EDMONTON COMEDY FESTIVAL: How funny is Jim Cuddy?


Jim Cuddy says he honestly has no idea why he was asked to be the host of the opening night at the Edmonton Comedy Festival, “Jim Cuddy’s Comedy Rodeo,” Wednesday at the Citadel Theatre (with Louis Ramey, Kevin McGrath, Trent McClelland, Atomic Improv, Lars Callieou and Sean Lecomber).

Damn it, Jim, he’s a musician, not a comedian! Or maybe he’s just pulling our leg. He’s not a comic, so he’s not going to try to be funny, which will make him that much funnier. Well played, Jim Cuddy. Now let’s put the Blue Rodeo singer through the comedian Q&A gauntlet, a series of questions scientifically designed to take the comedic measure of a man.

Q: If you could be any celebrity, who would it be and why?

A: I don’t know if I’d want to be a celebrity. I think it would kind of suck. OK, Geddy Lee. Just a little richer, just a little bit further ahead.

Q: Who’s the funniest rock star in Canada?

A: Probably Ed Robertson. He’s kind of sickening funny. I’ve been with him at 5:30 in the morning going to an airport and he was still going.

Q: Who’s your favourite stand-up comic?

A: Richard Pryor. I was young when was he as on Sullivan, so I saw his cleaned up act, then I got to know his really, truly funny stuff like “Live at the Hollywood Bowl.” That was stoner fare for us for Christmas. We’d all come home from wherever we were and my brother and I would get a little stoned and watch Richard Pryor. That’s as hard as I can remember laughing.

Q: What was your favourite bit?

A: Where’s he’s talking to his freebase pipe and then he says, “I know what you motherfuckers are thinking, you’re going make a joke about me.” So he lights a match, bounces it up and down and says, “What’s this?” and he says, “Richard Pryor running down the street.”

Q: What’s the worst meal you ever had on the road?

A: The last time we were served Chinese food at a university and we realized that we’d maxed out on Chinese food and we could never eat it again, and from then on it was in our rider to never have Chinese food. Nothing against the food, nothing against the Chinese, but having it day after day for months and months produces little protein and not enough energy to get through a show.

Q: What’s the difference between kids today and when you were a kid?

A: I think my life was a lot more experimental, but kids are a lot more sophisticated than I was. When I was growing up there was a lot of encouragement to try mind expanding drugs, free love and hit the road and go hitchhiking. That’s a lot of free space for a person. My kids have all that free space through computers, so their minds are very sophisticated. They just haven’t done much.

Q: What’s a big issue that makes you angry?

A: In a personal sense the thing that makes me the maddest is the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. When he was elected, I said I am not responsible for what this idiot does – at all. But I know a bunch of people who voted for him, so I’d phone them every week and say: how do you like him so far? But I heard from a person in Vancouver that Torontonians have the mayor we deserve, because we’re so obnoxious and arrogant, and that we look down on him because he’s classless, not because he’s a bad mayor. I thought, man, that is really stretching it for fucking Toronto bashing.

Q: What’s a little thing that bothers you?

A: People sort of think of me as a happy go lucky guy. But I have a certain amount of road rage I have to contain. I think the most embarrassing thing was when my kids were younger and I’d get angry at a driver, and drive like I wanted to right the wrong that had been done to me, and I’d look back at my daughter, who’s 11 and she’s like, “Why are we racing between the cars and the parked cars? What’s going on?” I’d feel ridiculous. I was sort of born to a family that had lots of anger issues, so I guess that’s it.

Q: Worst Blue Rodeo gig ever?

A: The beginning of the last tour that stared in Vancouver. We just did not play well. It was bad start to the tour. I went backstage and I have a friend who’s kind of persistent, who wanted me to meet these two people. And I said, this is not the night. I am not in good shape right now. He says, “Oh, please, they just want to say hi.” So I stupidly relent, they came back and there were two people I don’t remember meeting and the woman looked pregnant so I said, “Oh, when’s this due?” And I reached out and pushed her stomach, and it was soft. And she said, “I know, I’m trying to lose it.” She’d had a child three months before. And I said to this guy later: Never again! Honestly, when I say I can’t do it, it means I can’t do it. Why did I touch her belly? I didn’t even know her!

Q: What do you consider over the line in comedy?

A: I don’t think there’s anything over the line unless it’s boring. I listen to the X-rated stuff all the time on satellite radio. It can be hilarious. It’s not ever about any particular subject or language, it’s about trying to highlight things that are funny, looking at things in a way you never thought you’d look at them. I heard Gilbert Gottfried and he was making jokes right after 9-11. The world went through some ultra sensitive times. And when I heard him say it, I thought, yeah, that was too soon. It’s an instinctive thing that we hold on to a certain amount of sensitivity so we’re not brutally inhuman, and yet we use comedy to allow us to accept what is brutally inhuman. So the line, I guess, is often time.