CBC Connects caught up with the cast on the set in Halifax. Watch Gerry Dee, Naomi Sneickus and Jonathan Torrens explain what it’s like making comedy through collaboration and what it takes to ramp up those funny moments.
Mark Forward isn’t afraid to call people out. Whether it’s a journalist who interviewed him months ago and still hasn’t written a piece, or asking every Canadian comic to support each other, Forward will do it.
Forward–who has written for and appeared on Mr. D, The Jon Dore Television Show and most recently CTV Extend’s Joke or Choke–Bell Media announced Monday thatÂ Joke or ChokeÂ will debut on Comedy beginning Friday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET–took to Twitter this week to implore homegrown comedians to celebrate their fellow comics using #promotecanadiancomic.
“Canadian comics, pull your heads out of your asses,” he typed on Thursday. “Promote a comic. Make this hashtag grow. We can help each other.” By end of day the Ontario native had posted videos of favourites like Pat Thornton, Katie Crown, Chris Locke, Kyle Radke, Craig Brown, Inessa Frantowski, Graham Chitteneden and his former Mr. D co-star Mark Little to name a few. He also traded compliments with Eric Andrews, his co-star (and target for verbal abuse) on the pair’s Mark Forward podcast, an outlandish and hilarious weekly discussion about topics like sex, danger, injury, talent, inventions and wishes.
We asked him about the state of comedy in Canada, his podcast and whether he’s ever wanted to leave this country behind for the U.S. Forward is hosting a Christmas show at The Rivoli on Monday, Dec. 15.
What made you and Eric want to do the podcast in the first place?
I really wanted to do a podcast and I had only met Eric in passing. We’d always had a good back-and-forth and different look on things. I just thought it would work and thought I’d give it a try. I said, ‘As long as I’m having fun I’m going to keep doing it.’ I didn’t think anyone would listen, but people have and people are pretty loyal to it. So we keep doing it and we’ve become better friends over doing it. It’s been good.
As long as you have a couple of good microphones you can do this kind of stuff now.
Yeah, it makes the 10-year-old in me so jealous that all these kids have access to making movies through their phones and radio programs. I remember sitting in my closet recording stuff with a tape recorder. I would have killed to put it out … thank God it’s not out there. I remember Fisher Price was selling a black and white video camera that was in the price range that a kid might be able to buy. It was like, $200, and I remember wanting that so badly. And now these kids can make their own movie in a day. It’s unreal.
Is it easier to get your name out there now that there is Twitter and YouTube to help promote yourself?
I think it’s easier, but I think it’s also doing a bit of harm to stand-up because people are able to see finished product. They’re seeing top-quality stand-up so when they go to the club they’re expecting that and it’s not always there. It’s more of a farm system building up to that. I think also people see a comic online and then they just go and see the comic they want to see at the club. It’s hurting the farm system a bit.
So, an open-mike night may suffer.
Right. You already know who you like and what you like, so you just pay your money to see that person.
Let’s talk about Joke or Choke, which aired on CTV’s Extend channel. I heard you speaking to Humble & Fred and I got the feeling you wished Joke or Choke had been on at the very least The Comedy Network. Was I off base in thinking that?
No, you were totally on base. To me it’s a no-brainer. They have this great thing in The Comedy Network. Insight did a great job with Joke or Choke and portrayed us in a less stressful, more playful light and showcased Canadian talent. If that’s not what they’re going to put on that network, then I don’t know what they’re looking for. The way Comedy Central has gone, they’re making stuff whereas here we seem so afraid. Nobody wants to make a mistake.
I think it’s a great show and I hope they make more. If not, we’ll take it somewhere else. I understand that the odder stuff isn’t going to bring in the ratings they need to bring in here, but it would be great to see some risk taken. I find it frustrating and I get why people leave but I really, really want to stay. I’ll just keep pitching.
[Editor’s note:Â Bell Media announced Monday thatÂ Joke or ChokeÂ will debut on Comedy beginning Friday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET.]
You were on The Late Late Show with Craig FergusonÂ twice [here’s a link to his July appearance] and have had success in the U.S. Have you ever considered just picking up and moving there for pilot season?
I have thought about it. I’ve had more interest on American television than I have had here. I’ve done The Jon Dore Show and Mr. D and both those guys had to push for me. Nobody wanted me. Craig Ferguson, I’ve done John Oliver … they just want you. Here I find nobody does that. I don’t think Canadians on the whole know how to create a star system. I don’t know what it is about us. I’ll be at a show in the States and I’ll get flooded on Twitter, I’ll get emails asking where they can buy my albums but here people almost think, ‘Oh, he’ll be all right.’
Man, you’re frustrated. You’re making me frustrated. I’m frustrated on your behalf.
[Laughs.] The thing is, it’s a chosen frustration. I could go, but I like it here. There are possibilities here. But this whole thing is going to sound like one angry little guy. [Laughs.]
I’m fascinated with the creative process. Do you sit down and say, ‘OK, I’m going to write some stuff for a a couple of hours,’ or do ideas just come to you when you’re walking around?
I’ve never been able to sit down and write, unless I’m writing for someone else. Then I can sit down and write them. I’m always terrified–and I think all comics are terrified–that the last joke was my last joke, especially because you don’t really notice a joke growing or building. You only remember when it’s done and you wonder, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ You kind of forget all the nights you tried it and worked it out. One of my longest bits about the chipmunk stuff, I was just feedingÂ chipmunks. The next thing I know I have a 20-minute bit on domestic abuse. I don’t know where it comes from. I just know that comics never stop thinking.
Does that get tiring?
It’s exhausting. You’re always investigating what’s happening around you and mining it for something.
Hey, I was wanting to know if I can get onto Wipeout Canada? I’m crazy and I am pretty sure I can win the $50,000.–Charles
I hate to be the bearer of bad news Charles, but Wipeout Canada wasn’t renewed by Shaw Media. The hosting crew has moved on to other projects: Ennis Esmer is currently filming a movie How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, Jessica Phillips was most recently in Swearnet: The Movie and Jonathan Torrens is in the new season of Mr. D.
As someone who may be biased because Iâ€™m on team Charlie, I loved the fight on Saving Hope. No, Joel didnâ€™t deserve to be body slammed and pummeled, but Charlie had a ton of emotion built up and I think he just snapped when Reycraft mentioned Joelâ€™s patient was the attacker. I think Joel got a few punches in as well!
I think Charlie just meant heâ€™s happy that he is able to see Alex, not that sheâ€™s in a coma. He did save her life (again) because of that ability.Â I think this season is going to be full of emotions and relationship roller coasters. Just getting started!–Hallie
I personally enjoy watching and learning from Love It Or List It Vancouver. This program has the witty Todd and kind Jillian, who both appear to be knowledgable in their professions. It gives me hope and fulfills in my mind what I would like to happen one day with my older home which I have dreamed of renovating for over 20Â years! It is wonderful to see there are reliable contractors and related staff who perform and create beautiful work. The contractors are also funny and proficient which adds to enjoyment of watching and relief of no stress as to how the renovations will inevitably come out.Â Thank you for those who brought this program to Vancouver.–Bonnie
Kudos to the folks over at the CBC for taking a crucial first step in the network’s reinvention by using the Toronto International Film Festival as a backdrop to let folks know about the upcoming television season and the brand overall.
Canada’s public broadcaster staked out the corner of King St. West and Blue Jays Way this past weekend, turning what used to be a condominium sales office into a welcome centre called Canada House stocked with snacks, virgin Caesars, phone recharging stations and cardboard fans emblazoned with the iconic network logo and the Twitter message “#FallForCBC.” The stars of CBC’s radio and TV shows rolled through as well, meeting fans, posing for pictures and promoting their projects all weekend long.
The network even had a cool little set-up where those featured folks held press conferences in front of groups of about 50 or so fans at a time. I sat in on the panel for Canada’s Smartest Person, and hosts Jessi Cruickshank and Jeff Douglas described how the interactive program will not only showcase theÂ linguistic, physical, musical, visual, social and logical skills of selected finalists from across the country, but an app will challenge viewers at home.
I also got the chance to interview Dragons’ Den David Chilton and newest panelist Michael Wekerle for an online bit for TV-Eh (I’ll post that when it’s all been edited) and the pair swear the show’s upcoming Season 9 is deserving of your investment of time. Also appearing over the weekend were the stars of Mr. D, Murdoch Mysteries‘ Jonny Harris, Adam Beach, the folks behind The Book of Negroes–which has been adapted into a miniseries—and that Mamma Yamma thing.
The CBC knows it has some catching up to do with regard to connecting with newer and younger viewers. No longer able to sit back and allow NHL hockey to draw in numbers, they’re experimenting with content very unlike CBC. Dark western drama Strange Empire has got great buzz (the rough poster I was shown has a Deadwood feel), co-production sci-fi offering Ascension is definitely not typical CBC fare and historical drama Camp X promises to be thrilling.
Sure the network acknowledges this is somewhat of a rebuilding year, but there was a palpable optimism on Saturday that they are moving in the right direction with content and, even more importantly, connecting with an audience.
From a media release:
STRAP YOURSELF IN AS ARCTIC AIR LIFTS CBC TELEVISION TO NEW HEIGHTS â€“ LEADING A 2012 WINTER SEASON OF NEW BLOCKBUSTERS, STAR-POWER AND CANADAâ€™S FAVOURITES IN COMEDY, DRAMA AND SPORTS
Edge-of-your-seat drama and adventure set in the clear, cold skies and stunning natural beauty of Canadaâ€™s new North; one of Hollywoodâ€™s greatest stars kicks off the new season of the adventures of Canadaâ€™s sexiest sleuth; and the crusty cut-throat of Canadian business literally goes to jail for his search to find the countryâ€™s next great new entrepreneurs.
These are just a few of the highlights in store for CBC Televisionâ€™s 2012 Winter Season.