I asked him some questions about starting out, opening for Jefferies, and his plans for the future:
Ha. Well, other than joking around with your friends and family I really didn't know I'd have what it takes until I did that first gig. I spent months shitting myself in the wings before then. I knew my dreams could be quickly crushed. Luckily that first show went well and I was hooked.
What comedians did you watch as a kid?
Aside from the obligatory Eddie Murphy worship you mean, he was truly the gateway drug to me discovering comics who came before him like Carlin and Pryor of course. Growing up in Eastern Canada we didn't have a comedy club so I was hooked on TV where I got to watch a lot of Just For Laughs and Comedy At Club 54. I remember seeing Boothby Graffoe do a brilliant captivating set about falling from an airplane that I thought was sublime and Tom Stade tearing the house down at Club 54. The coolest thing in the world is that I got to work with both of them years later in England.
Who do you watch now?
Well, I'm on tour with Jim Jefferies right now so I get to watch his genius every night. No one can nail that unbeatable combination of brutal honesty and aggressive vulnerability like him. He's a comedy masterclass every night. Other than that there is a list of not so famous clown folk that I get to see every night out at the clubs who are always working on something groundbreaking. I love a bit of my buddies Glenn Wool, Steve Hughes and Phil Nichol too.
When did you start doing stand up?
I started in 1999 in Edinburgh, Scotland. ....a shy Canadian backpacker. Fucked up when I think about it.
I think you have to have a tougher spine to deal with the British audiences, they'll let you know when they hate you. In America I'm finding that as long as you stay away from Religion and politics you can avoid alienating half the room. Americans can go quiet if they don't like you.
Obviously there are certain words and phrases that you can't use, but do you ever need to change entire bits?
I mostly do social commentary so it's pretty universal I'd say. UK-Australia-USA everybody feels like a dick every now and then so it's best to take the approach that you feel like a dick too.
Tell me your dreams for the future, and give me two separate answers:
Right now I am not missing the British rain at all (even though I'm headed back there in a week for a British tour). I think what I'd like to do is find a bigger audience here in The States so that I can hopefully start calling the US home instead of just being a visitor ya know. The logical step would be to move on from Jim Jefferies tour and start touring on my own. I'm also churning over some ideas for a new One Man Show and a return to The Edinburgh Festival.
I'm definitely a pure stand up. I often say how I wish it was still the 80s where you just had to rock up and unload on your audience. Unfortunately (to me) in this twitter generation of comedy we need to be 'reporting from the trenches' all the time. I would definitely love to be a stand up who does some acting rather than ever devolve in to an actor who dabbles in stand up. I'll never stop doing stand up.
Last but not least, tell me your worst bombing story.
Ah, well, to this day that would still be my 8th gig ever. It was in front of a bunch of Scottish Firemen and they got ANGRY. It was the first time I've ever had my life threatened and I couldn't even understand their angry accents that well yet. Even the comics back stage had a look of terror in their eyes as I had to be ushered out the fire escape and in to a back alley while 15 muscle bound dudes called for my head. The biggest lesson I learned that night was to sometimes agree with an angry mob who doesn't like your comedy. Go the self deprecation route. If you want to 'self preserve' don't call them a pack of retards even if you think you're joking around with them.
Check out J.J.'s website where you can find tour dates, and his album on iTunes, it will be the best thing that has ever happened to you. Better than cumming and eating a burrito at the same time. Ok. Well, maybe not better, but just as good.
By: Jim Capie