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One of the Fest's all-important volunteers, Martyn Bird (L) along with FunnyFest Godfather Stu Hughes at King Henry VIII
Welcome to Calgary FunnyFest Coverage! For Update #2, click "Logue." For Update #3, click "Epilogue!" Thanks!
(Filed May 12, 2004) CALGARY--When we left Philadelphia International at
8:15 AM Tuesday aboard Northwest Flight 6798, the temperature was about
86 degrees... Fahrenheit... and heading toward 90. And when we touched
down at the airport in Calgary, the flight attendant announced that
it was snowing. For our Canadian
readers, subtract 32, then multiply it by 5/9. (Since your stinking
public education system is far superior to ours, you do the math.)
Okay... sorry... Here ya go: 86 minus 32 equals 54... and 54 times
5/9 (which is 0.55, effectively) equals... 30 degrees... Celsius.
We screwed up... badly. We didn't really pack for this kind of weather.
So, when FunnyFest organizer Stu Hughes picked us up (personal service, or
what?) at the airport, we were somewhat underdressed. And exhausted.
REGGIE MCFADDEN embraces volunteer coordinator JEAN GRIPPING at the King Henry
Toronto comic ROB TRICK goes the extra mile at the King Henry by stripping from the waste (thankfully) up.
Comic and Chucklemonkey publisher KEN PRINGLE poses with a non-naked ROB TRICK
We breezed through customs. The stern customs agents were stationed in
glass booths at the head of a large, fluorescently-lit room. We stood in the queue and
tried to choose one that looked the least stern. (Although we were entering
the country legally, we don't like leaving the U.S.A. and we don't like
entering foreign countries. It's not that it's dangerous up here or anything,
we're just hyper-aware of crossing international borders. These Customs
people take this thing seriously, as they should. And, in this post-9/11
world, it doesn't pay to muck around with Customs!)
The meet-and-greet at the King Henry featured free food and, as Hughes
referred to them, "tasty beverages." (Around here, that means
one thing: Beer!) There was supposed to be a show here at 9PM, but,
because those over-achieving Flames were dropping the puck at 7PM Mountain
Time, the show got bumped back to 5PM! It eventually got under way at about
5:20 or so, and an unsuspecting Happy Hour crowd were treated to the comedy
stylings of Will Davis, Ken Pringle, Vince Flueck, Rick Mann, Grant
Damsgaard, Rob Trick and Tommy Savitt. Savitt closed out his set
just in time for the singing of "Oh, Canada," so his timing was
impeccable. (As was the timing of the Flames, who took only 20 seconds
to put the biscuit in the basket! Final score: Flames win, 4-1. They're
up 2-0 in the series.)
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SHECKYmagazine.com Editor Brian McKim is tiny figure in center in this shot from the International balcony.
(Filed May 14, 2004) CALGARY--Festivals are like snowflakes... no two are
alike. They each have their very own tone and mission and scope. If they have
one common characteristic, it's that added element of pressure brought about
by performing in the presence of one's peers. Performing in front of one's
peers (unless one toils in NYC or LA) is something one might only experience in a fest or a
contest (or a contest within a fest). But each fest is unique.
(Hughes stresses to the media-- and anyone
else who will listen-- that FunnyFest is an "all-volunteer festival."
And he frequently adds that the "emphasis is on the fun.")
New Orleans' TOM GREGORY (L) and Vancouver's GRANT DAMSGAARD at the Eau Claire Market "nooner"
SHECKYmagazine.com Editor BRIAN MCKIM (L) and BIG DADDY TAZZ obscure the FunnyFest sign at the Sheraton Eau Claire
VINCE FLUECK (L) and RICK MANN mugging at the Daniel Sponagle Centre
Tunde Dawodu (L) and TOMMY SAVITT hanging out in front of the women's room at the Daniel Sponagle Centre
Some of this year's contingent have been here all four years of
the FunnyFest's existence. And by this Fest's end, some will have been in
town for the full two weeks. As such, the odds of being here
and not running into each and every comic (repeatedly) are nearly
zero. (We've been to other fests and been unaware that a friend
or associate was also there! Montreal is one such festival where the
pace is so swift and the schedule so brutal. None of that going on here!)
The opportunities for interaction with your fellow comics are many and said
interaction often turns out to be more than superficial. We picked
a good festival to forget to bring our business cards. (A last-minute
packing crisis led to leaving our biz cards in a belly pack back home!
We hand-scrawled our URL and our address on a handful of expired
Fest tix for anyone who might want to stay in touch! Now that's
We were told that, when it's packed, it's a great
venue (it holds 50, maybe). Trouble is, for whatever reason (the 11PM
weekday showtime?) it wasn't packed. On this night, six people showed.
(On one recent evening, no people showed!) No matter to the gang of comedians who
eventually gathered here. No long faces were in evidence. A partylike
atmosphere prevailed. An odd, roast-like tone was set by Executive
Producer Stu Hughes' opening remarks and a somewhat bizarre "show"
was still going on when we comandeered a shuttle with a half-dozen other
comics and headed back to the International.
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Canada's National Librarian, Roch Carrier. What exactly does a National Librarian do?
(Filed May 18, 2004) NEW JERSEY--"The winters of
my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three
places-- the school, the church and the skating rink-- but
our real life was on the skating rink."
The nanny culture
up here is so ingrained that the hockey-playing kids on the fin are all wearing
helmets! I am sure that Monsieur Carrier, born in Quebec in 1937,
never once wore a helmet while worshipping at la patinoire! See photo
above for proof!
If you needed any proof that hockey is a religion up here in Canada, there it is.
And, for those of you following along at home, Calgary is one win away from
dispatching those heathens from San Jose and heading to the Stanley Cup finals
(probably against the Flyers, even though Tampa Bay is favored).
L to R: PAUL KUSTER, AMY TROFIMUK, DEZ REED and KELLY TAYLOR outside the Sponagle on a warm spring Calgary night.
TREVOR CAMPBELL and ROBERT HAWKES ("Comedy Bird of Prey") in the "green room" outside Barclay's Wet
SHECKYmagazine.com Editor BRIAN MCKIM (L) and NICK DEBREY outside the Daniel Sponagle Centre on the FunnyFest's final evening
Our emcees for the evening (Friday) were none other than HOT NUTS (L) and POPCORN (In reality, ERIC and DEREK FLORES)
DAYS FOUR & FIVE
The scope of the FunnyFest narrows considerably these last two nights:
On both Friday and Saturday, there are two shows at Barclay's Wet and
a show at the Sponagle. These are the shows that attract the
biggest crowds all week.
Dez Reed, who headlined the Wet all last
week, is back in town for the weekend, after having left Calgary briefly for a corporate
gig or two. The Saskatchewan native is somewhat of a legend up in these parts,
due no doubt in part to the fact that his website (see below), proclaims him to
be "the world's funniest man!"
Also due to the fact that he is the
Guiness Book of World Record holder for Longest Original Stand Up Comedy Performance
by One Person. (Set on August 8, 1997, at The Dunn Inn, Consul, Saskatchewan). Indeed,
there were some who speculated that he might try to break that record on Friday night!
(Turns out he stopped far short. Buzz on the next day was that the Sheraton
officials were somewhat peeved, not at the length of his set, but at the
choice of material. Somewhere in the Sheraton Corporate Handbook, it says that
lengthy routines on fist-fucking are frowned upon!) It was the kind of set
that pisses off management but cements his reputation among his fellow comedians,
Canadians and non-Canadians alike. Let's arrange a comedy steel cage death match
between Reed and James Gregory, the Georgia comic who proudly claims to
be "The Funniest Man in America!" The winner gets bragging rights to
all of North America!
If you'd like to read more about the participants in the
Calgary Comedy Festival, click on these links.
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