a show, the science of smoking weed, and lots, lots more.

Enjoy this one. You can click below (if you see the gizmo) or you can go download us at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, Player.FM,, etc. If you can't find us, Google us.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nov. 16: Mike MacDonald

Big surprise tonight. I had originally planned to run the pre-recorded Orny Adams interview tonight. But since that's already been released as a podcast, it can wait. Especially because the opportunity to have the legendary Mike MacDonald in studio came up. The King of Canadian Comedy has been back on the road after recuperating from a liver transplant that literally saved his life. He got it on St. Patrick's Day (of all days to get a new liver, as he points out in his new act) and has been getting better by the day. It was a shock to all of us to see him wasting away from hepatitis C leading up to that operation. I saw him on Thursday at Yuk Yuk's and was so happy to see him back to his old sarcastic-as-all-hell hilarious self. The guy has done more Just For Laughs festivals than anyone else. He's performed on Letterman. Had his own specials here and in the US. Even starred in his own sitcom back in the day. He's done it all. Well, except for What's So Funny? but that's about to be rectified tonight.

Tune in at 11 pm to CFRO 100.5 FM in Vancouver or livestream us at or any radio app that works for you. Should be good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Podcast episode 366ish: Orny Adams

Here's a What's So Funny? first: We're releasing this episode as a podcast before it hits the air! (We'll air it on radio this coming Sunday.) But I wanted to get this one out as soon as possible because not only do I think it's pretty great, but it's also much longer than usual, clocking in at just under 1 hour 47 minutes. It's also got a pretty good backstory, this one, which I explain in the intro.

Any serious fan of comedy knows the name Orny Adams. There's only one Orny, afterall. Any non-serious comedy fan probably knows him from his role as the lacrosse coach on Teen Wolf. But I, like many of you, first saw him in Jerry Seinfeld's documentary Comedian, which came out in 2002. And this is at the heart of the aforementioned backstory.

I interviewed Adams by phone last year and wrote about him in the Straight. You can read that article here. Orny had issues with it. We hashed it out over email but in a very constructive and positive manner. And he said if he was ever in Vancouver again, he'd gladly do my show. He's good on his word. We had a really nice conversation. He, himself, thought it was the best podcast he's done, content-wise.

So I think you'll enjoy it, especially if you love talk about comedy. The guy lives and breathes it.

Stream it here or go download it at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, Player.FM,, etc. etc. You know the drill.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Podcast episode 365ish: Art Factora

We're at podcast episode 365ish. You know what that means? You can go back to the beginning and listen to one a day for a year. Art Factora was our guest on this one. He talked about shucking alcohol and washing dishes between his commercial radio gigs. The Filipino-Canadian standup who recently visited the homeland also revealed he doesn't know where it is geographically (it's in the northern hemisphere, for the record). And he talked about his stage fright. Good talk. Good guy, that Art Factora.

Have a listen here or download on iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, TuneIn Radio, etc. etc.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Nov. 9: Art Factora

Has it really been four years since Art Factora made his one and only appearance on What's So Funny? Turns out it's true. I saw Art recently at the Comedy MIX on Burrard where he was on in between Graham Clark and Debra DiGiovanni so we arranged another visit for him. We'll check in on what he's been up to. I know he just produced a show with fellow Filipino comic Rex Navarrete at the Columbia Theatre on Friday. We'll see how that turned out, too, and find out if he's still Patrick Maliha's wingman.

Tune in to 100.5 FM tonight at 11 pm, livestream us at or TuneIn Radio.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Podcast episode 364ish: Peter Greyy

I told you there'd be a quick turnaround with this one. It aired on radio late last night and it's already out as a podcast. Record time! So you know all about it. Let's see, was there anything I didn't cover in yesterday's write-up for Peter Greyy? I know I asked him about the spelling of his surname... We talked about comedy hosting... deejaying... news anchor taglines... comedy contest judging... the Bremerton Effect... and lots more. Plus if you're a comic looking to do the Seattle or San Francisco competition, maybe there's some useful info for you.

Check it out here. Or go download the episode at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, etc. And subscribe! And leave a comment and rating! And all that.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nov. 2: Peter Greyy

It's November. That means besides horrible moustaches, it's Seattle International Comedy Competition time. Week 1 begins on Nov. 5. Tonight we've got the big boss man of the competition, Peter Greyy. He's also the head honcho of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition, but that's already over and done with for the year. I recorded this chat a few weeks ago when Greyy was up in town taking in a showcase at Yuk Yuk's for hopefuls. Sure, we talked about the contests, but we also delved into his past, from his days deejaying to a breakup that led to his standup career. He also has a theory about Canadian competency in comedy that's quite interesting.

We're on the air at 11 pm on CFRO, 100.5 FM in Vancouver. You can livestream us or on TuneIn Radio. And because this one's in the can, expect the podcast version very soon. (Spoiler alert: It's exactly the same!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Podcast episode 363ish: Michael Teigen

Another day, another podcast episode. Look, it's feast or famine around these parts. This one is ripped right from Sunday's headlines. My official audition to replace Jian Ghomeshi. Or not. But we had lots of fun with Michael Teigen, a guy I've never really talked to before but have seen many times with the Vancouver TheatreSports League. He's the creator of their current production, The Superheroes Show. It's been seven years in the making, as he tells it. I've also seen Teigen in some of his many animal movies. He's been in numerous Buddies movies. You know, the kid films starring five pooches. We also talked about his years in New York, his stint in dinner theatre, and his advice for young improvisers.

Here's the show in its entirety (they're all in their entirety but I run out of ways to say it). You can listen here, if your server allows you to see the audio gizmo below, or head on over to your favourite iPod depository and download it to you device. iTunes, Stitcher, etc. You know the drill.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Podcast episode 362ish: Kevin Banner

Here you go, duckies. Kevin Banner made his triumphant return to What's So Funny? last week. He's had a good year, which we talk about. It hasn't gone to his head, either. Au contraire, judging from our conversation. What else did we talk about? Let's see... being special, his ugly tattoo, cool comedians, Robin Williams, supportive family, the Drewski Dictionary, and, of course, wrestling.

You may now listen. Click below or download at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, Player FM, or even, which I just found out about.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oct. 26: Michael Teigen

Teigen (right)
We've got another newbie on the show tonight. Michael Teigen is a guy I've seen for years at Vancouver TheatreSports League but haven't spoken to, beyond small talk. So I don't know his backstory or anything else about him, really. All I know is he's not on Facebook so that makes me wonder if he even exists. We'll find out tonight.

Tune in at 11 pm in Vancouver to 100.5 FM or livestream us at That's also a good place to donate to the station or become a member in our Fall Membership Drive that's happening right now. Come on, you know you've always wanted to.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct. 19: Kevin Banner

Banner, left, with Garrett Clark
The triumphant return of standup comic Kevin Banner happens tonight. Kevin made his first appearance on What's So Funny? in 2012. Since he's gone on to be featured in The Georgia Straight and open for his hero Norm Macdonald at the Vogue Theatre, we thought it's time he returned. Thankfully, he agreed. When he's not playing strip poker with Garrett Clark, the big boss man from Sooke loves his wrestling. But he's also really funny, which is a wonderful trait for a professional comedian, I think you'll agree.

We are on the air at 11 pm PST on CFRO, 100.5 FM, in Vancouver. If that doesn't suit you, try livestreaming us at You'll find that works, too.

Banner, centre, with Norm Macdonald (left) and Sean O'Connor

Monday, October 13, 2014

Podcast episode 361ish: Alonzo Bodden

Here's the Alonzo Bodden episode you've been longing for. I believe he's on another What's So Funny? episode but he had to share it with other interviews I did at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal years ago. This time he gets the full hour. And we make good use of it, talking about his knowledge of Canada, bad basketball, smooth jazz, pop culture, Condoleezza Rice, racism, drugs, Dennis Miller, and which was the best season of Last Comic Standing (hint: he's biased). It's the very definition of wide-ranging. The only thing we didn't talk about was the kidney he donated to his brother earlier this year, because why would you? (Plus I'm an idiot and forgot.) Enjoy.

Listen right here right now or download the episode at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, etc. Wherever fine podcasts are dispensed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Podcast episode 360ish: Dana Alexander

Dana Alexander was the first guest on What's So Funny? a decade ago. She was also on a missing episode in 2007. So this is officially her second appearance, even though it's really her third. She currently lives in England, which is her hub on her road to world domination. She's performed in about 20 countries. Even though she could only list off 17 of them, I'll believe her. We had a good time on this episode reminiscing about her days in Vancouver and she told us what it's like to be a Canadian in the old country.

You can stream the whole thing right here. Or go download it at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand or anywhere fine podcasts are distributed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jim Gaffigan interview

Here's a chat I had with Jim Gaffigan over the phone last month. He was calling to plug his upcoming show (which has come and gone) but we also talked at length on his latest book, his working relationship with his wife, and his "first bus" theory of comedy writing, among other things.

Jim Gaffigan
September 5, 2014

"I like the idea of hitting people after you've hit them. There's nothing funner than laughing and then you have to laugh again before you can catch your breath."
– Jim Gaffigan

Guy MacPherson: Hello, Jim?
Jim Gaffigan: Yes, hey. Thanks for doing this interview, by the way.

GM: My pleasure.
JG: I recognize that name. Have we talked before?

GM: Yeah, we've talked twice before.
JG: All right. But wait a minute, you're in Vancouver and we've talked twice before just about Vancouver?

GM: Yeah.
JG: Wow, that is crazy. So then we talked when I was doing that Late Night Comics of Letterman show, right?

GM: That's right. With Jake Johannson and Eddie Brill.
JG: Oh, that's amazing.

GM: And I think I met you after that show.
JG: Okay. It's so funny because I have a horrible memory but I was like, 'I recognize this name.'

GM: 2005 was when we first talked.
JG: Yeah, that's a million years ago. You just do Vancouver? Or do you sometimes do Toronto?

GM: Nope, just Vancouver.
JG: All right. Oh, you know I also have a book coming out in October? Food: A Love Story.

GM: Another one.
JG: Another one.

GM: And you write these yourself.
JG: Yeah. I mean, I write everything with my wife.

GM: Yes, I knew that. But does she get credit on the book cover?
JG: No, she doesn't. It's a strange predicament. If the point of view of the book is this out of shape, pudgy blond guy, then I don't think it should be from both of us. But the good thing is I'm doing a TV show where she's totally getting credit, where she's an executive producer and I'm an executive producer. So that balances that a little bit.

GM: What is the TV show?
JG: It'll be called The Jim Gaffigan Show on TVLand next June.

GM: A sitcom?
JG: It's going to be a single camera comedy.

GM: Nice. You got it going on.
JG: It's all going on.

GM: She may not get credit on the book, but you make it clear in interviews and stuff that she is your writing partner.
JG: Yeah. Logic would tell you that if it's Food: A Love Story by Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan, you're going to have a different expectation. But Food: A Love Story by this one guy, you have a certain expectation: Oh, Jim Gaffigan is obsessed with food. Whereas my wife, we worked on this book together and there were plenty of times where she's like, 'I completely disagree with this.' So it's not her point of view, the book. It's her kind of turning some of my dribs and drabs of a madman into a more readable essay.

GM: Kind of like an editor or second set of eyes?
JG: Yeah, but her comedic writing value is pretty significant so I don't want it to feel like she's just an editor. Essentially I'm trying to not get in trouble.

GM: This is your second book, right?
JG: Yes, second book. The first one was Dad is Fat. That was about me being the father of five young children. And this one's Food: A Love Story which is all about why I'm fat.

GM: I see a theme here.
JG: Yeah. A big, fat theme.

GM: How do you find the time with five kids to write two books, let alone travel. Although travelling you can get away from them.
JG: It's very much a balancing act. It's one of those things where I used to romanticize laziness, just doing-nothing days and now they're just a fantasy of doing nothing. But the reason I find time is it doesn't feel like work. I mean, it's definitely a grind and there's a lot of late nights, but I was excited to write this book. Food is something that I've been writing about for 15 years so a lot of the elements were there. It's like standup: After hopefully being a pretty decent parent all day, the idea of going out and doing a show at 8 or 9 o'clock at night would seem unappealing but I enjoy it so much, I look forward to it even if I'm tired.

GM: What are the age ranges of your kids?
JG: Ten, eight, five, three, one. The one-year-old will be two on the 27th.

GM: And don't you still live in the same apartment?
JG: We moved. We moved from a two-bedroom I like to say to a one-bedroom. But no, we moved to a much bigger place.

GM: Still in New York?
JG: Yeah.

GM: How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
JG: I would say Dad is Fat came out I wanna say May 2012 and they made an offer I think the second week it was out for another book. And I had always thought of doing a food book. And again, I had tons of notes on different food topics, just as a comedian. So I'd say it took me a good year to write it. Dad is Fat was 260 pages and I think this one's 360. And my expectation was that I was going to cut a bunch of stuff, because when you write things you're like, 'Well, this is completely overlapping.' But stuff didn't overlap. So I have an essay on cheese and I have an essay on crackers and I remember saying, 'Well, maybe I'll get rid of one of these.' But there wasn't an overlap. I mean, I definitely cut some stuff but I thought there was going to be more cuts but it ended up where I didn't need to, if that makes sense. Do you know what I mean? But you know as a writer, there's things that you like about certain things you write and things you like about other things you write.

GM: And cheese and crackers go together.
JG: Yeah, they do.

GM: You can't have one without the other. Was there any crossover from your act to the book?
JG: Yes. Very much so. For instance, there's an essay on bacon, there's an essay on hot pockets. But in standup, there is a focus on efficiency and getting to the nub of the joke, whereas in an essay all the pieces that didn't even fit in to a topic, such as doughnuts, I could include in the essay. Do you know what I mean? If I write like ten minutes on bacon, my bacon chunk in standup might only be six minutes but I still have those other four minutes. Or there's some stuff that I've written in standup, that I've tried in standup, but for different reasons it wasn't working or I didn't like the way it was going but it makes a great essay. I have stuff about sushi that I tried a couple years ago that makes a great essay that I don't know if it'll be standup. And then also I had this whole thing going way back about going out to dinner. Once I did that as a topic in my standup, I would come up with other observations about going out to dinner but I'd already done the topic. So it fit better in the essay than starting another topic. I think I had 20 or 30 pages on salads alone because there's different salads: there's the taco salad, which I kept kind of working on over six or seven years but it still never ended up in my act. And then there's an essay portion on the salad bar, there's an essay portion on how mayonnaise can turn everything into a salad. Obviously when you write a book, you read it so many times. It's just insane. You see my personal view of an attitude toward a food item, hopefully it's funny but it's a little bit – when I consider how I've written about cheeseburgers over the past 15 years, you realize there's just an insanity to it. There's also something very universal about it.

GM: Well, I'm thinking now with how food shows are so popular and books, the foodies will love it.
JG: Yeah. I didn't end up using this comparison in the book, but the foodie thing is, I'm an everyman food lover. I don't consider myself a foodie. Just like I like the Grateful Dead but I don't consider myself a Dead Head because I don't have their knowledge. A foodie will dedicate time and research an item whereas I'm much more of 'I'm coming to Vancouver. Where should I eat?' I'll ask like four or five people or I'll bring it up on Twitter and then I'll follow that one suggestion. I'm in town for one day. But I'm not on a never-ending journey to find unique dishes. I'm seeking gratification. And I'm a bit of a tourist even. If I'm in Montreal or Ottawa, I'll have to get poutine but if I'm in Calgary someone might say, 'You gotta go to this doughnut shop,' then I'll find that doughnut shop. But other than that I won't find this secret barbecue place that no one's ever heard of.

GM: You're known for long chunks on one topic. I love it when someone exhausts a topic rather than just giving me a taste of it, to use the food analogy. If you're doing five minutes on stage, how much does that translate to the page? It seems really substantial on stage. Is it substantial in book form as well?
JG: In the essay form, it's much longer and it's a different puzzle. In standup, the shorter distance it takes for you to get to the joke is better. But in an essay you take your time and you can weave in other observations that don't necessarily have to be singles. I had six minutes on bacon and there was all this other material that I never did on bacon that maybe was too similar to another observation or it would just lead down to a tangent. But if you're doing an essay on bacon, you can go down every tangent you want. Hopefully that made sense.

GM: There was a comedian in Canada, Irwin Barker, who died a couple years ago. Great writer. Like you, he'd have these huge chunks on, for example, grapes. He said it came from a challenge when someone told him to write about some mundane topic. He would first write an essay. Just a factual essay like you would in high school, then go back to it, add jokes, and trim. That's how he built it. What's your process like?
JG: I definitely don't do the essay version. It's also ever-evolving. For instance, if I get a topic – in my last special I did weddings. Some of it was inspired by this underlying view that weddings are silly, which is a relatively universal concept. Some of it is improvising on stage on the topic. Then I would say I've got two minutes on weddings, what else about weddings are the facts about it? So there's the registry, there's the rehearsal dinner, there's the honeymoon. It's compiling every kind of sub-topic on a topic and then going through and seeing my point of view on it and then elaborating on it. Some of why I stick to a topic is, again, the efficiency of standup is the less time in between laughs... It's kind of like boxing. If someone keeps punching someone, they don't have time to get their footing. So if I have to introduce a new topic outside of weddings, I have to spend some time setting that up. Usually with a comedian people will understand a comedian's point of view and kind of go along with it and have fun with that point of view. But I think there's a lot of value in staying within a topic. I definitely believe that volume is important. And thoroughness. I like the idea of hitting people after you've hit them. There's nothing funner than laughing and then you have to laugh again before you can catch your breath. This is kind of ridiculous, what I'm saying, but some of it is just the style of how it works for me. Some people go for big homeruns; I'm like a singles hitter. I like to hit a lot of singles because there's going to be different jokes that appeal to different people. The power of a tag is pretty important. It's weird because hearing myself talk about it, I'm kind of annoying myself.

GM: The same comic said it's like looking for something. Most people will stop when they find whatever it is, but he keeps looking because he might find something else.
JG: When I write with my wife, I always call it the first bus. The first bus is what people would expect. That might be a sexual innuendo, that might be a sarcastic, sardonic take on something. If you're waiting for the bus, most people get on the first bus but my whole thing is what's the second bus? If comedy is a little bit of the surprise and maybe being a half-step ahead of the audience, then that's where the comedian gains some ownership over the conversation, which is standup. So if you're talking about a topic, for instance crabs, and you don't go immediately to the crabs that we eat is also what we describe an STD, if you save that for later on... So like if you talk about crabs and how you think it's disgusting, even if people immediately went to the STD, they're going to forget it and then you can bring it up later on. 

GM: You hit them with what they know later on for a bigger payoff.
JG: Yeah. It's just like an engaging conversation. Why we think our friends are interesting and why we like certain TV shows is 'This is not what I thought was going to happen.' And there's something kind of gratifying about that.

GM: Does your standup tour have a theme like your book does?
JG: No. I guess I'm on my fifth hour of standup now. And some of it is just trying to be funny and when I do a theatre show, making sure that everyone who leaves that theatre, if I come back to town, they're going to want to come back. I certainly don't take an audience for granted. But I don't really work from a particular theme. It's weird, part of me is always kind of running away from labels: He's a clean comedian, he's the guy with five kids, he's the food comic. The reason my last special was called Obsessed is because I had tried so many specials before that to not talk about food that on Obsessed it was like, alright, I'm just going to talk about food. And I talk about other things, too. So now I'm trying to evolve. Maybe there's a little bit more storytelling. I don't have that much control over what I'm doing. The most important thing is to be funny. I'm not trying to completely reinvent myself. I think comedians get way too much credit and criticism for what they do anyway. I'd love to say, 'Well, this time I'm being much more socially conscious.' The point of it is I'm trying to be funny and get better at it. That's the important thing, I think.

GM: You write your standup with your wife, too. She's your writing partner. I'm sure there are others that do but they never admit to having anyone else work on their act with them. They could never admit it, like it's a weakness or something.
JG: I kind of have the attitude of I've been doing this so long, I don't have any concern about my ability to write material. Someone might think, 'Oh, I betcha his wife wrote that.' You know, I mean, I don't care. If it's funny. But I also know that on that same topic, writing the books that I've written with my wife, I made a point of not wanting to have a ghost writer, which is an option. I didn't want to do that. I want to be someone of substance. If you look at time-value of money, I'm probably making like two cents a book, you know? But also, it's rewarding. And I still have horrible grammar. I'm not saying I'm a novelist or one of the great essayists, but it's still rewarding that I did that, that I have two books on a shelf that I wrote with the immeasurable assistance of my wife.

GM: But going back to standup, because you work on your standup together, too, and there seems to be a stigma.
JG: I totally get it. Standup is a very personal thing. It wasn't that long ago when people would hire writers and there are some huge stars that have writers that write their standup. Supposedly Paul Mooney wrote Richard Pryor's hour or whatever. The whole thing is, it's a really personal thing for standup to not have a writer. That being said, I don't have a writer; I have a writing partner. I think of my wife as kind of a secret weapon. If I'm on my fifth hour, without my wife I certainly wouldn't be as successful as I am. I might be on my third hour as opposed to my fifth. Some of it is efficiency. Also, there are times when you just feel funnier. I'm funnier around my wife and she's funnier around me so it's a great collaboration.

GM: And she has a comedy background, right?
JG: She did sketch comedy and she did standup for a little bit so she knows the world. In a way I feel like I've brainwashed her to my point of view so she'll come up with lines that are great that I might have come up with later on but maybe not.

GM: In your voice.
JG: Yeah. Which is also very rare because what you have to consider is every comedian deals with people coming up and saying what about this or that? And ninety percent of the time, it's not useful information. But with my wife, ninety percent of the time it is useful.

GM: Comedians also offer each other tags. Is it like a situation like that except she lives with you?
JG: I think you also nailed something where there's a lot of people that collaborate with their wife or their husband or their best friend or stuff like that. That doesn't cheapen their talent or their success. It's just that I'm much more forthright with my collaboration. Particularly on the books. I mean, everything, but we're starting to write episodes for the TV show and it's like the collaboration is vital there.

GM: What's the premise for the TV show?
JG: The TV show is essentially my life. I'm a comedian with five kids who's married to a super mom and I'm trying to balance standup comedy with being a father. But it's designed to be a show about everything really.

GM: I see why you work so hard and strike while the iron's hot. With five kids, you've got to.

JG: Absolutely. That's the other thing – and by the way, hopefully this will be the last book I write – but that was the other thing, the book also was one of those things where it's like I had done so much of this work and I knew I could do this food book so yeah, let's strike while the iron's hot and I have a thousand children so I have to pay for it, too.