CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS STAND-UP COMEDY GALA with Nikki Payne, Steve Patterson, Mark Forward, host Shaun Majumder and others. Sunday (October 16), 7:30 pm. $35. Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge). 416-872-1212, other events at canadiancomedy.ca. See listing.
If Steve Patterson had his way, he'd bring the funny to televised political debates.
He should know. As the popular and genial host of the CBC Radio and TV show The Debaters, he's used to hearing all sorts of entertaining resolutions and rebuttals on topics like cake vs. pie and zombies vs. vampires.
"We've also debated the rise of China and whether Marxism should make a comeback," he says from Kelowna, BC, where he just taped three episodes.
"But if [politicians] paid serious attention to making debates funny, it could really help this country. Political debates are so boring, they're unwatchable. I wish they'd bring some humour into it."
Any politico wanting to see how it's done need only catch Patterson in one of his upcoming gigs.
This week he hosts the Canadian Comedy Awards on Monday (October 17) and the night before takes part in the fest's stand-up gala hosted by Shaun Majumder. And later in the month he travels the country hosting the Just For Laughs Tour, featuring an all-British lineup. "That's funny," he says about the latter gig. "The Irish-Canadian gets to host the all-British tour."
Although Patterson's a stand-up veteran of some 15 years, he says he enjoys the unpredictable element of hosting.
"I like that I'll never be doing the same set. There'll be a couple of minutes I'll carry across the country, but there'll be lots of local stuff. And sometimes I'll do a joke about a news story that just broke. The audience knows you've taken the time and you're not doing the same thing for everyone."
One of his best 10-minute sets ever, he says, was for last year's Just For Laughs gala, hosted by none other than Steve Martin. Rather than haul out jokes he'd done 500 times, he told a relatively new one about the BP oil spill.
Patterson killed, and prompted the comedy legend to say, "If I'd known he was going to be that good, I would have cancelled him."
"Here's this amazing icon that I grew up watching, whose comedy albums I bought and whose books I read," says Patterson.
Backstage, Martin talked to him for 15 minutes and said he'd chosen the right career path.
"Those were words I didn't even know I needed to hear."