Tag Archives: comedy

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Fabulous funny lady CARLA COLLINS tickles funny bones, meditates on life & laughter, and soothes our souls

I remember the night of the Oscars many years ago when one of Canada’s leading TV networks sent beautiful Toronto comedienne CARLA COLLINS down to L.A. to cover the red carpet arrivals and do interviews with the stars. OMG, I’ll never forget that vision of her in a bizarre, wild orange sparkly frock tossing out bon mots and kudos to the stars, drawing them into her microphone and asking them hysterical questions about their nominated roles, their lives and loves…and whatever else came into her head – a wacky stream of consciousness. She was brilliant! Totally unafraid to meet to BIG named stars head-on, kinder than Joan Rivers but just as “intimate” with her enquiries, Carla charmed everyone that night and I knew it was only a matter of time that she herself would walk among the showbiz giants…on 6″ stilettos and with even bigger hair!

Working her magic in west coast comedy clubs, hosting corporate events & awards nights, special guesting at swanky soirees – years later Carla has forged a successful comedy career as well as becoming a best-selling author, launched a brilliant interactive program that merges laughter with meditation and yoga principles, and now back on home turf in Canada, she’s hosting a brand new webcast series (which should go live with a studio audience once Covid quarantining is over) staged at the legendary El Mocambo nightclub in downtown Toronto.

I recently caught up with my fellow blonde goddess and posed a few scintillating questions I thought my readers would enjoy….th (1)It’s been a long time since your first stand-up gig at The Rivoli in Toronto – do you remember your excitement or fears when you first set foot on the stage? And did you think it would lead to such a successful career in comedy for you?  For the longest time I was absolutely terrified of doing stand-up and had a crushing nerve problem where I couldn’t even eat for days leading up to going on stage. I only dabbled in comedy a couple of times a year when I was working fulltime on TV and radio.  Although comedy was my first love, I was terrified before every show. Now I could jump up and do 45 minutes at a garage sale! I can’t wait to make people laugh and I certainly never imagined it would become my greatest high and healthiest escape. Like every other comedian right now, I’m practically doing a tight 5 in the Whole Foods parking lot against everyone’s will.   The Rivoli was the mecca of comedy – I’m so sad to hear it has closed and so honoured to have had the opportunity to perform there a few times.

Your stand-up comedy has attracted a huge following in the States and whenever you’ve come home to Canada for special appearances you pack the theatres – do you find any difference in the audiences?  Audiences can vary a little from place to place, city to city. If I were to make a general, sweeping, certain to offend someone observation it’s that US audiences tend to be a tad more effusive and more prone to standing ovations and Canadian audiences seem to prefer more intellectual humour at times. Having said that, depending on the town or region, that statement can be totally flipped. At the moment I would kill for any type of audience, even though my Chihuahua, three kittens and UPS driver have been a great crowd during lockdown.15C4588F-D0F0-4D61-B70A-CBE938F0D1FE

Have you had any really weird experiences while doing your shows? Any men’s underwear thrown on stage, mothers claiming you seduced their sons or maybe some ugly streakers?   One time in Long Beach, California, a very drunken woman slurred and heckled throughout my set. That wouldn’t be remotely unusual except for the fact that I was performing at an AA meeting and the Ziplock bag full of vodka that fell out of her purse was frowned upon by the organizers. Last year in Calgary a former hockey player and his girlfriend bought me many, many drinks after I headlined a show. I had to excuse myself and retire to my room as I was beyond tipsy only to find a $1,500 tip in my purse! I was a bit of a legend the following night as the other comedians and wait staff had witnessed the event. Pretty sure I naively escaped an Albertan three-way!headshot2In one of your many film appearances, the diamond heist adventure Bitch Slap, you got to work with both Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) and Xena (Lucy Lawless) – how was that experience and did you manage to score any super powers of your own?   Well I was only in one scene so I didn’t get to work with either one on set. I did meet Kevin at the premiere and I already knew Lucy through a mutual friend. She’s absolute perfection and is one of my girl crushes. Pretty sure everyone adores Xena/Lucy. The only super power I emerged with was my ability to overact even in the tiniest of roles and my ability to kill off husbands. Metaphorically.bitchslapA few years ago, you created a fun online chat show, Carla Collins Comes Clean, set in your actual bathtub where you told us about all sorts of hilarious things that happened to you. How did you come up with the crazy concept and did you ever invite any special guests to the tub?   We had so much fun doing that web series and we still have a season 2 that needs to find its way out into the wild. It was directed by Tom Moser who has won multiple Emmys in animation. My then producer, Penny Edminston, and I thought it would be funny for me to just rant away in a bathtub as that is my natural habitat and form of cheap therapy. I would straight up be doing prison time if I wasn’t allowed to take baths. We were tickled by the twist ending of reversing the camera and showing some poor pizza delivery man, nun, B list celebrity, etc… fully-dressed in the tub with me and forced to hear my bullshit. There is interest in remaking the show this coming year so expect to see more of me, as it were. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I’m interested to learn about how you’re exploring your spiritual side by launching the innovative Comedic Meditation program, hosted online now (thanks, Covid you bitch!). Please tell me about the healing effects of humour and how you have merged guided meditations with laughs and smiles.   Currently, Comedic Meditation is my favourite child! I think I have often combined my love of comedy and spirituality including performing stand-up at the Kabbalah Center in LA and my humorous self-help book “Angels, Vampires and Douche Bags”.8179923._UY630_SR1200,630_ (2) I’ve been spiritual all my life and have practiced yoga and meditated for almost 20 years now. Everyone in Los Angeles claims to be a guru and I just wanted to take the intimidation, preciousness and woo woo out of meditation. It’s simply focusing on your breath. The marriage isn’t as unconventional as it may seem at first. Starting off with 20 to 30 minutes of stand-up allows everyone to release endorphins and get out of their own heads and both meditation and laughter produce the same gamma brainwave. People are finding that they are able to relax more deeply and more quickly after some giggles (and sometimes a few drinks) Also, although no one thinks Zoom comedy shows are ideal, the meditation portion may work even better delivered online as people can relax comfortably in their own home without feeling judged and without having to drive home…or wear pants.   I’ve been fortunate to do a few corporate comedic meditations this month for a few organizations which I loved.  Thanks to several sponsors like our title sponsor, The Michael Stuart Webb Team, you can sample a show right now at no cost by visiting www.comedicmeditation.com Figure we all need to chuckle and chill during these mad times.9584DC8C-8DFF-4DBA-8F02-C07769F0FD8D meditationMore recently, you returned to the stage here in Toronto at the legendary El Mocambo nightclub presenting a unique talkshow-style webcast called Carla Collins Rox the Elmo – do tell…how did this happen and who will you be chatting with?  Pretty sure masks and podcasts have both become mandatory! I had a wonderful experience playing the Elmo for two shows in September during that brief but glorious window when venues were quasi-open. I had quarantined with Elmo Owner and former Dragon’s Den star Michael Wekerle and his family and we became fast friends. Michael Stuart Webb (whom I refer to as my gay fiancé!) and I had already partnered on Comedic Meditation and he was launching his new media group so the three of us joined forces to produce a pandemic panacea podcast/web series. Carla Collins Rox the Elmo is the perfect three-way of comedy, music and spirituality where mental health meets metal health with the iconic venue as the beautiful backdrop.logo IMG_5293 with KennyWe just wrapped season one with some exceptional guests partaking in no-holds barred, intimate interviews. Many also treat us to mini concerts you won’t see anywhere else. Season one includes candid chats with actor Dean McDermott, Canadian music icon Gowan, comedian Kenny Robinson (pictured above, with Carla), Olympic skating queen Elizabeth Manley, recording legend Kim Mitchell, singer/songwriter Gordon Deppe, the list goes on.  Naturally there’s a lot of laughter and great music but also a lot of raw emotion and honesty. I’m very proud of this show and hope everyone will check it out on my YouTube channel and/or iTunes and Spotify.IMG_5378The Covid lock-down, isolation and quarantining has not dampened your sense of humour and certainly hasn’t curtailed your creativity. How many webisodes are you planning at the Elmo and then what’s next for Carla Collins? Any more books in the works?  We’re planning more webisodes in the new year when we are able and I’m also going to release a new comedy album from my two shows in the fall at the El Mocambo (maybe even a TV special!).  I am working on a new book: the world’s first motivational/self-help coffee book featuring the beautiful fashion designs and photography of my dear friend Jorge Del Busto called Stairs: A 30 Day Step by Step Guide to being Fab AF.  It features various photos of me on a staircase with some hilarious and hopefully helpful hints of being even more fabulous than you already are 😊 I’ve been billing myself as the world’s most immature mature model. Funny fact: I was just signed to a modelling agency in LA. Now I’ll be spending the entire holiday season phoning up my exes and letting them know that they didn’t know it, but they were bangin’ a model!Facetune_20-11-2020-19-10-45 IMG_4986Carla, is there anything else you’d like to add, any shout-outs or messages to your fans?  Just wanna send everyone lots of love and laughs right now. Stay safe and healthy. If you can, during lockdown, adopt a pet. Or an accent.

Watch for webisodes of Carla Collins Rox the Elmo now on YouTube!76E97749-7719-4666-A45F-9BB83EF87B94

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CANADIAN COMEDY LEGEND, KENNY ROBINSON, TO HOST ROCK TRIBUTE BAND FESTIVAL IN OSHAWA

Back in the 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret and its talent agency, Funny Business, one of my favourite comedians was Kenny Robinson. Kenny always showed up and delivered a killer set and was one of the most reliable MC’s we had on the roster.  No matter how big or humble the gig was, whoever the audience was, Kenny would have ’em rolling in the aisles!  And a few years ago, I was privileged to watch as Kenny was presented with the “Phil Hartman Award” for his contribution to the Canadian comedy industry at the annual Canadian Comedy Awards in Ottawa.Kenny 2Next Saturday, Sept. 16th, Kenny is the host of a unique concert featuring 5 of Canada’s top rock tribute bands and I know that only Kenny can keep things rolling and on time for the 1st Annual Durham Rock Tribute Festival (details below).

His irreverent, socially conscience, intelligent, opinionated and profane style of comedy has made Kenny a fixture and favourite with comedy clubs, festivals, radio, and television audiences for 3 decades.  Raunchy, energetic, sharp-witted, and sharp dressed, Robinson is a one of a kind act. Not for the weak of heart or narrow minded, Kenny assaults your sensibilities and funny bone with unspoken truths.  His episode of the CBC’s Comics has been referred by the Toronto Star as “One of the few episodes that still stand with the test of time” and many Canada’s brightest young comics have claimed Kenny as a mentor and influence. 17457914_10154980646416271_3297041097344781726_nI asked Kenny a few quick questions for this blog and he obliged with the following….

You’ve hosted a lot of music and comedy concerts over the years – do you remember the first one you MC’d and/or the show your hosted with the biggest stars?  My first gig opening for a band was with Tommy Tutone…(867-5309…Jenny Jenny) at the El Mocambo. Later I would host for Jim Carrey, Bo Diddley, and Peaches and Herb.18057020_10155068379351271_2914880231838205834_nHow important is the job of the MC when you have a lot of performers in the line-up?  As the host, my job is to keep the show moving…keep the crowd entertained and informed. On the 16th, I will have five bands and five hours of no holds barred rock and roll on such a tight schedule that VIA rail would envy!!

You’ve been the star of your own TV comedy specials and headlined many live shows in comedy clubs or concert halls: what do you prefer – TV or live?  I love TV and performing live.  TV exposes me to a larger audience and usually pays better…but live gigs give me the thrill and challenge of improvising or trying previously untested material – I’m like a jazz musician that way.

Do you have any musical preferences? With the 5 tribute bands performing on the show you’re hosting in Oshawa, do you have any favourite genres or are you a closet disco king?  I’m basically a blues junkie, so Bad to the Bone and The SRV Experience will be the highlights of the night for me…no disrespect to the Skynyrd boys, haa haa!

Where can your fans see you next?  Folks can catch me the last Sunday of each month hosting Kenny Robinson and his Nubian Show at the downtown Toronto Yuk Yuk’s, and for the 420 crowd, at the Green Leaf Vapour Lounge in Brampton where it’s not unusual for me to drop two long sets.

Do you have a website or social media networks? Folks can check me out on Facebook, or my much neglected website http://www.kennyrobinson.com/contact.html17554206_10154989207221271_4898851077302236969_nKenny’s hosted The Gemini Awards and was twice nominated for his writing and performance in his ground breaking one hour special “Thick and Thin” on the CBC.  Kenny has earned accolades as the creator/writer/producer and host of the edgy late night series “After Hours with Kenny Robinson” on The Comedy Network.

As an actor Kenny has appeared in such films as “Third Miracle” with Ed Harris, “Down To Earth” with Chris Rock, Clement Virgo’s “Love Comes Down”, and David Sutherland’s “Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones.”  Robinson has appeared on the CBC’s “Royal Canadian Air Farce”, Showtime’s “Soul Food”, and has a wide fan base from his re-occurring roles as “Jelly Bean” on PAX series “Doc”, starring Billy Ray Cyrus, and as “Mickey” on the teen fave “Radio Free Roscoe” on the “Noggin” Network. 17554420_10154989217981271_2719326215689466989_nCome see/hear Kenny work his comedy magic as he rides shotgun on this incredible line-up of bands next Saturday night.

Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival 
Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca 

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

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THAT CANADIAN GUY, GLEN FOSTER, CELEBRATES CANADA’S 150th ANNIVERSARY @ ABSOLUTE COMEDY CLUB in TORONTO

Guaranteed to deliver at least 150 belly-laughs, GLEN FOSTER (a.k.a. That Canadian Guy) headlines at the Absolute Comedy Club, 2335 Yonge St, Toronto, on Canada Day Saturday July 1st. And with an early 8pm showtime, you’ll still be able to catch the big fireworks displays around the city afterwards.Head_shot_0089Glen (pictured above) has been one of Canada’s top comedians for over thirty years – I’ve known him ever since his first set at Yuk Yuk’s back in the 80’s where I was the comedy agent and business manager.   Since then, Glen’s become a mainstay on the Canadian comedy circuit -he didn’t just work the road, he’s one of the comics who built it! His comedy is clever and intelligent, combining reflections on his own personal experiences with razor sharp commentary on current events and popular culture.

Glen has appeared many times at the world-renowned Just For Laughs festival, had his own TV specials on the Comedy Network and can be heard frequently on CBC Radio’s “The Debaters”. He has also released his own comedy DVDs and is a club favourite across the country.   That Canadian Guy is a reference to Glen’s first network comedy special during which he joked about the fact people could call him “that Canadian guy” if they couldn’t remember his name.  Sure enough, after the show aired, Glen received a flood of e-mails from viewers who said, “I couldn’t remember your name but I remembered “that Canadian guy.”ippGlen headlines at the Absolute Comedy club June 28 through July 2 and you can purchase tickets for all of Glen’s performances and his special Canada Day July 1st show here: https://www.absolutecomedy.ca/toronto

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NICEST GUY IN CANADIAN SHOWBIZ CELEBRATES 5th ANNIVERSARY AS ARTISTIC DIR. @ PEMBROKE’S FESTIVAL HALL

With so many live music and entertainment venues closing on an almost weekly basis across the country, Pembroke’s 600-seat FESTIVAL HALL is steadily building audience attendance and presenting line-ups that include music legends, current hit-makers, orchestral recitals and outrageous comedy shows that are the envy of show promoters in major cities. And the person largely responsible for this outstanding achievement is Artistic Director (and my dear friend) RICK WHARTON who celebrates 5 years at the helm next month, April 2017.b&wAfter starting his showbiz career as a comedian at Yuk Yuk’s and Second City, Rick created his popular television character “The Conspiracy Guy” on SPACE: The Imagination Station. Rick then spent 20 years in the Canadian music industry, working with Universal Music where he began as the liaison between record company, radio and retail – he helped maximize profile and value of the company’s music catalogue; marketed, tracked and promoted influential recording artists including The Tragically Hip, U2, Guns’n’Roses, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Rik Emmett, Alanis, Pursuit of Happiness, Michael W. Smith and others. He was quickly promoted to Head of Promotion in Ontario. Independently, he has also helped develop and manage the careers of many musicians as well as handled production and marketing duties.

with Alanis Morissette

with Alanis Morissette

Flanked by Aerosmith

Flanked by Aerosmith

Stepping into the role of Artistic Director at Festival Hall in 2012, he spearheaded the revival of the Hall by attracting big name performers from all music genres, comedians, classical recording artists, as well as celebrity guest speakers and supporting local theatrical groups. Some of the artists to grace the stage under his direction include:  Gord Downie, Matt Dusk, Rik Emmett, Randy Bachman, John McDermott, Gowan, Michael Burgess, Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe, Lunch at Allen’s, Sab and the Family Band, Malcom Burn and The Spoons , The Barra McNeils . Country stars Marty Stuart, April Verch and Corb Lund. Comedians Gerry Dee, Glenn Foster, Ron James, Derek Edwards, Carla Collins, Mary Walsh, the comic ensemble Women Full Clothed, as well as hosting the Canadian Comedy Awards’ Funniest Person In The Valley show.  He has also opened the doors to many theatrical events and Festival Hall is now home to local theatre groups.

I want people to experience the wonder of what the theatre offers. The magic of taking you away from life’s problems for a little while theatre can change and affect lives for the better.   Rick Wharton

Pembroke-Festival-Hall-Interior-1-1024x684Pembroke’s Festival Hall Centre for the Arts (above) is the largest performing arts centre in the Ottawa Valley. Through theatre, music, dance, storytelling, comedy, visual arts and educational programming, Festival Hall fosters artistic and historic awareness.   Since 2012, the hall has hosted over 55,000 theatre patrons for hundreds of productions that reflect the rich cultural diversity of the region. It’s also home to the Streetlight Theatre Company, Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, Kiwanis Music Festival, UTurn, and the Sears Drama Festival.

Rick and I go way back to the early 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto – he was a frequent performer there. When I left to open my own talent & media relations agency in 1986, I would often run in to him backstage at the various concerts and tours I worked. One of my fave photos is this one (below) where Rick unexpectedly “photo bombed” me when posing with Monkee Davy Jones. Hey hey, it's Davy Jones with GlendaRick has often worked with leading comedians such as Rick Mercer and the late great Robin Williams (below)
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wharton and williams…and he’s remained close friends with Canadian guitar god, Rik Emmett (below) with whom he’s worked on numerous tours and celebrity appearances.rikemmettCONGRATULATIONS, Rick, on reaching this milestone anniversary at Festival Hall…and thank you for supporting so many Canadian artists as well as securing the big name acts for your stage. Bravo, Spudman, and wishing you many more years as the impresario of Pembroke!spaceDuring Rick’s fifth anniversary month, Festival Hall presents the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra’s We Got Rhythm on Saturday Apr. 8th, int’l recording star John McDermott (Raised on Songs and Stories) on Friday Apr.28th and Whiskey Jack performing Stories and Songs of Stompin’ Tom on Saturday Apr.22nd. See www.festhall.ca for details of these and other April concerts.

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TORONTO FUNNY MAN CELEBRATES COMEDY MILESTONE & SUPPORTS INDUSTRY WITH UNIQUE WEBSITE

Back in the 80’s when I managed Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Klub in Toronto (and was the agent for all the comedians), one of my chores was booking and running the Monday “Amateur Night” shows.  So many comedians who are now well-known came thru my office door back them, many more were hopelessly untalented or those who did show promise just never got the breaks. One Monday night regular always stuck in my mind – David ReubenRuby_1 Dec 2012Back the early 80’s, Dave was trying to find his comic voice and develop his stage personae. Every Monday morning, I would get his phone call asking for a spot and I would give him his 5 minutes to try out new material and work the not-always-kind amateur night audiences. He may not have been the funniest guy on stage back then, but he certainly was the most polite and pleasant person to deal with – no ego, no “fronting”, no entitlement attitude.  He soon became my favourite.  In the late 80’s, I lost track of Dave after I had left Yuk Yuk’s and started my own comedy agency & promotions company, but in the early 2000’s, I heard that he had started The Comedy Greenroom, a website offering all sorts of valuable gigging information for comedians as well as promoting shows to the general public. What a great idea!  He also became a regular performer and producer of Ein-Stein’s Happy Hour comedy showcase on Sunday nights at the popular University of Toronto hangout. I recently caught up with Dave and asked him about the upcoming milestone for the weekly comedy series as well as how his career has gone over the past 30 years since we worked together.

What prompted you to start The Comedy Green Room website?
Having started comedy in 1983, well before the Internet, I compiled a list of comedy venues in Canada, the USA and internationally. Being fascinated with technology I took some courses in HTML and learned the basics of web design. Let me stress the basics! Always one to help his fellow comics I decided to start a comedy website with a list of comedy clubs, festivals and performers. The name The Comedy Green Room came about because my favourite times in comedy are hanging out in the “Green Room” backstage before and after shows.CGR_logo 2007[2]What information does it offer comedy fans and comedy professionals?
www.thecomedygreenroom.com offers comedy fans info up and coming comics as well as professional comedians around the globe. Many of today’s comedy stars were on the site before they became house hold names.  For professionals, the site offers info on comedy clubs, festivals and open mic rooms. The monthly newsletter is sent to comics and comedy fans in Canada, the USA and Internationally.

Over the years, you’ve done stand-up comedy yourself as well as acted as a talent scout for new comedy stars; do you prefer performing yourself or being the person who brings the stars to the public’s attention?
Performing is my first love and always will be. As they say in the movie Punchline! “Comedy is my Mistress” and I have sacrificed so much chasing this dream my whole adult life. This past September 7th marked 33 years of battling the comedy addiction!  But in reality, I wanted to be a stand-up comic since I was 5 years old and saw my first stand-up comedian on the Ed Sullivan Show on a small black and white TV. Nothing beats the immediate gratification of having an audience laugh in a live setting.  And since starting The Comedy Green Room, I have taken on a mentor roll myself to many of Canada’s young comics. Many have gone on to great success in Canada and the USA. This gives me great pleasure and pride; I guess maybe I should have been a teacher which was an idea I had in University until I got sidetracked by life,ruby-dec_2010The Hogtown Comedy Festival [2002-2006] started by myself, Arie Kizel, and OJ Kness was a labour of love that showcased up and coming Canadian comics, helping launch their careers. The Toronto Comedy Guild [2001 to 2005] run by myself and Steve Rivers gave young comics a chance to perform in bars across Toronto. They made $20 for the night which gave them bus fare and some self-esteem.  Ein-Stein’s Comedy night has been running since 1996 and was started by Arie and the venue’s owner OJ. I started performing there in 2000 then started producing the show in 2003 after both Arie and OJ asked me to help out due to family obligations.
It’s a weekly show that I book, promote and sometimes host. I’ve help hundreds if not thousands of young comics by giving them a venue to start out in and explore comedy. The only thing asked of them is to be polite to the bar staff, show up on time, and get off stage after their allotted time.  Sometimes easier said than done!

Who has been your most exciting connection/addition to the site (and why)?
The most exciting connection was when Jennifer Lee Pryor called me about a year before Richard passed away and said that Richard loved the site, wanted to be on it and wanted to meet me. I walked around for two weeks 3 feet off the ground.  The Pryor’s allowed me to use a photo of Richard from his 1972 appearance on the Tonight Show which you will find on the home page of The Comedy Green Room.  We were making preparations for a fundraiser for Richard and a meeting with him about the time he passed away.pryorThe second most exciting thing was being invited to Johnny Carson’s home town of Norfolk Nebraska to be an adviser on the Johnny Carson Comedy Festival. I got to tour the Johnny Carson Museum, visit his childhood home and the auditorium named after him. A great thrill for the kid who would sneak downstairs to watch the monologue and the comic on The Tonight Show every night at 11:30pm.
The third most exciting thing was the ability of The Comedy Green Room to bring stand- up comic Paul Adams and father [comedy writer for Bob Hope] Charlie Adams of the UK to Toronto for The HogTown Comedy Festival. Paul ended up living in Toronto for 18 months.

The comedy industry in Canada isn’t necessarily a funny business as there are some pretty nasty characters out there with personal agendas that go beyond entertaining the masses.  Have you encountered any of these negative beings and how have they impacted your career? Or have they just made you stronger and more determined?
I have been a fighter since I was born as a preemie at 4lbs. Many people say I am the toughest person they know.
Comedy has been an up-hill battle for me from the moment I stepped on the stage at the original Yuk Yuk’s on Bay Street in Toronto in 1983. I was the crowd favourite on Monday night’s CHUM104 amateur night and became a cult figure filling the room to capacity weekly. However, Mark Breslin, founder of Yuk Yuk’s did not think I was funny. In fact, he said, “You have no talent, you’re a terrible writer but the audience love you.” I was advised to give up stand-up comedy. My response was – see you next week! But the next weeks piled up and I was buried on Amateur Night for 10 agonizing years until the management of Yuk Yuk’s agreed to give me a showcase. Again, I was slapped in the face by being put on 15th out of 15, but I killed that night and have the tape to prove it. But Mr. Breslin again said I was not good enough to be on his regular shows at Yuk Yuk’s.
I left Yuk Yuk’s that night in1993 and have never performed on their stage again. I worked on my act and writing for 7 years (shades of Dangerfield) and came back as “Ruby, the Darkest Mind in Comedy” in 2000. But this time I was determined to do it my way and most importantly have fun. All the good things in my career have happened because of my attitude of having fun and being nice to other comics.
I have made peace in my mind about the 10 years of not being wanted by Yuk Yuk’s, but, in my mind I was the one comic in the Canadian comedy boom of the 1980’s who was not given a chance. Yet, I was the hardest working and toughest of the group.  Sometimes it hurts that I have been shunned by people & organizations in the Canadian comedy community such as the Canadian Comedy Awards, Just For Laugh’s, critic Glenn Sumi, Absolute Comedy, The Humber Comedy School to name a few. But, I guess when you are your own man these things happen.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve fought ageism in comedy as many young comics will not put me on their shows because they feel I am too old. Yet, I am the favourite comic of Ein-Stein’s where the audience is a University of Toronto crowd. I have killed at college and multi-cultural shows – I am everyone’s crazy uncle who says the wrong thing.

Who have been your biggest influences and supporters?
Kenny Robinson (pictured below) has been my biggest supporter and booster in the Canadian comedy scene since we met 33 years ago. He has fought for me to be his opening act many times and went against other comics to defend my right to be in this business. Kenny has also argued for me with bookers and club owners. He was the only Canadian comic who agreed to be on www.thecomedygreenroom.com when I started the site on New Year’s Eve 2000. Everyone else I approached said it was a stupid idea or they were afraid to be on the site because it might hurt their career.KennyThe late great Sam Kinison (below) was also a great supporter of mine. When he saw my act he said to throw it out and start from scratch and find a unique voice. Best advice I ever got.SamHappy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein’s Bier Halle in Toronto is s celebrating a big anniversary later this month – how many years have you been running the site and promoting live shows?
The weekly event has been running since the fall of 1996 and was started by Arie Kizel and the owner of Ein-Stein’s, OJ Kness. For many years, it was the only Sunday night open mic in Toronto. I first performed at Ein-Stein’s in 2000 and came on board as the producer in 2003.EinsteinsAny advice for stand-up comedy up-and-comers….?
Work hard, perform, write, be polite and do not burn bridges.

And how do we buy tickets to the big anniversary show?
In keeping with the history of Ein-Stein’s there is NO COVER to get in and seating is first come first served. We ask that a donation be made to The Foundation for Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Children www.nibdinkids.com because laughter is the best medicine!
Happy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein 20th Anniversary Show – Sunday Oct. 16th 8pm
Host Mr. Ronnie Edwards: Performers include Terry Clement, Darryl Purvis, Blair Streeter,  Mike McGregor, Monty Scott, Dean Young, Tyler, Morrison, Darren Frost,. Dave Patterson, Dave Sokolowski, Adrian Sawyer, Pat MacDonald, Jennifer McAuliffe, Caitlin Langelier,  Sarah Ashby, Dena Jackson, Patricia Severn, The Nat Turner Revue……and many more surprise guests.Happy Hour_imageEin-Stein’s, 229 College Street, Toronto. No cover but we encourage donations that will benefit www.nibdinkids.com

 

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Mini Holmes presents…A Star-Studded Benefit for comedian KEVIN McGRATH this Tues. Aug.16

Anyone who has ever visited a comedy club will know how hard comedians work and as Rodney Dangerfield used to say… “I can’t get no respect”. Well, this Tuesday Aug. 16th many of Canada’s top comics will be paying respect to fellow funny man, Kevin McGrath (pictured below), with a special benefit show at Cherry Colas Rock’n’Roll Cabaret in Toronto raising funds to help support Kevin as he goes through painful rehab after a horrendous car accident that left him with numerous broken bones and serious internal injuries. Kevin will be in hospital for the next few months followed by several months in the rehab hospital.kvimghs001Benefit producer Mini Holmes, a very funny lady and media personality herself, told me “This is close to our hearts because we all love Kevin and also because we know as comics this could have been any of us. We are all on the road gigging nightly.” MiniKevin McGrath has kept Canadians laughing since the early 1980’s. He got his start with The McGrath Brothers, a comedy music act that featured impressions of The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and many more  he began performing solo stand-up comedy when the McGrath Brothers disbanded. Kevin has appeared on CTV, Global Television, The Comedy Network, CBC, and has appeared in every major city in Canada. Kevin’s comedy is fueled by his obvious love for his wife, his fear of flying, a reluctance to engage in anything involving strenuous activity, and his undying love for music.

Hosted by Mike Bullard, the show will feature comedians who came up thru the ranks with Kevin including Mike Wilmot, Derek Edwards, Mike MacDonald and Simon Rakoff. Mini will also perform a set just to add a little estrogen to the manly mix up on stage! All of these generous performers are donating their time and talent so all $s from ticket sales will go to Kevin.

Mike Bullard

Mike Bullard

Mike Wilmot

Mike Wilmot

Derek Edwards

Derek Edwards

Mike MacDonald

Mike MacDonald

Simon Rakoff with name

Cherry Colas Rock N Roll Cabaret, 200 Bathurst Street (just N. of Queen)
Tuesday August 16th   9:00pm.
$15 in advance / $20 at the door 

Tickets can be purchased via Facebook event page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/151586161942592/

As their original agent back in the 80’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in Canada, I love these guys and really hope you will come out and show ’em a little love AND cash for Kevin.

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“V IS FOR VARIETY” SHOWCASES CANADA’S FUNNIEST LADIES @ TORONTO’S BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE

Thanks to funny ladies SHANNON McDONOUGH and MAGGIE CASSELLA for inviting me to their final V is for Variety show at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Toronto) last Friday.  Their V shows will return in the fall but for this last laff-fest before their summer hiatus, the audience was treated to some insanely funny (i.e. f*cking hilarious!!) monologues from Shannon (below) and Maggie (lower pic)….11707424_10155686975205018_8005997095153765894_n maggie…..plus emotional and insightful observations on life presented by my old friend from 1980’s Yuk Yuk’s days, writer & producer of TV & film hits like Miss Congeniality, Family Ties, Desperate Housewives, KATIE FORD (below).  A lot of folks were sniffing and wiping eyes after Katie’s gentle reminder about finding beauty and joy in simple everyday things.KatieEngaging young singer and writer Jennifer Walls also shared a few songs accompanied by Chris Tusjiuchi on piano. Jennifer actually performed her own show, Amazing Women, in the theatre right after the V is For Variety show. Whew…that girl has energy to spare!
One of the show-stopping sketches performed by Shannon & Maggie was an updated version of the great 70’s TV show All in the Family, with Archie & Edith discussing their grandson Joey (below) that had the audience squirming with laughter and recognition of the underlying message of acceptance and love (an eerie premonition of what was to happen within 48hrs in Orlando?!).archie & edithMaggie and Katie recently formed a creative alliance, Ford Cassella Productions, that will be bringing us lots more laughs so I encourage you to follow them @FordCassella on Twitter and Facebook, plus Periscope and Instagram.

Thank you to all the entertainers for a fabulous evening of entertainment, and make sure you catch the next V is for Variety show when it relaunches in September.

MEET ADAM GRAEME – CANADA’S COOLEST COMEDY HYPNOTIST!

I recently welcomed new client ADAM GRAEME – he’s a very talented comedy hypnotist who offers that special bonus for corporate clients and family-friendly events: he works clean! No naughty nasties here – Adam creates laughter from the reactions of both the on-stage participants and those sitting out the the audience without resorting to the all-too-familiar vulgarities or f-bombs!  I recently sat down with Adam to review his career so far and the direction he’s looking to take his stage act over the next few years.  Let me share some of his comments with you and I encourage you to follow him on social media as well as visit his website for more information – contact info can be found at the bottom of this story.Adam, how/when did you discover your “gift”?
The ability to be able to hypnotize someone is not so much a gift as it is countless hours of study and practice. I have been studying in one form or another for over 15 years and continue to learn more with every day and with every performance.
What inspired you to take hypnosis to the comedy stage and corporate arena?
Comedy has always been a big part of my life.  From a very young age, I fell in love with comedy by watching comedy icons like Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin and Robin Williams. I admire talented comedians who relied solely on their wit instead of crude shock comedy. I believe hypnosis to be an overlooked phenomena that has the potential to change the world and what better way to bring about awareness than through making people laugh!? So armed with the desire to bring back honest and palatable comedy plus an obligation to inform the public about the powers of hypnosis, I took to the stage.Who are your heroes as far as comedy hypnotists, illusionists or comedians?
This is a tough question as so many entertainers have had such a positive influence on my career.  My favorite comedy hypnotist I would say is a tie between Marc Savard and Catherine Hickland. Marc is a Canadian who has the longest standing hypnosis show in Las Vegas and keeps his comedy at a very high standard. Catherine is one of my mentors and such a dear friend. How will you know when you have met Cat? Because you will find yourself asking, “Who is that person and why is she carrying a chicken around all the time?” Yes, she has a pet chicken named Nugget who goes on tour with her.
What has been one of your most memorable performances to date, and why?
There is one particular performance that was pretty great and happened just recently. I have five kids all under eight years old and so it’s very rare that my whole family has an opportunity to be with me for a show. In January, I performed to a sold-out audience in a Niagara Falls theatre where I was able to get all the kids in. I created a new Star Wars skit just for my boys and it went flawlessly. The video is on my website and it’s one you have to see.You’re a hands-on dad so do you use your powers of persuasion to get the kids to bed on time or to eat certain healthy foods (i.e.“broccoli is good for you and it tastes like Coco Puffs”)?
Yes, it works on kids, too. My son, Grady, will attest to this on two separate occasions. One was when he absolutely refused to eat perogies. Much like a Dr. Seuss book, he would not, could not eat his perogies! After a few short moments, he was gobbling them up and asking to have them again another night. With a little “persuasion” we now called the perogies “dumplings” and with a little reinforcement in how delicious they were, it was all it took. The second instance was when Grady was playing on my iPad in bed and accidentally turned on my insomnia self-help CD. Ten minutes after, I was walking by his room and heard my voice; I opened the door and saw him completely passed out. It was amazing.
I understand you’re also able to use your hypnosis skills for health and wellness eg: stopping smoking, weight loss/gain…. Have you ever been approached after one of your stage shows and asked by an audience member for help in those areas?
In all the years I have been performing, I don’t think there has been a single show yet where people haven’t asked me about helping them with something they’re struggling with and that’s the reason why I created my MaxU hypnosis self-help program. I would love to be able to help everyone on a one-on-one basis but unfortunately I would end up spending all of my time working on therapy with only the amount of time to help a small number of people.  The cost of working with me on an individual basis may be too high for the average person, so with the desire to help as many people as possible, I set out to create a system that could give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of hypnosis in their own home at an affordable price. The end result was MaxU. All the information is available on my website and if you or someone you know is struggling with weight loss, quitting smoking, insomnia, has a fear or anxiety, I highly recommend taking a look.
Many people scoff at the ability to hypnotize or be hypnotized…can you explain the simplicity of the power of suggestion without giving anything of your act away?
Of course!  Hypnosis is a state of mind between an awake state and a sleep state. It is not conscious or subconscious but rather a state of super conscious where your mind is so intently focused on a single point that it allows the hypnotist direct access to your subconscious mind. Think of your conscious mind as the filter that does your critical thinking and acts as the gate keeper to your subconscious. It decides what to let in and what to reject. Your subconscious stores memories and controls your automatic functions like your breathing and your heartbeat. With hypnosis, we distract the conscious mind with relaxation and concentration so the subconscious can come out and play. It is very real and anyone that enters my theatre may come in as a skeptic but definitely leaves as a believer.
2016 is looking like an “expansion year” for Adam Graeme’s career – what’s on your wish list for performance venues or occasions?
Yes, it seems like the expansion started a couple years ago and hasn’t really stopped yet which is quite amazing. I have been very fortunate to have such great support from both family and friends. More and more people are seeing the show which is leading to more and more work to the point of having to hire extra staff just to keep up. The very top of my wish list is to be able to perform at Disney World in Florida and we are in the middle of getting the paperwork sorted out to make that a reality and I’m very excited.
Anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
The most important thing to remember in life is that your reality is fluid. If you don’t like something in your life, you possess the ability within your own mind to change it into whatever you want. I have helped countless people through hypnosis and if you’re a non-believer, come out and support your local comedy stage hypnotist to see just how powerful it is and how it can change your life as well.

Adam recently attended the annual trade show for the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies in Toronto and met some other entertainers you may recognize including Doo-Doo the Clown (below) who recently made news headlines by rescuing a woman being pursued by a potential mugger….…and fellow corporate entertainer, illusionist Lucas Wilson (below)

http://www.adamgraeme.com/

www.facebook.com/adamgraemehypnosisshow   Twitter: @GraemeHypnotist

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BENEFIT FOR ENTERTAINER GLENN OTTAWAY DELIVERS LAUGHS, TEARS AND A BIG STANDING O !

As the Irish Rovers used to sing…wasn’t that a party?  Last night friends, family and fans of comic magician GLENN OTTAWAY gathered at the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles in Toronto to raise funds and awareness of Glenn’s encounter with a known scam artist who swindled him out of his life savings in a fraudulent theatre deal. On stage, well-known comedians, magicians and even a pair of mentalists celebrated Glenn’s career and encouraged the audience to dig deep to help Glenn and his depleted bank account. Thanks to comedian/magician Matt Disero, who created the one-night only comedy concert, some of the country’s top headliners volunteered their time and talent, so here’s a brief pictorial account of The Rocky Horror: It’s a Wonderful Life Anyway show. When I arrived at the Revue Theatre, I first ran into the adorable and funny Mini Holmes (below) who was making some last-minute tweaks to her set.20151109_185644Matt took the stage to greet everyone (below) and share a few thoughts about the evening’s meaning and to thank all the acts who came out to support Glenn, and even showed a groovy videotaped message from Canadian music legend, the one and only Gowan, a longtime friend of Glenn’s, then introduced the night’s MC, Mike Bullard.20151109_191735As usual Mike Bullard (below) was brilliant, acerbic and swift to pounce on hecklers and the poor unfortunate man, Kyle, in the front row who became the night’s comedy punching bag!20151109_194002First up was Mike Carbone. I used to book Mike (below) back in the 80’s and always loved his king-of-cool delivery whether he was performing to business crowds, hipsters or in biker bars. 20151109_193428Then next up was the amazing and baffling mentalist duo, The Evasons, who confounded the audience, including our man Kyle, (below) with Tessa’s psychic gifts while Jeff sought out the volunteers. They fooled me, that’s for sure.20151109_194255Then Mike brought up another brilliant and baffling sleight of hand artist, David Peck (below)20151109_200533Make way for Mini Holmes and her maxi comedy set…she nailed her set and had us all laughing our asses off! 20151109_201716Next up , the dapper and dandy Brian Roberts whose suit hid a multitude of magical mysteries!20151109_203124Brian was followed by Richard Forget (below) who again picked poor Kyle to play along with a card trick that involved some awe-inspiring deck choreography.20151109_203902Young comic sleight of hand artist James Alan (below) took the stage and had us all enthralled with his “dance of the red thimbles”…how did he do that?20151109_205217Then it was time for us to welcome That Canadian Guy…Glen Foster (below). Glen and Glenn has been working together since the 80’s – I frequently booked them into Yuk Yuk’s and for road gigs way back then so last night was a real Glen, Glenn and Glenda kinda night..LOL!20151109_210119Mike then brought the man of the hour up on stage…20151109_193936…ladies and gentlemen…Glenn Ottaway. 20151109_211405Huge ovation, laughter and quite a few tears! Glenn shared more of his story with us and thanked everyone who helped put the night together as well as the performers.  He then presented Matt Disero with a special gift for being the captain of that evening’s ship and we could all see how moved Matt was. Bravo, Mr. Disero, you did good. 20151109_211701As the generous folks of The Revue Theatre gently herded us all out afterwards (they had a 9:30 film to show), there were lots of hugs and smiles and I grabbed a few more pics like this one below with “Magic” Mike Segal (left) and Gordon Precious (right).20151109_212139Here’s Mike again with Gordon and Bob Taylor (far right) and a young lady fan of Glenn’s. That Ottaway guy is a real chick magnet!!20151109_212152FYI: Gordon and Bob are both past presidents of the Toronto ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Below, James Alan waves goodbye from backstage…what a charming young performer.20151109_212344Glenn bids farewell to his fans and thanks everyone for coming out.20151109_212505You can follow Glenn here on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/glenn.ottaway
as well as all the wonderful entertainers who made The Rocky Horror such a success.

Matt Disero  http://mattdisero.com/
Mike Bullard  http://www.newstalk1010.com/Shows/BeyondtheMicwithMikeBullard.aspx
Mike Carbone  http://www.mikecarbone.com/Home.html
Jeff & Tessa Evason http://evason.com/
David Peck http://www.davidpecklive.com/
Mini Holmes https://www.facebook.com/Miniholmes
Brian Roberts http://brianrobertsmagic.com/
James Alan  http://www.jamesalan.ca/
Richard Forget http://www.richardforget.com/home.html
Glen Foster  http://www.thatcanadianguy.com/

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UPCOMING FUNDRAISER FOR CANADIAN STAR SCAMMED OUT OF LIFE SAVINGS

Back in the 80’s I was a big part of the Canadian comedy industry, running the Funny Business agency for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto and helping build Yuks into the biggest chain of comedy clubs across North America, booking revolutionary acts like Sam Kinison, Emo Phillips and Steven Wright. When I struck out on my own in late 1985, I took several “freelance” comedians and prop acts with me, booking them across the country and into the States…and I even landed one of ’em on the couch with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. 

One of my favourite local acts was Glenn Ottaway (pictured below), a comic magician who worked clean (or not) depending on the audience. Glenn always “showed up” – he could perform as an MC or a headliner. He travelled anywhere I asked and was kind enough to work for whatever budget I had been given for shows…we all made money and with Glenn, I knew my reputation would remain in tact with club owners or corporate event bookers. Careers move in different directions and by the end of the 90’s, I was out of the comedy business – it didn’t seem funny any more….too many pee-pee kaa-kaa jokes and the Comedy Network on TV had sanitized or infantilized comedy in Canada. Not so much the yuks, it was more like the blechs!glennmicLast week I heard about a benefit to help Glenn…was he sick, was he disabled…WTF? Count me in, let me help. Then I found out that Glenn and business partner David Merry (another previous performer for my comedy agency) had been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars on a theatre purchase deal and Glenn was in trouble. I immediately reached out to offer my blog space as a media outlet so below are Glenn’s comments and responses to my questions, plus a brief comment from the upcoming benefit’s producer and fellow comedy guy, Matt Disero.

Young Glenn Ottaway performing his early prestidigitation tricks.

Young Glenn Ottaway performing his early prestidigitation tricks.

When and what prompted you to want to purchase your own theatre (and where is that venue located)?
I have always enjoyed live theatre. From mid-way through high school I would get a great deal of satisfaction from being involved with plays. I did 1 play where I was on stage, one play where I was stage manager and 1 play which I had written. I found it very creative on al kinds of levels. When I decided to be a performer, I knew there were many struggling and starving actors so I went the way of a variety performer. I learned early on that I could work for pre-schoolers right through to stags (different shows of course). I figured, if nothing else I would be able to survive on birthday parties. I worked just about anywhere one could imagine.

After 30 years on the road and in front of audiences I felt it was time to move on. During my career I was lucky enough to perform in a show called “A Little Night Magic” on Lombard Street in downtown Toronto. When it was obvious that show was closing, I started to do stand up (with a touch of magic) for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret (back then a true force in the Canadian comedy scene – GF). But I was tiring of the road and wanted to do something else. I met a man in my (then) hometown of Whitby. He owned Class Act Dinner Theatre (104 Consumers Drive) and after working a couple of freelance shows there I was hired as the Production Manager which meant I was responsible for selecting plays, directing (or finding a director) for plays. This was late in 2004. I could do the theatre gig, and still squeeze in some stand-up on the road.IMG_2337As the theatre gig got more demanding, I let the comedy slip away.  As a Production Manager, my jobs list grew. I would open each show, do a little comedy and push upcoming shows. I really enjoyed the job (which sometimes fogs your observance to what is going on around you).  In 2010 the boss tried his hand at bringing in his first big talent, Tim Allen. He asked to borrow some money (for 6 weeks) from me to help with the performance fee deposit for Tim. Tim played 3 or 4 venues throughout southern Ontario, but sadly all of the venues lost money – Tim was no longer a draw. The boss asked to extend the loan because he was running for mayor. It was a close race, but he lost. It became clear to me then, that my money was in jeopardy. We met about it and he offered me a piece of the theatre in repayment. I knew the place was making some good money, so it sounded like a sound retirement fund.

What made you decide to do business with this person – did he appear to be legit and trustworthy (and why)?
His name is Clayton Varcoe – known to everyone as “Rocky.” He’d been good to me for the first 6 years (it was my first ever “day” job). I trusted him. It’s that simple. Anyone who has ever had to deal with con men know how good they are.  With this 20/20 hindsight, I now realize that he has a lot of problems – I understand now his actions are that of a sociopath – he has no conscience and feels no guilt. He lies, cheats and steals. But at the time, though, I trusted in him.

When did you first realize this was not a good business decision?
I was never a good businessman. Excuses of “it wasn’t a good year” and “expenses are way up” were offered. I fell for it the first couple of years. I still trusted him, and considered him a friend – and a friend would never screw another friend, right?

You were partnering with comic magician and writer David Merry on this opportunity – what insights did he share with you as the negotiations “proceeded”?
Rocky said he wanted to step back from the business, and eventually turn it over to me, but that I would need a partner. I started approaching people I thought I could work with. I have always respected David (pictured below) and knew he was much more business savvy than was I. I spoke with him at a BBQ he invited me to at his home. It was there that I brought up the subject. He was excited about it, and I set up the meeting between him and Rocky. The three of us met with the final offer being made: David would have just under 1/3 of the business. Rocky’s father-in-law would have 10%, Rocky would maintain just under 30% and hold 15% of my share because I didn’t have enough money for a 30% share. Rocky explained how he ran the business, he allegedly kept 2 sets of books. Part of the agreement was that Rocky would keep one legit set of books and not shuffle money between different venues to “hide” profits. I don’t want to say anymore about David’s involvement, because I have been feeling a lot of guilt over this, even though David doesn’t blame me. I blame me.

Above - David Merry (in white) performing for CTV Ottawa Morning Show

Above – David Merry (in white) performing for CTV Ottawa Morning Show

When and how did you put the brakes on?
David brought in some very talented people to perform. He was to handle the comedy shows. He brought in a very popular person (whom the theatre could never afford, but David used his influence as a friend to get a great discount) The person was to play 3 theatres and the profits would be split 3 ways (David, Rocky and myself). At the end of the run, Rocky pocketed everything….over twenty grand! That was the beginning of the end. David was first to go (get thrown out) during a show David brought in featuring a huge American TV star. Later in court, Rocky lied about the cost of the show. I stuck around because, frankly, I was in debt and needed the money, but I was working with David as a mole. I tried to screw up a number of deals Rocky was working on, including a deal with the owner of the biggest comedy chain in Canada.

Once you learned you and David had been “scammed”, what steps did you take to recoup your $s?
David took him to court and won handily because every time Rocky opened his mouth, he lied. David’s lawyer was ready for it and was ready with the truth. Rocky was fined twice for contempt of court. I couldn’t afford a lawyer, and I know I will never get any of the money back, so I tried to shame him publicly through social media. I’ve also wrote a book with lots of first-person witness accounts of his alleged law-breaking activities – he has threatened me, my sister, mutual friends and David. I have been physically threatened and threatened with lawsuits – I wish he would sue me for defamation and slander because I have proof of everything I have shared.

How has Varcoe responded – what action, if any, did he take to remedy the situation?
Nothing…he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. He has sent denial emails using other people’s accounts, and posted on Facebook using his wife’s identity.  But his business track records speaks for itself: the most renowned and respected playwrights’ agency in the world is currently preparing a lawsuit against him for non-payment of royalties.

How does your situation with him stand now?
Although I haven’t given up (nor ever will) I’ve decided to play it down a little for now as my legal and financial resources are basically zero. Karma’s a bitch so I’m letting her have a go at him now!Glenn at the Bear and FirkinApril 17 - 5, 2015What do you hope this upcoming fundraiser achieves – fundraising for your survival, raising the public’s awareness of such scammers, a cautionary tale for all?
Well, I am in financial trouble right now and this will help out a lot. I suffered a concussion a couple of years ago and I still have some memory issues, so while I would like to get back on the stage, it is too early to tell. I am actually quite humbled by the benefit show, but I am very thankful to all the wonderful friends who are willing to help out. If nothing else, this will be the best comedy show Toronto has ever seen and who knows, maybe Tim Allen will show up…LOL! I am also hoping the media attention will shine a light on this s.o.b. so the authorities will finally investigate his fraudulent activities to protect others.
………………………………………………………………………………

So many of the country’s top comedic talents have signed on to appear Mon. Nov. 9th at Toronto’s Revue Theatre including Comedy Aces founder Glen Foster, media personality Mike Bullard, the hysterically funny Mini Holmes, and many others including, of course, David Merry. All the details on tickets, time, venue, etc. are available at  www.therockyhorror.com

The show’s producer and all-round funny guy himself, Matt Disero (pictured below) kindly shared this with me:

I would like to say that EVERY SINGLE ACT I asked to be on this show said yes in 10 seconds flat.  I even asked a couple of people who I’m not fond of and who are not fond of me, they still said yes right away. Everyone is donating their time as a favour to me, to help out Glenn.  That speaks volumes about Glenn and his stature in the community, and about Glenn as a person.  The comedy world is full of back stabbing, lying awfulness most of the time, but I do love that when someone needs a bit of help everyone generally circles the wagons to help.   This is my first time producing a show of any kind, hell I can barely produce my OWN shows, so I was very thrilled to get help from the likes of Raining Creative, one of Toronto’s top ad firms.  I’m good friends with the president of that company and he’s a magic fan.  Again, within seconds he said yes to doing all the promotional items and pre-press for the show… mostly because he’s a fan of Glenn’s work. They moved back a promotional job for U2 and Coldplay to get the posters done for me and give advice about Eventbrite Ticketing and making that work.

Glenn’s right, this will be the best comedy variety show Toronto has ever seen…. I should probably take myself off it and put in another act, but what the hell, someone has to lower the bar. LOL!DiseroCanadasWalkofFameI came up with the benefit show idea in part because there’s been one before for a couple of acts who were in dire health, so I knew that was something doable, and the same night I was thinking about it I was on the phone with Jeff Evason who also suggest we do something, it was Jeff who came up with the name for the show, I think.  There was alcohol…… from there it was just a matter of renting the theatre, and getting things together. In the end, it’s an honour to be able to help out a guy who I’ve learned so much from. Just watching Glenn work at A Little Night Magic over the years taught me valuable lessons that I still apply today to my corporate and public performing work.  Getting to perform on that show when I was so young (I started there when I was 17 ) was the best training I could imagine.  I truly got to watch the best acts in the country who had mastered what I wanted to do for a living.  I watched them night after night, whether I was working the show that evening or not.  Far and away Glenn was the best of them.  Strong magic, hilariously funny, ridiculously smooth and collected onstage, and razor sharp dealing with audience volunteers. I always admired his ability to seem so loose and off the cuff and still have well paced and constructed routines in the background. It’s a bar I still work to rise to even today when I’m creating a piece for my show.  As you might imagine, after years of benefitting from watching one of the masters work, it’s hardly a chore to pay back a little and help him out when he needs it.
Matthew Disero
www.mattdisero.com

I have not approached Mr. Varcoe for comment – there are too many Rocky Varcoes out there in the world anyway, and I’ve met my fill of them. Sadly there are no organizations, unions or government departments that offer assistance to performers/artists needing help getting paid. Have you ever attempted to use Small Claims Court? They give you a judgement but don’t give you any assistance in actually extracting those funds owed. But Glenn qualifies for HUGE Claims Court but no such court exists in this country. We’re gonna look after our own now…but we could sure use YOUR help so please log onto the website and buy a ticket.
Thank you for supporting Canadian artists.   Glenda