Tag Archives: Mini Holmes

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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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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.
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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