THE GREAT CANADIAN ROAD GIG
Dean Young for The Scene
The road. I’ve been enamoured with it since the second I dropped like a hot LP back in ’83. From the moment they Sham Wow’d the vagina goo off’a me, I had cognitive thought. And my first inkling was a life on the move
My formative years were spent racking up family vacation miles, cutting a swath through the American midwest and down along route 66 into the forbidden south. Counting Best Western & Denny’s signs with the old man, and occasionally spewing Mike & Ike’s all over the back seat of the family Chevette, just to make a point for more piss stops
When I was a kid, I’d lay in bed night after night glued to a weatherbeaten copy of ‘Huckleberry Finn’, chewing the same scenery on an endless loop. I must’ve read that book a hundred times. But I never once finished it
For me, it was always about the road. I’d savour the way Twain meticulously described the smells, sounds, and citizens of every sleepy little town around each new bend in the river. The biting social satire of Twain’s America, the grave implications of slavery felt even today – those points were lost on me at that age. And despite what it would mean for Jim, I never wanted to see our heroes reach their destination. I was only in it for the journey
By the time college rolled around, I had discovered women, cigarettes & Jack Kerouac. I started writing comedy and named myself for Dean Moriarity the mythical hero of Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ – the ultimate American road novel, a biblical Beat patchwork of sex & Jazz strewn across the endless two-lane blacktop of the freewheeling American night.
Maybe that’s what led to comedy?
Maybe I just salivated for a life spent in clubs, pubs & Howard Johnson motels in the neon haze of countless faceless midwestern towns. Armed with just a half-empty Samsonite, and an observant mind trained on the fringes of society!
…Jesus ever-loving fucking Christ, what in the blue fuck am I fucking talking about?!?
I apologize. I switched from Marlboro Reds to electric cigarettes at the time of this article, and there are some chemical bugs to work out, as I sit in my neighbourhood coffee shop and write feverishly through the first wave of withdrawals
I smoke electricity. I AM THE FUTURE! Let’s move on
I can’t hit the road at the moment. I have a standing engagement with a studio mic for the rest of the summer. I can, however, live through my friends. Three of them, to be specific
The “Sleeping in Our Car Comedy Tour” is just that; three Toronto comics on a caffeine-fuelled fever run across the Great Canadian heartland. From Van City to the ‘Peg, the Prairies to the Great Lakes. A trio of comics who work together well. And a lot. And they’re friends, which will come in handy. Canada’s a big place, its a lot of road in not a lot of car
Anto Chan (O-Pun Mic at the Central, I Heart Jokes) Toronto’s resident “Pun-Fu Master” known for his rapid-fire wit, his masterful wordplay, and his poetic practices
Evan Desmarais (Propen Mic @ Comedy Bar, I Heart Jokes) a young comic on the fast rise who’s now a regular on comedy specials & TV tapings, national & otherwise
And a whiz kid by the name of Michael Flamank who, when not performing, spends a great deal of energy on ‘COMICAL’, one of the most well produced indie comedy shows in Toronto. Hands down
Together, they’re cutting a swath of punchlines and promotion across every bump, pothole and bloated moose carcass of the great Trans Canada highway
It’s an impressive undertaking, and a sign of the times: there’s an astronomical shift in the Toronto comedy scene, an indie sensibility of “why wait for someone to LET you do it? Just fucking do it”
There are no drink tickets in their pockets, no motel keys, no paid meals on standby. They’re comics on a tour, NOT touring comics. Big difference. Trust the title, they really are (for the most part) sleeping in their car. The budget isn’t coming from the coffers of a chain of comedy clubs, its whatever they can scrape up. The shows haven’t been pre-arranged or booked for them, they’re sniffing out gigs and venues as they go. Moving from town to town like a joke-fuelled gypsy comedy caravan. Employing the lost arts of postering, handbills, and street-corner barking in towns across the map (Anto in particular is a master of this… I’ve done it with him before, its something to see)
The friend in me wishes them safe travels, and waits to hear the stories of the road upon their return (I plan to have them on my podcast ‘Forever Young’, FYI)
The comic in me admires the grassroots glory of the whole gig
The Kerouac reader in me, the romantic college kid of years past, burns with envy!
Carpe diem, funny fucks!