Author Archive

Peers and Public

July 6th, 2013 No comments

I was having a small conversation with the very funny Tiernan Douieb ( which turned into why Cardiff is a better place to do stand up than Liverpool.

Apparently, in Liverpool, the audiences think they are at least as funny as the comedian. While gigs in Cardiff are just plain fun.

I compared it to doing an improv show in front of a bunch of improvisers, who often just love giving “inspired” suggestions. And he agreed.

There is a certain thrill in performing in front of your peers. But if I’m in a venue where the number of normal public members to seated performers in the audience is low, then my reactions range from fidgety to stabby. The normal energy isn’t there, and in some cases the peers are ignoring the show totally.

Like, how rude is that? Or people coming to do their set in the first half of the show and not sticking around to watch their peers in the second half?

Part of it is (I guess)  is some kind of perceived  competition factor. But a larger part is that you get into the game of guessing what comedy trick they are going to do next, or what you would be doing in their place.

I’m not even mentioning the drunken arseholes who come from all walks of life and think they are HILARIOUS because their friends say so and also beer.

So unless it’s a fundraiser or something, I try to avoid going to shows with a huge number of pros sitting around in the crowd. My next task is to figure out what my breakpoint in the peers:public ratio is. Because i do need to get out and start seeing more shows.

Rob Ford, P.I. and the Undercover Brother

June 13th, 2013 No comments

Rob Ford, P.I., gazed contentedly on the scene before him. A crowd of police were herding a bunch of drug dealing scum and weapons selling filth out the door of an Etobicoke apartment building.

“My streets, my rules,” Ford muttered to himself.

Suddenly, one of the criminals broke free from the pack! The police ran after him.

“Ford!” the figure in the dark hoodie yelled. “You’re as guilty as anyone!” And then the police caught him and dragged him off.

“Take him to the chief’s car, boys,” Ford said. The chief, standing beside Rob Ford, nodded.

“Good work cracking this case, Rob, * Chief Brent Blatz said. “You going undercover that one night was one ballsy move.” And the chief raised two fingers to the brim of his cap and brushed them over it, in a small salute.

“It was nothing, Chief,” Ford said over the shouts and chatter of the police radios. “Sometimes you have to think like the enemy to defeat them.”

“Nice,” the chief said. “Shakespeare?”

Ford shook his head. “Theismann.” Then he looked at his watch. “Well, Chief, a policeman works from sun to sun, but a P. I.’s work is never done.”

“Yeah,  yeah. Get outta here.”

Ford walked three steps, then turned around. “Say, Chief, that guy in your car…”


“I’d like to question him personally, if you catch my drift.”

Blatz looked at Ford, then smiled. “Sure. Just deliver him in one piece, if you can.”

“Chief, there’s no bout adoubt it.” And the two men shared a brief, hearty laugh before parting.

With the help of two policemen, they transferred the struggling prisoner to Ford’s Esplanade.

“Yeah,” Ford said. “Leave the handcuffs on.” And he pulled away from the scene of the raid, into the soft greys of an early Etobicoke morning.

They drove in silence on the 427 for a while. Then, Ford said, “Scum.” Another moment of only the hum of the Esplanade’s engine, then both men started laughing. So hard, in fact, that Ford pulled off the 427 to wipe tears from his eyes.

Then he reached over and pulled down the hood of the hoodie. Doug Ford smiled back at him.



Rob looked at his older brother for a moment. “Bro,” he said, “sweet undercover work here.”

“Bro,” Doug replied, “you started it.”

“The Fords rule!”

“Others drool!” And Rob Ford started up his Esplanade and headed back onto the 427, giving Doug a high five when they were in the middle of traffic.

“This’ll show some of those never work lefties that they were wrong about you,” Doug said.

Rob looked at his brother while cars veered around the Esplanade. Then he said, “I have no comment. Bro.”

And then they high fived each other again and kept going down the road, laughing on the way to their next exciting adventure.

Old Skool Theatresports

June 3rd, 2013 No comments

So I’ve been re-reading my well worn copy of “Improv for Storytellers” by Keith Johnstone.

Johnstone is essential reading for anyone in the performing arts, never mind whether you self-identify as an improviser, an actor, a clown, a whatever. Read all of his stuff and you will be enriched.

But in “Improv for Storytellers”, he lays down his vision of Theatresports.

I have performed in shows which were very close to how he describes the essential Theatresports. I have seen and performed in Micetro, and seen Gorilla, which have been spot on to how he describes the show format.

But I’ve never seen all three formats done by the same producers with the same troupes.

Maybe the thinking now is that Johnstone is old-fashioned. That what he describes was fine for the time when he wrote the book, but now it’s less valid.

However, I’m having the opposite reaction. I really want to produce a Theatresports show to the exact specifications he describes. Unfortunately, Theatresports is a licensed format, and only one group in Toronto has the legal permissions to produce Theatresports shows.

Maybe I should go cozy up to that group?

Strange Bedfellows

May 30th, 2013 No comments

It’s been a fruitful rehearsal process.

My actors found me a delightful rehearsal spot (Creative Studios on Lansdowne), and worked their butts off in and out of rehearsal.

Vincent Jerad and Fortuna Kebede are the stars.

I do hope you’ll find time to see the plays at the InspiraTO Festival, and especially Strange Bedfellows, playing at the times below.

May 30th 9pm
June 1st 8 pm
June 6th 7 pm
June 8th 4 pm


Bums in Seats

May 28th, 2013 No comments

So I’m sure I’m not the only creative who faces this.

Creatives tend to hang out with the same types. Who all hopefully love to create, because there’s precious little cash in the process. And creatives love to show off their results.

So these busy creatives invite their busy creative friends to come see their shows. Since they are busy, the easiest way to do it is through social media, email, or both.

And there, for me, is the problem. I get embarrassed at sending out emails to people, but I don’t mind sending out low frequency Facebook and Twitter announcements. I do mind setting up an event for one of my products, even though it’s really no more intrusive than sending out an untargeted “Hey, come to my show!” and if I am directly producing, then of course the Facebook event offers some real benefits.

Probably it comes down to distinguishing who in your audience matters to you, who have been through the creative process directly with you, and those who have not, who are just associates, friends or lovers of friends, etc.

But even then. Individuals in these two groups will respond differently. Some don’t mind emails, soke do. Some will find Facebook invites impersonal, others not.

The social fabric is elastic enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Anyone who gets upset over low frequency emails probably isn’t someone you want to hang out with anyway.

I am realising that I am awkward at this, but if one is proud of what one has done, one should be pleased to share it with the world. I also realise I am probably over analysing this.

Categories: Philosophy, Social Media Tags: ,

The Zen of Directing

April 5th, 2013 No comments

Ordinarily, I’m pretty much normal when it comes to work. My thoughts, in order, are “Is it coffee break yet?”, “Is it lunch yet?”, “Is it coffee break yet?”, and “Is it 5 pm yet?”

But anything to do with theatre directing is different. I go into this zone where everything gets focused and things like food and self censorship and over analysing situations go out of my brain.

It’s the way life is that my favourite public life activity is something that doesn’t pay. (Yet.) But the compensation is that, if I do it, the rest of existence’s trials and tribulations are infinitely more bearable.

I need theatre and directing in my life.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Rob Ford, P.I. and the Invisible Graft (part 4 of 4)

April 4th, 2013 No comments

Later that week, Rob Ford was sitting in his office chair, fedora slung over his eyes, dreaming of shooting bums and hippies with his .45 Roscoe singing ka-chow! Ka-chow! when a slithering noise partially awoke him and made him fall out of his chair.

He peeked carefully around the leg of his desk, hands on his BlackBerry, and quietly cursed. Another paper lay on the floor, slipped under his office door. He got up, rubbing his knee, and picked it up.

It was, of course, the Toronto Star, but the headline really woke him up fully.

Dri Tomi Says The P.I. of Toronto Pushy, Unprofessional

What?? Rob Ford pushed aside the autographed picture of him with the Toronto Argos and spread the paper out full.

“He approached me in the supermarket,” said Tomi. “I thought we were making small talk, but the next thing I know, he’s scratching out his name on his P.I. of Toronto business card and hinting that if I don’t make a donation to his museum, I might find trouble parking in this town.”

What? Rob’s face turned red. One of his own heroes…! The room began getting smaller and smaller. The Argos in the photo seemed to leer at him. Things got hazy, and then…blackness.

Somewhere, a voice was roaring something, but Rob Ford couldn’t tell what. All around him, lefties and bike couriers danced, juggling tofu, singing, and popping wheelies on their stupid bicycles. Suddenly one of the downtown lefty elite filth threw a block of tofu right at him.

Rob tried to get out of the way, but he was moving way too slowly. The block of tofu spun, closer and closer, throwing off little drops of water as it spun in the air. It was headed right for his face. Rob tried to move, but all he could do was scream silently as the block of vegan poison headed right for his mouth.

Splash! Rob Ford opened his eyes, then blinked them furiously. His brother, Doug, was standing over him with an upside down bucket. Rob’s face and shoulders, and the floor under him, were wet with cold water.

“Bro,” Doug said, “I had to do it. You were crying so loudly…”

“I was not!” Ford replied, and struggled to his feet.

“You were. I thought you were going to start kicking your heels on the ground like you did at camp that one time.”

“Ridiculous!” Ford replied, standing up and brushing himself off. “I was just having a bad dream. You could have just woken me up, you know.”

Doug’s only reply was to grin and put the bucket down on his brother’s desk. Then the grin suddenly vanished.

“Bro,” he said, “you gotta do something. There was enough bad press before, but this is going…”

“I never did anything wrong!!”

“I know, but…”

“They can’t push me around! I’m The Private Eye of Toronto! That means a lot!”

“Bro, I know, but if you’d just listen…”

“I’m not apologizing for anything! I have never abused the powers of this office in any way, shape or form, and if people don’t believe that, they can wait until the next election for The Private Eye of Toronto!”

Doug placed his hand over his brother’s mouth. “This is the best part! You don’t have to apologize! You just say nine simple words!” And he leaned over and whispered in his brother’s ear.


The reporters outside the office of The Private Eye of Toronto whispered among themselves. The P.I., actually requesting a press conference? What was going on? Was he going to resign? Throw a tantrum? They looked over at the seemingly calm reporter from the Star.

Then Rob Ford, flanked by his brother, Doug, appeared on top of the steps of the building. Rob stepped up to the microphone on the podium.

“I am here to say one thing. I was not aware I was guilty of any malfeasance.”

And then, in front of the surprised reporters, he turned around and reentered the building, followed closely by his brother. A clamor of questions rose up and reporters ran after the Fords, but the door was closed and they watched the Fords lock it from the inside.

“There,” said Doug, “now wasn’t that easy?”

“It sure was!” replied Rob. “Now, I can finally get back to my job.” He looked at his watch. “Tomorrow.”

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,

Rob Ford, P.I. and the Invisible Graft (part 3 of 4)

April 1st, 2013 No comments

Rob Ford, P.I., left Doug Holiday’s house with his fedora jammed low over his forehead.

So, that’s what influence peddling is, he thought. Nothing to do with bicycles at all.

Just then his stomach rumbled. He had been so upset over this whole mysterious headline shover, he had barely ate all day. Rob Ford got into his black Esplanade and drove off to the nearest No Frills.

Rob did his shopping, remembering to buy some salad greens and place them right on top of his frozen pizzas and TV dinners, in case any smart aleck monkeyshiners with cell phones started snapping photos. He got in the express lane (1-8 items) because 20 pizzas counted as one item, as everyone knew.

Rob reached for his Blackberry to see if any clues had been phoned in, when he paused and looked at the person in front of him. Could it be…? Was it…? It was!

“Dri Tomi,” Rob said, moving around and extending his hand, “howza boy?”

“Hey Robbo!” replied the famous enforcer for the Maple Leafs. “How’s things?” And he crushed Rob’s hand slightly, while Rob smiled and pretended he felt no pain.

‘What are you doing shopping here, Dri?” he asked.

“Aw, you know. The woman wants some essentials, you get some essentials.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” And they both chuckled their man of the world chuckles. Then an idea hit Rob.

“Say, Dri. You like a good knock em down private eye story, don’t you?”

“I guess. Why? You trying to sell me your life story?”

“Naw, nothing like that.” Rob reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out his business card holder, removed a card, put the holder back in his pocket, pulled out his pen, and leaned over his grocery cart.

“Listen, I run a little museum,” he explained as he crossed out the words P.I. of Toronto on it. “Museum of Mickey Spillane. Ever heard of him?”

“The name kinda sounds familiar.”

“He wrote the Mike Hammer stories. Real tough muscle private eye stuff. Anyhow,” he said, handing the card to Dri, “I’m always looking for he-men who want to support a real good kind of book, not these hobo Green Party fairy tales about energy and wizards and all that guff.”

Dri looked at the card and put it in his jacket pocket. “Thanks, Robbo, I’ll think about it.”

“Say, Dri, isn’t the renewal on your private parking lot coming up soon?” When no response was forthcoming, Ford continued, “I know how paperwork can sometimes drag out. If you run into any problems, just call that number.” And he pointed at Dri’s jacket pocket.

Dri nodded slowly. “Sure, Robbo. I’ll certainly keep that in mind.” And nothing more was said between them after Dri turned around.

Rob Ford wheeled the No Frills shopping cart out to his Esplanade. Mighty nice fellow, that Dri, he thought. Wish we had more guys like that in town and fewer downtown people and parasites.

Rob Ford, P.I. and the Invisible Graft (part 2 of 4)

March 10th, 2013 No comments

Later, in Etobicoke, on The West Mall, Rob Ford sat alone at a table, staring at a French cruller on the table in front of him.

His very soul was bleeding. Him, a public servant sworn to fighting criminals and hoboes, and yet his name was being dragged through the mud by the newspapers.

Well, newspaper. Only The Star had come out against him. The Sun and the National Post were much more favourable to him. A P.I. And An MBA! was The Sun’s headline, while the National Post had gone with a more classically themed Heavy Hangs the Jacket That Wears the P.I. Badge.

Rob had no appetite. Why didn’t people realise he was the P.I. of Toronto? That everything he did was for the good of the people of this city he lived in and loved? Was it his fault none of them understood the intricate job that a P.I. did, and the media in this city (except for The Sun and The Sun Network and The National Post) were all against him?

Rob Ford stood up, picked up the cruller, and approached the counter. “Can you rewrap this to go?” he asked.

“Certainly, sir!” said the smiling woman behind the counter. When she handed it back, she also handed back a small double double. “Hope this cheers you up!”

“Thanks, Lucrezia,” Ford replied, taking the complimentary coffee and the rewrapped cruller. Lucrezia understands me, Ford thought as he pushed open the door of the store.

Ford got in his black Esplanade and started driving. No destination in mind, just trying to clear his mind. An hour later, the cruller devoured, the coffee drunk, he pulled into the parking lot of SanRemo Bakery.

As he walked in, he was greeted by all the staff. He forced a smile and sat down. An apple fritter and a coffee appeared at his table almost instantaneously.

“You having a hard time, huh boss?” said John, one of the servers there. “Listen, the boss here says no charge. We support law and order.”

A tear welled up in Ford’s right eye. The people understood what he was trying to do. It was just those downtown hoboes and leftist hippies and smarty pants lawyers that were trying to drag him down.

He left a half hour later feeling much better. There is almost no bad mood a SanRemo apple fritter cannot pull you out of. Plus, he had made up his mind what he had to do. He got back in his black Esplanade and drove with a destination in mind.

Half an hour later, he parked in the driveway of Deputy P.I. Doug Holiday. He got out, locked the doors with his remote, and walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell.

Doug opened the door. “Fordie!” he said. “What a surprise. What are you doing here?”

Ford stepped inside. “Listen, Doug. I have to know something. Why am I being accused of influence peddling when I hate cyclists?”

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,

Rob Ford, P.I. and the Invisible Graft (part 1 of 4)

March 9th, 2013 No comments

Rob Ford, P.I., leaned back in the chair of the Private Eye of Toronto. His feet were resting on the desk, and he was twirling his fedora on one finger while talking on his Blackberry (Israel Idonije edition).

“No, that’s right. I did apologise. If they’d asked me to apologise before all this happened…what’s that? No, ma’am, that’s right. It is a clear attempt by the scum and criminals of this town to try and bring down the finest P.I. this town had ever had. Nope. Nope. Ok, I love you too, mom. Bye.”

Rob began singing softly to himself. “Driver’s seat, yeaah. Driver’s seat. Oo-ooo.” Well, the scum and criminals had tried to take him down, just like scum and criminals tried to take Mike Hammer down. And who was down now? The scum and criminals, because Rob Ford was back and no one was going to get rid of him that easily!

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a slithering sound. What was it? He looked around, then saw a movement. Someone was slipping something under his office door!

He took his feet off the desk, spun around in his chair, and silently dialed 911 on his phone. Like a bull moose, he tip toed across the office to his door, then listened carefully to it when he got there.

No sounds of movement or breathing. He stood there for another two minutes to be sure, then opened the door. The hallway was empty. Shaking his head, he closed and locked his door, then bent down to see what was there.

The Toronto Star! The worst raker of muck in all the city! The paper that had such low journalistic standards, it employed people who didn’t glorify Rob Ford in every column!

He was about to toss the paper into the wastebasket. But his keen deductive skills kicked in. This paper was a clue to something. A case. But what kind of case?

Ford opened the paper and scanned through it. After ten minutes, he found the clue. A section circled in red and highlighted with yellow. Title: Rob Ford, P.I.: Influence Peddler.

Ford turned red and began to snort through his nostrils. These Toronto Star types have gone too far this time, he thought. He skimmed the article, certain sentences standing out.

“…the office of P.I. holds a lot of power in Toronto.” “…pushing his personal goals.” “‘I never did anything wrong,’ said Ford.”

Ford crumpled the paper and tossed it into his metal wastebasket, which fell over with a loud clang. Then he strode behind his desk and picked up the receiver of his phone, then hit the speed dial for 3.

He waited. Finally, the other person picked up. “Doug. Did you see the Star today? Ignore it?? Did you read the article? Well, neither did I, but the sentences I did see didn’t look…don’t Bro me, Douglas, this is serious…oh, it’s not serious? Well, fine, because you’re not the P.I. of Toronto, so of course it’s not serious!” And Ford slammed the receiver down.

He got up, strode across the floor, flung his door open, and closed and locked it behind him. Rob Ford, P.I. had decided it was time to take matters into his own hands.

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,