JON DORE appearing in the ALTdotCOMedy Lounge at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Monday (October 15), hosted by Mark Forward. Pwyc. 416-596-1908, www.altdotcomedylounge.com. Also starring in THE JON DORE SHOW, debuting Wednesday (October 17), 10 pm, on the Comedy Network. Rating: NNNNN
Comic Jon Dore has made my annual top 10 comedy shows list for two consecutive years, but that first year no one was more surprised than I. Like millions of TV watchers, I knew him only from his silly shenanigans as the roving reporter on three seasons of Canadian Idol. Not exactly cutting-edge stuff.
"It was a lot of fun and it got me to move to Toronto," says the Ottawa-born Dore about that high-profile gig. "Ultimately, though, I knew I wanted to do things I could own a little more.
"When you go to a mall, or the Exhibition, for instance, you find out who that Canadian Idol audience is, namely a lot of young girls and their parents. So things had to be family-friendly, accessible. Fine. But it wasn't who I wanted to be."
We're sitting on the patio of the Rivoli, where on Monday he's part of the lineup of the legendary ALTdotCOMedy Lounge. The Jon Dore who walks onto the stage there and who blasts into homes Wednesday as part of his new self-titled comedy series is closer to the real thing.
"Insincere jackass," is how he describes his comedy persona, and that's pretty accurate. Dore's known for confidently leading the audience through the set-up of a joke and then abruptly shifting gears. Misdirection is a classic comedy convention, but Dore puts his own arrogant spin on it.
"I'm not a jackass at all," he says, over a Heineken. It's true. He seems grounded, if a little elusive. "I treat my friends the way they'd treat me which is terribly. The idea of lying and pulling the wool over people's eyes is just too much fun."
In the pilot episode of his very funny series, Dore attempts to find out if he's infertile, something he'd wondered about ever since he learned as an adolescent that he had a descended (or is it ascended?) testicle. Seriously. He interviews several experts, including his nurse aunt, a urologist and a minister.
"The subjects kind of know where we're going," he says. "We don't have an Ali G or Daily Show agenda where we're trying to expose people's ignorance. It's pretty much about me being a silly goof and extracting information from them."
On future shows he tries to give up smoking, see if he has a drinking problem, discover if he's got an STD.
"You know," he says, "the big things."
Before his Canadian Idol gig, Dore worked Yuk Yuk's in Ottawa honing his onstage character, and hosted a cable talk show for three years. And like a lot of born stand-ups, even now that he's got a TV show, he can't wait to get back onstage.
"I'm always excited to try out a new joke," he says. He's looking forward to riffing with host Mark Forward, who's also a writer on the TV show. "Maybe the stakes aren't that high now. If something doesn't work, I can always just tell them they're stupid and move on."
He's retired one of his classic jokes, an extended story about forgetting his material. One audience member in Edmonton had heard the joke on TV and interrupted to spoil the punchline.
"You've got to be careful about how often you pull the wool over people's eyes," says Dore. "They figure it out. I hate smart people. It ruins comedy."
Additional Interview Audio Clips
On starting out in stand-up and finding his voice:
On the myth that all stand-ups have lousy childhoods:
On school and how he wasn't the class clown: