Category Archives: Actors

MY SUNDAY “IN THE ROOM” WITH CANADA’S LEADING TV STARS

I recently met Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck, founders of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment Inc. (RDG) (pictured below, L-R) who have created an original TV series, IN THE ROOM, featuring Canadian actors from all ages and stages of career success in a round-table discussion setting.

photo 1 (5)This past Sunday, I attended a taping – their second “Hollywood North” themed episode – at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto, where they welcomed some of our country’s finest and most award-winning stars, pictured below: Tantoo Cardinal (Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall), Kris Holden-Ried (Lost Girl, The Listener, The Tudors), Shawn Doyle (Endgame, Covert Affairs, Reign), Zoe deGrand’Maison (Orphan Black, Rookie Blue, Bad Hair Day), Philip Moran (Total Recall) and the multi-talented actor, director and mainstay of 80s and 90s TV and film Art Hindle (Black Christmas, FaceOff, Murder She Wrote, ENG).

TantooKHR2Shawn DoyleNicolePhilipArt HWith Rafael and Jason co-hosting, the stars took the stage during the closed-taping, and shared stories from the acting trenches. Supported by a highly proficient crew, Rafael and Jason captured intimate moments with each actor as they shared stories of screen triumphs, emotional impact of past roles, on-set camaraderie & rivalries, and many hilarious tales from behind as well as in front of the cameras.   So why is this new show not on TV now? Canada, and Toronto in particular, has a huge TV viewing audience many of whom, it appears, love reality and chat shows so how come all we have to watch are the chaotic morning shows with predominantly weather and traffic news, tired homemaker magazine shows, dry-as-a-bone political argument panels, plus a couple of celebrity gossip shows targeting the hipster 20/30-something crowd? We need our own “Tonight Show” or a Graham Norton-style outrageous celebrity couch programme (if you have BBC Canada you’ll know exactly what I mean). In The Room could easily fill that void AND please advertisers – let’s face it, networks don’t really give a rat’s ass about content, it’s all about the potential for billions of advertising dollars!

Based on the amount of traffic my Tweets and Facebook posts garnered during the shoot yesterday, I know we have an audience for shows like In The Room so consider this blog editorial as me throwing down the gauntlet – let’s get In The Room on air. So anyone out there know a hungry distributor or network buyer?  http://reeldealguys.com/

logoHere are some behind the scenes photos, courtesy of my wonderful Samsung Galaxy 3!

(below) make-up room shenanigans with Shawn, Kris, Tantoo and Zoe….

20150308_111355 20150308_111405 20150308_112356Setting up the stage….then bringing in the actors!

20150308_101419 20150308_120446 20150308_120514 20150308_125750Time for a break….with the best craft services in town!

20150308_101524 20150308_103717(above LtoR) Crew members Lana & Dwayne joined Jason and actor Brian Kaulback (Murdoch Mysteries) during break time.  Then back to work…roll cameras!

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20150308_141002I spent some time with the lovely ladies in make-up, Carlene & Stephanie (below), whom I challenged to a face/off – make me pretty in 10 minutes – but they just laughed…I wonder why?

20150308_135059 20150308_135135 20150308_135118Once In The Room finished taping, the actors and hosts gathered for a “class photo”….

20150308_140111 20150308_135944….then it was time for some candid shots on stage…..

20150308_135642 20150308_135720 20150308_131202 20150308_140332 20150308_135800 20150308_135812…then the good-byes, with the actors signing posters backstage. This is where Assoc. Producer Janine grabbed some quick pics with the stars. She especially enjoyed taking one with her fave TV actor, Kris Holden-Ried (pic#4) who I still say looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay (here they look much cuter than Chris and Gwyneth, don’t ya think?)

20150308_140916 20150308_130833 20150308_141129 20150308_141210 20150308_141641 20150308_141559 20150308_141305I grabbed a wacky selfie with my all-time Canadian idol, Art Hindle. What a nice man…and so damned talented.

20150308_114021Congratulations to RDG for producing such a great show which, once it gets on air, will have a large and appreciative audience. For details of IN THE ROOM and other RDG projects, visit:  http://reeldealguys.com/

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“IN THE ROOM” tv show taping this Sunday featuring top Canadian talent

My friends at RDG Entertainment Inc. are taping another episode of their IN THE ROOM actors’ round-table series this Sunday at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto and I’m thrilled to learn that some of Canada’s most popular actors will be appearing.

RDG producers and show hosts, RAFAEL KALAMAT and JASON BARBECK (below, L-R) will be welcoming …..

photo 1 (5)…..the star of TV’s Lost Girl, KRIS HOLDEN-RIED (below) who was also one of my faves from The Tudors series and, of course, The Listener.

Kris HR KHR2Also on this week’s panel are Canadian stage & screen icon Art Hindle (Black Christmas, FaceOff, Murder She Wrote, ENG) – below…..

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…..multi-award winning Shawn Doyle (below) of Endgame and countless Canadian television appearances (Rookie Blue, Covert Affairs & Reign)….

Shawn Doyle Shawn….recipient of this year’s ACTRA Award of Excellence Tantoo Cardinal (below) of Dances with Wolves (my personal fave performance of hers – she brought the heart and soul to the story) , Legends of the Fall, Blackstone

Tantoo dances….Total Recall’s Philip Moran (below)…

Philip….and young Zoe deGrand Maison (below) currently making a name for herself with appearances on Orphan Black, Murdoch Mysteries, Rook Blue and this year’s Bad Hair Day (TV movie).

NicoleI’m looking fwd to watching the taping and meeting these incredible ambassadors for the Canadian TV and film industry.  To learn more about In The Room and other RDG projects, please visit:  http://reeldealguys.com/  and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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RDG’s Jason & Rafael celebrate last night’s ACTRA Toronto Awards

Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck (below, left to right) of RDG Entertainment Inc. attended last night’s ACTRA* Toronto Awards held at the Carlu in downtown Toronto. The fabulous soiree was hosted by TV and radio personality Arisa Cox, host of Big Brother Canada. The RDG guys were thrilled to meet up with ACTRA colleagues and friends, and they shared the evening with me via photos.

photo 1 (5)Actor and comedian Gavin Crawford (below right with Rafael) garnered the Outstanding Male Performance award for his role as Adam in the comedy-drama film Two 4 One, about a transgender person who unexpectedly becomes pregnant.

With Gavin CrawfordStar of sci-fi series Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany, won her second Outstanding Female Performance Award, and Cory Doran won in the category of Outstanding Voice Performance for playing Multiple Personality Mike in the “Final Wreck-ening” episode of the animated series Total Drama, a parody of reality shows.

Veteran film and TV actress Tantoo Cardinal, pictured below with Rafael (left) and Jason (right), was honoured with ACTRA Toronto’s annual Award of Excellence.  I will always remember Tantoo for bringing the real heart to Dances With Wolves and Legends of the Fall and many more productions over her 4+ decades of acting.

Tantoo CardinalJamie Jones, winner of the ACTRA Stunt Award, is pictured below (2nd from left) with fellow stunt actor Clyde Phillips Sr. (left), Rafael and Bart Badzioch, stunt actor (right)

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Philip & Jamie JonesAnd actor Philip Moran shared a celebratory cocktail and V for Victory with Jamie.

“The performers honoured tonight make us proud to be Canadian. They show off Canada to Canada and to the rest of the world in all its marvellous diversity. And they do it with unique and outstanding talent,” said David Sparrow, President of ACTRA (pictured below 2nd from right with Jason, Philip and Rafael)

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Congratulations again to all the winners, nominees and ACTRA Toronto organizers.  Next up, Canadian Screen Awards on March 1st.  See you on the red carpet!

* ACTRA is Canada’s national union representing more than 22,000 performers in English-language recorded media. The Toronto chapter represents 15,000 union members.

 Visit Rafael and Jason at  http://reeldealguys.com/

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Reel Deal Guys take on Canadian film & TV production

I recently spoke with actor, writer, director & producer Jason Barbeck (below), co-founder of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment Inc. (RDG) about his new Toronto-based TV and film production company he launched with business partner Rafael Kalamat, also a multi-talented filmmaker/actor.

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Windsor-born Barbeck’s acting credits include films A Father’s Claim (2014), Saving Grace (2010) and A History of Violence (2005), plus TV appearances in Murdoch Mysteries, Copper and Flashpoint.  He’s also a voice specialist with hundreds of commercials to his credit for numerous Canadian and US campaigns.  He’s currently the voice of SAIL, The Outdoor Superstore.

GF: Jason, what first inspired you to become an actor?
JB:  In Gr.3, we had to build life sized cardboard figures of what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I made a lawyer in a pinstriped suit.  I loved the way a lawyer commanded the audience in a court room, but then I realized…he was acting! I wanted to be able to do that.

GF: What was your first paid acting job?
JB:  My first paid professional gig was as a dancer in a magic show.  It was at a place called Boblo Island which was an amusement park island between Windsor and Detroit.  It was a summer job while I was still at Sheridan Music Theatre School so it was pretty awesome!

GF: When did you realize you could actually make a living as an actor & why?
JB: After doing summer stock for about six straight years, it was clear that there were people out there who would actually give me money to sing, dance and jump around on stage.  Who knew?

GF: What prompted the move to found RDG Entertainment Inc. and what brought you and your business partner, Rafael Kalamat, together?
JB: Well, it was the classic case of getting tired of waiting for the phone to ring.  Rafael and I felt that we had a lot to offer and both of us had been in the industry for over 25 years so we decided to join forces.  We met on the set of Murdoch Mysteries where we played “continuity constables” for three years.  Our plan of action was to form a company to make demo reels for actors because we felt it was a good niche for us, being that we could write, produce, act and direct. Next thing you know we have this TV talk show (In The Room) for which our first guests were the entire cast of Murdoch Mysteries (below).

murdoch 2 murdoch 4 murdoch 5 murdoch 6GF: How do you see RDG impacting the Canadian film & tv scene?
JB: Our hopes are that our TV series, In The Room, can really put Canadian talent on the map.  We’re interested in promoting a star system similar to what they do in the US by showcasing and exposing the world to what is being shot in our country and who is featured in these projects.

Below: a recent In The Room taping during RDG’s recent trip to LA.

Roundtable guests roundtable 3 Group1GF: What are your current/upcoming projects?
JB: We are in the development stage of a feature film called Adam’s Testament.  It’s a project that is close to me personally, being that I wrote it back in 1998, and Rafael and I are giving it new life…..it’s all very exciting. We also have multiple episodes of In The Room in the works, and a TV pilot for the fall.

GF: What are your dreams/aspirations for yourself and for RDG?
JB: My dreams are to leave a legacy for my son and to solidify the work of RDG in the archives
of Canadian film and television history.  We want to create a home where creative artists can come together and collaborate to turn their artistic goals into a reality.

GF: Are you looking for new actors, writers, directors and if so, how do people reach you?
JB: Because we are in a multifaceted, multi-collaborative and multi-tiered business, we are always looking to team up with like-minded individuals who can bring forward material that can be marketed and distributed.  It is such a daunting process and experience to bring a project from script to picture to broadcast, so our aim is to ease the journey by educating and advising from a grass roots level.  Anything is possible when you have the right team and we’d love to hear from similar minded filmmakers – reach us via out website (see below)

Jason went on to say: I just want to add that we would not be here without the support of our families and mentors. I feel truly blessed to be where I am at this point in my life.  Thank you.

You can reach Jason and Rafael via the RDG website: http://reeldealguys.com/ and follow their series, In The Room on:  Facebook.com/In-The-Room  and on Twitter: @reeldealguys

ITR_S1E2_Jason_Rafael_Poolside_Hilton_1Above: RDG partners Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck working poolside in LA! And (below) on the red carpet for recent film tech awards in LA.

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SUNNY THOMPSON GIVES BRAVURA PERFORMANCE IN “MARILYN: FOREVER BLONDE”

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson diamonds - photo by Howard PetrellaGentlemen may prefer blondes, but this blonde prefers Sunny Thompson and her re-imagining of the life of the legendary blonde bombshell in her one-woman show Marilyn: Forever Blonde that runs now thru Sunday Feb 15th at the equally beautiful Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street (just N. of Queen), Toronto.

The American singer/actress brings years of Monroe research to the stage with this theatrical tour de force that takes us from the bubbly ingenue Norma Jean up her ladder-climb to success and subsequent fall from grace that never gets maudlin or self-indulgent. I never caught Sunny acting – she WAS Marilyn. Thompson inhabited the character and took her time narrating Marilyn’s life story with a few wink-wink nudge-nudge moments when justifying the road Marilyn took to reach the top….detours and potholes and all.  She seduces us with tales of her many lovers, husbands and betrayers.

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson blue robe -  photo by Howard PetrellaThe seamier side of her later life is not dwelt upon too harshly; yes, we “meet” Jack and Bobby Kennedy and a few other bad good guys, but as Marilyn drifts away from us on stage, the audience feels protective and carries her gently into Hollywood folk lore upon waves of applause.

The numerous costume changes were done modestly on stage behind a back-lit screen that teased us with Marilyn’s/Sunny’s gorgeous bod, and the dresses…oh those dresses…were dripping in “diamonds” and jewels that shimmered as she shimmied across the stage, speaking and singing in that breathy voice we remember so well.

sunnyThe two-act musical play, written & produced by Sunny’s husband, Greg Thompson, has toured the world for the past 7 years and I encourage you to grab your tickets a.s.a.p. for the 4-day run at the Winter Garden. The experience with leave you breathless…and humming the tunes that should bring back a few memories. Songs like My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Some Like it Hot, Let’s Make Love and of course, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, are all included, some sung a capella, others with recorded music, and even Ol’ Blue Eyes makes an audio appearance, too.

After the show, we attended a brief reception to celebrate opening night and I ran into some old friends, including the incomparable Micah Barnes (below with handsome actor/bartender David).

20150211_222900Sunny made it out of the dressing room and kindly signed autographs and posed for photos with her adoring fans (below), much like Marilyn did.

20150211_222953 20150211_223034 20150211_223048As we left, I took a few shots of the theatre itself…if you’ve never been to the Winter Garden, you can take a tour during the day – definitely worth a trip. And the theatre has a ghost, too. Wonder what she thought of Marilyn tonight?

20150211_223400 20150211_223448 20150211_223459Big thanks to Flip Publicity for the great seats for opening night. And finally, one more bravo and a big standing O to Sunny Thompson who you can follow via her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunnythompsona

Sunny Thompson as Marilyn in Marilyn Forever Blonde - photo by Howard PetrellaStudio shots courtesy of Howard Petrella.

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Lights, camera, ACTION! Chatting with actor Brian Kaulback.

Back in the late 70’s, I was a working actor (which meant I was also a waitress or bartender!!). One of my favourite gigs was actor/writer at the Flamingo Cabaret located in what was then the German-Canadian Club on Sherbourne St, Toronto – now home to the Phoenix Nightclub. We were a group of crazy improv actors, much like Second City, but we didn’t have the big show budgets they did. We were lucky if we made $50 a week each back then, but we loved creating comedy sketches and making people laugh. And we were especially happy when our shows scored better reviews than Second City did…and that was pretty frequent (I still have the press clippings to prove it!!).

img241L to R: Brian, Jim, me & Lawrence on stage at the Flamingo Cabaret (1979)

I’ve kept in touch with a couple of my cast mates and recently sat down with the hard-working Brian Kaulback  whose face you may recognize from his numerous appearances as Constable Hodge on the hit tv series, Murdoch Mysteries. (Brian is below right with Murdoch star Yannick Bisson, centre) and movies such as Tommy Boy, Gotti, Cold Creek Manor and X-Men.

BK murdochPhoto: Craig Grant/Shaftesbury Prods.

Q: Brian, did you always want to be an actor, and when/what was your first acting job?
BK: When I was in Grade 3, I entered a school talent show and sang Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” and I remember the applause at the end of the song….and I was hooked on wanting to be on stage. By the time I was in Gr. 7 or 8 and I saw my older brother, Gary, in a school musical “My Fair Lady” and I followed a few years later by getting involved in my high school production of “Oliver”.

Q: Theatre, film or TV…which do you like the best and why?
BK: I love theatre, although I’m unfortunately out of the loop in the Toronto theatre scene right now. It’s more about who you know and being connected, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t do a theatre production if asked. It makes more financial sense for me right now to focus on film and television like I have for many years.

Q: You’ve been working on Murdoch Mysteries, one of Canada’s most successful series airing around the world. What’s it like on set – who do you hang with and how did you flesh out the character of Const. Hodge?
BK:  After 8 seasons on Murdoch Murder Mysteries, it really has become a family with the cast and crew. Mostly I hang out with the other regular Constables as they have a nice room set aside for us with couches and lockers – all very comfortable and relaxing.

Brian KQ: You recently wrote an outline for a tv series called Forensic Fringe Cop and a pilot has already been shot. What inspired the story and what are your aspirations for the show?
BK: I wrote an outline for “Forensic Fringe Cop” while hanging out with the Murdoch constables. It was my first time ever doing something like that and when I showed it to a couple of the other constable actors (Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat) they said why don’t we shoot this. So they became my director and producer and we shot it in one day. I live in The Performer Arts Lodge (PAL building) in downtown Toronto and fellow resident native Canadian actor Billy Merasty inspired the story. However, when it came to shooting the pilot he wasn’t available to play the lead so we had to recast. I feel that Tim Hill, another native Canadian actor, did a very good job in the role, and I would love to “Forensic Fringe Cop” be developed into a series.

FFCQ:  Among other great directors, you’ve also been directed by one of my favourite Canadian actors, Clark Johnson, who starred in Homicide: Life on the Streets – a brilliantly written cop show set in Baltimore. Did you learn anything from Clark that you are now applying to your work as a writer/actor?
BK:  I met Clark Johnson when I was standing in for the lead actor on series called “Katts and Dog”. At the time, Clark was keeping himself busy working for the Special Effects Department. He really knows how to work with actors and through the years I would bump into him and once in awhile, hand him my latest demo reel and thankfully he would remember me. He brought me in to audition for a couple of good projects and I got the roles. He never forgets what it’s like to be a struggling actor and he was willing to give me opportunities. As an actor, I really appreciated the faith he put in me and I’ll never forget that.

Q:  Any upcoming films, tv shows or stage appearances we should watch for?
BK: I had a small role on “Haunted Peak” directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston, and I hope my scene is still in when it comes out. Having del Toro’s name on your resume certainly doesn’t hurt. I’m also waiting to hear on a few more projects but nothing certain yet…oh the life of an actor!

Q: Do you have a website or social media account we can follow you on?
BK: I’m not too computer savvy so Facebook is the only social media I’m on. I welcome tv and film fans to come on over and Like my Facebook page: Facebook.com/Brian.Kaulback

BK photo 2Congratulations to Brian on successfully shooting his “Forensic Fringe Cop” pilot with Rafael and Jason of RDG Entertainment Inc.  http://reeldealguys.com/ and fingers crossed we’ll soon see Brian chasing down the bad guys in his own TV show!

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COMEDY ACES BACK ON STAGE AT THE PILOT, YORKVILLE.

20150129_215343That Canadian Guy Glen Foster (above) brought his comedy pals back to The Pilot Tavern in Yorkville (Toronto) again tonight for the last show in his Comedy Aces series of stand-up showcases. This week’s show featured more of Canada’s greatest headliners and as special guest MC for the night, TV and Newstalk 1010 radio personality Mike Bullard!  Mike hit the ground running, chatting with a group of ladies in the front (below) who were ready for a really good show…

20150129_201435…before introducing the first act, Mark Walker (below) who regaled us with spot-on impressions including Sean Connery and Col. Klink (of Hogan’s Heroes) that was not lost on the predominantly 45+ audience.

20150129_202520Mike then intro’d a Canadian comedy legend who paved the way for so many comics now working the clubs. The one, the only…Mike MacDonald!

20150129_204103Mike (above) shared with the audience that it’s been a year (in March) since he received a new liver; the fact that the transplant took place on St. Patrick’s Day 2014 had the entire room raising a celebratory glass…oh the irony of it all!
Next up, another legend whom I had the honour of rep’ing along with Mike, Mike and Glen waaaay back in the 80’s – Mr. Kenny Robinson. Last year, Kenny was the recipient of the Phil Hartman Award at the annual Canadian Comedy Awards.

20150129_205344Mr. Bullard closed out the first half of the show amidst raucous applause, cheers and a quick rush to the bathroom for all of us who had been laughing so hard for the past hour we nearly pee’d ourselves!

20150129_212219 20150129_212157Opening the second half of the show was stand-up comic and tv writer extraordinaire, Lawrence Morgenstern, who was one of the writers from Mike’s TV show back in the 90’s. Lawrence is currently working on a number of new TV and web-based comedy projects but I hope he keeps up with his stand-up as he was f*cking hysterical.

20150129_212356 20150129_212421…and then it was time for That Canadian Guy himself, Glen Foster (below)20150129_214657So for the past 3 weeks, Glen brought some of the funniest comedy pro’s to The Pilot where the mainly “boomer” audiences finally got the entertainment they deserved…..that made them (us) laugh, giggle, and occasionally scream with delight (thank you for that one, Mike Bullard) and brought back memories of the last great era of stand-up that was the 1980’s.
My friend and fellow ex-comedy agent Leatrice Spevack and her husband Greg were there again tonight, along with other comedians in the audience like Simon Rakoff (who killed as MC last week) and Ronnie Edwards (pictured with Leatrice below)

20150129_224120Thanks for all the memories and laughter, Glen….we want more, lots more, please.

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Check out Glen’s website for news of the next series of Comedy Aces, hopefully coming soon. http://www.thatcanadianguy.com/ 

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THE KINGS OF CANADIAN COMEDY RULE YORKVILLE….AGAIN!

It’s been thirty years since I watched them on stage, thirty years since I booked them on tours around the country in to fancy theatres, colleges, bars and dives. But they’re still brilliant, hysterically funny and the crowd went wild…the boys are back in town!

20150122_223500L to R: Evan Carter, Glen Foster, Simon Cotter & Derek Edwards

Award-winning comedian, writer, TV performer and one-time ad man, Glen Foster, has rounded up several of his best and funniest mates to present a series of comedy concerts at The Pilot Tavern in Yorkville (Toronto), just 2 blocks from where the legendary Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret once stood in the 80’s (another bloody hi-rise condo now stands at 1280 Bay).  Tonight’s show (there’s one more next Thursday) had a dream line-up of headliners – a million dollar show – that had the capacity crowd laughing, clapping, banging their hands on the table in recognition of the observational jokes that hit their marks right between our collective funny bones. We were a room full of boomers – 50 & 60-somethings who had been living thru a comedy drought for the past decade or so…we wanted to laugh, needed to laugh but had no place to go to be amused. Tonight the Comedy Aces delivered!  First up, MC Simon Rakoff (below) whom I frequently booked throughout the 80’s as he was the most reliable host when it came to reading a crowd and delivering the laughs.

20150122_201100Simon http://simonrakoff.com/ immediately took control of the room, warming us up with his sizzling opening set then intro’d Simon Cotter (below)

20150122_202456 20150122_202511Apart from making a good living in the corporate comedy arena, Simon has toured the world performing in Europe, Africa, Asia (I’ve never heard of stand-up comedy clubs in India but apparently he was a big hit there…Black Hole of Calcutta, table for 2?), has won multiple awards and appeared on comedy specials in Canada, the US and the UK.  http://simoncotter.ca/

MC Simon then intro’d the brilliant Evan Carter (below). Evan and I go way back…I had booked him as the opening act for some of the biggest show biz legends including the one and only Marvin Gaye (on his Sexual Healing tour when it touched down in Toronto) http://www.evancarter.com/

20150122_203651 20150122_203658Evan rocked out with teenager/parental relationship jokes and although I’m not a parent, every single reference to teens and their attitudes he made brought me close to tears – I was laughing so hard along with every other person in the room. After Evan, Simon took the stage again…..

20150122_201105….to introduce another award-winning funny man, Derek Edwards (below). OMG…make it stop, Derek is just too f*cking funny, I need Depends. Help!!

20150122_204955 20150122_204959Back in the mid-80’s when I was first booking Derek as an opening act, I never knew who to pair him up with as he was so unique, it was hard to find anyone who could follow him…bravo, Derek, what a career. http://www.derekedwards.ca/

Quick intermission/bathroom break, thank goodness – we needed a time out from laughing…I know my ribs were hurting. Then back we came for David Merry, one of the funniest stand-up comic magicians you will ever see.

20150122_213429 20150122_213443Tonight David stuck to straight stand-up (with a few props) but his fast-paced timing kept us all on our toes as punchline after layered punchline flew off the stage. The multi-award winner currently appears on the new “Too Much Information” tv show.  http://www.davidmerry.com/index2.html

Now…drum roll please….Simon intro’d us to the big man, That Canadian Guy – Glen Foster.

20150122_214853 20150122_21485030 years ago this year, Glen quit his day job with a big time Mad Men-like ad agency and dedicated himself to full-time comedy writing and performing and we are all better for that decision! The audience went wild after his bee imitations (yes, bee – the buzzing kind) and his non-stop banter about adult ADD, OCD and other comedic afflictions had us all begging for mercy. I just couldn’t catch my breath from laughing so hard that I had to reach for my Ventolin inhaler more than once. I was simply….ROTFLMAO!

You MUST go to next Thursday’s show – Lawrence Morgenstern (below) who was in the audience tonight, will be joining Glen along with 3 or 4 other brilliant comics. 20150122_194734

For details of next week’s show and ticket info, visit Glen’s website: http://www.thatcanadianguy.com/

And see what you missed tonight…Glen fueling up earlier for his performance (below)

20150122_194750Crowds filling up the room (below)

20150122_195701And my dear friend and comedy colleague, Leatrice Spevack (below R), was in the audience with her husband Greg. Leatrice was Jim Carrey’s former manager who first took him to NYC and LA and busted down all the doors for the future comedy icon.

20150122_225639It was nice to laugh again to intelligent jokes by comedians who know how to write a punchline and seal it with another. Congrats to Glen and the boys for a fantastic night. See you there next week.

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CATCHING UP WITH THAT CANADIAN GUY – COMEDIAN GLEN FOSTER

glen_foster_banner_v1Back in the early 1980’s, I ran the day-to-day business for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto, and quickly became the in-house agent for all the comedians, too, as we developed satellite clubs and cross-country tours. I’ve been privileged to witness the debut of some pretty talented local comics as well as play host to now legendary US comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Sandra Bernhardt, Steven Wright and the frighteningly brilliant Sam Kinison. The late, great Robin Williams dropped into the club shortly after Mork and Mindy finished, and he held the club ransom for laughs one night; we were all in tears from laughing so hard. He was manic and marvelous.

This was the golden era for Canadian comedy talent and I’m thrilled to say that one of the outstanding stand-ups from those days is still making people laugh…you may know him as That Canadian Guy…I know him as my  Glen/Glenda “twin” – Glen Foster.

Glen has a series of comedy shows – Comedy Aces – coming up at The Pilot Tavern on Cumberland St (between Yonge & Bay) in Toronto, so I thought I’d invite him to share some stories from the comedy trenches, and I’ll post some photos later from his live show (with special guests David Merry, Simon Rakoff, Evan Carter, Simon Cotter & Derek Edwards) this Thursday. Check Glen’s website (linked below) for dates/times.

aces

Glen, you’ve been performing since the early 1980’s – what first inspired you to get up on stage and where did you first perform?
Short answer?  I wanted to meet chicks but couldn’t play guitar!  Actually, I was always a comedy fan.  My dad was a pretty funny guy, very likable and always telling jokes. When I was a kid, we watched a lot of comedy on TV together like the old Bob Hope comedies. Then later, we enjoyed watching sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show, The Carol Burnett Show (a big favorite of mine), I love Lucy.

How long did it take you to get from amateur night to headlining shows and where/how did you hone your skills?
Probably took me about 6 months to a year to reach feature status from amateur night, through working regular nights to weekend spots, then headlining.   It was a lot easier back then as there was way more stage time available and a lot fewer comics vying for spots.  I imagine at one point, I was probably doing about 8 to 10 shows a week in an actual club.  I just don’t think it’s possible to have that kind of experience or rapid career growth for comics these days.

head_hands_out_0093The 80’s is considered the golden era of stand-up comedy in Canada – who were your early stand-up heroes (Cdn and/or US) and did you ever open for the big headliners?
The first time I saw Mike MacDonald was about two weeks after doing comedy.  He did nearly two hours and closed with his signature air guitar bit. It was incredible.  I thought to myself, “What am I doing in this business”.  On the more famous side, my early heroes were Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart , Woody Allen and later Steve Martin and some of the SNL crew. There were also a lot of US comics I was exposed to at Yuk Yuk’s such as Steven Wright and Sam Kinison (pictured below)

Sam kWas it difficult to make an actual living as a comedian when you first started out or did you hold down a day job, too?
I was working in advertising as a copywriter. It wasn’t quite the Mad Men days, but it was a good job and I didn’t want to give it up. I finally did give it up when I went moved to LA in 1984 -85. This is actually my 30th year as a professional comic which I count as “thirty years without a day job”!

When you first started touring, who were your favourite comics to share a motel room with…and who weren’t?
I got to be a headliner pretty quick so I didn’t have to share very often at all.  I can’t even remember if I ever did.  I must have.  I know the names of a few people that I wouldn’t want to share a hotel with EVER, and a few people who had a reputation for doing very nasty, gross things to hotels and condos.  I never wanted to be the guy in the condo the week after they came through.  Sorry no names (wink)

Any “gigs from hell” you remember and care to talk about?
Some of the Western gigs could get pretty dicey.  There was a gig in a place called North Battleford, SK (if it has “Battle” in the name…..) and Fairview, AB was another hell hole.  The audience generally started drinking at noon for a show that started at 9:00pm. The hotel was so disgusting that I refused to stay there and got a room in a classier (safer) hotel at my own expense, so I probably ended up making nothing on the gig because of it.

glen-jfl-09You’ve been fortunate to have your own comedy specials as well as appearing on comedy festival broadcasts – any memorable moments you’d like to share?
My very first TV show was “An Evening at The Impov” (1982).  The host was Tony Curtis, yes, screen legend TONY CURTIS!  I was pretty green and went waaay over time with my set. Curtis came on stage and stood behind me with his hand on my shoulder while I finished.  I didn’t even realize that I f*cked up, in fact, I thought it was cool of him to do that…..Duuhh
I got to meet a number of people at the Just For Laughs festival over the years including John Candy (below), who was a really nice guy.  I was also introduced on stage at one JFL gala show by William Shatner (below). He called me back briefly to centre stage after my set and I got to shake his hand.  Craig Fergusson hosted the gala I did in 2008; I was really happy about my set that night because Fergusson was really funny, and you’d always rather have a real comic as MC rather than a non-comedy celebrity.

Candy ShatnerDo you currently contribute to tv or radio shows, either as a writer or performer?
I’m on with Jerry Agar on radio Newstalk 1010 for the “round table” every second Wednesday, and I’m also a contributor to TV’s Sun News Network a couple of times a week.

Your humour is considered relatively clean but with an edge – how do you describe your stand-up?
I guess it’s observational, usually topical and occasionally politically incorrect. It really bothers me that people seem to be so easily offended these days, so I try to push those buttons, but in a thought-provoking manner.

As you’re now one of the “elder statesmen” of the Canadian comedy scene, any advice for up and comers?
Stage time. Stage time. Stage time. You can take all the courses and read all the books, but it all comes down to stage time.  Get on as many stages, even crappy open mics where 98% of the audience is other comedians. And try not to be too scripted – comedy should not sound rehearsed, even though it usually is.

And do you still have any career aspirations or goals not yet achieved?
I keep saying that I would like to write a movie or a sitcom….hasn’t happened yet.  Other than that, I am pretty happy just doing stand up.  Of course, I would like to do more of it in bigger venues for more money, but that’s about it.

Will you have any “My Canada Includes…” t-shirts for sale at your Canadian Aces shows?
Yes I will. I actually did a reprint as part of my 30th anniversary.  I had to change the design slightly to include Nunavut, which did not exist when I did the original shirt.  So I guess this is “My Canada 2.0”

glen_foster-my_canada_t-shirtHow can people find out about your live shows & tours, tv or radio appearances?
I am the most findable guy in the world! I have two websites:
www.thatcanadianguy.com  and  www.comedyaces.com
My Twitter handles are: @fosterfunny  or  @comedyaces
My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Canadian-Guy-Glen-Foster/33438953821

16742So watch out for That Canadian Guy, coming to a comedy club near you!

 

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Cinema Appreciation Society of Toronto announces top films of 2014

James McNally, Founder of the Cinema Appreciation Soc. of Toronto, has released the list of the group’s top films for this past year and it is my honour to publish his media advisory and list of films here. James is a true cinephile and his passion for the moving image is reflected in his frequent online editorial contributions.

Please join me in congratulating the CAST 2014 award-winning films announced today:

boyhood_600Mon. January 5th, 2015 – Toronto: Living in a city that hosts more than a film festival per week throughout the calendar year, a “critical mass” of well respected and intelligent writers and contributors has developed who might not necessarily get the same level of exposure as some who write for the major and national outlets.  As Toronto continues to grow as a global hub for news and reviews in the world of cinema, it is becoming clearer by the day that when Torontonians go to the movies, the world is listening to their opinions.

Established in 2010, the Cinema Appreciation Society of Toronto (CAST) has been described as a ragtag group of semi-professional film bloggers, podcasters, tweeters and Lightbox lobby loiterers. What unites us all is a love for cinema and for the cinema culture in our city. Drawing from the massive pool of more than 500 theatrically released films, along with festival screenings, CAST members come together to name the best of the best of what was projected onto Toronto screens during any given calendar year.

grand_budapest_hotel_300 birdman_200 gone_girl_150After weeks of spreadsheet wrangling and at least 24 hours of counting out loud and on our fingers, we are pleased to announce the results of the 5th annual CAST Awards. This year’s Awards encompassed 142 different films as chosen by 38 voters. Here are the Top 10:

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Whiplash
  4. Nightcrawler
  5. Under the Skin
  6. Birdman
  7. Gone Girl
  8. Mommy
  9. Inherent Vice
  10. Force Majeure

We’d like to thank each of the 38 voters who contributed to this year’s results, and also to all the filmmakers who bring us their work each year. We look forward to another great year of cinema ahead, and can assure you that we have bigger plans in the works for CAST this year (including a web site which will soon reside at the URL included below). We hope you’ll come along for the ride.

James McNally
Founder, CAST
www.cas-toronto.com
Twitter: @CAST_TOR

inherent_vice_150 whiplash_300

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