Category Archives: Canadiana

“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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THE LITTLE TORONTO NEWS SITE THAT COULD – MEET PUBLISHER KJ MULLINS OF NEWZ4U.NET

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to one of Toronto’s unsung heroes, a woman who launched a news site that champions the underdog stories and gives a voice to those causes and issues that don’t get much exposure in mainstream media due to their lack of media “sexiness” or mass appeal. These are the stories that confront day-to-day life and issues in the naked city.  KJ Mullins is passionate about Toronto and her neighbours, and publishes her daily NEWZ4U.NET e-newspaper with the help of talented reporters and photographers dedicated to bringing the real news to you without corporate or advertiser “filters” and without fluff or filler content.

I recently sat down with KJ and asked her to tell us all about NEWZ4U.net and what prompted her to create the site.

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Tell us a little about KJ Mullins – what is your personal journalism/business background?
KJ: I started out in college on the journalism track but went to drama/psy instead. Ten years ago after other jobs and being a stay at home mom, I got the writing bug again and this time went full steam.  One of the first articles I wrote back in college helped to bring forth positive changes for disabled students rather quickly, and seeing that I could make a difference was really powerful.

KJ MullinsWhen was your website first launched?
KJ: I launched NEWZ4U.NET on May 12, 2010.

What first inspired you to create Newz4U & what news niche wasn’t being fulfilled by the national newspapers?
KJ: I wanted to get my voice out there and the voices of others who may not fit into the mainstream model. Social issues like homelessness, poverty, LGBT issues and the arts are often overlooked in the mainstream because if it’s not a ‘front and centre’ story it isn’t sexy. The same is true with stories on the city’s front line responders – in mainstream media the motto of if it bleeds it leads also means that stories about good works aren’t covered. It’s rare to find articles about the various Kops and Kids programs that do curb youth violence.

homeless porter_002 DSCF8097How did you source your first news items?
KJ: We have always sourced our news items in the same way; with on the scene and through interviewing with fact checking. We also use reliable newswires for additional coverage. 

What sort of feedback did you receive from readers once the first few editions were e-published?
KJ: Knock on wood, from the beginning we’ve had positive feedback. For the readers who had personal issues in the city like a pot hole appearing and reappearing at their Toronto Community Housing building which we helped to bring positive results, the feedback was extremely positive.

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DSCF0879Who are your readers and how do you reach them?
KJ: Our readers are mostly from Toronto and are generally 25+, evenly mixed between genders. Most have university educations and many are movers and shakers. They are interested in social change and the arts.

DSCF3761As a web-based news source, what sort of reach does Newz4U enjoy?
KJ: In 2014 we had over 449K readers who read over 2.4 million articles. We average 31K monthly readers going through 146K articles.

What stories do you look for?
KJ: We are always looking for new stories about social issues. Fresh produce in the city, and childhood hunger is a current issue we are tackling hard. In Canada’s largest business city it is mind-blowing how many go to bed hungry every night or haven’t got a bed to sleep in. We’ve covered Pride and the Caribbean Festival for several years, looking into the areas that aren’t touched by mainstream.

DSCF2517The arts are also a strong interest for us. We cover as many events, big and small, as possible. Right now we are working on the RBC Taylor Prize and the Lionel Gelber Prize, both covering Canadian non-fiction literature. Each shortlisted book is read and reviewed prior to the prize announcements. It’s a lot of work but promoting our Canadian authors is very important. These men and women are putting forth some amazing work. Photography, fine arts and music are also a prime focus. We hope to be at the Junos this year with one of our newest writers whose focus is music.

DSCF8833 DSCF6408We will also be covering sports at the Pan Am Games. Our sports photographer, Hugh McClean, has been covering soccer and rugby in the past year, two sports that get very little coverage in the city.

?????????????????????Do you offer sponsored pages or ad space and if so, what is the range of $s?
KJ: This is a hard one for us but yes we do have ad space. Ads run from $25 to $150 a month depending on placement. We have plans to change up our layout in mid-March/early-April that will allow for pages to be sponsored as well. Prices for this are still in the works.

We also have a sponsorship program which gives ‘free’ ad space for Toronto small businesses. Our Angel sponsors keep us going and growing.

NEWZ4U.NET gives back to the community by offering local grassroots and small charities space for promoting themselves and their events for FREE.

How do people reach you for editorial coverage and/or advertising?
KJ: We are always available via email at editor@newz4u.net. We respond within 24 hours Monday-Friday. You can always get in touch with me personally on Twitter @kjjournalist.

20141018_143931Above photo: G.J. Fordham

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ICEFEST TAKES OVER YORKVILLE (Toronto) FEB 21 & 22.

BIA-IceFest2015-eBlast-600x270For the past 10 years, the folks at the Bloor-Yorkville BIA have hosted a fun family festival of all things winter in the heart of Yorkville Village, featuring ice sculpting, entertainment, hot food and drinks, all sorts of interactive fun for all the family, tons of great shopping and lots of pretty lights at night.  This year’s theme will be “ancient Egypt” so they’re inviting everyone to come “walk like an Egyptian” around Toronto’s premier tourist & cultural hub, Yorkville, on Saturday February 21st & Sunday February 22nd. “Frozen in Time” is an ancient Egyptian-inspired showcase of ice carvings including a 3D  pyramid, plus depictions of  Egyptian gods and pharaohs including Anubis, Iris and King Tut.  There will also be a giant interactive ice carving of sitting camel where visitors will be able to get their photos taken as a keepsake.

424U2559Open to the public each day between noon – 5 pm, the Village of Yorkville Park and Cumberland Street will be the centre of Icefest attractions, with additional ice carving demonstrations taking place throughout the neighbourhood.

424U2193 (2) 424U2203 424U2288On Saturday, February 21st starting at 12 noon, the 15th Annual Sassafraz Ice Carving Competition will take place at the east side of the Village of Yorkville Park.  Twelve ice carvers from across Ontario will compete for the People’s Choice Sculpture Award! As great masterpieces begin to emerge beneath the picks, chisels and chainsaws of the talented carvers, visitors will cast their vote for their favourite ice carving sculpture throughout the afternoon. Winners will be announced at 5:15 pm that day.

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424U2225 424U2389Last year, I found the dolphin from HydraSense who was posing for photos so I just had to get in there myself, too!

424U2169 (2) Gwith sharkAs February is Heart Month, Bloor-Yorkville will be fundraising with participating partners and sponsors in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation. For a $2 charitable donation, “Kiddie Ice Cubes” will be distributed each day at 2 pm, in the Village of Yorkville Park with a collectible toy inside. Patrons will also be able to sample tasty Maple Syrup Taffy from 1 pm ­ 4 pm each day on Cumberland Street for a $2 donation. Through IceFest, Bloor-Yorkville has raised over $54,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

20140222_121217424U2247This is an all ages family friendly, FREE event, all you have to do is bring is warm clothes, a hearty winter spirit, and maybe a camera to capture the moments in ice forever!  Photos from last year’s fabulous IceFest courtesy of Henry Lin and a few by me, too.  For further event Info:  http://www.bloor-yorkville.com/icefest/

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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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STROLL THE AISLES OF TORONTO’S INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW WITH ME

20150123_121519This weekend sees the return of the annual Interior Design Show here in Toronto, and thanks to the generosity of Mark Gleberzon of MJG Gallery (www.mgjgallery.com) I was given access to the show on Professional Trade Day yesterday.  Entering the showroom floor at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, a display of hanging Chinese lanterns set the stage for colour and innovation in home decor and design.  I went to visit Mark first to say thank you and found him with artist, Andrea Rinaldo in the MJG Gallery booth (below).

20150123_131345 20150123_131116Then I grabbed my floor map and set off into the deepest, darkest design jungle. But WOW! what a fantastic journey it was. First up, a stunning lighting display before stopping at the Oceania bathrooms booth. Where’s my soap on a rope?! http://www.oceania-attitude.com/baths
20150123_121749 20150123_121905 20150123_121909Then I had some fun with the lovely booth ladies at http://www.Beauti-Tone.ca (below) who were conducting a pick-your-favourite-colour contest with their paint chips. Thanks for the sparkly lanyard gift, ladies.

20150123_122042 20150123_122336 20150123_122423Walked a few more aisles seeing some gorgeous displays and lots of must have’s if I ever get a new condo (and can afford to dump my 15yr old furniture)

20150123_122705 20150123_122748 20150123_123211 20150123_122524Loved these carved stone sinks and giant bathtub from Stone Forest – https://www.stoneforest.com/kitchen-bath/ Everyone wanted to jump into the giant soaker tub (pictured below).

20150123_123342 20150123_123355 20150123_123419One of my favourite booths was the Urban Barn one featuring a rustic seaside dining room and a luxurious bedroom – visit their sit for more stunning decor ideas:  http://www.urbanbarn.com/

20150123_123453 20150123_123538 20150123_123542 20150123_123713More fabulous lighting…

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20150123_141141..then more fun accessories including these fun (and animal friendly) wildlife heads from http://www.camillahouse.com 

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20150123_125048….and then it was all about the plaid! Had a fun time with the folks from Montauk Sofas

20150123_124704 20150123_124923CaesarStone had a great exhibit – but it was their interactive swing set (for grown-ups) that was the hit of the show. Look who I found at the show….celebrity decorator Ambrose Price.  http://www.caesarstone.ca/en/Pages/default.aspx

20150123_125102 20150123_125421 20150123_125440Look at these gorgeous taps and shower fixtures from http://www.Rubinet.com  Me want….

20150123_125745 20150123_125751 20150123_125809Just loved the Indonesian petrified wood sinks and accessories from the lovely folks at Prehistoric StoneWorks Inc. (pictured below). Everything was very tactile and reminded me of my previous trips to Bali and Jakarta back when I lived in Australia (Bali is to Australians what Ft.Lauderdale is to Canadians!)  Check out all their stunning products at http://www.prehistoricstoneworks.com

20150123_130032 20150123_130043 20150123_130349 20150123_130411I then met the oh so fabulous Elizabeth of Elizabeth Interiors located in Burlington (pictured below) who showed me around her super luxe and livable display booth. I am definitely visiting her store the next time I’m down in Burlington. http://www.elizabethinteriors.com/

20150123_130633 20150123_130811 20150123_130815 20150123_130940More fab booths and displays, then….

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…I found it….AGA!….Agaaaaah. Yes, the olde worlde Brit stove and mainstay of cottage kitchens is here and oh boy, what a step up into the 21st century. They are gorgous and long-ago memories of my mum cursing and swearing at the temperamental fiery beast disappeared and a warm glow rolled over me. The Aga is a marvelous stove/oven for which modern cooks (incl. Martha Stewart) would give eye teeth, an arm and a leg. Check out these incredible units/colours and visit the website for complete information:  http://www.agamarvel.com/

20150123_132200 20150123_132209 20150123_132238 20150123_132249 20150123_132313 20150123_132323More fun pretty things to see and touch…

20150123_132646 20150123_132504Then I walking by a booth that was playing music…an hypnotic mix of modern beats mashed up with Lou Reed’s Take a Walk on the Wildside…so I did. Gorgeous tiles and ceramics (below) ….

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20150123_133839…but the music was coming out of what looked like a small occasional table (below).

20150123_133706It’s called the La Boite Concept (LD Series) from Funktion Furniture & Lighting – a compact multi-speaker unit to which you connect your laptop/iPad and play your tunes with such a superior rich quality that it sounds like a pro club DJ is spinning just for you. I listened, I danced and I chatted with Daniel Fisker from the local contact, Fisker International (pictured below)  http://fiskerintl.com/about.html

20150123_133655As I left the Fisker booth, I ran into some charming design students visiting from La Cite Collegiale in Ottawa, all of whom were excited and inspired by this year’s show. You go, girls, and good luck with your studies.

20150123_133909I walked by a cute booth where a wee one was playing with some toys and proving that good design caters to all ages. The http://www.ellaandelliot.com showcase was adorable and very functional and safe. Definitely a must-see for all fashion-fwd parents visiting the show.

20150123_134029 20150123_134037Lots of contests to win fab furniture – including this booth promoting magazine publisher WallToWall

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The NettHaus Design-Build booth (below) was quite spectacular, all gold and black and shiny. Thanks to the elegant Sherry Larjani, Managing Partner & Architectural Designer, for your hospitality http://www.netthaus.com/

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Then I met the friendly folks at ProGlo Refinishing (below) who can take your old, ugly cabinets and completely make them over with updated designs that will make you smile! Loved these bright happy colours. http://www.kitchenrefinishingtoronto.com

20150123_135124Here’s the lovely lady from MiniGarden that, as the signs say, brings walls to life. Great idea for indoor cultivation of plants, herbs, flowers. Join the urban green revolution at: http://www.minigardening.com

20150123_135314 20150123_135324I then had some fun playing with the bathrooms at the Neo Metro booth. The red sink not only washes your hands, it also dries them with warm air blown out over your hands or whatever else you wanna dangle over the sink!! Loved the illuminated blue sink…forgot to ask them if the toilets lit up, too, for late night tinkles!! http://www.neo-metro.com

20150123_135448 20150123_135521 20150123_135611It was a real pleasure meeting Naomi Neilson Howard (below), the Founder & CEO of Native Trails which features rustic and contemporary designs, copper sinks and fixtures for bath and kitchen…all inspired by the southwest. My photos didn’t do them justice so please check out http://www.nativetrails.net or visit booth #024 at the IDS.

20150123_140459I found Lisa Turner of Vancouver-based Quake Furniture in a section dedicated to individual designers located at the west end of the showroom. Her tables are made from metal, wood, marble…all unique designs and stunning colours. Check out her complete range at http://www.quakefurniture.com

20150123_140715In the same section, I met the creator of Christopher Solar Design who features very clean lines reminiscent of mid-century modern. He has some really great pieces: http://www.christophersolar.com

20150123_141039 20150123_141049And around the next corner I saw the rich imaginative handcrafted furniture of Oliver Drake of http://www.DrakeWoodDesign.com  He uses a lot of found/repurposed wood and listening to Oliver, I could tell he really loves his work.

20150123_141212 20150123_141249So much to see, so much to wish for. I spent about 3 hours wandering around, meeting the brilliant designers, decorators and craftspeople. Definitely a great way to spend your weekend.

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For show times and tickets, visit the official IDS website: http://www.interiordesignshow.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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WAS ITCHING TO VISIT THE LESLIEVILLE FLEA AGAIN…SO I DID!

20150118_134145Another great adventure enjoyed…all for the cost of a subway token! It was a grey old day here in Toronto today so I decided to go visit all the wonderful vendors at the monthly Leslieville Flea that was back at the Fermenting Cellar in the historic Distillery District for the winter months. Lots of lovely new vendors including Sonja from Woo-Hoo! Home Decor, Accessories & Collectibles (photos above and below).  Sonja has stunning mid-century glassware, vintage cocktail sets, CarltonWare and some really cool Betty Boop/Coca Cola collectibles. I know a friend who loves Betty Boop so I’m fwd’ing her these pics.  http://www.facebook.com/woohoodecor

20150118_133758 20150118_133906 20150118_133911 20150118_133816 20150118_134154Next to Sonja, I found the lovely and stylish Erica (pictured below left) from WildThingVintage who had a stash of great vintage bling – huge sparkly brooches that are all the rage now.  http://www.wildthingvintage.etsy.com 

20150118_133621 20150118_133626Opposite Erica’s booth was Toronto’s own king of mustard, Dan Gordon from Whisky & Spice, who was very popular with the samples on offer of his handcrafted Whisky/Honey, Porter Beer or Riesling/Apple flavoured premium mustards. Dan and his lovely wife Laura (below) enjoyed meeting all the visitors and watching as their eyes rolled back in their heads after they taste the superb W&S products.  http://www.whiskyandspice.ca

20150118_133449 20150118_133658 20150118_143712 20150118_143727 20150118_143744Bill & Sacha (pictured below) from Douglas + Son had some awesome manly vintage collectibles like this ancient buffalo skull and the old green & white enamel factory lampshade which is very on-trend right now. Check out their Instagram account for more of their treasures: @douglasandson

20150118_135421 20150118_135601 20150118_135625I then ran into a rather brilliant young entrepreneur, Cassandra, who has taken discarded rubber inner tubes (sourced mainly from Indonesia) and fashioned them into purses, jewellery & accessories, even shoes: AllWaste Reincarnation Art . Her bracelets are gorgeous and I can see them being worn by models walking this year’s Fashion Week runways. Hey all you fashion labels, check out Cassandra (pictured below left) for your show accessories this year- http://www.allwaste-reincarnationart.com

20150118_135703 20150118_135706 20150118_142639 20150118_142632I found these saucy tuxedo’d gents (below) waddling around the Love in the Afternoon booth checking out the miniature vintage fainting couch. Made me smile  http://www.loveintheafternoon.ca

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Had fun chatting with Boris and Julia (below) of Vivid Toronto Streetwear. Julia makes these colourful, sexy bow-ties and pocket squares, as well as fully lined jaunty hats, chic belly-bags and innovative “neck tubes” – fuss-free scarves ideal for snowboarders. Check out their full line at http://www.vivid-streetwear.com

20150118_140934 20150118_140946 20150118_141035 20150118_141100 20150118_141112 20150118_141237I was so dazzled by all the bright shiny things, I almost walked past my friend, jewellery designer Stephanie MacKay whose work includes sparkling druzzy rings (I have a gorgeous blue one) , red gold and copper necklaces and pendants. You gotta check out her designs: (http://www.mform.weebly.com )

20150118_140248 20150118_140300Next to Stephanie, I saw some pretty amazing mini-planters that were hung upside down for display…cool.

20150118_140825 20150118_140834 As I walked around the architecturally exquisite Fermenting Cellar, I noticed this lovely lady (her name was Jen) sitting quietly, completely lost in her texting/tweeting. Thought she made a great photo.

20150118_134356Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi! Yep, I found a new mate from Downunder at the Flea. Matt Obst, a young Aussie woodworker/craftsman, showcased his great re-purposed furniture, eg: an old mail trolley made into a coffee table, a vintage factory sewing machine stand converted into table base, and all sorts of found boards and wood repurposed into stunning furniture. Visit his gallery at http://www.obstwood.com Matt does commissioned works as well.

20150118_141615 20150118_141620 20150118_141658Fallen Wood Designs was up next – check out these fabulous home accessories crafted by the talented Mike Larmer. I love the dark walnut bowl in the first photo, and don’t get me started on the stunning pepper mills. Wow! http://www.fallenwooddesigns.ca

20150118_141959 20150118_142017 20150118_142028Across the aisle, I met Paula Whitlock, the talented artist behind Picture This design studios. Especially loved her images of butterflies and local Toronto architecture. http://www.picturethistoronto.com

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My lamby girls! Was thrilled to see Samantha and Calie of Two Lamb Boutique (below) had set up shop at the Flea. I met them about a month ago at their Yorkville pop-up and told them about the Leslieville Flea. Their glam bling sparkled under the lights, attracting lots of new Lamb-fans! http://www.twolamb.com  Thank you for my lovely treat, ladies.

20150118_143052 20150118_143101 20150118_143115Another fun booth was the pair of CryWolf Clothing and The Button Machine (below). Loved the “Turonno” patches and wearable souvenirs, the buttons were very cool….another great vendor who makes you smile! http://www.crywolfclothing.com  and  http://www.thebuttonmachine.com

20150118_143013 20150118_143023Ran to another of my fave Leslieville Flea vendors, Sarah Podemski of Totem Jewelry & Accessories. Last year, I purchased one of her silver antler pendants (below) that always gets me great compliments whenever I wear it. Thank you, Sarah.  www.facebook.com/TotemJewelryAndAccessories

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One of the newbies to the Flea was this lovely young lady, Emma (pictured below), who had some groovy clothing and accessories made from re-purposed treasures she’d found during her travels around the world. She was more concerned, tho, about showcasing the happy colourful artwork by Betty Mirembe who is battling Parkinson’s Disease which makes coming to the Flea nearly impossible for Betty. This adorable young lady was so proud to talk about Betty’s beautiful African scenes that she forgot to bring her own business cards. If I receive an email from her, I’ll link her access here – she deserves our support for her own kindness to another artist.

20150118_135029 20150118_134741 20150118_134937So another fabulous Leslieville Flea visit is done-and-dusted. Was nice to see Dan and his mustards, all my glitter girls who keep me lookin’ good, and all the gifted artisans I met today.  Next date for the Flea is February 22nd, 10am to 4pm…and it’s FREE! Details here: http://leslievilleflea.com/

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON STROLL AROUND YORKVILLE (Toronto)

Decided to be a “tourist” in my own back yard today. Weather was a bit warmer (balmy compared with Tuesday’s -12!) so I wandered into Williams-Sonoma on Bloor St to meet some of the food artisans who were showcasing their wares.  First off, DAVID MARCUS from DAVID’S CONDIMENTS  www.davidscondiments.com who was sampling his hot’n’spicy rubs, marinades and seasonings.

20150117_131646 20150117_131649 20150117_131653Then I met the cute couple behind BURNER HOT PEPPER SAUCE who were busy heating up the cold shoppers. Check out their online store for all the flavours and levels of heat.  http://burnerpeppersauce.com/shop/

20150117_131614 20150117_131619Next door to Williams-Sonoma is the new Holt Renfrew Men’s store and I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this thru the window….

20150117_131759 20150117_131804 20150117_131908A giant head sculpture by Douglas Coupland called Gumhead – you take a piece of bubblegum from the old-school dispensers, chew it and then stick it on the head. Hmm, I don’t think so, but I did plant a kiss (no tongues!) on the statue for good luck.

I then popped across the street to the Bloor St Market in the Manulife Centre to pick up a few groceries and I found SUMMER’S ICE CREAM being sampled. OMG…..Summer’s is THE best locally made ice cream and I frequently drop into their ice cream parlour on Yorkville Ave for a scoop or two during the summer months. They’re now selling their super deelish treats in tubs in selected grocery stores  http://www.summmersicecream.com

20150117_132742 20150117_132752As I headed back home along Bloor, I walked past the famed STOLLERY’s clothing store at Yonge & Bloor that had recently closed after 114 years and my heart broke to see what was being done to the beautiful building….

20150117_135450 20150117_135441 20150117_135426 20150117_135532… ripping out the beautiful window frames, friezes and stone carvings, as well as peeling off all the copper flashing. Their website  http://www.stollerys.com/ says the store was to close at the end of January but I guess the greedy developers couldn’t wait to get their wrecking balls on this iconic piece of Edwardian architecture.  This makes me sad, angry and very disappointed with the City of Toronto for allowing this to happen yet again to one of our beautiful old buildings.

Hope you liked joining me as I played tourist in my own neighbourhood ….follow my blog for further adventures and scroll down for other cool news and previous events.

 

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