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Monday, July 23, 2012

Podcast episode 287ish: Norm Macdonald

Nothing's off-limits with Norm Macdonald
Okay, here it is. Settle down! The full Norm Macdonald episode in podcast version. I got some good feedback last week on the interview. Glad you enjoyed it.

What did you miss? What didn't you miss?! It was epic, as I told you last week. Norm is just one of the most engaging comics in the business. Not an ounce of ego on the guy, from my perspective. The episode didn't focus on comedy – not by a long shot – but when he did, he was nothing short of illuminating. And the rest was equally interesting, I thought, but I can totally see how some diehard comedy fans might not think so. 

I also got some comments wondering why it takes a week to put the radio show up as a podcast. Well let me now elucidate you.

This here enterprise is all on a volunteer basis. It started out on co-op radio and that's still its first home. We go to air on Sundays at 11 pm. The show is usually an hour long, but lately has been expanding a bit since we have no show following us and the station permits us to go long. The radio logs allow you to livestream what's going out on air, and also check out what's already been played. Now here comes the confusing part.

Since there's no live show following us, and since we're only slotted for one hour, that's all that you can hear on the station archives. So if we go long, you won't hear the end. Nothing we can do about it.

Since it is co-op and there are, on occasion, snafus live on-air (not to mention awkward pauses, clearing of throats, and stumbling over words – we're voluteer, remember), I often edit it a bit before sending the file over to be uploaded in podcast form. And our lovely webmistress at, who houses the podcast, has a day job and isn't available to just jump when I say jump. But she's agreed to get to it each Sunday.

Now, if we were like all the other podcasts out there who are constantly snivelling for money, maybe we could afford to hire interns to do all the dirty work for us. But we're a humble little show.

Now, back to Norm. Here's the episode, which you can listen to right now. Or go to iTunes and download it. And while you're there, leave us a comment and a rating. I don't know if it would help any, but it's always nice to see.

Be patient, it's coming

I know several of you are eagerly awaiting the Norm Macdonald episode, which was due out yesterday. I'll explain the hows and whys of our process when it's out, but I thought I'd just let you know that I have it on good authority the episode will be available tonight. So hang tight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Podcast episode 286ish: Lee Camp

In this episode, political comic Lee Camp talks about ... politics! And comedy! Yes, he's an activist, but he considers himself first and foremost a stand-up comedian. In fact, he started doing comedy long before he ever developed a social conscience. We talk about some of the greats (Carlin, Hicks, Stanhope) and learn more about this young Satirista.

Listen below or download the show at iTunes. While you're there, leave us a rating, why don't you? Maybe even a comment.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15: Norm Macdonald

Here we are. Finally. The anticipation was palpable. It's the epic Norm Macdonald episode! Ninety-minutes of pure Norm. Well, maybe not the Norm you're used to, but certainly the deep and thoughtful Norm that was hinted at on WTF with Marc Maron. That is, I'm not sure how much comedy nerds will like it. There's a bit of comedy talk, but there's a lot more serious talk – although all delivered in the awesome Norm delivery. So don't expect any conversation on his Saturday Night Live gig or his movies or sitcoms, because there's precious little talk of his career.

I take full blame for the direction it went. In my defense, however, Norm clearly loves to talk about these topics. In my head, because I'm interested in these topics, too, I figured we'd touch on them and move on. But it just kept on going. And going. The episode is 90 minutes long. Quickly fast-forwarding through it, I can tell you most of the topics and names touched on:
  • aging
  • homophobia
  • Adam Carolla's comments on women
  • siblings
  • his days living in Vancouver
  • being a dad
  • early shyness
  • hypochondria
  • colonoscopies
  • dying
  • indulgence
  • avoidance
  • Tolstoy
  • God
  • "important" comedy
  • Sam Kinison
  • Jerry Seinfeld/Brian Regan
  • Thoreau
  • Bob Hope/Richard Pryor
  • smiling and the spread of goodwill
  • John Candy/Charlie Chaplin/Bill Cosby
  • influences
  • literature
  • politics
  • pride
  • the scientific method
Hopefully there's enough comedy-talk for those that want it.  Next time he's here, I'll make it a point to focus more on his career. But this was pretty great, I thought.

I heard from some people who saw him at the Saturday Yuk Yuk's show (i.e. after this recording, which took place on a Saturday afternoon) that they thought Norm was high or drunk because of his voice. As you'll hear in this episode, that's just the way he sounds. He even mentions it early in how many people think he's stoned. Near the end of our chat he says enough people told him he slurred his words that he got tested for Multiple Sclerosis. But he passed. Or failed. Or whatever signifies he doesn't have the disease.

Let me paint the picture of the set-up. Norm was sitting reclined throughout the interview, with his back on the seat of the sofa and his shoulders and head up against the back of it. His legs were propped up against the coffee table. So if it sounds like he's about to fall asleep, that may be why.

I should mention that at about the half-hour mark you'll notice a difference in sound. My good recorder (two mics and a mixer) crapped out on us. Thankfully, I had along my backup: a small, handheld device. It's not as good, obviously, but it's just fine.

Here's a hint of what's to come, in video form:

Tune in tonight at 11 pm PST on CFRO, 102.7 FM in Vancouver or livestream the show at for the full meal deal. The episode will drop in podcast format next Sunday, July 22. If you miss tonight's airing and you want to hear it before next Sunday, I believe you'll get the first hour only at the station's website. But you'll have to wait until the 22nd for the full 90-minute podcast.

And with this instant classic out of the way, we're taking two weeks off the air. I'll still report into this space as the need arises, so bookmark us and check back.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Podcast episode 285ish: Dwight Slade

I had an absolutely great talk with Dwight Slade a few weeks ago and humbly offer you the proof today in the form of a podcast. It was funny, heartfelt, cynical, sincere, and deep. Everything you'd want in a conversation. We talked about death, drinking, aging, comedic relevance, forgotten Tonight Show comedians, cruise ships and a lot about his dear, departed friend, the legendary Bill Hicks. Brought to you from the third precinct of Baltimore. At least it sounded like that at times.

Click below to listen or download it at iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts). What's So Funny? – ask for it by name.

As mentioned, we talked a bit about some of Dwight's and Bill's favourite Tonight Show comedians in the late 1970s. Since we're all the same age, and I was watching Johnny regularly, it surprised me when I didn't recognize the name of one of them: Billy Braver. Dwight and Bill loved him. I decided to use the old Google device thingy and I found this great 18-minute film on the guy. Turns out he quit show business while he was riding high and went on to sell cars. Yes, he was a car salesman. But when that tanked a year or so ago, he decided to give stand-up comedy another go. Have a look. It's not quite a sob story; it's a Saab Story:

SAAB Story from Max Joseph on Vimeo.

And while we're on the topic of old Tonight Show comics, I thought I'd root around for clips of some of the others we mentioned. I guess Johnny's estate has their claws on everything so I can't find their appearances on the actual show, but these will give you a taste of who we were talking about:

Ed Bluestone:

Bobby Kelton:

Kelly Monteith:

July 8: Lee Camp

Lee Camp is that rare breed of political comic who can actually make you laugh rather than just sit there nodding in agreement with the odd chuckle. It's even more surprising given he's also a political activist, who aren't exactly known for their sense of humour. The American stand-up comic was in town a few weeks ago headlining Yuk Yuk's and agreed to sit down and record an episode with me. I first heard of Camp while reading Paul Provenza's ¡Satiristas!: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians, in which a chapter was devoted to him. We talked about which came first: the comedy or the activism; how a military father takes to having such a rabble-rouser for a son; and which descriptor of Provenza's book's subtitle fits him best, among other things.

As always, we'll air the interview on the radio tonight and it'll be available in podcast form next Sunday. That's how we roll. So tune in to 102.7 FM in Vancouver tonight at 11 PST, livestream it at, or wait a week and download it on iTunes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Georgia Straight's Best of Vancouver poll

If you're like me, you read through the annual Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver edition and shake your head at some of the winners. And if you're like me, you've never actually voted in it. Well, why not? Let's do something about it this year. Voting closes on July 11th. Make your voice heard in all sorts of categories, but of particular interest in these parts is the comedy-related ones. You don't need to vote for every single entry. Do as many or as few as you want. If you wanted to stick to just comedy, you have these choices:
  • Best Local Podcast (Person or Program) [uh, you know I do a podcast, right? Just saying]
  • Best Local Blog [you know, where you're reading this]
  • Best Local Twitterer [see link above]
  • Best Local Performing Arts Festival [let's get the comedy festival some deserved love]
  • Best Comedy Club [three to choose from: The Comedy MIX, Yuk Yuk's, and Lafflines]
I didn't notice any Best Local Comedian category. Did I miss it? But there's lots more to have fun with. Get on it. Follow the link to the survey. If you answer a minimum of 25 questions, you get automatically entered in a draw to win a $2500 Flight Centre gift certificate.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Randy Charach at Yuk Yuk's

Regular readers and listeners will know that I have a soft spot for magic. Last June I interviewed Mac King and Nathan Burton, two Vegas mainstays, during my visit to Sin City. I also enjoyed their shows – which are ongoing, if you happen to be Nevada-bound.

If you're not going anywhere, but still want to see some mind-bending, you should check out Randy Charach, who's appearing every Wednesday in July at Yuk Yuk's. Apparently he learned magic from his grandfather, who happened to be a Las Vegas magician. I caught his act last night. It was a full house, too, which is pretty impressive for a Wednesday. Also impressive were his bag of tricks. Billed as "comedy magic and mind reading," it's all magic to me. I don't think Charach really tries to pass off being truly psychic, so he's no charlatan. They're just fun tricks that I have no idea how he does. What he performs is known as mentalism or psychic entertainment. Kind of like Kreskin, except he doesn't pretend to possess special powers.

People who don't like magic have no sense of fun. They sit there, head tilted, arms crossed, trying to figure it out, as if trying to prove that it isn't really magic. Yes, we get it. It's not really magic. It's a good trick, that's all. Nobody pretends otherwise. Accept it for what it is.

Almost every trick Charach performs involves someone from the audience. Whether he's sensing objects while blindfolded, predicting words chosen on a random page by an audience member, or stealing rings from the crowd, he had me guessing.

That's the frustrating part of watching such a show for me. On the one hand, I want to know how he does a given trick; on the other hand, I'd probably be disappointed if I found out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stand-Up for Diversity press release

This week in press releases informs us about an upcoming NBC audition at the Comedy MIX. For more information, check out their website: Read on, hopefuls!

The Comedy MIX hosts auditions for NBC Universal’s Stand-Up for Diversity! 

NBC Universal is proud to present another groundbreaking year of Stand-Up for Diversity! A nationwide search for stand-up comedians of diverse backgrounds. Through this initiative comedians have been launched to new career milestones. Each year NBC selects 3-5 cities across North America and holds both auditions and live showcases of the top diverse talent from that area. At the end of the search a handful of comedians are brought back to Los Angeles to showcase for key industry players at NBC Universal and industry-wide. 

This year’s only Canadian stop is scheduled for July 30th at Vancouver’s very own premiere stand up destination, the Comedy MIX! Auditions begin at 10am on Monday, July 30th. Only the first 100 comics to arrive will be seen. 

Finalists will be chosen to perform in a showcase at the Comedy MIX on Tuesday, July 31st alongside headliner Tone Bell and MC Michelle Buteau.

Many of the comics from last year's Best of Stand-Up for Diversity showcase signed with top Hollywood managers and agents and met with the entertainment industry's leading casting directors and executives. Top Stand-Up for Diversity finalists had the opportunity to perform at the NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) National Convention where one booked nearly 50 college appearances. Due to the success and broad appeal of this initiative, NBCUniversal launched a Stand-Up for Diversity Nationwide College Tour in 2008.

This year's search Top comics have a chance to be brought to Los Angeles to showcase in the Best of Stand-Up for Diversity show, receive an invitation to join the company Stand-Up for Diversity College Tour and much more!!   
*NBC Universal prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin or ancestry, creed, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, mental or physical disability, and any other category protected by applicable law

Only the first 100 comics who arrive will be seen. Comics will have one minute at the initial audition. A handful will be invited back later that day to perform a longer set and the top comics will be selected to perform in the showcase the next evening.   
This is not a show that will air on NBC, but rather an opportunity to be showcased for agents, casting directors, and television executives in consideration for future casting and development opportunities.

This open call is for comics of diverse backgrounds who are serious about being funny. Comics must have five minutes of polished material.

About the Comedy MIX 
The Comedy MIX is Vancouver’s downtown Stand-up comedy club. With its dramatic stage, sound, lighting, and cabaret-style seating, the Comedy MIX is the perfect venue to showcase North America’s top names in comedy as well as providing an authentic stand-up venue for local talent to hone their skills. The Comedy MIX is located in the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa at 1015 Burrard Street (at Comox). Regular ongoing
performance times include:   
Tuesday – Pro-Am Night, 8:30 pm, $7.00 
Wednesday - Showcase, 8:30 pm, $9.00 
Thursday - Featured headliner, 8:30 pm, $12.00 
Friday - Featured headliner, 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm, $15.00 
Saturday - Featured headliner, 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm, $18.00 

*Pricing and show times are subject to change during Concert Series or special added performances. 
For more information or reservations call 604.684.5050 or go online at

Monday, July 2, 2012

Podcast episode 284ish: The Wet Spots

The Wet Spots make their triumphant return to What's So Funny? seven years after their first visit having conquered the world. Cass King and John Woods, the polyamorous couple who sing songs of sex, joined us to talk about their travels, their Broadway-worthy musical, Shine, what exactly 'polyamorous' entails, and why toe-sucking sucks.

Get your rocks off by listening here. Or if you're going out in public, you might want to download the episode from iTunes. We're there. We're everywhere.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1: Dwight Slade

Happy Dominion Day, Canada. (I'm old-school.) Seeing as it's the birthday of our nation, I couldn't get any Canadian comics. Thankfully, the Americans don't celebrate their big day until Wednesday so Dwight Slade came through.

Okay, so the holiday has nothing to do with our guest. This interview with Dwight was recorded a few weeks ago when he was headlining the Comedy MIX. It came about quickly, too I went to see him on a Thursday night and we decided then and there to meet the next morning to record the show. Easy-peasy.

It was wonderfully dark and poignant. Some of the themes we touch on are death, drinking, aging, comedic relevance, his dear departed friend Bill Hicks, forgotten Tonight Show comedians, and cruise ships. It's a good one.

So tune in tonight at 11 until about 12:15 PST (it runs a little long but it's worth it). Tomorrow's a stat holiday so you can sleep in. As always, we're on CFRO 102.7 FM in Vancouver but you can livestream the show at