Calgarians are famous for embracing the underdog. At the ‘88 Olympics, for instance, it was Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobsled Team. These loveable losers clawed their way in to our sentiments and, although they ultimately failed to win a medal, they won our hearts in the process. Well, Calgary, make room in your heart for another: Jesse Pruden and Evan Wilson from CJSW’s Wednesday evening comedy program, Am I Right??
The program, which recently celebrated its fourth anniversary, has been nominated for Best Radio Program at this year’s Canadian Comedy Awards, facing off against nominees from the CBC, The Debaters, This is That and XM satellite radio’s Anything Goes with Darren Frost. However, given the roster high-profile guests, including alt-comedy gods like Andy Kindler, Paul F Tompkins, Marc Maron and Tom Scharpling, that they consistently book, they’ve got the credibility to go up against this high budget competition.
“I mean here we are, just a couple of regular slobs, and we’re up against these huge shows that get way more listeners than we do,” Pruden states. “But, here’s our secret weapon: we’re actually funny!”
Wilson adds, “Yeah, and when we’re not funny, at least we try to be interesting.”
It’s true, you never know what you’re going to get when you tune into Am I Right??. Programming ranges from straightforward interviews, joke-heavy conversations, long-form comedy bits and even the occasional radio mockumentary. CJSW gives the duo a lot of leeway in their work and they’re happy to take it.
Having grown up worshipping the likes of late night talk show hosts like David Letterman and Tom Snyder, Pruden and Wilson are accustomed to staying up past their bedtime listening to what funny people have to say. Their demo for CJSW began as a conversational chat between two comedy nerds, but by the first episode the show had more in common with their heroes of late night television than they ever anticipated.
“Evan was away when we got approval for the show and, next thing I know, Laugh Shop is asking if I’m willing to talk to Shaun Majumder. I wanted to have someone to talk to, so I spoke to him instead of Evan!” notes Pruden. Booking Majumder, whom readers might recognize from This Hour has 22 Minutes and his earlier work on YTV, was a surprise but was by no means a fluke. For their second show, they managed to book a chat with alt-comedian Maria Bamford and the rest is history. Wilson elaborates, “The only things in common between the show now and our original demo are the dick jokes.”
Using their show as an opportunity to hang out with their favourite comedians (mostly over the phone), the program began to gather steam in 2009 after the duo decided to begin podcasting each episode. Coupled with an appearance by freeform radio host Tom Scharpling, the podcast exposed the program to Scharpling’s international following of hyper-loyal listeners and its popularity has snowballed ever since.
“I think part of the reason we’ve been nominated is because we’re always trying to make the best show possible. And whether that means an interesting chat with a seasoned pro from LA or getting weird with local boys like Chris Gordon or Ryan Kukec, it’s just an excuse for Jesse and I to hang out and share a couple of laughs.”
Am I Right?? airs Wednesdays at 11 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Their podcast is available on iTunes or at cjsw.com. Watch for their performance in the Talk Tent at this year’s Calgary Folk Fest. For more information on the Canadian Comedy Awards and to vote for Am I Right?? for Best Radio Program, please visit canadiancomedy.ca.
By Jaron James