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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Podcast episode 550ish: Nestor Pistor

We have a really special episode for our 550th-ish. Canadian comedy legend Nestor Pistor was in town and we scored him. He talked all about the early days in the 1970s performing comedy all over the country, releasing top-selling albums, and being nominated for numerous Juno Awards. Nestor is in his seventies now but works out two hours a day, no doubt why he still has the stamina to work the road. Growing up, I'm not sure I ever knew that Nestor Pistor was a character, the creation of mortgage broker Don Ast. Live and learn. But it's Nestor we get on this show, with only a brief few words from Don.

Listen to the episode down below or better yet, go find it on iTunes or Stitcher or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


Nov. 10: Glenn Wool

When Glenn Wool was last with us, way back in 2015, he had just moved back to the lower mainland after eons in Europe. That didn't exactly take. The pull of the road got to him. But guess what? Now he's back... for maybe good? Oh, he'll still do his international dates, I'm sure, but now he returns with a wife and baby. We'll see if that keeps him around a little longer. Whatever happens, he's here for us tonight. We'll find out what happened last time and if this time will be different. And get more tales of comedy in far-off places.

Tune in tonight at 11pm on CFRO 100.5 FM here in Vancouver, but you can listen in from wherever you are in the world by livestreaming us at coopradio.org or finding us on your favourite radio-streaming app, such as TuneIn Radio.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Podcast episode 549ish: Dino Archie (& Jon Bryant)

When Dino Archie came over to play, he brought a friend: musician/singer Jon Bryant. We didn't know Jon would participate, so he didn't get the introduction he deserves. But we eventually got around to it, and we all had a grand old time. Dino talks about his life of leisure now that he's retired. Or should I say "retired"? I still don't know if he is or not. We talk about Dino and Jon's LA exploits, the perils of Twitter, door-to-door knife salesmen, and an idea for a new podcast.

Listen below or find us on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, all the usual places. Subscribe to us wherever you download podcasts. And leave a review, while you're at it.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Oct. 20: Dino Archie

Old pal Dino Archie, who has been our guest five previous times, hasn't paid us a visit in 3.5 long years. But that all changes tonight when he returns. We always have a fun, spirited discussion. I like the way he thinks. About everything. Who knows what we'll talk about, but it's never hard coming up with topics with him. Dino spends time both here and in Los Angeles, where he's kinda from (I mean, technically Fresno, but... close?). He performs standup all over North America, and even did a set on Jimmy Kimmel Live a couple years ago.

Tune in tonight at 11pm to CFRO 100.5 FM. If you're in LA or Fresno or wherever you may be, you can livestream us at coopradio.org or find us on the TuneIn Radio app somewhere. Dig around. You'll find us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Podcast episode 548ish: Travis Watters

Attention wrestling fans: We've got Ladies Choice on this episode, along with his creator Travis Watters. We get a taste of both of them here, learning about Watters childhood in the rough-and-tumble Fredericton where he wiled away the time at the local roller skating rink. We also hear tales from the rassling ring. We even discuss Travis' sensitive side: oil painting on big canvasses. All this plus lots of zinging of Sidekick Sam Tonning. What more could you want? No chairs were thrown in the making of this episode.

Have a listen, won't you? Below, or over at iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify... all your favourite podcast hotspots. We're there for you.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Podcast episode 547ish: Kalvin Olafson

We're a little late getting this episode up and running, missing by two days our guest's run in a play. But the episode is still relevant and fun and all that. Along with guest sidekick Lars Callieou from Edmonton, we talk to actor Kalvin Olafson about his youth growing up on a farm in Manitoba, about his connections with the Vancouver standup comedy scene, about his process in getting to the heart of his characters, about his former band Minto, and lots more! It was my first time meeting Kalvin, but Lars and I go way back to his first appearance on the show back in 2004. It was good to see him again.

Listen to the episode here or go download it at iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Podbean, Podbay... all the usual suspects.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Oct. 13: Travis Watters

On this Thanksgiving Sunday, we give thanks to our guest Travis Watters for stepping away from the turkey to be with us. Travis is a real Renaissance man – if they did pro wrestling during the Renaissance. But he's more than just a hunky body who goes by the name Ladies Choice when he's in the ring. He's also a standup comic, actor, and painter. So we've got a ton to talk to him about. I've seen him smash sidekick Sam Tonning over the head with a cookie sheet so I will keep a respectful distance.

We'll be on the air as usual at 11pm on CFRO 100.5 FM. If you're without radio, listen online at coopradio.org or find us on one of those amazing radio apps everyone's talking about, like TuneIn Radio.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Podcast episode 546ish: Kyle Bottom

Here's a fun episode for you. It's Kyle Bottom's fourth visit with us, but his first in five years. He's a new man, having been married in the intervening years. We talk about his honeymoon in Japan, his obsession with toilets, impending fatherhood and vetoed baby names, his latest SiriusXM Top Comic experience, and what he's learning in radio school. Plus he wasn't the only baritone on the air on this night.

Here's the link you need to get your listening party started. Or simply download the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, et. al.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Podcast episode 545ish: Shawn Farquhar

We spent another magical hour with master magician Shawn Farquhar. As usual, we surprised him with another apt song (a snippet of which you'll hear right off the top). And he surprised us with stuff we didn't know. For example, when he was younger, he wanted to be an Anglican minister. Who knew?! He also talks about performing sick, and tells us about his hobbies outside of magic (barely outside, but still). Shawn's intimate show, Hidden Wonders, is playing Vancouver until October 26. You really should go. I did!

Listen to the episode here or download it on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, et. al. You can do it.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sept. 22: Kalvin Olafson

On this rainy Sunday, our guest will be actor Kalvin Olafson, who is currently starring in What We're Up Against, which runs Oct. 1-12 at the Havana. The Manitoban's also been in tons of TV commercials, was a member of the sketch troupe Idle Minds, and we'll find out what else tonight. Sidekick Sam will be away dancing to Elton John, but we have a special sidekick, old pal Lars Callieou on loan from CJSR, where he hosts his own show, Comic Jenius.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM tonight at 11 pm for all the scintillating discussion. Even if you're far, far away in Manitoba or Alberta, you can listen via livestream on coopradio.org or on the TuneIn Radio app, among others.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Podcast episode 544ish: Ola Dada

When Ola Dada visited us a few weeks ago, he hadn't yet learned if he made it to the finals of the SiriusXM Top Comic competition. Three days later, he got the news: He did. He'll be off to Toronto to perform in the live theatre show final. Good luck to him. In this episode we learn about his home country Nigeria and also what it was like to grow up in Fort McMurray. And he tells us tons of original dad jokes.

Have a listen right here. Or download the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify... wherever fine podcasts are dispensed.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sept. 15: Kyle Bottom

Photo of Kyle Bottom by John Sutton
Back for his fourth visit with us – but first since 2014 – is the smooth baritone of Kyle Bottom. The regular host is sick but the show must go on so he'll be there, safely ensconced in the control room where he can hack away in private between talking points with Kyle. And of course Sam Tonning will be there to take up the slack. Kyle hasn't been with us since Sam joined the show. We'll talk about what Kyle's been up to lately: radio school, visiting Japan, the SiriusXM Top Comic competition, writing articles, his beloved pet pooch, impending parenthood. All that stuff and more!

We're on the air, as usual, at 11 pm on CFRO 100.5 FM. If you're in Japan, even, you can listen by livestreaming us at coopradio.org or finding us on whatever radio app you happen to use. Something like TuneIn Radio works, I know that.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sept. 8: Shawn Farquhar

It's always a treat to have master magician Shawn Farquhar on the show with us. He's so full of life and good stories. This 2-time world champion of magic spends most of the year entertaining the world. I think he was in 40 countries last year. It's only fitting that he spend a few weeks in his backyard showing his fellow lower mainlanders his bag o' tricks. His current show is a really intimate affair at a secret location. Once you buy your ticket, it'll give you the lowdown. It's a lot of fun. I saw it today, as a matter of fact.

We'll talk all about it, and find out what travels and stories he has for us since his last visit. Listen to us at 11 pm on CFRO 100.5 FM here in Vancouver (and area). If you're not in the area, you can always find us on the TuneIn Radio app or at the station's website: coopradio.org.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sept. 1: Ola Dada

Happy back-to-school week. It's been a few years (ahem) since I was last in school, but it still depresses me on behalf of summer-lovin' kids everywhere. Tonight we're back at it with another live in-studio guest. It's a first-timer, too. Ola Dada is with us. Ola is a local standup but was raised in northern Alberta. We'll find out exactly tonight. We'll also talk about his SiriusXM Top Comic experience. He was one of 18 picked for the public voting portion of the competition. The voting recently closed, so you can't help him now (timing is everything) but we'll see how it all went.

We're on the air at CFRO 100.5 FM from 11pm to midnight. If you're wanting to tune in from northern Alberta, say, or Nigeria, no problem. Livestream us at coopradio.org or find us on the TuneIn Radio app. You can do it!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Podcast episode 543ish: Joey Commisso

While Guy was away, Sam Tonning hosted his good pal Joey Commisso in this episode. Joey's been in the Vancouver standup scene for almost ten years. He and Sam talked about lots of stuff, and only some of it was comedy related. They talked bowling (of course), nineties sitcoms, old-school standup Pat Cooper, and mental health, among other topics.

Listen to the episode here, or go download it on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbay, Podbean, Spotify... you name it.


Friday, August 30, 2019

Podcast episode 542ish: Sunee Dhaliwal

Sunee is back! Not just on the show, either. After living for a few years in Toronto, Sunee Dhaliwal is moving back to the lower mainland. We have a good time, as always with Sunee, but this time he also gets serious for a bit. Not too long, but just enough. Tune in to hear a side of Sunee you hadn't heard before.

You can listen right here, if that's your desire. Or you can find us wherever you normally get your podcasts. You know, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, et. al.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Aug. 18: Sunee Dhaliwal

Sunee Dhaliwal appeared on What's So Funny? in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He was on a roll. Then... nada. Gonzo. Where has he been? We'll find out tonight when Sunee makes his triumphant return to the show! I know he left us for Toronto at some point (which may explain his absences, but we've had other Toronto comics on in those years) and we'll catch up with him about his official whereabouts. I ran into Sunee a few weeks back at an outdoor basketball tournament (we were spectators) and we reconnected. Hopefully he's more sober tonight!

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM at 11pm for all the trash-talking.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Podcast episode 541ish: Angela Galanopoulos

What a grand time we had with improviser Angela Galanopolous. And not just because she brought us edible figs. We had a great chat. She told us about living in Mexico City, visiting Athens as a kid (see figs above), improv training in Chicago, and performing in Vancouver. It's a world tour in one hour!

Listen to us talking here and now (see link below) or save us for later by downloading the episode on iTunes/Stitcher/Spotify/PodBay etc. And subscribe while you're at it! Give us a review. Good or bad; we can take it.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Podcast episode 540ish: Myles Anderson

Another newbie graces our studios in this episode. Myles Anderson is the only standup comic/piano teacher I know. We don't often think of classical music and comedy – especially since Victor Borge died. But Anderson doesn't use the piano in his act. Not regularly, anyway, although we encourage him to. We talk about his island upbringing, music school, his new album (Myles from Home) on 604 Records, and lots more.

You can listen here, if you wish. Or download the show at iTunes or Stitcher or listen on Spotify. Do what you like. It's available (almost) everywhere.


Podcast episode 539ish: David Thomas Newham

Sidekick Sam Tonning takes the reins in this one, both booking and interviewing first-time guest David Thomas Newham, a multidisciplinary theatre artist who acts, writes, directs, and lights at Seven Tyrants Theatre company and also runs the comedy lounge at The Penthouse. Sam gets to the bottom of it all in this episode.

Listen right here (below) or find What's So Funny? on your favourite podcast place, like iTunes, Stitcher, Pod Bay, Spotify, et. al.


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Aug. 4: Angela Galanopoulos

Tonight on this holiday long-weekend our esteemed guest is a first-timer to the program. And it'll be the first time we meet, although I've seen her on the stage before at VTSL's Improv Theatre. Angela Galanopoulos is also a member of the Fictionals improv troupe and in the dramatic comedy soap opera-style web series Michelle's, which she created with former What's So Funny? guest Andrew Barber. We'll get the lowdown on everything else she does, both professionally and for fun, tonight.

So tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM tonight at 11 pm for all the fun and frivolity.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Podcast episode 538ish: Scott Patey

We forgot to immortalize this episode with a photo, but it's immortalized anyway as a podcast. Scott Patey made a return visit to the What's So Funny? studios. He talks about the greatness of Newfoundland, bar fights, playing nerds, acting with stars, and bonding with Jim Carrey. And we couldn't have Scott on without talking about the greatest sporting event known to man: Rock, Paper, Scissors. Sam was away but Pal filled in admirably as announcer.

Listen below or download us on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, et. al. You know the drill.


Monday, July 8, 2019

Podcast episode 537ish: Guy & Sam

What? No guest? How can that be? Easy. Guy and Sam just conversed for the hour in the episode, just like most podcasts do. Sure, they talked about comedy. But along the way they talked about lots of other things, too. It's an easy-breezy chit-chat. Have a listen; see what you think.

Download it at iTunes, or anywhere else fine podcasts are available.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

July 7: Scott Patey

It's been three years since Scott Patey was last (and first) with us. He was a lot of fun then so it should be lots of fun catching up with him. Scott is an improviser, actor and referee. We'll talk about all three tonight, with his work with Vancouver TheatreSports League, his movie roles with names such as "Injured Nerd", and his hosting the weekly Rock, Paper, Scissors competition at Corduroy in Kits.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM for all the fun and frivolity. We on the air at 11 pm (or 12 if you're in Lloydminster, his hometown).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Podcast episode 536ish: Ari Matti

So long, Ari Matti, we hardly knew ye. Ari spent a year in Vancouver perfecting his English comedy chops. Now he returns home to Estonia. In this episode, he comes in injured with a freshly separated shoulder. He explains how that happens, talks a bit about the magical Raptors post-season, and explains his country's fun sauna techniques. Enjoy it! Ari's a blast.

If you're listening from Estonia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe, leave us a comment on iTunes, give us a rating. Spread the word! We're also available on Spotify, Stitcher, and all the usual podcast places. Oh, and right below, too, if you absolutely can't wait.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

June 16: Ari Matti

Ari Matti was last (and first) with us this past November, but he's back again tonight. We figured we had to get him back in before he leaves us for his home and native land, Estonia. Ari's been in our fair city for a year playing all the clubs and rooms. A farewell show will take place July 3 at the Rio, where he will close out after Andrea Jin, Ola Dada, Andrew Packer and our old pal Dino Archie. Should be a good one. We'll see how his year has gone and if he'll miss us.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM tonight at 11 pm or livestream us on coopradio.org or on your TuneIn Radio app.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Podcast episode 535ish: Taz VanRassel

Better late than never, folks. Here's our episode with improviser extraordinaire Taz VanRassel. We recorded this so long ago, I hardly remember what was said. But I do know he was a bit late to the show since he was coming straight from his weekly Sunday Service show at the Fox Cabaret. I also recall he was curious to find out about Big Chungus. And his favourite animal is the beaver. Legit.

Have a listen. We're on all your favourite podcast platforms, including iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc. And here, too, at the link below.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Podcast episode 534ish: Chris Gaskin

We've got Chris Gaskin here for you. Chris was our guest a few weeks back and this is proof of that. We quizzed him on his wrestling knowledge. He dropped some obscure, but very funny, comedy names. And we patched up a non-feud.

You can listen with that link below or go download the episode at iTunes or Stitcher or ListenNotes.com or Spotify, etc.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Podcast episode 533ish: Jacob Samuel

We're a tad late getting this episode uploaded. It's worth the wait. Jacob Samuel is our guest, a very clever young standup comic and single-panel cartoonist. It had been four years since his first appearance on the show. He joined us fresh off the plane from a weekend at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. We talked about preparing for his shows there, being Jewish in Canadian show business, and Charlie Demers.

Get it while it's hot. Listen immediately below or take your sweet time by moseying over to iTunes or Stitcher or Podbay.fm or wherever you get your podcasts.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

May 19: Taz VanRassel

My records indicate that Taz VanRassel hasn't been with us since 2006, but that can't be right, can it? It says he was with us those long 13 years ago with Alistair Cook and Ryan Beil. Well, let's go with the records until we can clear it up with him tonight when he comes on solo. Taz will be scooting over to our studios straight from his weekly gig, The Sunday Service, at the Fox Cabaret. You can also see him many nights of the week at the Improv Centre on Granville Island in various Vancouver TheatreSports productions.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM tonight at 11. We'll start then even if Taz hasn't shown up yet. You can livestream us at coopradio.org or listen to us via the TuneIn Radio app.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

May 12: Chris Gaskin

Can it really have been eight years since Chris Gaskin was last with us? Wow. Well, he's back again tonight, on Mother's Day. We've got lots of catching up to do. I ran into Chris during the last week of shows at the Comedy MIX a couple weeks ago. Sometimes that's what it takes for me to book a guest. I run into them and then ask. Just like that. If you visit his website, you'll learn that he's an avid video game player, he loves professional wrestling, and hates raccoons. I also know that he knows his alcohol without being a drunk.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM tonight at 11 pm for all the talk. Livestream us at coopradio.org if you must or look for us on the TuneIn Radio app.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

May 5: Jacob Samuel

It's Cinco de Mayo so who better to celebrate with than... Jacob Samuel? Well, Jacob's our guest and we're sticking with him! It's been four years since young Mr. Samuel was last with us. Today, he's travelling back from the Winnipeg Comedy Festival so he might be jet-lagged but we'll try to keep him awake for the hour. Jacob is a smart young standup who also draws cartoons which have been published in the esteemed New Yorker. Pretty impressive. Along with Winnipeg, he's performed at many of your top comedy festivals, including last summer at Montreal's Just For Laughs. Tonight we'll get caught up on his career and all that kind of stuff.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM at 11 pm. Livestream us at coopradio.org or find us on the TuneIn Radio app.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Podcast episode 532ish: Levi McCachen

No matter what you think of them, conspiracy theories are fun. Our guest, standup Levi McCachen, liked them a little too much at one point in his life. But he still kinda likes them. So we discuss a bunch of them in this hour. We also talk about him trying on various looks, like law student, philosopher, and slam poet. He also tells us a couple street jokes, one of which we apologize for in advance.

Listen by clicking on the link below or simply go find us in iTunes, Stitcher, Podbay FM, or even Spotify. We've got you covered.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Podcast episode 531ish: Jason Rowland

What a career Jason Rowland has had. He goes from anonymous restaurant worker to become the GM of a professional baseball team. How does that even happen? He explains in this issue. And we also find out how he goes from sports management to comedy club manager and booker. And from there to become the VP of the World Series of Comedy festival/competition. Crazy. He also gives the latest on the status of his old club, the Comedy MIX, which closed after a 15-year run in the city. But Jason is looking to get it back up soon.

Have a listen. Click here or download us at iTunes or Stitcher or Podbean or Podbay or wherever else you can find us.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Podcast episode 530ish: Ryan Williams

We brainstormed some new names for standup comic Ryan Williams in this episode. It seems there are quite a few other Ryan Williamses in show business. I like Ryan O. Williams, which could also be Ryan O'Williams since he's Irish. We also talked about football, history, and a spirited conversation he had with Jim Gaffigan. Fun times, and high energy, as is always the case with Ryan.

Click below if you can't wait. Otherwise go download the episode at iTunes or Stitcher or Podbay or wherever you usually get your podcasts.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Apr. 28: Levi McCachen

Tonight we've got, as they say in the business, an up-and-comer. Levi McCachen is a standup comedian I've only seen a few times but have really enjoyed him. He talks about subjects that aren't done to death and really gets into them. He'll reference Aristotle and Socrates, talk about his love of conspiracy theories that is at once a paean and a put-down, covers all the angles on death, and gets into his history of dating Asians. And as far as I know, he's not in the band The Rural Alberta Advantage. But he may have been in Amsterdam. Should be a fun show.

Tune in to CFRO 100.5 FM at 11 pm Vancouver time. Don't have a radio? Who does? Go to coopradio.org and livestream us. Or find us on the TuneIn Radio app.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Apr. 21: Jason Rowland

Happy Sunday, everyone! And for chocolate fans, Happy Easter! Tonight we've got first-timer and industry insider Jason Rowland. I got to know Jason when he was the manager and booker at the Comedy MIX. Then he left. Somewhere. I heard Las Vegas. Maybe other places south of the border, too. I think he was involved in the World Series of Comedy. We'll find out tonight. Is he back in Vancouver or still out wandering the world? Oh, and did you know the Comedy MIX is closing its doors at the end of this month? We'll talk about that, too, and how often he gets brain freeze from all the Slurpees he consumes.

You can listen in at 11 pm on CFRO 100.5 FM. Alternatively, you can livestream us at coopradio.org or find us on the TuneIn Radio app.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Podcast episode 529ish: Lauren Mather

Our guest in this episode was Lauren Mather, the darling of New South Wales. Lauren manages Vancouver's Yuk Yuk's comedy club, where she will also take to the stage on occasion and do some standup herself. She kind of stumbled into the business in Halifax, as you'll hear her explain here. And you'll hear lots more, if you download the episode. So go do that. We also talk about her video series, Yuk Yuk's – Who's There?, where she talks to the various comics who grace the Yuk Yuk's stage. A note on the photo: We usually commemorate the occasion before the show but it completely slipped our minds. Thankfully the three of us (including Sidekick Sam Tonning) found ourselves together the very next night at Yuks, where we snapped a pic in the greenroom.

We're at iTunes and Stitcher and Podbay and all the usual places. Subscribe to What's So Funny? on Apple Podcasts. That's an order!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Apr. 14: Ryan Williams

Tonight we've got another first-timer on board. Ryan Williams may be new to the show, but he's not new to the standup scene. He's originally from the 'Loop, he's a former footballer who exhibits as much energy on stage as he did on the field. I'm assuming he exhibited energy on the field. I never actually saw him play football. But we'll find out tonight. Ryan was a finalist in the Sirius XM Top Comic national competition in 2018. Oh, and he's also a really lousy karaoke singer. But funny!

Tune in at 11 tonight to CFRO 100.5 FM. Livestream us if you're sans radio at coopradio.org or you can search for us on the TuneIn Radio app. That works, too.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Apr. 7: Lauren Mather

Photo by Richard Lett
Tonight we're in studio with a first-timer to the program. We've got Lauren Mather all the way from Oz. Well, originally anyway. She's the manager at Yuk Yuk's here and managed another comedy club in Halifax before this. Not sure of the fine details but we'll get those all sorted out tonight. Ms Mather also is the creator and host of Yuk Yuk's – Who's There?, a video interview show with comedians from the green room of the club. And Lauren is also a budding standup comic herself. I know she's got a few shows coming up this week.

Tune in at 11 pm to CFRO 100.5 FM to get the full story, especially if you're an Australophile. You can livestream us on coopradio.org or on the TuneIn Radio app even if you're all the way down in Pappinbarra or in the maritimes.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Podcast episode 528ish: Neema Nazeri

Toronto's Neema Nazeri guests in this episode, while Sidekick Sam Tonning guest hosts. Nazeri was in town for the week and it coincided with spring break so he got the guest host treatment. It's a shorter-than-usual episode because Neema had to leave a bit early. But the pair talk about Persian comedy, pot rooms, how to correctly pronounce his name, how he got into standup comedy, and touring Australia with Joe White.

Enjoy! Listen right here and now, or listen to it on iTunes/Stitcher/Podbay.fm or any similar place. If you're over at Apple, why not subscribe to What's So Funny? It's the least you could do!


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Mar. 24: Neema Nazeri

Happy spring break. Regular host Guy MacPherson is away in some exotic locale but the show will go on! Sidekick Sam Tonning takes over the hosting duties, while also keeping his fingers on the buttons. He’s one of the best multi-tasters in the business. Sam’s guest tonight will be Neema Nazeri, a Persian standup comic based in Toronto.

If you’re from Toronto, Iran, or some exotic locale, you can livestream the show at 11 pm Vancouver time on coopradio.org or on the TuneIn Radio app. If you’re in the Vancouver area and own an old-timey radio player, turn the dial to 100.5 FM.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Podcast episode 527ish: Susan Thompson

If you knew Susan Thompson like I know Susan Thompson... Actually, I didn't know Susan much at all before this episode. But if you listen to this hour with her, we'll be about even. We find out why she's a bit of a karaoke queen in Japan, she used to run an automotive shop, she's dropped about 100 pounds, she's done standup, and is now transitioning to more of a behind-the-scenes role in the comedy business. Those are the broad strokes. The details can be found in this episode. We weren't sure this would make it to air because about half-an-hour before going live, Susan used the hand dryer seen in this photo. At that exact moment, the power went off at the station and the whole block. She blamed herself, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't culpable.

The power returned in time for the show, which you can now hear here. Or you can go subscribe to What's So Funny? on iTunes (make sure it's the right one, though – there are a few, but we were the first). We're also available on all the other usual podcast providers.


Podcast episode 526ish: Amy Shostak & Tom Hill

Improvisers Amy Shostak and Tom Hill made their What's So Funny? debut in this episode. They are also instructors at Blind Tiger Theatre and they tell us what's going on down at the East Van school. Along the way, we learn about them... including a big reveal at the end! Who knew?! As much fun as we have through the hour, we stumbled into a heavier discussion right at the end so we run a little longer than usual, but it's worth it. And a special shout-out to Sam in the booth.

The episode is right here for your listening pleasure. But you'll probably prefer to go find us on your favourite podcast app.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Mar. 17: Susan Thompson

Is Thompson an Irish name? It better be because our guest tonight on St. Patrick's Day is Susan Thompson. Susan is a professional middleman. What's that you say? I don't know. She does. We'll find out exactly tonight but I know she's been a standup comedian (and probably still is if I know standup comedians), I know she's also been a club manager (I don't think she still is), and also sees the stage from an industry point of view. Which is to say she's a booker/producer. Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of it all tonight.

We're on the air at 11 pm on CFRO 100.5 FM. If your old-timey radio is on the fritz, fire us up via livestream at coopradio.org or search for us on the TuneIn Radio app. They'll both do the job.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Podcast episode 525ish: Lady Rizo

What a perfect guest Lady Rizo was. She was raw and honest, funny, willing to go anywhere, and, as always, quick as a whip. Rizo (pronounced Reezo, but she's easy) was a Lady before the more famous Lady Blah-Blah. She took time away from the New York cabaret scene to spend almost half a year in Vancouver, where she starred in Bacio Rosso. We luckily got her in studio in her final week here. Growing up as Amelia Zirin-Brown in Oregon, she started her career in Seattle before heading to NYC. We talk about her experiences recording with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Moby, and Reggie Watts. She tells us about growing up among hippies. And she even sings us a little ditty. Great show.

You can listen right here, but maybe you want to savour it or take it with you on a walk. In that case, go download the show on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you normally get your podcasts. We'll be there. Give us a rating, too, while you're at it.


Mar. 10: Amy Shostak & Tom Hill

I always love having improvisers on the show because there are no lines to memorize. As I'm sure you're all aware, there's a script for every other show. Tonight we've got a couple of Blind Tiger improvisers and instructors, Amy Shostak and Tom Hill. Amy is currently teaching a improv course for moms. We'll find out what that's all about and if moms improvise any differently than motherless ladies and men. Tom is also a member of the two-man group Hip.Bang! We've had his partner Devin MacKenzie on before so tonight he gets the attention.

This show is so old ("How old is it?!"), when we first started I had to remind listeners twice a year about the time change. You could go all day without remembering to put your clock forward or backward. These days you don't have to know. The robots do it for you. So when 11 pm hits tonight, you'll know to tune to CFRO 100.5 FM for What's So Funny? You can also livestream us at coopradio.org or find us on the TuneIn Radio app.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Podcast episode 524ish: Lisa Frischemeier

Our first German comedian graces our studio in this episode. Lisa Frischemeier hasn't been doing standup all that long, but she's making a name for herself in the English-speaking Berlin standup rooms. We learn about her hometown of Duisberg (the New Jersey of Germany), a bit about Muenster, and some about Berlin and a bit about Istanbul. But forget about all that learnin'; we had fun. We also talk about cookbooks and abortion!

Have a listen. Click below or download us on your favourite podcast dispensary. We'll be there.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Mar. 3: Lady Rizo

We've got a powerhouse on the show tonight. In our almost 15 years on the air, tonight's guest will be the first to have recorded with Yo-Yo Ma, Moby, and Reggie Watts. The first to have made an album at the famed Royal Studios in Memphis. The first who has had a solo residency at Joe's Pub in New York City. (But not the first to have performed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.) The New York Times wrote: "Lady Rizo is a formidable belter who can sustain phrases and notes even when sprawled on her back on a piano and scissoring her legs". You might know Lady Rizo as the hostess extraordinaire at Bacio Rosso at Queen Elizabeth Park. I saw her there in November and was blown away not only by her voice, but also her extremely quick wit. She's hilarious. Tonight we'll get to know all about her.

We're on the air, as usual, at 11 pm on CFRO 100.5 FM. If you're in, say, Oregon or Tennessee or New York, you can listen in via livestream at coopradio.org or find us on the TuneIn Radio (search for "CFRO"). If it's past your bedtime, give us a week and it'll be up in podcast format and you can listen whenever you damn well feel like it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Update: Canada laughs again

What a difference a day makes.

And what a job Canadian comedians can do when they stick together.

I just received an update from Just For Laughs on the blowback from comics across Canada due to the change to the Canada Laughs SiriusXM channel. Since JFL's involvement with the station, they had veered it away from the 100% Canadian content it had been providing all these years. This got comedians up in arms because it would mean a decrease in their much-needed royalties.

Here's their statement in full:


February 27, 2018 [sic]

Statement by Bruce Hills, President of Just For Laughs and John Lewis, SVP of Programing and Operations, SiriusXM Canada

Today, we wish to announce our new strategy for Canadian Comedy on SiriusXM Canada.
  • The new channel on SiriusXM 168 will be called Just For Laughs Canada and it will showcase 100 per cent Canadian content;
  • All the content will be produced by Canadian artists independent of the Just For Laughs catalogue; and
  • Canadian artists will be eligible for the same royalties as under the previous channel.
We spoke with Sandra Battaglini from the Canadian Association of Stand-ip Comedians (CASC) and informed her of our plans for the channel.
Quotes
“We’ve listened carefully to the concerns of Canadian artists and regret the stress we have caused the comedy community. We are invested in the growth of Canada’s comedy industry and are working to include even more Canadian talent in all our initiatives. To that end, we will continue to engage directly with the industry and work with CASC to strengthen and advance Canadian comedy.” – Bruce Hills, President of Just For Laughs

“Our partnership with Just For Laughs Canada provides an opportunity to bring Canada’s comedic talent to a larger audience in Canada and the United States. We understand the importance our platform has to comedians in Canada, and along with Just For Laughs, we will continue to work closely with that community to ensure its success.” – John Lewis, SVP of Programing and Operations, SiriusXM Canada

I contacted Dave Nystrom, a standup comic based in Calgary, and read him the press release. He was dumbfounded. And, needless to say, very pleased.

"Wow... Holy crap... Awesome... That's amazing," he said. "So we basically got it back to exactly what it was."

Well, except for now it's called Just For Laughs Canada, instead of Canada Laughs, but hey, what's in a name?

"I feel like Norma Rae right now," Nystrom joked.

Which is what we all wanted. Comedians can go back to being funny again. Yay!

Kumbaya, everyone.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE (Feb. 28): The reversion back to the original format will take place at midnight tonight, February 28/March 1, 2019. As for the name change from Canada Laughs to Just For Laughs Radio, this will "take some time" according to JFL press relations, "due to the mechanics of Sirius USA." They have been told the rebranding will take place at the end of March but haven't been given an exact date yet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Canada Cries

Fresh off the successful two-week JFL Northwest Comedy Festival, it was leaked, and then announced, that Just For Laughs has formed a partnership with Canada Laughs, the SiriusXM Canada station that, up until recently, played 100 percent Canadian independent comedy. The new Just For Laughs Radio will feature archival clips from their vault, reducing the number of hours – and residuals – from Canadian standup comedians, many of whom rely on the revenue to keep them afloat.

Talk about your brou-haha.

If nothing else, the move has galvanized the Canadian comedy community like never before. One of the most vocal on social media is former Vancouver comic Dave Nystrom, who recently moved to Calgary after a decade in Los Angeles.

“We were given no notice on this,” he said. “The main point for me and for a lot of the comics is they’re not adhering to CanCon. I mean, they are kind of adhering to CanCon rules but they’re circumventing it by airing American acts.”

On Monday, the public relations department of Just For Laughs passed on to me several prepared comments, saying representatives from both Just For Laughs and SiriusXM couldn’t speak with me due to the volume of requests they’ve been receiving. I have since submitted a list of 30 questions I had planned on asking the representatives. Until such time as they’re answered, we’ll go by the official comments. “SiriusXM has no CRTC obligation to keep a comedy channel,” one comment reads.

Another comment says, “We have asked [SiriusXM host, producer and standup comic] Ben Miner to curate new content for the channel that will feature Canadian releases from establishing and emerging Canadian comedians who produced content independently of JFL, as well as performances for Just For Laughs from the past to today.”

Miner, a beloved figure on the scene who also runs the yearly SiriusXM Top Comic competition, couldn’t be reached for comment so as of press time, we don’t know what percentage of airtime will feature the independent releases.

Before the official comments, Nystrom said of Miner, “He’s been the biggest champion for Canadian comedy. Everybody loves Ben. He’s been the one who’s fought for us all along to get our albums in there.”

Residuals from airplay has ranged from a couple thousand dollars to $60,000 US a year, says Nystrom.

“It was always our intention that the new channel would be majority Canadian and that comedians would receive royalties on both independently produced albums, as they always have, as well as Canadian performances from the JFL library,” another official comment reads. So while that's positive, it still is less than the 100 percent it was up until now.

One thing that galls many of the comedians is how this all came as a total surprise.

“If 50 percent of your income is about to disappear, that’s something anybody in any profession would want to know,” says Nystrom. “If we were informed, maybe we could have had conversations with them on how to find a better option. Or something. I’m sure we’d put our heads together and instead of having this fight, we would have had a discussion to try and figure out a better approach that works for everybody.”

On their end, JFL says, “Together, both companies regret not notifying comedians earlier of the decision.”

According to the official comments, and to a video new JFL owner Howie Mandel released on Sunday, SiriusXM was looking to attract a larger audience for the channel and approached JFL about partnering. JFL comments, “In preparation for the new channel, SiriusXM removed more than 25% of their original talk programming to open up 30 hours of additional airtime to program comedy clips.”

“If it wasn’t working before for them from their end of it,” says Nystrom, “I don’t know what that means exactly but I don’t imagine they’re just going to go back to how it was, but we would like to be part of the conversation, we would like there to be some sort of compromise. And something that is truly Canadian, not American acts recorded in Canada.”

While preparing this story, I streamed Canada Laughs. It's a small sample size, but out of 17 tracks, 11 were Canadian (or 65%): Debra DiGiovanni, Ana-Marija Stojic, Brent Butt, Jeff McEnery, Ron James, Winston Spear, Dave Merheje, Jeremy Hotz, Tim Nutt, DeAnne Smith, and Rebecca Kohler, while six were non-Canadian: Marc Maron, Jimmy Carr, Colin Quinn, Jim Jefferies, Ed Byrne, and Dylan Moran. And all appeared to be from JFL recordings rather than independent albums released by the comedians themselves.

The final comment from the JFL publicity department reads, “Our goal with the channel is to increase audience which will provide greater exposure for Canadian talent that should translate into more and more opportunities.”

It’s unclear now how playing less than 100 percent Canadian content will provide greater exposure for Canadian talent but maybe they feel drawing listeners in with famous international names will expose them to the Canadian names they might not otherwise be familiar with.

As hot under the collar as the comedians are today, maybe the situation will resolve itself. Maybe it won’t. Maybe the public perception of Just For Laughs will erode. Maybe this will just be a blip. For the sake of the country’s comedy industry, we can hope the two sides will soon look back at this ugly bit of business and, well, laugh.

“I want Just For Laughs and Canadian comedy to have a great relationship,” says Nystrom. “I would love it if this was the spark for some kind of change that lifted Canadian comedy up and Just For Laughs was a part of that. I’m not trying to paint them as an evil empire or anything like that. I think they’re not handling things the right way and I just want that to change.”


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