Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jenn's Thoughts: Easter, Atheism & Comedy

There once was a little bunny rabbit.  The rabbit was forbidden to eat the orange hanging from a Bodhi tree!  The rabbit was told that if he did he would be sent to the spirit world, and reincarnated into a young virgin to be sacrificed.  The rabbit gave into temptation and took a bite of the forbidden orange. Since he had already sinned he decided to make sweet love to a snake, and the two of them ran from this "God" they know, formed hundreds of religions around the world to confuse everyone.  They did all of this not for the love of religion, God, or the devil, but to give stand up comedians lots of material to work with!

While none of the above is likely true, to some it makes as much sense as the other religions.  Comedy and religion go together like bread and olive oil.  One does not need olive oil to eat the bread, but the oil makes it so much better.  Some of the best stand up comedy I have seen challenges contemporary society, and religion is always decent fodder.  One of my favourite's is Jim Jeffries, who takes on religion in a funny and blasphemous way.  Carlin, Stanhope, and all the greats have done original material on religion, and made it their own, and made it art.  

Here in Ottawa I see a strong trend of atheism amongst comedians.  While not all have sets on religion, through facebook and other social media outlets (including drinks after shows.  Some social activity still occurs in real life), it is common knowledge that many are atheist.  Some take atheism to religious levels such as Russell Barth, and no one makes more noise with their atheism than Dave McConnell, who would make the top ten atheist comedians without a doubt!  (if such a category existed, and only covered the area of Ottawa)

So tomorrow, we celebrate Easter, through Pagan idols such as chocolate bunnies (okay that was a Veggie Tales episode) and other thing not rooted in Christianity.  For those celebrating Easter, they are celebrating the death and subsequent resurrection of their God, well the son of God, and by that they are celebrating the holy ghost of the son of God, who is actually God himself, so God himself wanted to make himself a "real boy" and then torture himself and die on a cross all to let people continue sinning as long as they say the ABC prayer then they can go to heaven.  Or something like that.  Jewish people are also celebrating their holiday at this time, Passover.  I have no details on Passover; I am from Saskatchewan and we only have three Jewish people there.  No excuse, I should really educate myself, as in comedy alone their are a few Jewish folks!  So happy passover to you, and happy death of your deity to the others.  

Ironically, I am not an atheist.  Sure, I dabbled with independent thought for awhile, but in the end, I cannot believe that the Creator does not exist.  I do believe that likely my story of the rabbit is as true as any of them.  We as people have distorted any truth, because we will only 100% know the truth when we are dead.  If at that time we learn that any religion was correct, we likely aren't allowed back to earth to tell people.  (i mean, someone would have done it already)  If atheists are correct, then when we die we go black like the ending of the Sopranos.  Until then, people will speculate, fables will be told, and maybe in the end, a little of every religion was right, or all roads lead to the same place.  Disneyland.

In truth I have to hold on to spirituality as a form of hope.  I can believe and stretch my imagination to the length that science in fact may be derived from the Creator, and that some kind of spirit exists in the world, and that the end is not truly the end.  I do wonder if atheists have lower suicide rates than the rest of society; if they think they aren't going somewhere, there is no incentive to die.  This could in fact be a suicide intervention tool:  there is no god, so don't jump!  

Back to comedy:  there was a time when doing comedy on religion was risque, but times have changed.  Times have changed to indicate that society as a whole is more cynical of religion.  Atheism itself has grown through people learning more about science and facts from the internet.  I would, at this time, argue that jokes about Catholic Priests being molesters is pretty "hacky" unless coming from a new and original way.  There will never be a problem with comedians using art to challenge beliefs.  To do this we need the atheists, we need their dead souls to poke holes in other's hopes and dreams and beliefs.  We need this to create an ordered society, so  God bless the atheists and all they do!

Anything in life can be funny.  From lint to suicide and everything in between, a good comic can make it funny.  Funny starts from the material, so everyone in life has a base of material to work from.  Funny then grows to the specific writing.  Then comedy has to be part of you as a person, or you as a person on stage.  I could not do sarcastic religion humour, because on stage that is not who I am.  An atheist obviously will want to do "religion is dumb" jokes, and religious folks will want to do "atheists are dumb" jokes.  Whatever, do what you want, but make it funny, because in the Church of Comedy, the Gods insist on laughter.

Happy April 24th

Jenn H.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Men of Comedy: Nick Carter - Comedy Roasting

EDITOR NOTE: We will never edit an artist's work, but given this is an article about comedy roasts, it has explicit language. If this will offend you, stop reading please. If not, keep going!  

The views of the bloggers do not necessarily represent those of management.

“I don't at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes me far too conceited” -Oscar Wilde

“Egotism is nature’s compensation for mediocrity” - L.A. Safian

“To have ego means to believe in your own strength. And to also be open to other people's views. It is to be open, not closed. So, yes, my ego is big, but it's also very small in some areas. My ego is responsible for my doing what I do - bad or good.” –Barbara Streisand

So Barbara Streisand is a cunt. She’s a Jew who has released two Christmas CDs. And in the quote above she claims her ego is responsible for everything she does and it is big and it is small. Seriously, what a dumb cunt. She claims “to have ego means to believe in your own strength.” WRONG you dumb bitch: 

To succeed means to believe in your own strength!
To be humble means to believe in your own strength! 

Ego is the enemy of the self and it must be destroyed. Ego is what stops us from self improvement because it tells us we are already there. 

Barbara Streisand you are an idiot.

Roasting is all about destroying the ego. It takes a person who refuses to address their own flaws and makes them public. Without humour this is called an intervention. Roasting is for winners, Intervention is for losers. Writing a joke about intervention is for the biggest fucking losers of all. 

Having your ego destroyed by your friends is one of the greatest gifts they can provide you. A Roast can put your ego in check. The people who enjoy the roast the most are the people who are the best at laughing at themselves. The people who hate roasts are the people who only like laughing at others. Fuck those people. Those people are the biggest assholes in the world. I have been at a bar with fellow comedians when a civilian joins the table. They throw out insults at the comedians because they see us roasting each other at the table. As soon as someone throws an insult at the civilian they get all offended and insulted. They dish it out but cannot take it. I have seen it in civilians and I have seen it in comedians. It’s a shame really. You really shouldn’t be able to laugh at anyone else’s flaws until you can learn to laugh at your own. And you can’t learn to laugh at your own flaws until you realize that you are in fact flawed.

And that is why I roast. I like to think that there is an unspoken rule with comedians that our job is to reveal truths that civilians do not see or choose to ignore. Point out flaws that others wish to ignore. Denial is a powerful numbing agent that can assist evil people advance while you remain stuck. Comedians are one of the only groups of people that ignore the social conventions of what is acceptable to point out and what is not. Comedians are given license to say things that attack conventional thought and can advance society towards more self-awareness and less grandiose bullshit. The court jester was the ultimate roaster of the royalty. The Comedian should continue that. Attack those who are willing to do anything to make themselves more comfortable AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS. The Comedian should destroy the ego of society. The “aren’t we great” bullshit that every corporation banks on for filling their pockets. It’s all lies. It’s all ego. 

Creativity is the womb in which evolution grows. The promotion of mediocrity and the status quo is an insult to evolution. Self-growth leads to the Evolution of thought and the evolution of love and truth. 

Roasting points out that we are all flawed. By destroying the ego of the individual we can all start to see that we truly all exist as one organism dependent on nature for every moment of transformaiton. There is no good or bad, there is no creation or destruction. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred from one state to another.  Nature is the bearer of all. There is no good or bad there is only perfection in nature. When we destroy the ego of the self we shall see we can all live in a state of harmony.

Happy 4/20

Men of Comedy: Guest Blogger Jenn

Well, I am not a male but have size 11 feet so I will do for today.  I had expected a blog entry, but with writing for the big Ottawa roast tomorrow, people may have lost track of time.  So today you are stuck with moi!

To keep with the theme, I will talk about men, and comedy.  Last time I posted for Men of Comedy segment, I listed JH5's Top Ten Male Comedians.  This week I will do another top ten list, and was torn between the best looking male comics, and the nicest.  Being a feminist, I am pretty sure I am not going to subscribe to the top ten sexiest male comics (they know who they are anyways).  So, the day before the Ottawa roast, let me tell you about 10 nice fellows.  I will also ad that I have to like their comedy, so there are others who are nice but I am not a fan of their art.  Hope that's clear, so someone who is nice to me wondering why they did not make this list, it is either because there are those nicer than you, or I am not a fan.  (or I can't remember your name, that happens too)

Why am I outlining nice people?  Partly it is in good fun and no one should take it too seriously; however, the other part has a valid and decent point.  Comedy brings out a plethora of different types of personalities. In comedy, for the first year there are those who are nice right from the top, those who ignore you, and those who are actually rude.  In the first year you cannot take anything to heart.  Those who ignore you may be nice people, but they may be shy, they may believe you have to earn your stripes etc. etc.  Those who are nice may actually be over the top, and insincere.  I won't lie, since I started hiring acts people are nicer to me.  This doesn't mean they weren't nice to begin with, but some take it to the extreme and are pretty transparent.  Then those who are rude, those are the sneaky ones.  They may actually be trying to help.  One comedian loves to give newbies pointers and based on this person's experience in comedy, it is quite nice of them; however, it comes off as criticism.  So those who seem rude may actually be the nice ones!

To talk about nice people, I am talking about people that in my mind seem genuine in who they are, are nice but not over the top, and these are the people you want to hire.  Real people.  Genuine people.  Yes, of course they have to be talented, but realistically if you have two comics of the same basic levels of comedy, and one you know will create drama and be negative, and one will come do their comedy and are pleasant throughout, which one do you think people will hire?   Be who you are, and let the chips lie where they may.  The ten we have listed are those we enjoy their comedy, but also enjoy them as people.  I will caveat that if this was open for both genders, women would out do the men 20-1, and I don't know why this is.  If I had to label the nicest person in comedy, it is without a doubt Wendi Reed.  

10) Nick Carter -  I cannot say I was a fan  when i first met him on the Ottawa Comedy Resource, as he (rightly so) called me out on my ignorance of comedy booking with a mean (but really hilarious) satire about his dead grandma.  In person though, no one can make me laugh like he does, he is just silly at times!  I am sure he has his bad moments, but overall I see a good heart, a great comedian, and the combination of the two is a great mix!

9)  Alex Wood - Always found with the loudest laugh in the room, Wood was the first person who said "good set".  He has a kind word, encouragement before one goes on, and always reminds us to "have fun out there".  He also has cheeks that one wants to pinch, so the mom in me comes out when around him.  Above his niceness, he is funny, and one of my faves in the city.  

8)  Dylan Gott - I have only met him once while being the door girl at a comedy club, but his set was funny, but he could be one of the nicest people I have met!  He would likely have made it higher up the list, but as I only met him once, time will tell!

7)  Jim Robinson -  A retired civil servant from Ottawa, Robinson is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.  Period.

6)  Oliver Gross - Gross ran the Raw Talent Tuesdays and always had good constructive advice for us newbies.  "For the love of god, slow down", and "what's the worst that could happen" were two regular comments.  He is liked by most of the comedy scene, and has a good joke on "Jesus Juice" so he made the list.

5)  Julien Dionne - Nice fellow this young blond one.  Never had a bad thing to say about anyone, and he is funny.  Really funny.

4)  Josh Williams - He runs the Open Mic Mondays and is always nice to help a new comic out, give feedback (done in a nice way), and his humour is quite fun!

3) Don Kelly - Everyone knows Don Kelly is nice, there is not much more to say, except come to Don Kelly and Friends on June 11 at the Bronson Centre!

2)  Mark Forward - I had seen his comedy long before I met him, and he is fun, gracious, nice, and even when being "mean", he is lovely.  He is also our favourite male comic, and I am not sure anyone could change our minds on this, and this mix of niceness and amazing talent, this comic is headed for greatness.

1)  Graham Chittenden - One of the best comedy writers I know, he is also nice. In fact, he is nice enough to give free muffins for his fans!  Even when he stands people up for chicken wings, he is so nice about it, you just forget the whole thing :)  I defy anyone who has met him to say a mean thing about him.  He is that nice!

After writing this I see this column for what it is:  pure filler!  Whatever, if you want better columns encourage your favourite male comics to blog for us!  Always remember that niceness is in the eye of the beholder.  There are people out there would label me as a nice person; in fact I hope many people would.  there are those though who have a "B" word and a "C" word for me as well!  So take this list for what it is, one woman's attempt to highlight people who have made a different in comedy, and have done it with a genuinely pleasing personality. 

Next post will be Friday where I talk in general terms about the Ottawa Comedy Roast.  (from my world view, I will not be recapping what people do)

Until then, all my relations,
jenn hayward
JH2 of JH5

Quick edit:  We forgot Darcy Michael, who would be in the top four for sure!

Monday, April 18, 2011

There once was a man named Nick Carter


There once was a man named Nick Carter
Few could call themselves smarter
He has wicked wit 
When performing his bit
Integrity; he will never barter.
Interviewing Nick Carter was a pleasure.  He has blogged for JH5, and also made the JH5 TOP TEN MALE COMEDIANS.  He is an intelligent man, with quick wit and an almost unmatchable passion for comedy.  Read on to learn more about Carter, his quest for his dreams, and his thoughts on the comedy scene.
Nick Carter, at age 31 has been performing comedy for about six years.  His passion for comedy existed long before he attempted to get on stage himself.  He remembers his first time at Yuk Yuk's Ottawa.  He brought seven people to support him and was scared out of his mind!
He prepped for this more than anything he had ever done.  When that first Yuk Yuk's song came on, the one to let you know that the show is starting soon, Carter's brain told his body to get the hell out of there; scream, run out and get away from this place! 

When he began, all he could remember is to move the mic stand, move the mic stand, so he did and he got a laugh right off the top!  He then relaxed, and then he doesn't remember much more.  The manager of the club, Howard Wagman ,told him that it was good and to come back again.   The second time he came back he was awful, but it didn't matter because he wasn't as nervous, and knew he could keep doing this!

 Throughout his life Nick Carter wanted to do stand up.  He watched comedy and was mesmerized.  He was a small child and was picked on relentlessly at school.  He found that making people laugh was a survival mechanism, turned into a passion.  He remembers hearing a joke in his childhood from Allen Watt years ago where he thought the joke was going one way and BOOM, it went the other way.  Carter was not expecting it, and was thrilled with the result; the joke was tricking people thinking the joke was dirty, but not dirty.  It was intelligent, and the kind of comedy Carter wanted to write. He was amazed to know a teenager who tried it out!  Geoff Mackay had the guts as a teenager to go on stage and perform.  Carter had wanted to try it out, and even wrote some jokes, but fear got the best of him.

 When Carter was 24 he was laid off from a job.  He received severance, and feels this was the best thing for him!  He was young, with money, so he used the money to travel around with people just like him.  Through the internet he was able to find nerds just like him to meet, talk comedy, and more!  It was through this process that he met his friend Julie from San Antonio.  Julie was someone who continually challenged him to be funnier; she was just so naturally talented you had to keep up, even on the telephone.   She was funny enough to be better than Sara Silverman, she was going to be a huge star!  Tragically Julie never had the chance to get on stage; she died young, and never got to perform.  When Carter heard this he immediately said he was going to get on stage, in honour of her.  He knew she was so much funnier than he ever did and never got the chance to perform, and his fear seemed to come second to his desire to honour a woman he cared about so much.  He called Geoff MacKay who gave him the information to get on stage in Ottawa and helped him out, leading to his career in comedy.   
Nick Carter's comedy dreams are going to be achievable.  Not just because of his talent, but also because he is not grandiose in his professional dreams.  Carter's ultimate goal would be to go to any major city in North America and have 100 people coming specifically to see him.  He is not dreaming of large stadiums and the money that will follow; Carter is interested in finding his voice and making statements.  He can recall when comedy changed for him.  He remembers watching a comedian who was funny but also had a message behind what they were saying; this is what he wants to do, he just needs to find out what message it is, and how he will achieve this.  He aims to influence social change through artistic expression; noble and very much achievable.  He does state that if one of his friends becomes big and famous, he will latch on to them to help him on his way!

Nick Carter's comedy style is hard to explain.  He is intelligent and you would likely never have him doing penis and fart humour.  He draws his influences from David Cross, Zach Galifianikis and Jon Dore.  He gives hats off to Steve Martin and Bill Hicks, who if you joined would end up something like what Stephen Cobert does, combining social political with the right mix of silliness.  He believes you can learn from everyone though.  Even if you don't like the comic, you can learn what you don't want to do.  He wants to be the guy who gets in people's heads and makes them think, all while making them laugh.

Although his goals are strong in the artistic expression, he was worked to earn his stripes as a comic.  He recalls his worst time on stage doing a corporate gig for a combination of three government offices and some Algonquin college.  He recalls they just loved Rick Currie, really loved him, and when Carter came on they were almost resentful that Currie had to leave.  He compares this to a bad blind date; they don't like you and you don't like them, but you are stuck together for the next eight minutes.   Going through these bad experiences though have made him a better comic, and stronger in his knowledge of where he wants to go in his career.

 When asked who his favourite comedians in Ottawa are, he lists Mike Beatty, Rick Currie and Don Kelly.  They are professionals, and excellent comedians to watch and learn from.  Of the newer comedians Carter says he doesn't want to be lame and start listing his friends, so he cites Peter Gunstra and Aaron Power.  Gunstra is a local comic from Yuk Yuk's, and Carter is always amazed at how much he writes and how polished it all comes out.  He also cites relative newcomer Power as someone who is very relaxed on stage, even more so than in real life!

 JH5 asks carter a few questions on comedy in general, and here is his opinions:

Women In Comedy 

He believes that comedy is hard for women; it is male dominated and wonders why women would want to get into it.  There were not many role models for women growing up, certainly not enough to make it as cool a dream or option as it is for men. 

Women are taught to wait for their prince to come, not to get on stage and talk about stuff ladies should not talk about!  He also states that their is a perception out there that women are not funny, which means the woman has to be ten times as funny to be equal.  He states that the problem is that often bookers will put a female on a show "just to be fair and balance", but alas she may not be of equal stance as the men on the show. This is not to say she won't be, but there is a limited pool to choose from when it comes to female comedians, and if have five men who have been performing for ten years each on with a woman who is one year into her comedy career, the difference may show.  She is then representing women as poorer comedians, which is not the case, it is just the perception.  Women not only have to be as good as men, but has to be better.  He feels that we live in a sexist society, formed from the time we are all two.  He asks us to think about this:  when one asks a woman what she wants in a man, she will say funny, as in make her laugh.  When you ask a man what he wants in a woman, lower down the list he will have funny, as in laugh at his jokes. Men want women to think they are funny, something women are not as concerned with.

Ottawa Comedy Roast and Awards Show 

 Four years ago Nick Carter put up a post on the Ottawa Comedy Resource (now defunct, but a new OCR now exists HERE (put link in) about categories for the best in Ottawa.  It was more of a joke, but people started to vote!  He then got the idea to approach Don Kelly about it, as Kelly had done a roast of a person before.  Carter thinks back to how brazen that was of him, just two years into his comedy approaching one of the best in Ottawa for help!  We did it, it was "off the hook" and everyone wanted it to be annual.  The awards have categories, best of kind of things, and a few "joke" categories such as the Trevor Thompson sexiest male and female awards. 

Carter says the roasts can be brutal; all comedians get together and Say really mean things about each other.  If people laugh, on some part the joke was true, if people go oohhh, then it was WAY too true and WAY too mean.  What Carter likes is that it destroys ego's, and the bigger an ego a person has, the less they want to hear that they are not perfect.  (editor's note:  Please read FEMINIST TAKE ON ROASTING to coincide with this article)  Roasting is great for people who are most boastful, of have a huge flaw and don't know it, then it helps.  For others who are aware, such as Thompson's lady ruiner status, he is not caught off guard, and if the joke is funny enough then it was not mean. 

Carter sets one standard:  If a comedian talks about it on stage then it is fair game.  There are things that if the average person heard it, it would seem mean and hurtful, which is why ONLY comedians are invited to the roast.  It has to be taken in context; if someone jokes about being fat onstage, then at the roast it can be fair game and funny.  (this slightly concerns a certain female comedian who overshares in her comedy act!)  The point is comics should be able to take it, if they can't take this from their peers, how will they take it from the audience. 
The roast is a free for all, people go of course after those they are closest with, but Carter also feels that there are people who can benefit to be put "in their place" so to speak.  There are amateurs who need to understand they are brand new and not funny yet.  There are new people who put their ego's above the talent.   Roasting is a kind of way to test people, to see if they are able to take criticism, and how they will react.  It tests character; who can dish it out and also take it!  Carter quotes Don Kelly who says "if I didn't mention you it means I dont' know who you are, I don't care, or you are not funny, or in Ed Gougeon's case, all three".   (Note, check back to our blog on Good Friday to see how the roast went!) 
Favourite Comedy Club in Ottawa 

 Carter is not a huge fans of comedy clubs because they are pushing a product that is entertainment and booze.  Owners of Yuk Yuk's Comedy and   Absolute Comedy obviously both care about comedy, but to survive they need the business to do well.  If everyone only cared about the art then no one would make any money.  There are times that the public does not care about comedy, and if comedy was not offered every night, people would have to search out comedy.  There would be limited supply and no hacks, only people that are different and funny.  When people call the clubs they rarely ask who is performing tonight, they don't actually care.  
The clubs also push no real incentives for their artists.  Once the comedians are famous they move to big theatres, and don't often play the clubs anymore, so the clubs have no incentive to push their comedians to become better and have their careers move forward.  Part of the problem is that someone like Carter knows good comedy, where the general public may not.  When Carter goes to a ballet, he does not know good from bad, he just sees people jumping.  When the public comes to comedy clubs, they hope the club brought good talent for them, just as Carter trusts the ballet will have good dancers.

Comics often talk about Absolute Comedy being an easier room to perform in.  Carter says that you can't trick an audience; they will smell if you don't try.  You cannot just get on stage and do knock knock jokes.  Yuk Yuk's he feels is a little harder; the comic has to fight a bit harder to get the laughs.  Why no one knows (JH5 has theories to be shared in May) but it helps the comedians to have to work for the laughs; it keeps them fresher and on their game.

Carter has proven himself intelligent and a comic who treats comedy as the artform it is.  JH5 has chosen him as WHO TO WATCH for many reasons, because funny is funny, and smart is smart, but when you put the two together, you have a package that is worth watching each and every time.  Carter can be seen often at Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club, Absolute Comedy Club, and on April 21 you can catch him at the Political Comedy show at the Prescott, call 600-7462 for tickets.  


Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Feminist take on Roasting

This coming Thursday, Ottawa is celebrating their annual awards show and comedy roast.  This is the fourth year for the roast, founded by Nick Carter and Don Kelly.  Tomorrow Nick Carter himself is JH5’s WHO TO WATCH, and will be guest blogging on Wednesday, likely on the topic of roasting.  He is the expert (and a man to be feared for his unmatchable quick wit), and can go into details, but here is a gal’s perspective on this thing they call “roasting”.

Roasting has been around forever.  It is basically hurling insults that are both funny and hopefully intelligent at others.  Not specific to comedy, roasting was used as a means for the religious to challenge Galileo, for science to challenge the church’s stance on everything, and for women everywhere to make fun of their mother-in-laws and/or their husband’s penis size.  Put simply:  there are times where ridiculing others can be funny to those watching.  

Comedy itself formalized and operationalized roasting through the Friar’s Club in the 1920’s.  This (men only) club would have a guest of honour, and have a roast of their peers.  They claim to “only roast the ones they love”.  Dean Martin began televising some of the roasts in the 1960’s and 1970’s, enhancing their popularity.  Everyone wanted to be cool like them, and it is always fun to see a celebrity “put in their place”.  In 2008 Denis Leary’s company then began to produce and film roasts, making them more popular than ever.

All of these roasts both make fun of and honour the “roastee”, and also allow those roasting to take “shots” at the other roasters themselves.  While roasting seemed too harsh for women in the 1920’s, times have changed.  Lisa Lampenelli herself has proven that women can be just as mean, vicious, and funny as the men.  It is not gender specific; it is comic to comic, professional to professional (or amateur to amateur in most of Ottawa’s case).  In Ottawa, they have “awards” as well.  (I use that term loosely because the “Trevor Thompson Sexiest Male and Female” categories are somewhat dubious.  I do think he will take the sexiest female this year though, fingers crossed for him!)

So here you have a group of like minded people (funny, or funny wannabees), having an evening of making fun of each other, drinking, and celebrating Trevor Thompson’s sexiness (I am not making this up people, sure I was one of the first to say it, but I don’t make the award categories up!)  What could go wrong?   I am stereotyping a bit here, but through systemic patriarchal bias during primary and secondary socialization, women are bound to take things more personal than men, or internalize insults more.  Perhaps some men do as well, but knowing the women in Ottawa, there is only one I can think of who will not walk away from roast thinking “am I really like that?  Why don’t they like me?”  Well maybe they don’t care if you like them or not (they do, they won’t admit it but they do), but some of what is said will go home with them.  Is this a good thing?  If your entire life has been spent being told you are worthless, or at least inferior and it is something of a struggle for you, do you then walk into a room full of people hurling insults without taking any of it personally?  I am not saying one way or the other, but it makes me ponder.

Part two of roasting with women concerns women being roasters.   Making fun of people or being mean is really counter productive to “being nice”, something women are told their whole lives.  No one wants to hear a woman say that.  No one likes a mean spirited woman.  You are just saying that because you are envious.  Why can’t you act like a LADY.  These are the messages girls and women are given in their lives, and sure progress has been made, but it is still out there; be nice to everyone, because as you know we are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.   

So then, reading this you may ask yourself “why would you go to the roast”.  Why would a woman put herself in a place where they may take something too personal, or feel bad for being mean to someone else? Well for me, it is because I really want to see if I am indeed a sexier woman than Trevor Thompson, but also I want to belong.  Isn’t that what we all want?  To fit in, to be somewhere and be of people who “get” us.  I really admire many people in the comedy world.  There are those I really don’t like but admire their comedy, and those who I can’t stand their comedy, but like them as people.  Comedy is a community of crazy people; to quote a wise man “you would have to be crazy to get up on stage”.  Often these are people who may not be the best communicators, or they may be die hard party animals.  They are people from almost every walk of life who have this one passion of comedy and making people laugh.  These are the people who will be there at the roast; like minded crazy yet funny people.

So wanting to belong and going to have a fun night are two reasons to go.  Let’s look deeper:  most feminists I know would snub their nose at the idea of roasting.  First, us feminists are known for amazing sense of humours on things (not).  Many would say that it is a patriarchal idea, putting someone beneath you only to prop yourself up and gain favour with others.  In a way roasting could be said to cause and limit self-esteem in people, keeping those down down, and those up up, basically contributing to social stratification.

Feminists may also say that roasting, well comedy in general, uses too many gender specific language in a negative fashion, such as calling women C words, and men F words.  (as in gay, not fuck).  Roasting, and the idea of it could be compared to Darwinian politics, survival of the fittest (or wittiest), and rooted in alpha male constructs.  There are many reasons that feminists and women may not agree with roasting.

So as a feminist, do I agree with these thoughts?  Yes and No.  Yes, it has that potential, without a double it has that potential, to be exploitative and be a negative thing overall that women should shy away from.  Back up a minute though.  Look back a few paragraphs, where I said how women are labelled as “ladies” and told to act and behave in a certain way.  So to follow this ideology, patriarchal ideals have said women should not roast others because it is not ladylike, and feminists theory would have roasting as a negative thing as well.  Patriarchy agreeing with feminism?  WTF??

The truth is that as a woman, we have every right to act how we WANT to.  Roasting should not be gender specific in limits  to who is roasted and who should roast.  To break through the glass ceiling of assholes, women should have the right to partake if they please and NOT be judged for their efforts any different than men should.  Women have the right to CHOOSE to be just as childish and rude as men are.  We have the right to get on stage and make jokes about other comics, and have the right to sit there and “take it” from the comics as well.  As for women taking it to personal, well I back that one up.  In this roasting situation, just as in comedy, inappropriate slurs are made towards women.  Some think it makes it more funny, but I will stand by my take and general dislike of insults that are gender specific, especially words like the C word that are often used in such derogatory situations as rape and violence against women.

Women have the right to go; however, when they go, they must realize that they are entering a potentially foreign environment.  They are entering something that I have seen men do for years; poke fun at each other, often in disgusting ways.  We as women cannot go into a roast expecting not to get offended.  And therein lies the point of this blog:  We have choice.  We can agree or disagree with roasting, and we can decide to go or not.  Not going is not indicative that one does not belong, and going does not make one belong either.

I have made a choice to go.  I have also written a piece for it.  I will tell you honestly that I am not very good at writing mean things out, and have an even harder time saying them.  This is because I have a strong inner child who protects me, and doens’t want me to put myself in a situation I may get hurt, and wants me above all else to be nice to everyone and everything.  So, I did what I had to do:  I punched my inner child in the fact, and told that little C word where she could stuff it.  She now says “go get the (male) C word suckers”.  Could be a fun night!

Check out Nick Carter tomorrow.  He is one of JH5 top ten picks, and the ultimate roaster.  We profile him, and he will share his wisdom on comedy and the world.  You do not want to miss this!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dreams vs. Reality

Olympic champion Yolanda Gail Devers once said, “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” This quote is inspiring, especially from someone who has achieved much in her life. This quote is also ridiculous and cannot be true for everyone. Let me say that again. CANNOT be true for everyone.

I agree in principle that dreaming is a good thing, planning, belief in one's self, vision, hard work, determination and dedication are all great things. They are principles that will get one far in life, but to say that "all things are possible for those who believe" is slightly misleading. I will get to comedy in a bit, but let's look at the facts: Devers is a gold medal Olympic athlete. She did all of those things and won her gold medal, that she (or perhaps her parents, but let's not go there) always dreamt she would. Great for her, but what about all the other women who did EXACTLY as she did, worked hard, believed etc. etc. etc. and didn't win their gold medal. Their dreams in fact did not come true. One more example of this silliness is Justin Bieber, who starred in a "movie" called "Never Say Never". He too cites that all dreams are possible. Really? So, every fourteen year old who wants to become a pop icon will do so? I am pretty sure the world is FULL of musicians still working their collective butts off for their one break to make their dreams come true.

Let's now discuss this in terms of comedy. Please list in your head your top ten Canadian Comedians working today. Go ahead, I'm waiting, but my bet is that unless you are in the field of comedy, you cannot do so. Now do the same for comics from the United States. Easier I bet. Are comics from the United States better than Canadian comics? Do Canadian comics just not work hard enough, dream enough, have faith in themselves? Well yes for some, but most of them are exceptionally dedicated to their craft. They can map and vision their work to their heart's content, but if their dream is to become the next superstar, what are the chances this will happen? What are the chances that ALL of them who are working so hard to "make it" (whatever "it" is) are going to star in the next big blockbuster and become a millionaire doing guest spots on places that were cool when we were young but have just gone downhill (such as SNL and Letterman). My guess is not very many. My guess is in 20 years, many of them will be doing what they are doing right now, performing comedy (hopefully at a better wage than they are now) at clubs and for corporate gigs.

Wow, am I a Debbie Downer or what? A realist or a pessimist? Believe you and me people I am a dreamer, and I believe people can go far in their lives. I do not though subscribe to this notion that hard work will get you everywhere you want to go. There is much more, such as timing and luck that play a big part as well. We at JH5 are dreamers; we dreamed of putting on a gala event at Centrepointe Theatre. We did it. We dreamed of putting on an Aboriginal themed show, and we are doing it now. (June 11th, mark your calendar's folks!) But our real dream, our real dream is to make enough money to quit our day job, just put on shows with big names such as Wanda Sykes, and live a relaxing lifestyle. Will this happen for us? Who knows, but there are many other outfits just like us trying to do the same thing. We will still work hard, have our vision etc. etc., but in the end, we may not make it. Does this make our dreams not come true, or do we say that our dream is to put on shows, entertain audiences, and make some money along the way. Do we determine success as having loved what we have done; successfully weathering the ups and downs of life. If we stop in five years, it does not mean we have failed, it merely means we have changed our dreams or our lives.

Comedians, who we try to help wherever we can to gain exposure and promotion, are in the same boat. A female comedian once said "the dream is doing what I love for 17 years, that is the dream. Not many can say that". Sure, she would like to make much more money, but she also knows the reality of the business. Getting happiness out of things is the sure fire way to determine whether or not we have succeeded. I work ridiculously hard in my life, I won't lie. I work a full time job, do the JH5 as well with my husband, and also volunteer places, and most importantly, am a mom to three amazing children. Our dream, when broken down, is really to work hard right now to get ahead so to speak. Our children have a variety of special needs and there were times where finances were/are tight to keep up with everything. Our choices were to have JH1 go to work full time to get double income, but our children's needs define him to stay home. That is when we decided to start doing the JH5 work, to get some extra money while doing what we love which is supporting and producing comedy while giving back to our community.

We adapt our priorities and dreams often and never define something as a success or failure. Comedians I think at times have an either or success ratio. Either they are successes, or they are failures. There is no middle ground for some of them. There are comedians who work very hard, put in their time, and their work is amazing. They are; however, really bad at visioning where they want to be and the steps to get there. They are not good at self promotion, or at the "business end" of comedy. There are those who are great at self promotion but have not yet put the time into their craft. Some will "succeed", some will not, based on that ratio. What I can advise comedians is if you are at one end of that spectrum, get help. If you need help promoting, see us or the plethora of other people like us. If you need more time on stages, get to know other comedians, form your own rooms, do what it takes to get your time in. Regardless, Devers was correct in her statement that all of those factors are needed to be successful. What she didn't mention is that success is a matter of opinion, and that life throws this thing called "luck" into the mix. Never feel you are a failure. Your comedy may not be where you want it, but you can keep working on what needs to be worked on, and as long as you have put time, effort, and all the factors discussed above into it, you are not a failure, you are a success for following your dreams. The journey is the success, the destination is a mere bi-product. Enjoy the journey, and if you are a superstar, please do shut up about how everyone can make it to where you are, and you can quote me on that.

Yuk Yuk's Review April 14th

Sheepishly, we have no review.  We can use this as a general call for more writers, as we can't get out as much as we want to for the next two months.  If interested, email  Even if you are from another city, we will consider reviews for other cities!

What we can say about the show is that the amazing Graham Chittenden is performing.  We have seen him perform many times, and he made our "prestigious" top ten male comedians.  He is a great writer and even better performer, and he is beyond what to watch, he is the one years from now you will be going "hey, wasn't he that kid from Yuk Yuk's?"

Go make your reservations at 236-LAFF!

Jenn Hayward

Review Absolute Comedy April 14th

April 14 Review, Absolute Comedy
Jason Blanchard, Paul Morrissey, Matt Billon

Host, Matt Billon, has managed to be the only person in the world to do intelligent stoner comedy.  Even though he seems young for someone who has been doing comedy for eleven years, he has accomplished very much in his life.  He very heroically saved teenagers, has had blindfolded sex and has watched an ex girlfriend wet the bed. 
Truly inspiring.

Opening act, Paul Morrissey, has been on Craig Ferguson’s show many-a-time.  He baffles audiences when he talks about living on a beach, because of his ghostly white skin.  One person in the crowd had hang-glided, and survived.  Morrissey did not seem to understand that it’s possible.  His passion for cake, and lack of interest in strippers was heart-warming. 

When the headliner, Jason Blanchard, finally got to the stage, he burst out with tons of energy and jokes about swingers.  He gave all parents a very important lesson on punishment for their children.  Then reminded every female in the audience exactly how comfortable they could feel whilst someone talks about vagina sizes. He is very good at sex (by his son’s standards), but he soon after explained the criteria his son was marking him on.   

This weekend will be an incredible show for anyone who likes to laugh.  Make it out to Absolute Comedy for it has (yet again) received a JH5 WHAT TO WATCH!

Sophie Buddle,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Men of Comedy: Guest Blogger Graham Chittenden

I've begun trying to remember my childhood in greater room with that little bastard me (figure of speech, my parents are still married,) I'd probably beat him up, or he'd beat me up. I was pretty feisty back then. It's also becoming clear to me how bad I have anxiety, and how long I've had it. 

One night when I was eight years old, I stayed up late and
 watched television. I don't know if it has any significance to the story, but I remember very clearly that I watched boxing on TSN. Around midnight, a time I rarely ever saw at that age, it occurred to me that I had done irrepressible damage to my sleep patterns. Normally I was asleep by ten o'clock and it was midnight. Not only did I not get to sleep on time, I realized something terrifying: I might never sleep again. I flew into a panic and ran upstairs, where my mother assessed the situation and decided that I should not be given caffeinated soda ever again. We all learned very little from that situation, but I didn't drink another cola for three years.

My sanity has always followed a feast-or-famine model. It pains to me admit this, but I'm the perfect candidate to be the guy who cuts his lawn at the same time every week except for the week that he murders his whole family and drives his car through the front window of his house. This polarized disposition started early. I have three brothers and my mother had to tolerate us twenty four hours a day because she was always sober. In the summer she would have to bribe us or trick us to behave. She ran a non-stop contest, tallied weekly, to monitor our behavior. A negative incident would get you a demerit point. By Tuesday I could be in the lead, with zero demerits. Nobody else was ever too bad, one or two check marks at the most, and they'd take them with out much of a fight. Then around Wednesday I'd get a bit heated with one of my brothers, and a check mark would go next to my name and holy hell would I let loose. I'd fight it. I'd try to get it erased, and I would get louder and louder and switch from pleadings of "please take it back" to declarations of "how much bullshit this is." Within twenty minutes I'd have twenty check marks. I don't think my brothers ever had more than four.

Anyway, this next paragraph should be about how I've grown out of this, but the truth is, last week I couldn't get a light fixture properly into place so I smashed it to pieces on the ground. I probably had to bend a tab over in a different way. Ah well. My anxiety only really goes away after a comedy show. Maybe I should just start reading the newspaper instead for jokes. Oh, my poor mother.

*Chittenden can be seen at Yuk Yuk's Comedy Clubs this weekend, call 236-LAFF for reservations

Monday, April 11, 2011

WHO TO WATCH: Graham Chittenden

Do you like Muffins?  Do you like comedy?  If you like both, then you are in for a treat to watch Graham Chittenden perform!  Chittenden is coming to Ottawa this coming weekend, and please let us tell you why he is WHO TO WATCH!

Chittenden first took the stage in 2005 in Brantford Ontario.  Chittenden did not like anything else he was doing his his life at the time, and wanted to try comedy.  He finished high school, went to university, and regularly changed his field of study.  He always thought he would do something in math, then switched to film school, which he did not enjoy.  Two years into film school,  a professor asked Chittenden to really think about what he wanted to do.  Stand up comedy came to mind, and he was encouraged to give it a try. He began on an amateur night at Yuk Yuk’s, and his first time went pretty good, and he just kept doing it.  He was a young lad of 22 at the time, and now, at age 28 he is already a headlining act!

Chittenden says most of his comedy comes from his actual life, so he started with jokes about his parents as he was still living at home at the time.  He thought parents make fascinating comedic subjects because they are fascinating in that they are not that interesting at all.  One of JH5’s favourite parts of Chittenden’s act is about old people.  He acknowledges that was inspired from his grandfather, who no matter what time he arrived, he would always have a suit on.  In fact he says he really likes the elderly; whenever they are in the audience they are in fact dressed up and wearing a suit.  Some comics worry about old people in the audience because they may get offended, but old people were once young and likely had sex.  Plus older people have a much better attention span than the young and likely won’t be texting during the show!

Chittenden considers himself a good  story teller, but an awkward writer.  He strives to find the balance in his joke writing.  Often he will need to try something out on stage and then take that back and try to edit to make what works orally work in written as well.  (Note, Chittenden is a guest blogger for JH5 and do not find his writing awkward.  Come back Wednesday to see his latest blog)

Chittenden acknowledges his career at Yuk Yuk’s started fast because he had a car.  Sure he was a good talent, but there were many other good talents, and when they needed someone to do a noon show, he was available.  If they needed someone to drive in a remote part of Ontario for little money, he was available.  He grew as a comic from all these experiences, and was eventually signed to be part of their roster.  Chittenden had a lot of fun on the road; he was young, single with no kids, the world at his feet!  Years later it does not have the same appeal as it did, he still has no kids, but is getting to an age that taking a road trip to Sault Ste. Marie is not as exciting as it once was.

Chittenden filmed his first Comedy Now special, set to air this year.  He is asked where he wants to take his comedy, and right now he just wants to keep getting better and see where it goes.  He admits though that he was always wanted to host his own late night talk show!

Chittenden says Toronto is a great place to begin comedy.  He enjoys his  peers and mentors.  Mark forward has been very good example of what great comedy is, and he is supportive of other talent, giving encouragement when needed.   While growing up Chittenden was obsessed with Eddie Murphy just for showmanship, and then moved on to the standards such as Seinfeld.  Seinfeld is not edgy but can create strong jokes out of nothing, he has the right timing, the right words, and is exceptionally clever.  Chittenden also looks up to CK Louis, because he can take a subject and look at it from an angle no one has thought of before.

Chittenden advises new comics to get a lot of stage time, hone your craft,  and then be really good at the business side of comedy.  He thinks people need to become strong comedians, and pretend that people need you. A professional appearance will give people the sense that you are worth the money they are going to pay for you.  He laments one mistake that comics make is putting bad video’s of themselves on Youtube.  They may do it when they are younger and then forget about it.  When someone is going to choose to hire one of two comics and google’s them, they are going to go with the one with a polished website with great video clips.  Comics can’t expect people to have faith in them as a comic when their is not information out there to demonstrate they are a great comic.

Chittenden has a very good website and has a marketing gimmick.  He has a punch card, and for every time you see Chittenden, he will punch your card, and every 8th time you see him, you get a free Muffin.  He worried that comics may take advantage of this as they are often poor, but he laments that while comics are poor, they are often “lazy”, thus not organized to get regular free muffins!  It is an interesting marketing plan, but this, and the hard work he is putting into comedy is paying off, and he is definitely WHO TO WATCH.  To catch him in Ottawa this weekend, call 236-5233 and tell them JH5 sent you!