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Pre-Apocalypse Post

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Okay, realistically, the odds of Donald Trump starting the nuclear holocaust that wipes out all life in North America within the next year are probably no worse than 50-50. And while I’m confident that if he manages to stay in power, he will eventually  invade Canada and will also round up all the Jews to placate his horrible mob for the cratering of the economy, that’s probably at least a few years away. Nevertheless, the timing seemed right to update this chronicling of my life, lest it come to an abrupt end and future historians take an interest. So here are some of the things I’ve been up to since my last post in….DEAR GOD, 2014!!

 

The Rest of September 2014:

So the big highlight of September 2014 was I started my weekly basketball run at Leo Baeck! It’s still going strong, and it’s one of my favorite things! I love the sport and I love the people, and as I’ve phased myself out of the improv world, it’s been a great way to keep many people I might have lost touch with otherwise in my life!

Another highlight for the month was saying goodbye to Brad and Lydia as they moved east…”highlight” in the sense of ‘big,’ not ‘happy.’ They are missed…though homebody that I am, I feel I almost see people more when they move because then I REALLY make a point to see them when they’re back to visit! But I’m sure some kickass videos that could have been made weren’t, though Brad has continued making kickass videos without me, the talented bastard!

Oh, and Cameron Wylie takes me to see Pete Holmes! This may not be noteworthy enough to have made the cut later in the post, but I took the time to do the homework, so I’m including it, damn it! Plus any hangout with Cam is cause for celebration!

 

October 2014:

I see Harmontown, both the movie and the live show. It’s a double bill. Did I mention all the homework I did to remember what I did over two years ago??

I’m once again retweeted by @midnight. I don’t know if this is bragworthy, but it’s leading up to something that may be!

At Midnight SECOND retweet

I do a Catch 23 with my dear friend Matt McCready. At this point, my improv career is pretty much winding down, mostly by my choice. I had a great run and I’ll always love it, but I stopped enjoying the performing of it and even watching it. Basically, it got to the point where something would have to be really great for me to like it, and even then, I’d appreciate it more than I’d really get taken away with it. But this was a very fun show with a hot crowd, and Matt and I did a Vietnam scene (always a classic) with him as the insane commander and me as the high-strung soldier that was very satisfying, and a nice memory.

I also went with Tory to see Bruce McCulloch’s ‘Young Drunk Punk’ (his solo show), and we had the municipal election that rid us of the Fords (at least for now) from the mayoral seat. We got John Tory, so it wasn’t exactly a full-throated vindication of the electoral process, but it definitely felt like a weight was lifted.

 

November 2014:

I move apartments. That’s a big life event, right? You’d be right to think so, but I do it twice in this post! For this move, I take over my brother’s old apartment at the corner of Raglan and Claxton, and it’s a definite upgrade! Well, okay, it was a basement and it was absolutely FREEZING in the winters (the windows may as well have been Saran wrap!), but it was dirt cheap, huge, and in a great neighborhood which was walking distance from both the subway and my parents’ place (where Martino lives!) It was a shame to have to give that place up (more on that later), but it was fun while it lasted!

With discount tickets from Stephanie Belding, I go to see Book of Mormon. (Thanks, Steph!) Worth mentioning because that’s what I started using “Turn it off…like a light switch!” in conversation!

I start taking Chris Gibbs’ one-person show workshop. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, and he’s one of the best at it, and someone I absolutely revere! The timing is fortuitous, because this is also the month of the Toronto Fringe lottery, and against all odds (literally), I get in! Suddenly, my vague idea for a show has to become a reality! And this blog and the stories recounted in its early days prove pivotally important!

I also have a wisdom tooth removed. Far later than it should have been, both because I didn’t have dental insurance and I’m kind of an idiot. Basically, I saw a dentist because I was in pain, and it turned out that only was my wisdom tooth kind of infected, the infection was growing and eating away at my jaw. Left untreated, at some point, my jaw would have just broken. Luckily, OHIP took care of most of the procedures and tests, but it still cost me a small fortune. Not bitter, just pointing that out for political purposes! Anyway, I’m feeling much better now!

And I participate in the first of Matt McCready’s 24 Hour Sketch Festivals, and it’s an incredible experience! On the one hand, I rock a very self-indulgent monologue, which was actually good training for doing a one-person show! In case that sounds facetious, it was actually kind of the idea. I wanted to see if I could do something that I knew would be funnier than to me than it would be to others and power through it. My monologue from a foreman assigning a temp the 12 Labors of Hercules seemed to fit the bill! I also came up with the original germ of an idea for a sketch that Lisa Gilroy and I built into something and the whole cast worked on, and it’s probably the greatest sketch I’ve ever been involved in putting together. After much debate, I’ve decided not to write out what it was here (it would lose so much), but it was called ‘Blondes’, and I will describe it for you in great detail if asked!

 

December 2014:

I think my big highlight for the month was finding out that my Short Play Writing course at Second City was going ahead. It’s something I was really excited to do, because it’s something I have a lot of thoughts about and I’m excited for the opportunity to help people do something that’s given me such joy! And, of course, I’m also a credits whore who was happy that I’d be able to say I’d performed AND taught for Second City!

I’m sure other important stuff happened, but who can remember? I did spend my New Year’s at Mitch and Claire’s, so that’s a thing I remember! (I think.)

 

January 2015:

So my course starts, and it’s everything I hoped for and more! I’m blessed with a very talented group that’s very good about giving and taking notes, and I feel that I really have something to contribute! Short plays are an often-ignored genre, but I’m hopeful I gave everyone tools that they are still using. And many told me it was the best Second City course they’d ever taken, which cynical me wanted to dismiss as something probably said to every instructor, but on good days, I choose to believe it!

The other big highlight for January was a trip to Vancouver, an old hometown I hadn’t visited in years! I went with my dad for my Uncle Bobo’s 70th birthday, but I of course saw many old friends as well! These include Vanessa, Jason and Helena, Eric and Shaun (in both Gentlemen Hecklers and ‘dudes at a bar’ modes), Ken, Morgan, Jens Neale and Wagner, Erin Macdonald, and my (pretend) baby sister Olivia! Oh, if only this country was smaller! The family stuff was also very nice, with Uncle Oz (he goes by both names, and many more besides, including on rare occasions his actual name) feted properly at Szechuan Chong Qing! (Again, if only this country was smaller….) Evan and I made this video for the occasion, which garnered enough praise for me to share it here…

 

February 2015:

Not much seems to have happened, but it’s a short month, right? I had drinks with my old buddy and sometime comedy partner Greg Komorowski before he skips town, and it is lovely, because he’s lovely. And I somewhat live-tweet the Oscars, so I can now say I’ve (somewhat) live-tweeted something!

 

March 2015:

I do another Operation 24, which you may recall is the show where a bunch of short plays are put together in a day, with the writing happening over night. This time around, the objects we’re provided for inspiration lead me to write a play based both on a theatre reference and a pun. And that’s why the world got ‘L is Other People.’

I go to Sketchfest and am once again blown away by all the incredible talent in Toronto! But I think if there’s one really indelible memory, it’s when I went to see Kate McKinnon’s solo show and saw opener (and buddy) Mark Little ABSOLUTELY DESTROY the theatre! How he isn’t on SNL yet, I’ll never know, but their loss is my basketball game’s gain!

And while I know I have a birthday in this month, I can’t remember doing anything for it. (I tend to play them pretty low-key in my old age.) But I do know I went to an escape room some time around then, and we escaped! So there’s that…

Escape Room March 2015

April 2015:

I take part in another 24 Hour Sketch Challenge. Much of the details escape me, but I did write a sketch with Natalie Metcalfe where she was Annie to my dying father, and she’s one of the most delightful people ever, so that’s a highlight for sure!

And the next day, I go with Evan to see the Kids in the Hall live. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them live (it’s a fair number), but it never gets old! Even though they and we do!

 

May 2015:

Okay, I should probably be embarrassed that I have two highlights for this month and they’re both tweets! But one is a really good tweet and the other is praise (for a different tweet) from a personal hero who wrote for Buffy and Battlestar Galactica among other shows, so shut up!

 

 

 

June 2015:

Okay, much of this month was devoted to getting ready for the Fringe. I haven’t mentioned this work yet, because it’s not necessarily interesting to read about, but it was certainly occupying much of my time and mental energy for this half-year! But I did manage to do a few other things.

I attended the Mac and Cheese Festival. Which wasn’t nearly as heavenly as it should have been, but still a thing I’ve done.

I had my first Pimms Cup. (Alas, not in a Pimp’s Cup!)

First Pimms Cup June 2015

 

And we go to see Once as a family. Which I think proves that Evan and I must be (at least occasionally) good sons.

And that brings us to…

 

July 2015:

My one-man show Sloanliness debuts at the Toronto Fringe! It’s an incredibly rewarding experience every way but financially! And this blog was integral! Those of you who may remember reading about how hard I geeked out on Chris Murphy of Sloan when he came aboard the ship for Ships ‘n Dip and thought that would make a good one-man show, you were right! And those of you who thought it was amusing but didn’t imagine it could be talked about for an hour, nuts to you!

In all seriousness, it’s something I’m very proud of. I’m proud of it as a piece of work, but I’m even more proud of myself for doing it. To stand on a stage by myself just talking for an hour is something I wasn’t sure I’d be capable of, but I did it, and a lot of people seemed to like it, and I was of course incredibly touched by the people who came out to see it! (Including my old McGill roommate and dear friend Jon Dewolfe, who I think traveled the furthest to see it (Ottawa!))

Most of my real gushing happened on Facebook, but here are a few pictures I thought worth sharing:

Sloanliness posterThis is my poster, designed by the incredible Jon Blair! I take it as a sign of my burgeoning confidence that I have one of Canada’s funniest people design my poster, despite my suspicions that it might just make people think “Man, I’d much rather see JON’s one-man show!” And they wouldn’t be wrong! But I figured I already ran that risk putting Chris Gibbs’ name on the poster, so what the hell!

 

Sloanliness beers in the park

 

Knowing that my weekday matinee would be poorly attended, I put out on Facebook that I would take anyone who showed up to the park for beers. And a few people took me up on it! So I mentioned it wasn’t a financial success, but I’m going to slip in the brag that attendance kept growing over the course of the run, including a sold-out final performance!

 

Sloanliness poster with Rhiannon

 

So in addition to all the rewards of actually doing the show, I had a great time with the Fringe community! As someone who often feels the need for credentials to participate in things, I’ve got to say there’s nothing that makes you feel more that you’re a part of the Fringe than writing and performing in a one-person show! So besides hanging out with a bunch of old friends, I also made some new ones, key among them fellow solo performer Rhiannon Archer. I kept referring to her online as my Fringe sister, and I certainly got the better end of the deal!

And then the Fringe is over, and I have to move on with my life.

Taking my newfound experience with the form, I perform an improvised story as part of Mullet’s Night Show. It was very well-received and I had a great time doing it. Naturally, I never find occasion to do it again. But I really should. At some point.

Then it’s off to Winnipeg with Larry. Alas, not for the Fringe, just for a visit, but I was due. I showed a video of Sloanliness to some extended family, where there was a request to “fast-forward to the good parts.” I checked out the Human Rights Museum for the first time. And I had what turned out to be my last visit with my Grandma Rae. We’d heard she was having good days and bad days, but she gave us a command performance, and I’m very grateful that gets to be my last memory of her.

So due to dumbness on my part, I scheduled the trip to Winnipeg completely forgetting that I would be missing a Toronto production of Courting! (My brain was very much in Sloanliness mode, to the point where I forgot I might possibly have anything else scheduled!) It was part of the Social Capital Short Short Play Festival, was directed by dear friend Carmine Lucarelli, and starred Lynne Griffin, Jilly Hanson, Jamie Johnson, Sean Sullivan, and Kevin Vidal. I only got to see a video, but they did an excellent job and made some really fun choices I hadn’t seen before, and the feedback I got and reviews I read were excellent! Also as a bonus, one of my students also got a play into the festival, so there’s another feather in my cap! Here’s a picture of the cast in rehearsal (I didn’t take the picture, though I did thankfully make it to a rehearsal.)

Courting rehearsal July 2015

 

Courting and Wayne’s World: now one degree of separation apart!

 

August 2015:

So this is where I have to apologize to little Marty. It turns out he was such a pain in the ass his first time at the cottage because he was sick with a urinary tract infection! Well, I mean, maybe it’s that he needed some time with the Hershfields to become fun, but that’s certainly the best explanation for why he was pissing all over the place and wouldn’t sleep through the night! But this year, he was a lot of fun, diving into the water like a good boy and adorably chasing and then stealing our tennis balls as we played!

Alas, we were at the cottage when Grandma Rae passed, so our time at the cottage ended prematurely, and we were off to Winnipeg. It’s all something of a blur, but I do remember writing and delivering the eulogy. It’s a weird thing to feel good at, but I guess it’s nice to be able to take a task off people’s plates. And thus ended the summer.

 

September 2015:

September was a very showbizzy month for me! With my Fringe experience behind me, I decide to try my hand at storytelling. I haven’t really kept it up, but it was a lot of fun and something I hope to get back to someday! (If nothing else, I’ve checked another performance medium off the list!) It started with a Fireside Tales, which is Rhiannon’s show. I do two that month, at one telling the story of the time in Israel where I thought I’d inadvertently killed someone, and at the other telling the story of the English teacher who tried to fail me for using the word ‘whore’ in a short story. I also told the first story again at the Dare! Storytelling show, and it was better the second time, which is probably a good indication that it could be worth returning to. Either way, good times!

I go to an NDP rally to see Tom Mulcair speak. At the time, he was the odds-on favorite to become the next Prime Minister. I don’t know if what I experienced was the reason he didn’t win, but I will say that I’ve come to think I’m not a “rally person” even if I agree with the cause. Maybe it’s having performing experience, but the idea that a crowd is supposed to be applauding rapturously at everything that’s said and constantly chanting is gut-wrenching to me. Can’t we come up with a system that encourages and celebrates thinking?

Anyhoo…I also give my improv career a last hoorah! At this point, I’m really not looking to do shows, but I do them when they’re offered. And very nicely and unexpectedly, I’m asked to participate in Bad Dog Homecoming Week. I do their Micetro show…and win, for whatever that’s worth! Well, technically, it was worth five bucks! But seriously, I’ll admit that for the sake of my ego, it’s nice to show some people that I (once) knew what I was doing! I also do the Late Late Horror Show, which was a bit of a trainwreck, but a fun one, which is also a part of the improv experience I’ll miss. And lastly, I do a duos set with Lisa Gilroy, which I’ll also admit didn’t go great, but I was very happy to add her to the list of people I’ve played with. That may have actually been the motivation, because she’s definitely someone going somewhere, so I’m glad I’ll be able to say more officially that I knew her when!

It’s September, so that of course means another TIFF. A pretty good year for me, as I see:

  • The Lobster
  • Dheepan
  • The Fear
  • Brooklyn
  • Spotlight
  • Anomalisa
  • Men & Chicken

I also make the very showbiz decision to join a celebrity church. In this case, John Oliver’s Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Church!

John Oliver envelope (address not blacked out)

 

It’s sadly been shut down since, but I’m sure my fortune is still coming any day now!

I also meet (briefly) Bruce McCulloch at a Writers Talking TV screening, so now I just need a Mark McKinney interaction to complete my KITH set! One of these days, one of these days…

And I do yet another 24 Hour Sketch Challenge! I believe my big laugh line was “Hi, I’m Steven Keele, and I’m here to tell you not to live life too fast OR too slow.” I’ll understand if you feel you had to be there.

 

October 2015:

History will remember this as the month Canada rid itself of Stephen Harper as PM. We’ll see when/if we can recover from the damage his reign of terror inflicted, but at least it feels like a pall has been lifted. However momentarily.

On a personal note, I take a big trip…that I can’t quite afford, but I take it anyway! And some parts of it are free!

So my pilot script for The Shrink had made it to the second round in the Austin Film Festival’s competition, which is supposed to be the equivalent of a quarterfinals for most scriptwriting competitions or roughly the top 10%. Whether that was a high enough placing to justify going is pretty questionable, but I was curious, sufficiently flattered, and hungry for adventure! Well, that, and I found out very-generous-soul Randall Willis had a spare pass he’d earned as a judge! So I decided to go!

But a funny thing happened as I was preparing for the trip. My buddy Tory called and asked if I’d be interested in a free trip to L.A.! He had two cats that needed to make the trip, and it turns out the easiest way to transport them is as carry-on, with a limit of one cat per customer! And he would put me up in L.A. and it would be a chance for us to hang out again as roomies! So even though I couldn’t afford EITHER of the trips, they were so heavily subsidized and promised to be such fun, how could I refuse??

L.A. was definitely an adventure. I of course took meticulous notes of what I got up to…and then misplaced them in the move (not to get ahead of myself!) I do remember quite a few of the things I got up to, but mostly I remember the feeling of being in an industry town. Though I of course did SOME of the touristy things (quite a few), I also allowed myself to imagine what life would be like there. And I sort of lived both realities: through Tory and Alyssa, I felt like I got a glimpse of the performer side of life (albeit with more success than I’d expect to achieve), and because I wanted to polish up some portfolio pieces before getting to Austin (just in case), I also lived a bit of the writer’s life. I even went to a cafe to write!

Because it’s L.A., I honestly think most of my time was spent driving around with Tory. It is actually a ton of fun, though I don’t think I could stand it if I was driving. We spend much of the week seeing how long it can take us to find Hotline Bling on the radio, and it’s usually about every ten minutes or so! Sites we hit (besides the familiar places that are ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE!) include Venice Beach, the Getty, The Grove, and I believe a cafe that Kristen Bell either used to work at or frequent. (At this brunch, with some more of Tory’s friends, I convince myself that MAYBE I could be one of those funny people beautiful people keep around. This is the kind of thing I found myself thinking about in L.A.) I also see a show at Largo at the Coronet with Isaac, and find myself in a conversation circle with Damon Lindelof and Amy Brenneman afterwards. (They were performing, I didn’t talk to them, but I could have. L.A.!) I also have separate reunions with my boat castmates Mike and Nate (blog comes full circle!), which were both very fun! (I was admittedly pretty wiped out when I saw Nate, but still…) Great guys, and I’m rooting for both of them in this show biz grind! I also try to make plans with director Matt which don’t come together, but it was lovely chatting with him again. And I try to make plans with Lauren, who was unfortunately (for me) in the middle of shooting Superstore…which would have been a good excuse regardless of the quality of the show, but has become an even better excuse now that I know how awesome it is!

One of these days, I’m going to return, screenplay in hand! (And I really hope it’s when self-driving cars are everywhere and easily rentable, because that would make a huge difference.)

Then it was on to Austin!

Again, meticulous notes missing! And while the conference itself left me with kind of mixed feelings, as all those writer conferences and seminars and podcasts tend to do (there’s obviously a lot to learn, but there’s only so much you can be taught through group lecture and without doing), it was a lot of fun! I met some very nice people (shout out to Paul and Leah!), and it’s also nice to feel like you’re part of a community of artists…even if it’s daunting to be reminded of how many people want to do the same thing as me!

Austin is also pretty great! In another life where I have time to revisit cities, I’d love to see more of it! I was staying with fellow Torontonian Andrea, and we did some especially nice exploring on my penultimate day there. Which come to think of it was actually in November…

 

November 2015:

…Austin continued! So we did a substantial walk that included a lot of UT Austin, which was very satisfying for me as a lover of Friday Night Lights. (Texas forever!) And we went to the LBJ Presidential Library, which was my very first Presidential Library! It was very impressive in scope, he’s a pretty fascinating character, and it was strangely awing to stand in the recreated Oval Office! (Of course, the whole institution has now been completely tarnished, probably beyond repair, but at the time, Trump was still an admittedly worrisome joke.) I probably should have been taking more pictures but didn’t want to detract from the experience. But I took this one!

LBJ and me

 

Then on to the nearby Texas State Legislature, which is very impressive, portraits of Dubya and Rick Perry notwithstanding! And a little more walking through UT, then Indian food for dinner! A very nice night!

For my last day, I grab some great Texas barbecue, then head down to the very Bohemian South Congress Avenue. It’s great and supports the theory that Austin is a bit of an outlier for Texas. I check out Allen’s Boots, where a man with a smaller or greater sense of irony might have gone full cowboy! I’m confronted on the street by a seemingly friendly guy with a camera crew who asked me “Do you think there should be free psychiatric care for people who are depressed about how bad a president Obama is?” I politely answered “I think there should be free psychiatric care for EVERYONE.” Which I thought was a reasonably good answer until about thirty seconds later, when I realized what I should have said was “Yes, because anyone who thinks Obama is doing a bad job as president needs all the psychiatric care they can get!” And I check out some really great eclectic stores including Uncommon Objects, where I buy a thermometer for my parents, a longstanding vacation tradition. This one looks like a stump with a gun and bullets resting on top of it. And with that, I head home!

Shortly thereafter, something kind of crazy happens:

Yes, after many attempts, a tweet of mine actually makes it onto @midnight! And I have to accept the possibility that more people saw that tweet than saw me perform live in over a decade as an improviser!

And as if to hammer that point home, I was then off to do Sloanliness in Collingwood as part of their new Fresh from the Fringe Festival. Pretty small houses, but pretty decent shows and very nice billets. It also feels like an accomplishment to be asked to perform somewhere, so there’s also that!

And to end off the month, I go with Ian to see Cameron Esposito perform standup at Comedy Bar. Don’t know if that’s blogworthy, but it was in the Cabaret Space, and that seems like the smallest room you’re likely to ever see her in, so why not mention it?

 

December 2015:

This is either the start of a dull couple of months, or I just did a poor job recording what I was up to. Anyway, here goes!

I perform in O Dat Dumb’s show, O Dat Show. I do a reading of ‘Casey on the App’, my version of Casey on the Bat except with a dating app (pretty much Tinder.) Comedy gold, I’m telling you! For the holidays, I have my first Cape Breton Christmas at Brian and Sihan’s, I spend Christmas proper with my family (I presume), and I believe I do New Year’s at Sean and Kim’s, where I believe I’m the only non-parent in the mix, but it was lovely!

 

January 2016:

Woo hoo, (when I started writing this) this year! (I mean, I’m obviously not cheering the notoriously awful year. I’m just ready for this post to be over! But please, anyone who’s still reading, enjoy!)

So I count three parties in January: Festivus at Second City (always a fun party where I feel I SOMEWHAT belong), the Royal Rumble Party at Matt’s (where I feel very welcome, if somewhat out of my element vis-a-vis wrestling (my references are decades old))…and Medieval Times with Mike Fly and company!

Medieval Times January 2016

I am now thoroughly prepared for my Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court moment, if it ever happens.

 

February 2016:

I see Air Dat Dum, which I mention mostly because it was hysterical and also because I don’t want to have an entire month (even a short one) with just one event in it. I also participate in a charity bowlathon. I’m not sure if I hit more pins or made more Big Lebowski references, but it has to be close!

 

March 2016:

I host Fridurday Sketch Live! (It’s a sketch show.) I was just supposed to be guesting, but I end up hosting. Though conversations with several castmates I’m friends with reveals that everyone is feeling pretty burnt out, it’s still a very good time…for me, at any rate!  I write and perform a song parody called Comma Police (pretty self-explanatory, I would think) and a sketch called Penis Portrait which was far cleverer than it sounds (probably.) Good times had!

I also write this tweet which I was quite proud of, so please enjoy the fine craftsmanship:

 

Then a real adventure. The Hershfields do what Jews do and escape to Florida! Uncle Ian rents a house and the three families congregate for a nice little vacation. Of course, from my vantage point, Florida may be the most repugnant place in the world, but it’s hot and we’re together. And of course, some fun times were had! When I could suppress my natural urge to be disgusted at the crass capitalism of it all, good times were had at Universal Studios…

Hufflepuff and SlytherinThe irony of the picture is that while these are our personas, I am obviously a Ravenclaw and Evan is obviously a Hufflepuff…but sometimes sacrifices have to be made for comedy! I’d say the other big Florida highlights are heading down to Dunedin for some Blue Jays spring training and the Kennedy Space Center, which, despite two jackasses constantly doing their ‘JFK from Clone High’ impressions (it was Evan and I), was pretty remarkable!

We also had a very nice road trip back, with stops in Savannah (or as I call it, Shavannah), Knoxville, and Cleveland. And yes, we got to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and yes, this is Robbie Robertson’s double guitar from The Last Waltz!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (March 2016)Somewhere around here would have been my birthday…so I’ll just say it was here!

 

April 2016:

Sloanliness goes to Montreal for the Solos Festival! Sixteen years after my first ever play was put on at the McGill Drama Festival, I make my triumphant return. The circle is closed. It was a wonderful time all around. Mitch and Claire were nice enough to put me up and we got in some fun hangouts, including the mandatory Montreal poutine and bagel runs. I meet the Chief for lunch at Amelio’s, which is nearly nostalgia overload, and I top it off with a long walk around campus. So many memories! And while the show once again drew a pretty small crowd, I think it may have been my best performance of the show ever!

But this is amazingly not the highlight of my April. The highlight is applying for, interviewing for, getting, and starting my job at NN! (Acronym not for shame purposes, but rather to keep me out of unsavory Google searches.) I won’t pretend it’s not an odd job…though it’s probably not as interesting as everyone imagines it is! But it’s definitely a privilege to get to write every day and get paid to do it, and the people there are great! And it’s very nice to have steady work and, I believe they’re called…benefits?

And the month ends with the Toronto Screenwriting Conference! I’d volunteered to work this before I knew I’d be employed, so my first weekend was actually spent STILL getting up at the crack of dawn, but it was quite a good conference! It was generally pitched at a higher level than Austin, which even though I’m not entirely a professional TV writer (though an argument could slightly be made now), I appreciated. And because I got my first choice of assignment, I was volunteering as an usher in the main room, so I got to see all the big lectures. Even if I turn out to be a hobbyist, it’s still a world I really love, so good times!

 

May 2016:

Day 2 of the Toronto Screenwriting Conference. See above.

Evan and I take Mom to see James Taylor for Mothers’ Day. Good sons that we are! Okay, I admit, he puts on a pretty good show…

And I do this tweet, noteworthy only because when it appeared as a Facebook post, it was liked by members of some of the finest sketch groups in Canadian comedy. And that tickles me!

 

 

June 2016:

I do yet another 24 Hour Sketch Challenge, the best show not on dirt! I’m running out of steam here AND someone actually took pictures of this show, and since a picture is worth a thousand words anyway, in lieu of more description…

24 Hour 1 June 2016 24 Hour 2 June 2016 24 Hour 3 June 2016

 

So that’s me with the kids. Back in the world of the grownups, my high school buddy Mark gets married! I am more and more the outlier as a lifelong bachelor (though not in the euphemism sense)! But hey, that’s why I have time for things like blogging every couple years, right? Right? (Tumbleweed blows through my mostly empty apartment.)

 

July 2016:

The Fringe happens again. It’s a little odd not having a show, but I’ve still got a lot of shows to see. And I get to hang out with many people I don’t hang out with enough, including my old Vancouver pal Ryan Beil! Worth noting because our plans almost always fall through!

I’m also noting a decline in interesting life events, but I believe that’s one of the definitions of having a day job! That’s when I’m chalking it up to anyway! Although July was also largely occupied with plans for…

 

August 2016:

I move! So a few months back, my landlord Mike told me that he was going to have to be moving to a retirement home and thus they were going to be selling the house. That’s a very hard thing to begrudge…though I knew it was going to be a pain. As expected, without my stroke of luck, apartment hunting in Toronto is a miserable experience. Luckily, I found a nice place in Leslieville, which I quite enjoy and it’s way closer to work! But oy, the rent! (It’s standard, maybe even a little better than standard, for Toronto, but not the insane bargain my previous place had been) And just like that, the job that I thought was going to make me flush instead gives me just enough to live off of! But just imagine how screwed I would have been if I didn’t have it!

And we make another trip to the cottage. Because that’s what the Hershfields do in August. Though as a working stiff, I both got less time there and needed it more. Don’t remember many specifics (besides listening to the last Tragically Hip concert on the radio), but good times were had.

 

September 2016:

Again, being a working stiff meant I saw far fewer TIFF movies than I normally would. Nothing too exceptional this time around, but nothing bad. I saw:

  • India in a Day
  • American Pastoral
  • The Journey
  • The Exception

Some celebrity sighting, but the most fun was seeing my old buddy Phil Burke, who I assistant-directed (assistant to the directed?) in Rat in the Skull at the Berkshire Theatre Festival back in 2005! We met working on a very Irish project, so seeing him after The Journey (a very Irish movie) when he was standing with his very Irish ‘Hell on Wheels’ co-star Colm Meaney was possibly the most Irish moment of my life. And maybe that’s why I’m (spoiler!) going to Ireland with the family for my birthday! But since that hasn’t happened yet…

I make the following topical tweet about Ted Cruz deciding to endorse Donald Trump…

 

…which, yes, I’d probably be sharing anyway just because it’s funny to me. But there’s also a story! So as the tweet got passed around, Wynonna Earp showrunner Emily Andras happened to see it and happened to comment…

Which, very cool in and of itself! But I also met her at a Writers’ Talking TV event a few days later and used my authorship of that tweet as a means of introduction! We then had a lovely conversation (she’s INCREDIBLY nice, and not just to me, as I observed while working up my nerve) and she said she’d look at a writing sample of mine! So I sent her The Shrink and will follow up when her season wraps up! I’m not expecting anything more out of it than perhaps the opportunity to buy her coffee and glean some wisdom…but I admit, I love the possibility that my big break story might start with a tweet about Ted Cruz eating shit!

 

October 2016:

There’s a party for Fiona, who becomes a Canadian citizen! Arguably just under the wire, as it turns out!

I also have my first band practice! Yes, probably two decades or so after it would have impressed girls, I’m in something of a band! I forget how it came about exactly, but head writer Brad is a guitar virtuoso and editor Nate is a drummer, and at some point, we joked about making a band, and how I could be the bass player. And then we found someone selling a bass for $50 on Kijiji, and things pretty much went from there. Oh, and I’m also the lead singer! So far, we just rehearse and do mostly ’90s covers (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Better than Ezra, etc.). Maybe someday we’ll do a show, but even if we don’t, it feels pretty cool…if somewhat Weekend Warrior!

And my friend Vanessa comes for a visit. It’s all too brief, but brevity is the soul of wit, so good times were had!

 

November 2016:

Western democracy comes to an end. It had a pretty good run. Very little good comes out of it. All I can think of is that Ian took me to see Josh Gondelman at Comedy Bar, and he was able to wring some comedy out of it. (Mind you, it seems like there’s a lot of comedy being made, but it all leaves you sad.) And I have a mini-Twitter conversation with David Simon, which I have to admit is awesome, circumstances notwithstanding…

 

 

United by bleak outlooks. Very ‘The Wire’!

 

December 2016:

Much of this month is spent in a Trump-induced fog and depression. (Of course, he’s since proved as bad as could possibly be imagined, which was already beyond terrible.) But it’s also a time for parties…specifically holiday parties!

I take it upon myself to organize the office party. Seems like a good task for the new guy, and I’d say it was a success! It was essentially a dorm party format, with a karaoke kicker! Smelling the freedom of the impending holiday, I drank way too much. I believe I was on pace to have just drank too much when Eila brought out the Jello shots! But I was rocking the karaoke thoroughly and body shots were exchanged before I passed out with head over garbage can (strictly precautionary). Still got it!

New Year’s was spent at Matt and Erin’s. Which would have been perfectly lovely regardless, but they also got engaged! The closest I’ve physically been to a couple getting exchanged, and they’re an incredible couple, so it was a very nice start to the year!

 

 

And I realize that it’s now February, so by all rights, I should be writing up January, but I’m going to succumb to unit bias and say it makes sense to end at the end of a year! (Also I’m tired.) If anybody’s still reading this, thank you for being way too interested in me! And be sure to come back soon for my ongoing list of every book I’ve read since this blog started! (And I think I’ll throw in some favorites from my pre-blog life…curation and all…)

 

Stay gold, Ponyboys.

Book Club for one!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Okay, so my Book Club show didn’t take off.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to subject cyberspace to my literary tastes!

Here are the books I’ve read since last I posted the books I’ve read!

  1. Fletch and the Widow Bradley, Gregory Mcdonald
  2. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  3. At Home: A Brief History of Private Life, Bill Bryson
  4. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  5. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
  6. The Sentimentalists, Johanna Skibsrud
  7. Becoming Canada, Ken Dryden
  8. The Stench of Honolulu, Jack Handey
  9. The Guts, Roddy Doyle
  10. Confessions of a Late Night Talk Show Host: The Autobiography of Larry Sanders, Garry Shandling
  11. Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story, Chuck Klosterman
  12. Double Down: Game Change 2012, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
  13. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  14. Attempting Normal, Marc Maron
  15. The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida
  16. I Hate My Neck (and other thoughts on being a woman), Nora Ephron
  17. Cockroach, Rawi Hage
  18. What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, Daniel Bergner
  19. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Piper Kerman
  20. Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage., Rob Delaney
  21. Behind Bars: Surviving Prison, Jeffrey Ian Ross & Stephen C. Richards
  22. Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, Ted Conover
  23. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Chris Hedges
  24. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, B.J. Novak
  25. Mad As Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies, Dave Itzkoff (side note: anyone who wants to visit Paddy Chayevsky’s old office, it’s at #1106, 850 Seventh Ave.!)
  26. Crazy Town, Robyn Doolittle
  27. Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, Ken Jennings
  28. Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living, Nick Offerman
  29. Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, Ken Jennings
  30. The Last Girlfriend on Earth, and Other Love Stories, Simon Rich
  31. The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, Lance Dodes, MD, and Zachary Dodes
  32. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde

And plenty more to come!  Reading’s the best!!

You’re welcome, biographer!

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

I’d hate to think I’m the type of person who might choose to procreate just to make sure that someday, years from now, someone will look at these posts and be glad they’re here. Especially since that assumes my kids would take the time, and with their transporters and whatnot, that could be a long-shot. On the other hand, with global warming continuing unabated, they might have to live their entire lives indoors and maybe they’ll be desperate for reading material!

Therefore, proceeding with the knowledge that this half-assed recording of events might be interesting to no one but me but the hope that it might be riveting for some, here is some stuff that I did.

March 2013:

As you’ll recall, I was still in school at Humber at the time, so not too much interesting in life to report, though the finish line was coming into view and we were starting to do Portfolio Nights and the like.  There was a dinner party at Coach’s, a nice little McGill reunion where I fell into the ‘special’ brownie feedback loop, where they make you hungrier so you eat more which makes you hungrier ad nauseum.  (Literal nauseum!)  There was also Sketchfest, with a few panels I went too, including one featuring Kurt Smeaton where we acknowledged each other as beard brothers and stroked each other’s beards.  I don’t know why I remember that, but I’m not going to overanalyze it.

 

I think this actually came later, but since I don’t have a picture for this month, here’s what a Portfolio Night looks like, plus it’s a picture of me with some buddies, so why not?

May 2013 - A portfolio night

 

April 2013:

School’s out for summer!  (Well, except for the internship, more on that later.)  The program ends, tears are shed, promises to keep in touch are made and are occasionally kept.  Nuff said.  Sadly, that is not what I’ll most remember April 2013 for.

April 2013 - Beautiful ClaireWe had to put Claire to sleep.  She was a great dog and we still miss her.  I choose this picture of her because even though it’s atypical (she had those bows exactly once), it still makes me laugh every time I see it.  What a doog!

May 2013:

One big beginning, one big ending.

First, the beginning: I start working at Manifest for Mark Sarner.  It was my internship which segued into a contract that kept me there until the end of the calendar year.  It was a great experience, I learned a lot, hopefully did some good, and some projects were started that will hopefully lead to exciting developments down the road.  (Don’t want to jinx them, you’ll hear them if they come to fruition!)  And I relearn what it’s like to have a desk job, which is something I should know!

The ending: Comedy on the Danforth comes to an end.  The owner of the Timothy’s where we performed sold it off, and the new management weren’t interested in continuing it.  (Apparently, though it’s a franchise, headquarters was never too thrilled about it.)  The end of an era, but glad to have been a part of it, and very grateful to the great Gord Oxley for entrusting it to me and the wonderful Amy Zuch for carrying it on after me.  Good times were had, and I will be bitter the rest of my life whenever I have to pay for cake.

June 2013:

It seems like I must have been adjusting to a day job, because not much seems to have happened in June, other than a few shows here and there.  Oh, and a trip to Winnipeg for cousin Jonathan’s wedding…which I know there are pictures of but I don’t seem to have any.  But a good time was had, sweaty dancing was done.

July 2013:

Let’s see.  There was a surprise party for Lindsay at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and as you can see, every part of that sentence is fun.  I have an entry in my calendar that reads “Zoo 2 with Ian / Chicka Boom / Fringe tent?” and while I don’t remember what ‘Zoo 2’ is, I know that all of that happened.  Perhaps it was this night…?

July 2013

At some point, I have the very Jewish experience of running from a bris (Noah, son of Rob and Alisa) to a show I’m in (with Jordan Kennedy).  And Book Club gets its summer tryout, which produced these lovely pictures with this lovely cast:

August 2013 - Book Club at Summer Test Drive 1 August 2013 - Book Club at Summer Test Drive 2

August 2013:

We go to the cottage.  I don’t remember much about it, but without a dog, I assume it was weird.  But probably enjoyable.  Still a cottage after all.

A bunch of us go to a costume party at Casa Loma for the launch of some drink (Somersby something-or-other).  A pretty fun night, but one that would probably go unmentioned except I feel that this is the kind of picture that belongs in a blog, so…

August 2013 - Somersby Party

Speaking of photogenic evenings, I’m part of a Buffy trivia team called “The Funny Syphilis” and WE WIN!  Though, in fairness, the “we” was really Ian and Ron winning, with Jess and I providing some sporadic backup and Noreen and Jenny wondering what they’d done in life to end up with such hopeless nerds for friends.   But the important thing is good times were had, and we saved the world.  A lot.

August 2013 - The Funny SyphilisAugust 2013 - The Funny Syphilis (Buffy Trivia Night)

And yes, I’m the one who thought it would be funny to be a vampire in the big group picture.  I stand by it.

And we end August with a few pics for the obscure fetish crowd: ankle injury!  It was sustained in a basketball game and my rebound kept the play alive and we won on the ensuing basket.  That was small compensation for the weeks I spent hobbled, but better than nothing, I suppose…

August 2013 - Ankle Injury 2 August 2013 - Ankle Injury

September 2013:

Like most Septembers, this one included a Rosh Hashanah and a TIFF.  I don’t particularly remember either, but I’m sure they were both lovely.

My TIFF movies were:

  • Hateship Loveship
  • The Double
  • I Am Yours
  • The Invisible Woman
  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Looking at that list, it seems like a pretty good year, because I seem to recall thinking Hateship Loveship, The Invisible Woman, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby were all excellent.  (And as I write this, apparently The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby has been ruined since.  Google it if you want, it sounds like a sad Hollywood tale…)

From the ‘growing old ungracefully’ pile, I impress my high school friends by leaving their party as it wraps up at midnight to go to a party at Unit 102.  I also score a big hit on Twitter with the following: “Looking for Love in Alderaan Places, by Princess Leia #StarWarsAutobiographies”  These are apparently the things I care about at this point in my life.

 

October 2013

I have my first meeting with Julie about Book Club.  The meeting goes well.  Spoiler alert: The show goes less well.  It was and is a great idea that for whatever reason (probably me) never quite found its crowd or came together.  But this meeting is a happy memory, because Julie is a great improv mind and her enthusiasm for the project is something I hold onto, and hopefully, I’ll find a way to do something with it again.  Done.

Also in October, many of us old improv types (and some new ones) gather at Second City to watch the broadcast of the pilot of Super Fun Night, co-starring our very own Lauren Ash.  On a personal level, the experience reminds me how tribal I’ve become, all the more so as I drift away from a community I was once so immersed in.  There are a lot of these people where it would be stretch to say I’m friends with them, given how seldom we see each other or talk, but I guess I’ll always be rooting for them and reveling in their success.  And that’s a good thing.

And October wouldn’t be complete without Halloween pictures!

Well, normally, it would be.  But this year, I went for it, had a lovely time, and got a picture I absolutely adore!  Plus I answered the question “Why not Zoidberg?!?”

October 2013 - Zoidberg makes friends 1October 2013 - Zoidberg makes friends 2

CROSSOVER EPISODE!!

 

November 2013:

November seems to have been a strangely busy month, by my strange standards.

I open with what would be a non-event to many but was a big event to me: Jane Espenson retweeted me!

November 2013 - Jane Espenson retweet

I shouldn’t care, but it tickles me to know that for however many seconds, I amused one of my writing heroes.  With a terrible pun.  I will admit the screen capture might have been excessive…and I’d like to say it was the last time I used a screen capture to save a Twitter moment…

Around this time, I also organized a mini-UBC reunion around a production of A Room Of One’s Own, directed by Sarah Rodgers and starring Naomi Wright.  (As an aside, you should never miss an opportunity to see anything directed by Sarah OR starring Naomi, but if you miss a show that’s an AND, you’re an idiot!)  It was lovely to see Niki and Andrea and Anastasia and Kelly again, so it turns out, in small doses, I am a reunion guy!  And as a bonus reunion, Kayla had a small part in the play, so after some initial awkwardness in the pre-show where I was tentative about pulling her out of character, I got to catch up with her too!

Then another career milestone: I appeared on the BBC!  Kind of.  My face.  Which counts.  They were there doing a story on Rob Ford and though their camera died before I got out some perfect soundbite zingers, it was still pretty neat.  (Sidenote: I haven’t talked about all the Rob Ford ridiculousness, but when I look back on this period, if I’m being honest with myself, I was fairly obsessed with it and it took up a lot of my time.  An awful, awful man…and as I’m writing this, he’s currently undergoing treatment for cancer.)

Here’s the cast:

November 2013 - Teh Internets cast

Here’s the link to the BBC story: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-24890797

And here’s the video (which may go away, but it’s here for now!):

Then there was the Canadian International Television Festival.  Which either not many people had heard of or not many people cared about.  But it was pretty great and I hope it comes back.  I saw a Q & A with Bob Martin, Don McKellar, and Kim Catrall, talking about their new project Sensitive Skin, a retrospective panel with Rick Mercer et al, and then a sneak preview of Spun Out.  Which eventually led to me hanging out at a bar with several actors I know from the TV, including Dave Foley.  You know…like people do…

And then towards the end of the month, a trip to NYC.  I stayed with my wonderful friend Becky Ferreira (and new friend Becky’s husband Kyle), saw other old friends Kaitlin and Yael, and got to (in no particular order and leaving much out) the Guggenheim, Roosevelt Isalnd, DUMBO, the PIT, the Bell House (with Escort playing), the American Museum of Natural History (finally!), all through the Village, through much of Manhattan, a fair bit of Brooklyn, and for the first time, some Queens (including the now home to feral cats former site of the US Open!)  Oh, and I saw Sleep No More, which is the most incredible theatrical experience out there, that I don’t want to spoil for anyone by talking about it but which I have been endorsing wholeheartedly to people ever since.  Here are some pictures that tell a fraction of the tale and which will probably only have meaning to me, but still, NYC!:

IMG_0050

IMG_0052IMG_0057IMG_0087IMG_0063IMG_0065IMG_0076IMG_0079IMG_0083IMG_0089IMG_0090IMG_0097IMG_0100IMG_0102IMG_0104IMG_0105IMG_0125IMG_0127IMG_0129

And that’s just the stuff I thought to take pictures of!

And then the month ended with Pat’s 24 Hours of standup (which I helped out with a little on the fundraising side, and hope to again, since he’s a goddamn hero and I like to help heroes) and Julius Caesar at Unit 102 (which reminded me why I wanted to do something with that play, and still do, plus I saw the first scene I directed at UBC done again, which was nostalgic.)

Okay, I feel I haven’t made clear how much time I spent in these months making fun of Rob Ford, so here’s a picture I saved that made me laugh.  What a boob!

November 2013 - Cheap laugh

December 2013:

Another life goal achieved!

December 2013 - Touching Paul Bellini

And there was a Kids in the Hall show too!  This was just on the way in!  What a night!!

In other show business news, I took part in the Impulse Fest 55 Hour Improvised Soap Marathon!  (At the time, it was a record, though I believe everyone just keeps tacking on an hour, so it’s probably been bumped up several times since.)  It was pretty crazy.  Some people tried to do the whole thing, and man, were they looking crazy!  I went the slightly less crazy route, though it meant improvising from 5 to 11 a.m. on a Saturday to an audience of largely unconscious improvisers.  It was two shifts, both of which were supposed to carry on the main story, but for the second shift, which was supposed to facilitate the move from Comedy Bar to the Distillery District, the people who were supposed to take over at the Distillery District couldn’t get into the theatre!  So those of us left behind ended up telling this weird diversion story about the other group and how they were being haunted by the ghost of the world’s greatest improviser…okay, it’s all a little foggy…but it was AWESOME!

Sadly, I have no pictures of the show (though it was webcast, so in theory, someone might), but I do have this picture, which could be my best chance to someday possibly sneak into a book about improv:

December 2013 - Soapathon Workshop

And later that day, completely exhausted, I dragged my tired butt to Amy’s Christmas cookie party.  Which was lovely and cookieriffic.

Continuing the holiday theme, I was supposed to go to Sing-Along Sound of Music with Jess, but it was sold out.  But then, a (near) Christmas (near) miracle!  Sean and Steph were also there sans tickets and offered to host an impromptu home version.  Which was even better!  God bless us, everyone!

Then proper Christmas bought an ice storm.  Oh well.  But we still had Christmas dinner and I got this cool picture.

December 2013 - Ice Storm

Somehow, this branch fell off a tree, landed on a power line…and managed to stay upright!  I have no idea how this happened, but it feels like it shouldn’t.  Winter wonderland indeed!

And I guess I’ll put New Years in December, since it starts there.  Spent at Ian and Jen’s, also with Tom and Lindsay and Josh and Laura.  My mixed fate in life: to be a singleton forever in the company of wonderful couples.  Could be worse, I suppose…

 

January 2014:

Okay, well, this is the month Book Club actually launched.  Not much to say beyond what’s said before, but this is when it became real, and I’m glad it did.

I also play ball hockey on a team for the first time in about a decade, with Leigh and several of her camp friends.  It takes me awhile to figure it out again, but once I do…I’m still on the weak side.  But I have fun, damnit!

I declare war on Subway.  There is a deal on six-inch roast chicken subs.  I, not wanting to insult the sandwich artist, order a foot-long, rather than saying ‘two six-inches.’  Then he charges me the amount for a foot-long, so I am forced to point out that I want the price for two six-inches.  He says he’s been instructed not to do that.  I argue for a long time, but am tired and hungry, so I take it.  And never go back again.  (To that location, at any rate, but they’re franchises, so that’s the only one I really need to boycott.)  I still have not gone back, even though the franchise is under new ownership.  I used to go about once a week, so that $1.50 they bilked me out of ended up costing them about $400.  I’m unreasonably proud of this.

Speaking of pride, the opposite of this is what joining Tinder makes you feel.  But that happened.

Also this month, I watch my first Royal Rumble in several decades at Matt McCready’s.  This makes me feel both pride and its opposite.

And I start a TSSC basketball team made up almost entirely of comedy folks.  I still don’t entirely know what I’m doing, but I love playing anyway.  I am starting to worry a little that basketball is not a good old person sport, though.  I guess tennis is okay, though I will need to develop some fundamentals at some point…

 

February 2014:

So this is actually something that happened about four years earlier, but this was the month when Ashley stumbled upon and emailed us all the link to the trailer for The Palace, a green-screen web series I (and many other notables) had acted in.  And I made the cut.

Here’s a screen capture:

February 2014 - Screen capture

And here’s the video, which hopefully won’t go away!

The Palace – Trailer from Lucas Gindin on Vimeo.

Also in February, I become an organ donor.  And if I ever run for office, I pledge here that one of the many things I will push for is a reverse onus on organ donation, i.e. you should have to opt out rather than opt in.  This is literally costing thousands of people their lives.  Ridiculous.

And speaking of public policy and how ridiculous it can be, I start my participation in the Residents’ Reference Panel on Safe Injection Sites.  Our task was to (more or less) determine what would constitute reasonable and effective public consultation.  I tried very hard to stay open-minded and think I succeeded. but the evidence was so overwhelmingly on the harm reduction side, it was hard not to scream out at every NIMBYist there.  But overall an interesting experience, and certainly a rare opportunity to interact with Torontonians of all ages and backgrounds, in groupings that tend not to occur naturally.  It was like an episode of Lost!  (And hopefully we did some good, though I remain worried that ‘public consultation’ often creates the perception that experts need to kowtow to public ignorance.  Scarborough subway, anyone?)

 

March 2014:

I go with my mother to see a Canada Reads taping.  It makes me briefly proud to be a Canadian.

David Koechner favorites one of my tweets.  It makes me briefly proud to be me.

March 2014 - David Koechner favorite

 

I do some work for Russell Oliver, also known as The Cashman.  I am now part of Canadian history.

There’s a Slings and Arrows panel.  I miss it.  Because I’m an idiot.

There’s a LIVE READING OF ‘BRAIN CANDY’!  I go with Tory, but also unofficially with half of Toronto comedy.  The alternate ending is revealed.  Dark!

Josh and Laura have me over for a Purim potluck dinner.  I make kasha.  It’s how the Hershfields roll.

And it was my birthday.  Presumably we did something.

 

April 2014:

There’s a live taping of Antoine Feval.  Chris Gibbs is a freaking genius, and I’m frankly amazed I ever get him to do things I ask him to do.  Admiration.

I go to the Blue Jays’ home opener with Evan.  (I believe it was my birthday present.)  It begins a season of the Jays’ toying with the city’s emotions (that is ending as I write this.)

There was a trip to Winnipeg.  I don’t entirely remember why, beyond that it’s a nice thing to do.  (I’m starting to run out of steam.  This is a super-long post!)

Passover happens.  Let’s pass over that.  Ha ha.  But seriously, I don’t remember much about it, but I’m sure it was great.

Chris Wilson has a birthday party.  It makes me feel older than my own birthday party did.

 

May 2014:

I hangout with Mike Fly, which I mention because he’s one of those guys where I constantly ask myself “Wow, how long has it been since I’ve seen (name)?!?”  Now I’ll be able to look it up.

I get this article, Tories introduce ‘Three Riddles’ voting system, into The Beaverton.  People seem to like it.

I do a panel for Veronika Swartz’s podcast with Ian and Jason.  It is as much fun as you can have finding fault with a god (hubris?) with two people far better at it than you are.  If that sounds like I didn’t have fun, it’s because I’m not as good a writer as Joss Whedon.  Or, you know, Joss Whedon in a coma.

May 2014 - Whedon panel

I go to the symphony with Cam.  It is lovely and sophistimicated.

I get coffee with Diana Frances.  As it often does, it leads to me ending up on CBC radio and someone calls my parents about it.

There’s a reading for the latest Reid Along With Browning opus.  They’re great.

We go to Lou Dawgs for my father’s birthday.  He ends up staying out later than anyone, because that’s who he is.  Can’t keep an old man down.

I hurt my finger playing basketball.  Which seems frivolous to mention, but it was bad enough that it may have been broken and still looks like it was broken, so if I ever need to trace my deformity, this is where it started.

 

June 2014:

Introducing Marty!

Marty 2 - Before

Yes, my parents got another dog.  This was Mom’s pick.  The rest of us wanted another golden retriever.  She said we were free to get one.  Despite his being a shrimp, he is growing on us.  He’s a world-class player (as in he plays well, though as of now, he also still has his balls) and gives very nice kisses.  And my parents certainly haven’t tired of picking him up yet.

June also saw 100 in 1 Day Toronto, a day where people hosted interventions around the city with the aim of somehow making things better.  I had an idea that people went fairly gaga for (though not so much that many volunteered): riding the streetcars and encouraging people with music and treats to move to the back.  Though the music was really only appreciated by those at the back anyway, our system of bribing people with cookies worked well at times.  (Maybe too well: we were strangers giving out cookies!)  It was definitely an experience, mostly fun, and most fun when my buddy Faisal was with me.  Strength in numbers!

June 2014 - 100in1Day

Doesn’t he look like he’s having fun?  (Well, he was!  He told me so!!)

And now, the last (for this post) of my Twitter highlights.  @midnight retweeted me!  It’s kind of a big deal… (also, kind of not…)

June 2014 - At Midnight tumbler

June ends with me dog-sitting Marty while the rest of the family has their own New York adventure.  At this point, Marty is excruciating (he’s gotten better), but I think we bonded, which is nice.

 

July 2014:

I’m sure things happened in July, I just don’t remember them well.  I believe I saw the latest Second City revue (much obliged, Connor!) and definitely saw quite a bit of Fringe, much of it good.  (I also showed Lauren Martin around, which was a lot of fun.)  It also caps off a string of seeing Tim Walker perform again, which is certainly a treat.  I missed that guy.

I’m sure there’s more, but this post is so close to being over…!

 

August 2014:

I’m a playwright in Operation 24, a mini-festival where plays are conceived, written, rehearsed, teched, and mounted, all within a 24 hour period.  The playwrights had from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. to write…and we had to do it onsite!  It was kind of crazy, but a whole lot of fun!  My cast and director were great, and all things considered, I didn’t do too badly myself.  Quite the experience.

I am on the panel for Teh Internets again.  Mostly, it will be remembered as the show where I did THIS (see below) to Marty as part of my “homework” for the show:

Marty 3 - MakeoverMarty 4 - Looking toughMarty 7 - Marty MurderMarty 8 - Marty Takes The BusMarty 9 - Marty Tupac

We go to the cottage.  Marty is a bit of a problem, as puppies are wont to be.  Not quite housebroken, can’t sleep through the night, a crier, and not entirely willing to swim.  I list all these issues now so we’ll be amazed by how good he is next year, kenahora, knock on wood.

And lastly, on the last day of the month, I give my notice.  After years and years, I’m moving.  Into the apartment my brother’s giving up to move in with his girlfriend.  Changes!

 

September 2014 (thus far):

I guess the highlight is TIFF.  My movies include:

  • Welcome to Me
  • The Dark Horse
  • Do I Sound Gay?
  • Felix and Meira
  • Whiplash
  • The Tribe
  • Leviathan
  • Shelter

Not my best festival ever, but some good ones and no real train wrecks.  And in terms of star sightings (because why not?), I saw Joel McHale and Nick Kroll “in nature”, and up close at shows Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, and from a distance at a show, J.K. Simmons.  And then funnily enough, a couple days after the fest, I was riding with the folks and who should be crossing the street, waiting for us to pass?  Nicolas Cage!  (Crazy!)  I miss the opportunity to convince Larry that this is yet another one of his ‘thinks he recognizes a famous person’ moments.  I guess maybe I’m a good son?

Other than that, I watched Roots for the first time (I think it holds up pretty well, but what do I know?) and I have a years overdue breakfast with Ryan Beil.  He’s coming to town more often now, so hopefully there are more in the future, but my oh my, do I enjoy that lad’s company.  HE’S VERY CHARMING!

And with that, I think I’m done!  What a post!

(And I’ll leave you with a two-word teaser for the next one: DENTAL CRISIS!  Now you’ve GOT TO come back!)

 

And since you probably need more to read than this blog…

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Here is what I’ve read since last I posted my reading list.  (As far as legacies go, this one is pretty passive, so why am I proud of it?  One for the ages, I suppose…)

  1. The House of God, Samuel Shem (Steve Bergman)
  2. The Mirage, Matt Ruff
  3. Kasher in the Rye, Moshe Kasher
  4. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow
  5. Hope: A Tragedy, Shalom Auslander
  6. Quiet:  The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, Susan Cain
  7. Going Solo: the extraordinary rise and growing appeal of living alone, Eric Klinenberg
  8. Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV (oral history), Warren Littlefield
  9. Girl Walks Into a Bar…: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters and a Midlife Miracle, Rachel Dratch
  10. The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, Richard Stursberg
  11. I Drink For A Reason, David Cross
  12. Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, Chuck Klosterman
  13. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), Jenny Lawson
  14. A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

Enjoy!  (And if you read any, let me know.  It’s like a scattered book club!)

How did I miss 12/12/12?!?

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

To answer the title of this post, I missed it because it was a non-event. But a few things have happened to me since last I posted.

June 2012:
Okay, not too much happened in June that I can remember. I do seem to recall playing lots of tennis. Oh, and it was the end of Humewood volleyball. Which is sad, the end of an era, and all that… Hopefully, some semblance of something will be revived at some point, but based on the vagaries of that statement, and considering that the three most likely suspects to organize have or are about to have babies (something in the gym air, I suppose), it could be awhile.

July 2012:
Evan and I (and Brad) take Father Dearest to the Ottawa Bluesfest. Good times are had, good music is heard, the War Museum is a right solid museum, and I have a nice reunion with Gentil Jon Dewolfe. July was also a big month in terms of making a push to get an agent, which alas ends with a lot of positive feedback and pretty much that. Still, positive feedback!

August 2012:
Camp Hershfield again. A lot of fun and no health problems this time! At least for me… poor little Claire is alas starting to show her age, taking some very nasty spills and scaring the hell out of us. But the fact that she refuses to let her enthusiasm diminish is very inspiring (or, you know, a sign she’s a dog, but I choose to be inspired.)

September 2012:
I officially hand off the producing duties of Comedy on the Danforth to Amy Zuch. I know I won’t have the time or energy to do the job right, and that she’ll do a fine job with it, and so far, I have to say I was right on both counts. It’s also determined sometime around now that instead of the rotating cast around me I’d been employing, I’d team up with Lindsay Grant and Tom MacKay as a regular house team. Also a fine, fine decision, though I do sometimes feel silly that we’re still called “Dan’s Mix ’95.”

September also means another TIFF. Because I was back at school, I didn’t get to see as much as I normally would, but I was generally happy with what I saw:

  • Frances Ha
  • A Liar’s Autobiography
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Fill the Void

I will mostly remember it as the TIFF where I stood a foot away from Joss Whedon, already reaching out to tap him on the shoulder and break into tears before I wussed out.  But I did talk to and shake hands with Reed Diamond, which was pretty satisfying, because he’s probably the only actor in the world who exists in the Whedonverse AND the David Simon universe, so top that!  Oh, and I also got this picture, which I felt guilty about later, because the rest of the cast was leaving and he was panicking about being left behind, but whatever, it happened, and it’s this:

 

DSC01188 (compressed)

Oh, and I also have this, and it proves I got close (Geez, starting to feel creepy!  But I’m not like this for most things… I think…) :

DSC01185 (compressed)
And of course, the other big news for September is that I’m back to school, not unlike Rodney Dangerfield.  I’m not going to say too much about it, because despite that being the usual purpose of a blog, I’m still processing the experience and don’t want to try to sum up something that’s very much in flux.  But suffice it to say, it’s an experience.

October 2012:

The biggest part of October is the 40th anniversary party Evan and I throw for our parents.  It was a surprise party, and we totally pulled it off.  (They thought they were coming to see us do an improv show, the suckers!)  As did their friends, which was something of a miracle!  (They did great!)  It was a project long in the making, not just the party itself, but wonderful sons that we are (once every forty years or so), we made them this anniversary video, with stories from their friends and every picture and video of the two of them we could lay our hands on.  And (with apologies for some copyright infringement) it turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself.  I include it here (it’s broken into two parts), as well as a video Evan made (shot by Brad) of the event itself.

Also of note in October was Thanksgiving at Tom and Lindsay’s, which was lovely.  Oh, and I start a Twitter account, @danhershfield, for those who might be interested.  (And since I’ve already admitted a creepy attachment to all things Whedon, a highlight of my tweeting is that I have reason to believe Jane Espenson read a reply of mine to a tweet of hers.  Winning!)

November 2012:
Okay, around here, life that doesn’t have to do with school sort of disappears, and I become boring.  But I do recall meeting with a KITH writer, which is always neat, going to a last Second City show for a bunch of people, also interesting, and that I didn’t get into the Toronto Fringe (but it’s lotteried, so no need to take it personally, fans of mine!)

December 2012:
Holidays and school.  (Told you.)

January 2013:
Well, I took the Jeopardy test.  I did not do well.  (Though I partially blame a large-scale blackout, which forced me to take the test late at night after a crazy long day, but still, it’s possible I just suck.)  Oh, and I didn’t get into Globehead. The end of an era, though it would have felt odd not doing it with Dave anyway (though Ian and I would have kicked some ass).

But there was also some good news.  I found out there was going to be another production of Courting, this time in Regina, which means I can add Saskatchewan to the list of provinces where I’ve been produced, which is pretty nifty.  Also, a great TV writer who has worked on some of the greatest TV comedies ever (I’m leaving him anonymous, so I feel free to gush) agreed to read my pilot and had nothing but good things to say about it.  I choose to take this feedback at face value and enjoy warm cuddlies.

February 2013:
School, school, school, and school.  Though I do get my skate on for the first time in ages, and do play a little ball, but still, I wish I had something more exciting to go out on.  Oh well, hopefully the exciting stuff is ahead!

 

 

And now we’re caught up.  Doesn’t mean you can’t call once in awhile…

A year’s worth of reading!

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Okay, it actually took me substantially longer than a year.  But it turns out I’ve read 52 books since last I posted my reading list, so this seemed like a good theme.  Read one of these books a week, and a year from now, we’ll have SO MUCH to talk about!  (If nothing else, we can talk about my eclectic tastes.)  This is my reading list, in the order I read them:

  1. Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection, Edited by Shana Liebman
  2. The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons
  3. The Second City Unscripted: Revolution and Revelation at the World-Famous Comedy Theater (oral history), by Mike Thomas
  4. Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  5. Too Fat To Fish, by Artie Lange
  6. Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies
  7. Fraud, by David Rakoff
  8. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, by Sarah Silverman
  9. And the Dead Shall Rise, Steve Oney
  10. Bad Monkeys, by Matt Ruff
  11. The Murder of Little Mary Phagan, by Mary Phagan
  12. Flow the Tears, the Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick
  13. A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
  14. I Know I Am, But What Are You?, by Samantha Bee
  15. Official Book Club Selection, by Kathy Griffin
  16. The Box: An Oral History of Television 1920-1961, by Jeff Kisseloff
  17. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  18. Elliot Allagash, by Simon Rich
  19. The Stuff of Thought, by Steven Pinker
  20. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
  21. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
  22. Your Call is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit, by Laura Penny
  23. Unfamiliar Fishes, by Sarah Vowell
  24. I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All, Edited by Judd Apatow
  25. The Power of Ignorance: 14 Steps to Using Your Ignorance, by Vaguen (with Chris Gibbs and TJ Dawe)
  26. The View from Castle Rock, by Alice Munro
  27. Superstud (Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin), by Paul Feig
  28. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  29. And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft, by Mike Sacks
  30. Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  31. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman
  32. Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won, by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim
  33. After Claude, by Iris Owens
  34. Disaster Preparedness, by Heather Havrilesky
  35. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
  36. Fresh at Twenty: The Oral History of Mint Records, by Kaitlin Fontana
  37. A Clash of Kings, by George R.R. Martin
  38. Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  39. Disquiet, Please: More Humor Writing from the New Yorker, Edited by David Remnick and Henry Finder
  40. The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life), by Chris Hardwick
  41. Paying for It: a comic-strip memoir about being a john, by Chester Brown
  42. Picnicface’s Canada, by Picnicface
  43. A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin
  44. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt
  45. A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin
  46. I Don’t Care About Your Band, by Julie Klausner
  47. A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin
  48. Moneyball, by Michael Lewis
  49. The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture, by Nathan Rabin
  50. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
  51. We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics, by Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian
  52. Cool, Calm & Contentious, by Merrill Markoe

Thus proving that in many significant ways, I’m a better person than Oprah.  See you in a year.  Your time starts…now.

Biannual and Semi-pro!

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Okay, so clearly I’m not a blogger.  It seems I don’t find my life particularly interesting on a daily or even weekly basis, or at least not so much I don’t think I should be doing other writing.  But since I’m planning to use this site as a placeholder while I throw together danhershfield.com (coming soon!), I thought I’d bring things reasonably up to date in that classic bullet-point style you’ve come to love.  Enjoy!

October 2010:

-Looking back, I don’t know if I ever mentioned I was doing The Bench.  Well, I did.  It’s a Second City development show and sometime in this month, my first season ended.  Tah dah!

-Matt McCready and I are hired as improvisers to test scenarios for a game show where people have to run around in public debasing themselves.  So we were debasing ourselves except instead of doing it in the hopes of making big money, we were doing it for the certainty of being paid small money.  My contempt for that genre grows.

-Yet another production of Courting happens!

-Rob Ford is elected.  I spend days wandering around aimlessly, looking angry and confused.

-In an attempt to restore my faith in humanity, I get on a bus and head down to Washington for Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  It was pretty whirlwind, with a long bus ride, a day in Washington, and a long bus ride back, but it was quite fun.  Also, independently, Ian MacIntyre booked a seat on the same charter bus as me, and our friendship further blossomed.  (Okay, that sounds girly, but whatever, it was fun.)

November 2010:

-I come back for a second round of The Bench with a whole new cast.  Several members go on to further success with Second City.  I am not one of them.

-Sketchfest happened.   I don’t remember much of it (nearly two years ago!), but it’s always fun.

-For the first time ever, I shelve a video I wrote.  It’s called Go Fish, and if I ever learn editing, I might try playing with it some and seeing if something can be salvaged, because the people were great and it looks beautiful.  I choose to take it as a positive for my development that I’m willing to shelve something.

December 2010:

-I was supposed to go to this event where I was going to meet Bobby Orr, but I was too sick.  Something to talk about when we do meet, I suppose…

-I do a bunch of the Bad Dog’s Christmas shows (It’s a Wonderful Improvised Life, Frosty the Show…man…) in what is to be their last Christmas at that theatre.  And my friend Dave from high school visits from New York and sees me perform for what I think was the first time, so that’s kind of neat.

-I see Die Hard on the big screen.  God bless us, everyone.

-We find out that the Shanghai restaurant in Winnipeg is closing.  Probably good for our family’s collective health and taste buds, but still, the end of an era.

-The Chief comes to town and a bunch of us go for drinks at the James Joyce.  Noteworthy not just because a visit from the Chief is always noteworthy, but also because the James Joyce has since shut down, and that night, fistfights were breaking out all over the place.  It was very classy and amusing.

-New Years at Tom and Lindsay’s.  Good times were had.

January 2011:

-Globehead!  Once again, Dave Pearce and I teamed up, this time as “Full of Beans Anne Rice”, the vampire improvisers.  Topical!  We splurged on capes and teeth, and to further justify the expense, here’s a picture:

We ended up getting bumped by eventual champs and all-around super team Falcon Powder, and we were honored to do so.   (I also had a very fun time watching them in a later round as guest judge Vampire Dan Hershfield.)

February 2011:

-The end of the Bad Dog.  It was great while it lasted.  I am in something like three of the last six shows, and one of them goes really well.   It was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde premise by Ely Henry, and also had myself, Sean Tabares, Kayla Lorette, Matt Folliott, and Paloma Nunez in it.  Very fun.  In my mind, I am trying to remember that as my last show there, even though I know it was not.

March 2011:

-Something interesting probably happened in March.  Well, there was my birthday, let’s go with that.

-Oh, and I won my March Madness pool.  Booyakasha!

-And I made this gem with Matt McCready for Naked Fridays.  The suggestion was “Party”, and once I noticed that the word ‘party’ breaks down to two golf terms, well, it practically wrote itself.  But it didn’t.  I wrote it.  As is pretty obvious.  (For the record, I think it’s funny.)

April 2011:

-And for April, let’s say…Passover?

-And “British Humour”!  A web short I wrote that I love for several reasons.  Jim Annan was in it WILLINGLY!  Which was awesome and gave me the warm fuzzies.  Also, I got two incredibly funny standups/actresses, Amber Harper-Young and Georgea Brooks Hancock (one of whom was my brother’s ex) to play DEAD PROSTITUTES!  I still don’t know quite how I pulled that off, but I remain very grateful.  (As I am to Brian Chambers and Brad Sayeau, but I’m often indebted to them.)  And it ended up winning at My Tapes, which was pretty cool too.  Enjoy!

British Humour – watch more funny videos

-Oh, and this defining life moment happened (if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand):

May 2011:

-The federal election happens.  I am acting as a Deputy Returning Officer, and so am spared the agony of watching the results come in.  Mind you, being a Deputy Returning Officer is its own form of agony, but at least that was new.

-I’m in a show called Aesop’s Improvised Fables.  You can probably figure it out from the title.  Fun times, fun cast, etc.

-Larry has surgery.  He calls it a “procedure”, but it’s a surgery.

-I’m a juror for the Canadian Comedy Awards in the TV Writing category.  I get a lot out of diligently watching all the submitted videos both in terms of pleasure and study.  That said, when I see the nominees, I’m pretty surprised, which is probably odd for a juror.

June 2011:

-William Shakespeare’s Beauty and the Beast rehearsals dominated this month.  I was directing, and it was great to put that particular hat back on after a fairly lengthy absence, especially with a fun cast and absolutely life-saving stage management.  I’d write their names and other relevant details, but that’s what the poster is for!

-Also, Robin Archer and I get together to brainstorm ideas for a project, and end up settling on “Dan and Robin Survive the Apocalypse.”  Nothing has really happened with it so far, and Robin just had a kid (huzzah!), so it’ll probably be awhile, but I love it so much, I mention it here so that when it does happen, it will be clear that I never lost faith.

-The last Comedy on the Danforth show of my first season happens.  I made it!

July 2011:

-William Shakespeare’s Beauty and the Beast plays at the Toronto Fringe, and due to Ken and Devon both booking paid work, I end up subbing in to most of the shows.   Viva la Fringe!

-I work on the census.  It’s kind of like Fight Club, in that the first rule of the census is that I’m not supposed to talk about the census, so I won’t, beyond saying that I worked on it.

-Tory comes to town.  We hang out.  It’s awesome, though sweltering.

-I hang out with Mark McGuckin at Comedy Bar, and then we go see Two Kids, One Hall (that’s Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson) with my brother.  So much was right about that night, I hardly know where to begin.

August 2011:

-I work as basically a stage manager on Watertight, Mike Fly’s Pilot Week submission.  Worth mentioning because I’m sure someone who worked on that will some day be the King or Queen of All Canadian Media.

-Camp Hershfield again, but a very special Camp Hershfield where health problems I’d been having but ignored or dismissed as aging come to a head.  To the point where I have to go to the hospital with what feels like severe heartburn.  We find out further down the road that I had a hiatal hernia.  What we find out immediately is that my iron levels are shockingly low, to the point where I need to be transfused and where the only possible reason would be internal bleeding.  In retrospect, I’m an idiot for thinking my fitness level had deteriorated that quickly (I was getting out of breath on staircases!)  But other than that, a lovely time.  And they get me on iron, which turns things around pretty immediately.

September 2011:

-I make this Working Families video with old Vancouver amigo and all-around awesome activist Sean Devlin.  I’m not saying it made the difference, but it’s the only election that year that even remotely went my way, so I’m taking credit!  Also, those glasses were actually taken off the head of one of the crew, so though they do look cartoonish, it’s only because of disparity in head size!

-Peter Molnar, of high school friendship, gets married. I am that much more the last man standing.

-TIFF happens. I have fond memories that I can’t remember. They’re written down somewhere, just not here.

October 2011:

-The Comedy Awards happen.  I have nothing to do with the Comedy Awards, but I do get to hang out with Kaitlin Fontana (over a lovely if eventually rushed Indian dinner) and then Morgan Brayton and Michele for drinks.  Trip to Vancouver yet again made less necessary!

-I get a scan on Halloween related to my health problems.  It does not give me special powers or turn me psychotic.  As far as I know.

November 2011:

-I do a corporate gig with Lauren Ash and my brother out in the boonies, and then drop in on Rob Hawke’s book launch party.  I include it here because it was one of those bizarre nights that I’m sure will inspire me asking “When was that?” at some point in the near future.

-I start a writing group with Brian Crosby and Ian MacIntyre.  Easily the best thing I’ve done in years.

December 2011:

-I am asked to be in a scene for Other People’s Stuff by Tom and Lindsay, along with Erin Rodgers.  It was a pretty faithful take on this That Mitchell and Webb Look scene, with me as Lestrade.  Gets me every time (both ways):

-I go to the Sing-along Sound of Music with Ashley Botting.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people!

-Tom and Lindsay’s again for New Year’s.  A tradition!  (I certainly hope so, at any rate.)

January 2012:

-I have a submission rejected by the New Yorker.  Sure, it would be a better story if it had been accepted, but still!

February 2012:

-I have my surgery.  It literally dominates February, but it’s been smooth sailing ever since, knock wood, kenahora, etc.

March 2012:

-Darcy visits.  I meet his daughter.  I’m old.

-Then my birthday.  This one freaks me out a little.

April 2012:

-I finished second in my March Madness pool, thanks to the choking of Ohio State, though I did have the most correct brackets.  I still consider myself The Man.

-Claire gives us a health scare, with much head-tilting and falling.  But she bounced back.

-Rehearsals start for a kid’s show version of Pinocchio, where I’m playing Geppetto and Stromboli’s sidekick, Sidecheechio (yes, I think I came up with that one.)  Here’s the cast, in one of our many spontaneous tableaus:

-Also, this Maisonneuve article comes out (as forwarded to us by the Chief.)  My connection to this little piece of music history is that I wrote lyrics (and am credited) in the Ma Beans and Her Dirty Funk EP that this victory paid for.  And frankly, anyone who’s heard “Milking the Funk Cow” would agree that the right choice was made!

Ma Beans and Her Dirty Funk, The Article!

-I attend the “From the Story Room to the Page” at the CFC.  If I get into that program, knock on wood, kenahora, etc., this will retroactively become a big moment.

May 2012:

-There is a group trip to see The Avengers.  NERDS!!

-Pinocchio is actually performed.  Kids are cute.

-I put in my CFC application.  This is actually a big deal, and feels like an accomplishment in its own right.  And of course, I’ve been kicking myself ever since for all the things I would have liked to have changed, even though most of them are single words and in some cases single letters.  (“Oh god!”  or “Oh God!”?  Discuss.)

-There is a corporate training gig for Bad Dog that is awesome.  I meet some new folks, who are absolutely delightful, and hang out with some old friends, which is great.  And we find time to lounge by the pool!  And Ken Hall gets an awesome new nickname, which I’m keeping to myself, because I feel if you weren’t there, you shouldn’t get to call him by it.  But trust me, it’s awesome!

So that’s what happened.  More or less.  So…what’s doing with you?

Post of the Year!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Wow.  This is how bad I’ve become.  I’m actually a year behind on this blog.  UNACCEPTABLE!

So, in the spirit of catching up, here’s October 2009 through September 2010.  Details have been forgotten (I’ve pieced this together through emails and appointment books), names have been changed to protect the innocent, and let’s face it, even my most devoted readers will be hard-pressed to make it through an entire year’s worth of my life.  (Albeit a reasonably quiet year.)  Plus, as the Simpsons’ parody of Reader’s Digest once pointed out, “Brevity is…wit.”  So here it is.

October 2009:

  • Billy Stutter went up as part of the Bad Dog Short Play Festival.  We had great turnout (in no small part due to my stage father), great buzz, and, in my humble opinion, a great production.  So enthused were we that we started making plans to take this sucker on a Fringe tour, knowing full well that we would make absolutely no money.  It was really a lot of fun, and it had been ages since I’d put up a play in Toronto, so it was very gratifying as well.
  • I did my first Comics for Kids.  (Pretty sure it was my first.  Give me a break, it was a year ago!)  It’s a monthly program where a bunch of improvisers go down to the Hospital for Sick Children and put on a show.  We had a similar program in Vancouver, there called Laughter is the Best Medicine.  It’s a great program, and of course, it’s nice to be reminded that comedy can be important.  Particularly driven home in Toronto, because sometimes after the show in the theatre, you do a quick tour of the bed-bound kids and give them their own private shows.  If that don’t melt your heart but also make you feel you’re doing something worthwhile, nothing will.  (This picture is from a subsequent show, but it captures it pretty well)

  • I shot a few scenes for The Palace, a web series written by Connor Thompson and Ashley Comeau and directed by Lucas Gindin.  My part is small, but the project looks pretty awesome.  The whole stinking thing is green-screened!  Here’s the trailer, which I’m not in, but it gives you an idea of what it will be.  I know I’m looking forward to it!:

  • For his birthday, I took Evan to see Paul F. Tompkins.  The first time for him, and if you’ve never had the privilege, see Paul F. Tompkins live.  If there’s a better standup comedian in the world, I’ve yet to see him.  (And I’ve seen some pretty big names in my day.)  We bought a CD and had him sign it.  This is what he had to say:

So far, so good!

  • I did a scene from Hurlyburly by David Rabe at Power Play Theatre, with the lovely, talented and tennis-attending Marsha Mason.  (Given the frequency with which I update this blog, I thought it was worth distinguishing from the OTHER Marsha Mason.)  Though I may never get to live one of my dreams and play Eddie in a full production (if I could even learn the part…it’s a LOT of play!), I’ve done a scene in front of an audience, damnit, and it went just fine!

November 2009:

  • I was in the Don’t You Forget About Patrick Swayze marathon, the Dirty Dancing part.  Good times were had, I was Neil, the neurotic nephew (typecast much?), and my audience suggestion for historical figure I was modeling myself after was FDR.  That’s why the following picture isn’t offensive:

  • Frankenmatt came to town!  That’s Frank Caeti and Matt Craig!  Yep, Matt Craig, my director for the ship and the inventor of Toast Your Vacation!  I saw their show and then hung around with them for the rest of the evening into the fairly wee hours.  Suffice it to say, my impression of Matt as best person on the planet remains intact.  Frank was also very awesome.  And their stage show was awesome, but of course.
  • Another trip to Montreal, another hockey game played at the…umm, what is it now…the Bell Centre?  You know, where the Habs play!  So that was pretty cool, though the coolest part was the Rez Dogs reunion, of course.  Here’s a good pic to prove it.  (And, for whatever reason, my on-ice pics aren’t cooperating.  But I should also note that Jon Dewolfe was also there for the weekend, a bonus not only for me because he’s so awesome, but also for the world, because it allowed us a full Original Rez Dog Five!)

  • When I returned from Montreal, Uncle Bobo was in town, so the family picked me up at the bus station and we went directly for pho.  It’s what our family does.  Oh, what a month of reunions!  And it wasn’t over yet!
  • Okay, so the Bad Dog Holiday Party can only be called a reunion in the sense that you can go awhile without seeing people, even when you live in the same city.  But always nice to party with your peers (especially when they’re such swinging folks), and it yielded this, an awesome picture of the Hershfield brothers if ever I saw one.  (Turns out all we needed to be photogenic was a pretty girl!  Good rule of thumb, folks!)

  • And towards the end of the month, Darcy and Courtney came to town! Semi-re-reunion!  We just had a breakfast but still, good times.  Which is good, because…

December 2009:

  • Seems to have been fairly uneventful.  I did do a part in a webseries by Lindsay Grant and Erin Rodgers, which, as far as I know, hasn’t yet materialized.  Suffice it to say, I play a regrettable one-night stand, complete with sparkly underwear, so if it gets lost to the ravages of filmdom, we’ll call my feelings “mixed.”  Could be pretty funny, though…such is the burden of the human sight gag…
  • Without checking my calendar, pretty sure Hanukkah and Christmas fall in December.  I’m sure there was much revelry and even more food, but the details escape me.  I also can’t really remember New Years’, but I think it was spent at Rob and Fiona’s; I vaguely recall taking public transit home later at night then public transit would normally allow.

January 2010:

  • I went to the public screening of Death Comes to Town at the CBC Building.  The Kids in the Hall were all on stage, just being funny.  I opted not to take pictures, but they were all there, and so was I.  Fun.
  • Globehead happened.  I posted a little something about it at the time, because there was an article.  Suffice it to say, it was a very fun night of improv, as it tends to be when Dave Pearce and I take the stage together.  In the spirit of bringing some continuity back (Justin Timberlake can have “sexy”, I’ve got my own priorities!), here’s the link to the article again: http://www.eyeweekly.com/comedy/article/81489
  • I was in a benefit show for Haiti called Seriously Funny.  Far be it from me to pass up a chance to mention something positive I’ve done!

February 2010:

  • I become a head-writer/director for Vanguard Theatre’s new sketch division team, Emergency Bingo.  It was a pretty good experience, all things told.  I struggled a little with the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantedness of a nascent company (I found it hard to keep people motivated to produce as the show date was pushed back, and then, I personally like to know my performance dates at least a week in advance), and I gave it up when I had to bear down for the Fringe (and, in all honesty, it ended up feeling like a big time commitment to other people’s writing when I should have been working more on my own), but it was a fun group, I feel we did some good work, and there’s a few of them I definitely expect to see more of around the city in years to come.  I hope I was useful to them.
  • The Basketballers of Basketball kicks off.  It’s a basketball game I organize, we play at Central Tech, and we lack in skill and the gym lacks in polish, we make up for in moxie.  I don’t know if it will pay dividends in the future, but it’s been interesting seeing my worlds collide on the court.  And, just so you know, Vancouver (if you’re listening), I have mad skills now.  And some day, I shall return.  (Mind you, those little high-school shits I beat in my greatest sporting triumph are probably my size now, so maybe I shouldn’t…)
  • I perform at Dual Duel with Ted Hallett under the name Mongo.  Twenty-five minutes, one scene, one location, no rehearsal, several compliments.  We’ve still got the magic, we do!  (Reminder to self: improvise more with Ted.)
  • Another Drinks for No Reason, another picture people like.  Ta da!

  • I do my first show at Timothy’s with the great Gord Oxley!  (Also the great Rob Hawke and the great Sam Agro.)  This will become relevant later in the post.
  • Through Vanguard, I meet Christine Nangle.  She does a Q & A, and I chat her for a few minutes after.  Her name is in the closing credits of Saturday Night Live as a writer.  I think that’s nifty.

March 2010:

  • I go to the Toronto Sketchfest’s Best of the Fest show, featuring Haircut, Accidental Company, and Last Call Cleveland.  Funny.
  • I go (with Brad) to My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.  Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant.
  • I go (with Jenny) to my first Toronto Rock lacrosse game.  Poignant.
  • My birthday.  I don’t remember the details, really.  I mostly remember my mother giving away my cake.  Not that I’m bitter.  Or, you know, five…

April 2010:

  • I played in the Pylon Cup, a hockey game for Peter Moscone’s birthday.  I mention it because I scored my prettiest goal ever.  Well, sort of.  Normally, my goals are scored as one-timers, either from being parked in front of the net or skating to the net, but it’s very rare for me to carry the puck in.  This is the only goal I can remember where I skated the puck in from outside the blue line.  Not only that, but rather than going straight to the net, I went hard down the boards, circled out of the corner wide of the defenceman (who was, in fairness, far and away the best player on the ice, and consequently taking it REALLY easy on us), and tucked it in on the short side.  It also gave Evan and I a chance to do our obnoxious “Hershfields!  Hershfields!” chant (a la “Mandelbaum!” from Seinfeld), much practiced at volleyball games but rarely seen in hockey.
  • We shoot Femme Fetal.  Those of you who read this blog have already seen it (I couldn’t wait!), but there’s more news on this front.  As you may recall, we made it for 7 Day Shorts.  Well, someone must have liked it (or, just as likely, they were looking for more Toronto content, but still…) because it got “called up” to the main Second City Network page.  As far as I’ve seen, it was the second to come out of Canada (and only one more since), and it’s the only one (again, as far as I know) that was written originally for the web.  And while it apparently needed to be more sassy, more gay and more friendly, 30,000+ hits (and climbing, I believe) ain’t too bad for a first-timer, I say!  Here’s the shortened version they used:

  • The family and I see the Raptors play the Celtics (my birthday present).  The Celtics go through the motions, knowing that victory is practically guaranteed.  Still pretty entertaining, and Rondo made one play that actually made everyone there gasp.
  • Morgan and Michele visit.  We have a lovely breakfast together, and then a fairly lovely walk along the waterfront that would have been lovelier had breakfast not ended up violently disagreeing with me.  (Think Tony Soprano and Ralphie, after Ralphie killed that horse.)  Still, lovely all the same.  I like visitors.
  • Second City Generals again.  As per my usual, good first round, not so good callback.  But no one really rocked it, at least not in the improv.  Some very good sketch performances, including Ashley Comeau’s.  Not only was it impressive at the time, I know it was good because…
  • Ashley drops out of our Fringe tour to do a cruise ship.  Why, oh why, did I make it sound so appealing?!?  Curse this infernal blog!!!  After a brief interlude of self-pity and panic, I move into crisis-mode and start thinking of people I know who might do it and that I would be happy with.  I come up with a list of about four, and one of them says “Yes”: the lovely and talented Dana Fradkin.  This makes me very happy, because not only do I know she’ll be great, it’s good Fringe and theatre karma for me, because Dana was in my very first Fringe play, and while I look back on it with fondness and acceptance that every playwright has to have a first play, I also somewhat cringe knowing what I’ve learned over the years.  So the chance to put her in a better play of mine (I think) is lovely.  Mind you, the task of mounting the show becomes a lot more time-consuming (as it’s no longer so much  a remount), but all things considered, if we had to go it without Ashley, it really couldn’t have worked out any better.

May 2010:

  • I act in a video for Pat Smith.  Blink and you’ll miss me, but I’m in it.  Well, not so much blink…you’d probably have to rub your eyes to miss me.  Oh, see for yourself!:

  • May 12th, I have one of those crazy days people in demand probably have all the time.  I have a Billy Stutter rehearsal in the afternoon, a Mr. Clean (my Harold team) rehearsal in the late afternoon/early evening, the first (and for me, only) Emergency Bingo show at night, and then shot Friendly Friday at 10 p.m.  (We were rained out the day before.)  Friendly Friday was the second collaboration for Brad and I on a 7 Day Short, and I was very grateful that the talented Alice Moran was able to join us (and carry me, acting-wise.)  Personally still figuring out the whole acting-for-camera thing, and, as mentioned, end of a long day, and I know Brad was a little disappointed with the look (an experiment to see in how low light this camera could shoot, the answer to which was not quite this low) but I’m generally  happy with it, I think my writing’s okay and the editing was good, Alice is great, and besides, I heard Jim Annan thought it was funny, so what else do I need?  Though it probably deserves its own post, for now…

  • Billy Stutter has a benefit.  Fairly sparsely attended, but those who showed up got an awesome show.  See Spot Run rock, Chris Gibbs is awesome, and people got very good returns on their lottery ticket purchases!
  • I do CageMatch with Marcel St. Pierre and Kerry Griffin.  A very fun if wanky night.  Most importantly, we can now lay claim to the name Male Pattern Boldness!  Too good to only use once, I say…
  • Chris Dingwall comes to town.  It’s awesome.  As per usual.  Next year in Chicago!
  • The Combustion Festival returns to town, and though I don’t see much, I do see the Sunday Service guys.  Have a nice chit-chat with my “boychik” Ryan Beil.  Now if I could only get him to return an email…

June 2010:

  • I am in Alley of the Dolls, an improvised homage to “Valley of the Dolls.”  McClendon, if you’re reading this, I improvised in a vest.
  • This is when Femme Fetal actually got the bump to the Second City Network.  I feel pride.  (Though I did experience that classic Hollywood treatment of writers, where they only got in touch with Brad and initially prepared all the contracts with his name only.  So we’ll call it pride with just a sprig of bitterness.)
  • Alright, this is where keeping a daily blog would have been useful.  The Ottawa Fringe was much fun.  I can’t remember all of what happened or the order it happened in, but some fun things I do remember include dancing like idiots at Chats with Cat and partaking in witty banter with Brad MacNeil (time warp!), eating a gourmet meal by Chef Blackie (which I couldn’t afford, but I’m glad I had), meeting various parents (Brad’s dad, Dana’s mom), a virtual Rez Dogs’ reunion (Darcy, Jon, and Ian), much hanging out with Darcy (I stayed with him), slightly crashing a wedding, a trip to a cottage…oh, yes, and the play!  Much fun!  Many pictures can be seen here.  And this is us crashing a wedding, and rocking out at the cottage:

July 2010:

  • I don’t know what the rule is about women’s birthdays.  I know you’re not supposed to discuss their ages, but does that mean you’re not supposed to draw attention to their birthdays?  At any rate, my mother has a birthday.  It’s a big one.
  • Ottawa Fringe is over, Toronto Fringe begins.  I saw a lot (though I left a lot of shows for Winnipeg).  I think my personal fave was probably “Public Speaking” by Chris Craddock, who tends to blow my mind.  Equally mindblowing, though technically not part of the Fringe, Uncalled For presented their show “Hypnagogic Logic”, which was incredible.  There was a lot of other good stuff, too much to revisit here (I’ve been writing this post for hours!), but I will mention, since this baby did start out as a boat blog, that Ashley’s troupe Punch in the Box had a smash hit on their hands with their appropriately named “Pick of the Fringe”, and they’ve pretty much been dominating the local scene ever since.  Also of boatnewsworthiness, Megan came up for a visit, and we all had a lovely evening at the Fringe tent.  (Which, moved to Honest Ed’s Alley this year, was awesome, and a great hub for the performing community, and I hope it stays that awesome.)  And lastly, on a personal note, thank you, Dan Jeannotte, for remembering who I was.
  • I have a nice little coffee-meeting with Julianne, then (sniff) of Second City.  In addition to some catching up, I’m offered a spot on The Bench.  This will be of more significance later.
  • The Winnipeg Fringe.  An all-around crazy time.  So much family (including the Toronto and Vancouver family that made the trip), so many friends, old and new.  Our venue was great (the MTC Mainstage), as were the techs who came with it.  Our schedule was literally the shittiest I’ve ever seen.  (I was in such disbelief about how bad it was, I actually scanned every company’s schedule when they were emailed to us, and there was only one other that even came close to being as bad as ours.)  Maybe it was the tradeoff for putting a company they hadn’t heard of in such a primo venue, but wow!  As for how it was received, the feedback was all very positive (and not just from family and friends), while the reviews were mixed (curiously, perhaps, mostly pans or raves, very little mediocre).  The box office, not bad.  The big selling point for me was definitely the community of performers; it’s definitely a magical thing how quickly that sense of kinship can spread.  And to be able to put a play up for all the family and family friends who’ve never seen anything I’ve done before, pretty special too.  (We also did an improv set while we were there, so bonus points on that front.)  And lest this seem too saccharine, we close with a picture of Brad and I shotgunning beers at Winnipeg Beach.

  • Oh, and since I did it for Toronto Fringe, I should probably mention here that while I saw a lot of great stuff (here, A TON of great stuff), my favoritest of all was “Countries Shaped Like Stars.”  If you get the chance…  I should also mention that I took advantage of being in Winnipeg to see Morro and Jasp, who always sell out their shows in Toronto, and now I know why.  Lovely people, super-talented.  And I shouldn’t even bother, because it’s not like it’s any secret, but, as always, Chris Gibbs, wow.

August 2010:

  • Alice Moran’s birthday.  I go to see her and Ian perform standup; by the time the night’s over, I have the world’s greatest nickname.
  • What’s that, Lassie?  Trouble at the old Bad Dog?  (Alright, so these bullet points are ceasing to be useful for anyone but me…but this post is getting ridiculous…if you want more details, just ask…)
  • I do six shows and a workshop in a weekend.  Of note, two of them are for Taste of the Danforth for Second City, thus technically keeping me on the Second City payroll for a third straight year.  Also of note, the Late Late Horror Show got reviewed.  A bit of an odd review, and it seems to give away one of my good bits to someone else (not that I mind, of course), and most strangely, it doesn’t use any of our names, but anyway, here it is.
  • I meet with Gord Oxley, and it’s decided that I will take over Comedy on the Danforth.  It’s an improv show of family-friendly games, performed at a Timothy’s on the Danforth.  I hate producing, but I really like doing the show (I head one of three teams), and it’s a great opportunity to keep up my game-playing skills and to play with people I like in a casual, fun environment.  Solid.
  • I send some sketches I wrote to Sarah Silverman.  As of yet, haven’t heard anything, and am also presuming she never actually saw them.  Nevertheless, points for proactiveness and unusual optimism!
  • Another year of Camp Hershfield.  Claire is crazier than she’s ever been before, and deprives me of several nights of good sleep.  Nice to spend some time in the water, nice to see Arnold and Paula, but overall, not our best time out there.
  • I am part of the Flashlight Project at the Summit.  An awesome event, a very fun project, and a good chance to work with (and in front of) some people for the first time, so good times all around.  And photogenic!

September 2010:

  • Dave and Andrea visit from New York.  It is a brief reunion, but it allows me the opportunity to get into an argument about the quote-unquote Ground Zero quote-unquote Mosque.  (That’s personally the part that gets me.  I’ve been in the JCC many times; it’s never occurred to me to refer to it as a synagogue.  Too much ball hockey.)  It worked out well, with one Torontonian and one New Yorker on both sides.   Kind of Real Time with Bill Maher.  At any rate, a nice if brief visit.  And it inspires me to finally read the book I borrowed from Dave monthes ago (more about that in my upcoming book review post.)
  • Brad and I make another 7 Day Short, this one called “The Squid and the Florist.”  Can you guess what the two suggestion words were?  That’s right.  Definitely the easiest of the videos we’ve made, but it still makes me giggle.  (And only partially because I know that in order to keep the squid from flying apart into several pieces as we dropped it, it was stuffed into a condom.)  Enjoy!

  • Rosh Hashanah happened.  Nothing in particular to report, it just seems like something that should be mentioned.
  • Another year, another TIFF.  No pictures of famous people this time around (barely saw any, as it turns out).  And while I didn’t see anything that blew my mind, it was a dud-free year, which is pretty nice.  I saw the following: Beginners, Of Gods and Men, Miral, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, The Poll Diaries, Beautiful Boy, Mother of Rock, and Tabloid.  For me, I think The Poll Diaries was my favorite, so if you get the chance, check it out.  Tabloid was also pretty fascinating; Errol Morris is still a god.
  • I go and check out the latest Second City revue.  It’s pretty awesome.  Hype deserved!  Actually, the biggest compliment I can give is that at both the intermission and at the end of the show, I thought they must have been really short halves but I looked at my watch, and nope, time had just gone fast.  Kudos!  And, in what was very touching, the stage manager came out and invited me to join them for the post-show jam.  Truth be told, I had a fairly mediocre set, but it was still very nice to get asked, and damnit, I’ll be back!
  • CBC Culture Days!  Okay, maybe that exclamation point seems excessive for CBC celebs, but one of those celebs is my old roommate Tory, starring in the last season of The Tudors.   I had emailed with him a little, and his schedule was so full, it looked like I was going to have to stand in the autograph line with the schnooks to even see him, but when I got there, he’d in fact slipped off to a bar with his co-star Tamzin, and I met up with them for drinks.  Successful reunion!  They then snuck me into their industry party, where all the CBC stars were enjoying their appetizers (I said something witty while standing next to Erin Karpluk of Being Erica that she convincingly acted like she didn’t hear, but she is a very good actress, so I’m pretty sure she heard it and was just being coy about how charming she found me.)  Then down to Dundas Square to listen to the Canadian bands (more Sloan!), then Tory had to take off.  Dan (who’d joined us) and I joined Tamzin and her mother back at the industry party for a little more, but when it appeared that our presence was interfering with Jian Ghomeshi’s, shall we say, lascivious intentions (towards Tamzin, not her mother…or Dan, for that matter…), we made ourselves scarce.  I continued on to yet another Drinks for No Reason, making it one of my most show-bizzy nights of the year.  Attached is a picture of Tory, Tamzin and myself; see if just by looking at it, you can figure out which of us has never been given money to “get busy” on TV!

  • The Basketballers of Basketball starts a new season!  The game has gotten much more intense, and with many more improvisers.  (Didn’t think those two things would correlate, but somehow…)  It’s been awesome!

And there it is!  My year in a post!  To paraphrase the great George Costanza, “You take everything I’ve done in my life and squeeze it into a few days, it looks alright!”

This monster post is dedicated to my Uncle Bobo, because if he’s not the only one who made it to this point, I’m confident he’s the only one who’s still interested.  Be well!

Screw continuity, it’s Femme Fetal!

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Again, not in sequence, and at this point, anyone who reads this blog has probably seen this video.  But it’s been online for a few weeks and no religious nutjobs have shown up on my doorstep, so I think it’s safe to put this up.  It belongs to the ages now!

I wrote it, Brad Sayeau shot it, he and Brian Chambers edited it, and it stars Aurora Browne, Kris Siddiqi and myself, with Kevin Matviw and Brian as the uniform cops. I will spare you boring stories about my “process”, but something that made me go “Awww!” was the first time I yelled at Aurora’s belly, the baby kicked. I hope this video will one day be shown on Inside the Actor’s Studio, with James Lipton making some unctuous introduction like “We’ve had many former child stars on the show, but never before have we had anyone who was a star in utero.” Because until that happens, I will be feeling guilty.

Then came September…

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

And what would a Torontonian’s blog on September be without a lot of Film Festival talk?  Particularly if that Torontonian has generous parents who are Film Festival donors and buy whacks of tickets!

Anyway, these are the movies I saw:

  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Colony
  • Good Hair
  • Capitalism: A Love Story
  • An Afternoon with Chris Rock (not a movie, an actual talk)
  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
  • Samson & Delilah
  • Cracks
  • Leaves of Grass
  • Mr. Nobody

All good flicks, though I thought Capitalism wasn’t Michael Moore’s best, and Samson & Delilah was too bleak for my tastes.  (Both these movies I ended up seeing because friends of my parents canceled, though, so they were even more free!)  I really hope Cracks makes it to theatres; I quite enjoyed it but have not heard a word about it since.  Keep your eyes and ears open, folks!  Oh, and I feel I should issue this warning about Good Hair: it will make you stare at black women’s hair.  I haven’t gotten in trouble yet, and it’s more or less worn off, but for awhile, I was risking some serious tongue-lashing.

September also saw the beginning of rehearsals of Billy Stutter for its Bad Dog Short Play Festival run.  I’ll get more into the play later, but just know that it’s the one I wrote on the boat and the one that will be touring a few Fringes this summer.  The director: Bruce Hunter.  The cast: Logan Brown, Ashley Comeau, Dave Pearce, and Brad Sayeau. The stage manager for the Bad Dog run: Kara Evelyn.  The stage manager for our Fringes: Jennine Profeta.  Learn those names, there will be a test later.  (Well, not really, but they’ll be good to know.)  People who know this group will vouch for the fact that it’s an impressive group, and also an eclectic one.  We make it work.

Oh, and I performed in something called The Hell Show.  Any hopes I had for a life in politics are pretty well dashed.  Or the electorate will grow smart enough to understand satire.  At any rate, I mention it here so I can’t wuss out and deny it later.

And now, pictures of famous people (I tried not to be obnoxious about it, but sometimes, when you’re standing five feet from famous people, the camera just can’t help itself):