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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oct. 30: Steve Burgess

On this All Hallow's Eve Eve, we've got the spooky Steve Burgess... Wait. What? Steve's not spooky at all. In fact, rumour has it he's going out as the definitely non-scary Greg Proops on Halloween. But I digress. We're not here to talk trick-or-treating; we're here to talk about Who Killed Mom?: A Delinquent Son's Meditation on Family, Mortality, and Very Tacky Candles. Burgess is a well-known award-winning writer and broadcaster (remember @the end on CBC Newsworld, the Canadian equivalent of Politically Incorrect?) and man-about-town, but this is his first book. That's kind of unbelievable so we'll ask him why it took him so long. And having recently finished Who Killed Mom?, I've got lots of other questions to ask. So tune in tonight at 11 to 102.7 FM in Vancouver or livestream the show on your computing devices at

Friday, October 28, 2011

Canada Supposedly Reads

Our Sunday night guest this week will be author/broadcaster Steve Burgess, whose recent title Who Killed Mom? is currently fighting it out with 39 other Canadian non-fiction tomes on CBC's Canada Reads: True Stories list. Listeners (and book-lovers) can vote for up to five of the top 40 books listed on their website and the final 10 will be announced in February... Or something like that. Look, all I know is that the voting closes on Sunday at 9 pm PST and we hit the air at 11 pm so Steve won't be able to get the word out to the vast What's So Funny?-listening audience. So I'll do it here now.

I can (and will) personally vouch for Who Killed Mom? having just finished it yesterday. A finer book on matricide you will not read. Okay, it's not really about mother-murder despite its provocative title, but it is really good. If you haven't read it yet, you don't have time between now and Sunday (unless you're some kind of speed-reading freak of nature), so just trust me. Head over to the CBC site linked here and vote for it before Sunday night. Then tune in at 11 to CFRO, 102.7 FM (or livestream it here), to hear Steve and me talking about it. I've got lots of questions I've been scribbling down along the way.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Podcast episode 253ish: Sean Emeny

As I mentioned, there's no live show tonight on radio. But you can listen to last week's episode if you like. It's up now on the podcast channel. Sean Emeny made his What's So Funny? debut and revealed lots I didn't know. Like, frinstance, did you know he's a California surfer dude at heart? Did you know he used to work in the music industry? I sure didn't. Those are but two of the at least three nuggets of information you'll glean from the People's Champion of stand-up comedy in Vancouver. As an added bonus, you'll get to hear me talk about being ravaged by the e.coli virus.

Here's where it all happens. Or at iTunes. And a few other places. You know the drill.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Comedy MIX

What's So Funny? is pre-empted this week due to CFRO's semi-annual membership drive (say, if you are a member, it may be time to renew your annual membership to help keep the station afloat; and if you're not a member, why not join? You can do it here online). But I thought I'd give a shout-out to the best damn comedy club in the city, The Comedy MIX (I have no idea why MIX is all in caps but I'm sure there's a reason).

I went to the early show last night to see Moshe Kasher from Los Angeles. I'd never seen the man perform before but have heard him on both Marc Maron's WTF podcast and Dave Shumka's and Graham Clark's Stop Podcasting Yourself. He's an intriguing character with quite a backstory but who knows how good he'd be as a stand-up. Or, more accurately, how I'd like him as a stand-up.

Well, I'm here to report he's damn good. And a real original comedic voice. He doesn't come out and tell obvious jokes in the sense that they're not jokes with a tried and true format (no set-up/punchline). He talks honestly (we can imagine, anyway, especially if you've heard him interviewed) about his life and thoughts but there's no meandering, no waiting for laughs. Practically every sentence elicits laughter. And every other sentence elicits groans on top of the laughter, which he thrives on. He'll pretend to be incredulous with the crowd at their reaction or non-reaction, but that's just grist for the old mill. It's part of his schtick. At no point in his show did he lose the crowd, yet listening to him kvetch about it you'd think he was bombing.

He's here for one more night (tonight, Saturday Oct. 22), two shows. I highly recommend you check him out. The whole show is top-notch. Charlie Demers hosts with his subversively intellectual material (masked as lowbrow to appease the great unwashed) and former local boy Phil Hanley flirts with the ladies and kills with his superbly-crafted one-liners and crowd work.

This type of show isn't a fluke at the MIX. I'm constantly impressed with their line-ups. They bring in great comics from afar and surround them with the city's best, who are headliners in their own right. As a comedy regular, I think that's the way to go. Vancouver's comics are, by and large, as good as LA's or New York's but the pool is much shallower, obviously. If you go see live comedy in town more than a couple times a year, you'll probably catch most of them. So it's refreshing to see new, polished faces from outside our area. And the locals get various weeks during the year where they get to headline, too. Win-win.

Two weeks ago Tom Rhodes headlined the club. Last week it was Chris Porter. This week, they brought in Kasher. On Thursday, Doug Benson does a special one-night show. Then November sees Ian Bagg, Ryan Hamilton, Tom Segura and Glenn Wool all travelling to town to play there. Then the hilarious Chad Daniels the first week of December. I think I'll be spending a lot of time there in the coming weeks. You should, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2012 Vancouver Comedy Fest names

A lot of people asked me what was happening with the Vancouver Comedy Fest (aka Global ComedyFest, aka Some Other Generic Sponsorship Name I Can't Recall). It usually happened in September. Didn't happen this year. That's because it's been moved up, for reasons unknown to me, to February. Sounds good. September's too busy with tons of stuff.

If you haven't heard, they recently announced a few names for the festival, which will take place Feb. 16-26. The biggest one is Betty White, who'll be 90 by the time her show at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts rolls around on Feb. 18. Festival head honcho Will Davis loves these types of non-performing shows, and so do the people. Carol Burnett started it here with a Q&A followed by Steve Martin. White has had one helluva career and is hotter than she's ever been right now. I recently saw her killing it in Bridesmaids and she's hosted Saturday Night Live in the past year, too. Think of all she's done: my first memory of her is from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I also remember her from Password, hosted by her late husband Allen Ludden. Then there was The Golden Girls, which I never got into but the show was inexplicably popular. And now she's on a sitcom called Hot in Cleveland, which is appropriate because she's hot everywhere.

The other two names announced for the festival are ones I thought might have over-saturated the market. Margaret Cho plays here (seemingly) once a year (although now that I look it up, I see she was last here in August of 2010). I first saw her live at Bumbershoot Lord knows how many years ago. That's when she was still a rising young alt-comic in the company of David Cross and Patton Oswalt and the like. Now she's a freakin' brand. She'll be playing the Centre the next night, Feb. 19.

And Jeremy Hotz, too, has been here more times than I can count. (Just checked: last time he was here was March 2010). He's always naturally funny and does great crowd work so even if he doesn't change his act, you'll be laughing even though you've seen him before. He's playing Lafflines in New West on Feb. 16, 17 and 18.

Can't wait to hear more names announced in the coming months. There'll be some good ones, some bad ones, and some you've never heard of who may fall under either category.

I also see that the festival has something to do with the surprise appearance of Doug Benson at the Comedy MIX this Thursday night, and that's a great thing indeed. Check him out. One night only.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Podcast episode 252ish: Ken Lawson

This here episode was a fun show. In some people's worlds (*ahem*Ken Lawson's*ahem*) that's showbiz code for not all that good, as you'll hear. But this ain't code; it really was fun. Ken was in fine form, saying, in effect, "yes and..." all throughout our one-hour improvisational interview. Because really, life is improv. We discuss whether "heavy metal" and "musician" even go together, learn what his nephew calls him, and he relates how Amy Poehler is a huge fan of his. So give this one a listen. I think you'll enjoy it.

Here it is for you, in all its glory. Take your shoes off, put your feet up and click below. Or download it to your iPod over at iTunes and listen to it repeatedly on your portable listening device.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oct. 16: Sean Emeny

We've got another first-timer on the show tonight. But Sean Emeny's been around for a while now, winning contests and entertaining all with his oddball eyes-closed delivery and solid one-liners. What's behind the man in the visor? Is he an inveterate poker and/or tennis player? A golfer, perchance? Who knows? Not I. That's why we're having him on. He intrigues. Despite the short jokes, Emeny is also a master storyteller. Maybe he'll share a few with us tonight. We're live on the air at 11 pm, as usual (give or take a few minutes). Talk to you then.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Podcast episode 251ish: Diana Frances

Warning: This podcast episode could induce seasickness. Or just sickness. You see, Diana Frances talked about her experiences curled up in a ball on board cruise ships as well as an early sketch TV series she was involved in that her being impregnated by a giant omnipotent phallus. Other than that, though, it's suitable for children and small animals. Have a listen. It's her first solo appearance on the show after several guest spots with her comedy brethren and she managed to be not too creeped out by the whole thing.

Check it out here or on iTunes, where you'll be sure NOT to leave a comment or star rating (I'm going for the reverse psychology here).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oct. 9: Ken Lawson

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Or, to our American friends, happy Sunday. Tonight we give thanks by offering Ken Lawson. The first-time WSF? guest is not only a top-of-the-line improvisor (he's improvved at festivals all over this great continent), a cast member of the legendary Second City troupe on board an international cruise line, a star on the Canadian sitcom Health Nutz, and a musician, the Jim Carrey look-alike is also, without a doubt, the worst Ping-Pong coach in the world. We'll talk about all these things tonight at 11 as you digest your turkey.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Podcast episode 250ish: Dino Archie

250 episodes?! Are you kidding me? No, I'm not. We've done more just on radio, but with today's installment, we've now got a cool 250 podcast episodes up and running. Impressive, no?

I left you hanging last week when I suggested Dino Archie would be our guest. After missing his first two scheduled appearances, I wasn't 100 percent certain he'd show up. But Archie was good on his word. He arrived early, even, and we had a grand old time on air. Here is the proof of that exchange. We get to know how the California native wound up in sunny Vancouver performing at stand-up stages all around town, learn about his irrepressible irrepressibility, find out about his days playing college basketball, and I dredge up a news-making gig he had at a UFC event in his hometown of Fresno. Good times.

Here's the episode for you. If you'd rather download it and listen to it on your commute, you go right ahead. I'm not going to stop you. Search for 'What's So Funny?' over at iTunes, if you will. All 250 of our episodes are there for the taking.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oct. 2: Diana Frances

It's been a while since we've hosted our good friend Diana Frances. Diana has been on What's So Funny? a few times but tonight is special becomes she's flying solo for the first time. Being an improviser, she works well with others and is always eager to share her time with fellow comics. We managed to snag her during her short stay back in Vancouver. She's always jetting off to other parts of the world, working on cruise ships, touring with Second City, and generally going where the work is. So we'll learn all about her travels and sea-sickness.

Tonight. At 11 pm PST. Be there. (102.7 FM or livestream at