Yesterday was my birthday. I celebrated 46 years on this planet by driving to Toronto from Ottawa and eating large amounts of small-town pizza from Greko’s in Gananoque. For those of you not in the know, Grekos, in spite of having a fantastic website make a slice of pizza that is loads of crust, cheese and heart-attack creating stomach fun. Okay, they’ve got a new one.
But my birthday was just that…a day. Some people decree they are having a “Birthday Week” in order to hide their day-drinking. Others will announce they are having a “BIRTHDAY MONTH!” These are the people in the office that show you pictures of their pets in costumes, demand mandatory participation in Karaoke, and refer to Tim Hortons as “Timmy Ho-Hos” during the Christmas season. Only.
I just wanted a day to celebrate my birthday, not a cluster of them. However, the entire week leading up to it, turned out to be wicked great. Here’s why:
So who, exactly, says never meet your heros?
I do, actually. I once paid $50 to meet DEVO post-show, talk, get autographs, that sort of gear. All that happened was we watched a bunch of old musicians come down from a performance high surrounded by fellow nerd-stains like myself, while way-out-of-place gorgeous young women model-types strode around who I guess thought that night, they’d get to sleep with ‘Il Divo’. Swing and a miss, ladies.
If you don’t know, and you should, Jimmy Pardo is the host of one of the best podcasts out there, Never Not Funny. He was the warm-up for the Conan show on TBS and just finished up the first season of Race to Escape on Science Channel and Who-The-Hell-Knows Network in Canada.
Three years ago Ian Atlas, tired of my caterwauling about Pardo not coming to Toronto, booked him for a weekend at Comedy Bar. I hosted. He did my podcast. It was wonderful. This past weekend Jimmy returned and brought with him his podcast co-host and Matt Belknap to do two recordings of their podcast after each of Jimmy’s Friday and Saturday shows. Awesome.
(Note: Ian brings in fantastic comedians to perform in Toronto and you should go see them when they get here. Here’s a listing of his events to come.
So, Awesome? Why Awesome? Jimmy has one of the sharpest minds in comedy. Ever. His ability to weave multiple stories all at once while spinning the plates of audience engagement is glorious. It’s the type of thing that makes you go, “Why do I bother with MY jokes about MY penis?” The stand-up is great and the podcast is “great x great”. Unencumbered by the individual audience engagement of stand-up, he is able to interact with his guests and drive funny into the audience. Staggering.
The Friday I hosted, bringing up to the stage as opening acts, friends and funny people Kate Davis and Luke Gordon Field. With my work done, I snuck to the back to watch Jimmy do his thing. Fantastic. At that point I thought my night would be over and I’d be able to enjoy the live podcast stress-free.
At around 10pm last night, my wife asked me why I seemed down. And I was. I wasn’t “Can’t Pay the Mortgage” down, or “[Favourite Sports Game Team] Suffering Crippling Loss to [Least Favourite Sports Game Team]” sad, or even “Lost eBay Auction for ‘The GoGo’s ‘Vacation’ Whiskey Tumbler Set'” depressed. David Letterman’s last show was about to take to the airwaves and it was to end an era. After 33 years and 6028 shows, he fiddled with his last two-erasered pencil, signed off, and walked out the way he came in. He was and is the same gap-toothed, self-effacing charmer that really had no business being there in the first place. He made his mark and let the people come to him. Everyone I’ve talked to about this had their rituals around watching his show. Mine was this.