Comedy issue a real laugher
In my short time in Los Angeles I’ve performed alongside Todd Barry (Comedy Central), Aziz Ansari (MTV’s Human Giant), Charlyne Yi (from Knocked Up), Brendon Small (creator of Adult Swim’s Home Movies and Metalocalypse), Todd Glass (Comedy Central) and B.J. Novak (writer and actor on The Office).
Many have asked me how the scene in Canada is doing, and I’ve been proud to tell them about all the great shows and performers.
But then I logged on to NOW’s website to see that many of my favourites didn’t even receive a mention in your Comedy Issue (NOW, May 22-28).
As a producer of one of the shows (Laugh Sabbath, every Sunday at the Rivoli for the past three years), I’m obviously biased, but I quite simply don’t understand how and why we and others were so completely left out of your coverage.
Along with Laugh Sabbath, no mention was made of the Dragons Of Comedy series, Girl School, The 8 O’Clock Show and The Last Comedy Show (long-running monthly shows at the Art Bar in the Gladstone Hotel), and Catch 23 improv (which has been running every Monday night for years at Clinton’s).
And all of these are independent productions with strong ties to the independent music scene.
At a time when so many Canadian comedians are wondering whether or not we should move to the States, it’s both frustrating and disheartening to receive no support from Toronto’s biggest independent weekly.
Poetry say what?
I was glad to see NOW finally review a poetry book (NOW, May 22-28). But why has it taken so long? And while I greatly respect David Silverberg, the editor of the book, and Mike Smith, one of the authors in the anthology, I wonder if the book was reviewed because they are both regular NOW contributors.
Robert Priest did a lovely job of it, but many other poetry books deserve reviewing as well, and NOW has time and again acted as though poetry doesn’t exist in this city. There is no best-poet category in the yearly Best Of Toronto issue.
George Elliott Clarke and Carmine Starnino are reading at the Art Bar this week, but apparently two of the most important poets in Canada are not deserving of NOW’s seemingly arbitrary thumbs-up.
Gilead’s poutine cheesy
I read your article about the Gilead Café (NOW, May 22-28) and dragged my family down there on the weekend. We all tried the “trademark” poutine, with a glass of tap water, for $1.50 each. What did we get? How about a small bowl of Mcdonald’s-inspired fries topped with greasy mushrooms and a sprinkle of paprika for $9. Dude, if you’re gonna call this crap poutine, don’t forget the cheese curds. Cheese curds, dude! And dark brown gravy. Lots of it. That’s poutine, dude.
Full frontal mannequin
Regarding These Boobies a Trap (NOW, May 22-28). I, too, have noticed those amply proportioned mannequins in the storefront windows of select downtown boutiques. They’re definitely a welcome change from the fashion industry’s historic fixation with boyish, emaciated figures. Although I don’t support the exploitative nature of rap videos, they do deserve credit for substantially raising the profile of women with fuller dimensions. As one who admires women equally for their minds, spirits and natural assets, I find this trend rather encouraging.
Purdy digging new digs
NOW worries that the fresh statue of Al Purdy might be offended at being surrounded by the scruffiness of Queen’s Park, with its decrepit benches and unkempt grounds (NOW, May 22-28). But Al Purdy was never a majestic blue-tinged mountains kind of guy: “A man keeps hammering at the door / A caged light bulb floats on the ceiling, / Where a dung-fly circles round and round / And there is a greasy bolted-down steel bunk.” Purdy shocked by a bit of mess? Not likely.
Boring me with history
Regarding Michael Louis Johnson’s so pretentious Crowning Kensington (NOW, May 22-29). I’m fed up with all those historical Toronto profiles masquerading as interesting articles. I’m bored. Get with it.
Naomi Klein reports that the military regime in Burma has been “hijacking food shipments and distributing them among its 400,000 soldiers” (NOW, May 22-28). This perverse conduct is nothing new for military states. The wicked state has the ability to turn good into evil within mere moments.
It’s easy for smug pundits north of the border like George Elliott Clarke to make fun of Hillary Clinton and her “hillbilly ways” (NOW, May 22-28). It’s much tougher to run for office down there and grapple with getting the votes of people who take patriotism, religion, the right to bear arms, etc, very seriously.
Clarke’s insinuation that baby boomers, who have been through the fires of Vietnam and civil rights struggles, can’t accept a black president is total crap. If anything, they probably find Obama, when compared with Martin Luther King, a little vaporous. The battle to come will be between fear-mongerers and genuine patriots who feel that American ideals are being destroyed by a despotic government.
Jack’s carbon tax grab
I’m reading in the news this morning that Jack Layton is against the idea of a carbon tax, for its impact on those with low incomes. I’m just curious if Michael Hollett still thinks the NDP is the only true green choice for voters across Canada? (Surely a consumption tax is critical, however it is applied, and equity issues can be dealt with in other ways.) Time for some real enviro leadership, don’t you think?
Rockets red Blair
I am very upset that Tony Blair has been selected to headline a $750-a-head fundraiser for the Women’s College Hospital Foundation (May 29 at the downtown Sheraton). The Coalition to Stop the War has already notified supporters of a planned demonstration outside the hotel that day from 5 to 7 pm.
A visit to the WCH website informs us that the hospital’s vision is “to become a world leader in women’s health.” The mission statement says, “We will do research to improve women’s lives,” and “We will be guided by our values in everything we do.”
Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq has killed hundreds of thousands of women. Four million Iraqis have been rendered refugees.
How is it that the WCH Foundation directors believe they are respecting the principles of the hospital in choosing Blair as a keynote speaker?
Dr. Michael J. Gaspar