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Sunday, August 15, 2010


At last year's Statelessness of the Industry speech at the Canadian Comedy Awards, Harry Doupe lambasted comics for their exaggerated credits. A comedian finds himself at an open mic that Robin Williams drops in at and all of a sudden, said comedian now trumpets to the world that he "opened for Robin Williams". Another funnyman gets a beautifully gift-wrapped pull-quote from a local weekly and he attributes it to the Globe & Mail. Still another gets mentioned in the Straight's Best Of Vancouver issue and all of a sudden he's been voted the "best comic in Canada".

It happens all the time. My favourite is when I read a quote I had supposedly written and raved about a comic. I asked him about it and he had no qualms telling me flat out that he made it up because I'd never written anything about him. I could do nothing but laugh. I thought it was funny.

I'm not really affected by bogus claims or quotes because most of the time I know better. I'm not going to see one and think, "Oh, this person must be good" because I generally know if they are even without the press clippings. But what about Joe Staffer at a daily paper? Comedy isn't his beat. A press package comes across his desk and it looks impressive so he runs with it. And the myth is perpetuated.

As you've seen, I've been cutting and pasting the press releases from the upcoming Global Comedy Festival. When I get those, what I'm doing is looking at the name. That's it. The rest is just PR speak.

All this to let you know I've been notified of a mistake. It's one that, on first blush, makes little difference. Gerry Dee was listed as having won "Best Comic in Canada" at the 2008 Canadian Comedy Awards, when, in fact, he won "Best Male Stand-Up". But on further thought, it's a significant difference. Out of all the comics in the country – male, female, stand-ups, improvisers, sketch performers, actors – he was not voted the best. He was voted the best of male stand-up comedians. That's still impressive, but it's not what he or his press agents claimed it to be. Does it make him less funny? No, of course not. But in the immortal words of William Shakespeare, or whoever wrote his material, to thine own self be true.

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