By Christine Leonard
CALGARY — Known to many Canadians as the host of HBO’s popular Funny As Hell program and from his starring role in the ABC series How to Live with Your Parents, comedian Jon Dore is no stranger to high-pressure situations. Tapped by Variety Magazine as one of the “10 comics to watch,” the Ottawa-born Dore has grown accustomed to sweating out his frustrations in front of cameras and microphones across the country.
An unconventional and endearing character, Just For Laughs Festival veteran Dore’s simultaneously bold yet indifferent approach makes him the perfect foil for the chuckle-provoking constructs of his current pan-provincial tour mates.
BeatRoute recently caught up with Dore, who will certainly have his work cut out for him when it comes to keeping pace with The Daily Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien contributor Demetri Martin, Loose Moose Theatre Company’s alt-comedy dynamo Levi MacDougall, and noted Comedy Central alum Todd Glass out of Philadelphia at the upcoming Capital One Just for Laughs Comedy Tour.
BeatRoute: I recall that during an appearance on Elvira Kurt’s television show, you recounted a travel tale that involved chugging a wok-full of deep-fried bat oil in Thailand. What other culinary marvels have you experienced since then?
Jon Dore: There’s zero truth to that story other than, my friend Matt told me his friend legitimately witnessed a man drinking wok-oil laced bat in Thailand. I never believed it, but he insisted. I try and bring it up in conversation whenever I can. Other than that, I ate a meat pie at a Footy match in Australia and when I asked the clerk what kind of meat is in the pie she replied, “It’s just meat.”
BR: You are coming up on your 40th year of on the planet. Can you share your thoughts on turning 39 and what you’ve accomplished thus far in your life and career?
JD: Good Lord! What a question. Turning 39 is terrible. I’m slowly being marginalized by the media’s narrow view of the world. Life is fleeting and I’ve never been more aware of this fact. I didn’t exist before and soon I won’t exist again. That’s how I feel about turning 39.
BR: How do you decide which material will be used on The Jon Dore Television Show and which jokes or anecdotes are better suited to your live stand-up routine?
JD: I don’t really start by looking at what’s funny like I’m looking at a piece of meat. “OK, time to start chopping up material for stand-up and television.” The Jon Dore TV Show required a room of people pitching ideas for different themes. We were able to construct jokes using other characters. A much more dynamic process. Stand-up jokes usually sneak up on me over the course of the day. Something strikes me as funny and I store it in my head until I can write it down.
BR: What’s your approach to writing jokes that are going to be presented during a massive comedy tour, as opposed to material that you might perform in a smaller more intimate venue?
JD: No differently, really. Theatre shows usually mean I’m towering above the audience below. Sometimes I’ll tell the audience, “I don’t know what you people are doing down there, but up here… we have a hole to dig.” That’s Bruce Willis from Armageddon.
BR: Nice. How do you ensure that you aren’t stepping on any toes, or repeating ideas that your fellow comedians may be using on a joint tour such as this one?
JD: As far as stepping on other comedians’ toes, I just try to look where I’m walking and keep a safe but comfortable distance from others. Repeating ideas… we’ll find out after night one.
BR: The Internet has given today’s audiences access to a plethora of so-called comedic niches and undiscovered pockets of talent. What podcasts, websites and Internet-based comedians are you enjoying or finding inspiration in these days?
JD: I’ve found my favourites and I like to check in on them once in a while. My favourite podcast is called The Big 3 Podcast. However, unless you’ve seen the film Windy City Heat, it’s impossible to describe. I also enjoy listening to and being a part of Stop Podcasting Yourself with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka. I’ll be stopping in to see the lads in Vancouver because I owe them a poetry reading.
BR: What classic motifs, techniques and comedians from the past do you find yourself returning to even as your methods evolve?
JD: Just about everyone. There are some Steve Martin gems online. He visited the Letterman show to show Dave his art collection only to have a herd of goats stampede through the studio. Mr. Show was the most influential comedy show. It changed the way I approached everything. Jim Carrey’s unnatural act is a good one. I will also watch anything Alan Partridge related about every four months.
BR: Can you tell us about your recent role in Blaine Thurier’s movie Teen Lust [released September 2014]?
JD: Teen Lust was a fun film to be a part of. Shot in Winnipeg, I play the father of a boy who is going to be sacrificed as an offering to Satan. My son realizes that he needs to lose his virginity before the morning. It becomes a race against time for him to do that before the church tracks him down.
BR: So, what does the future hold for JD? Will we witness the return of Amy Schumer’s boyfriend, Ted?
JD: I would hate to be the future. It’s always holding stuff. I would be Amy’s boyfriend whenever she needs me to. I’m currently writing a book of poetry called I Wish I Was A Meadow. Should be out early next year.
Jon Dore will be touring on the Western leg of the Capital One Just for Laughs Comedy Tour, which begins November 5. Catch him at the Red Deer Memorial Centre (Red Deer) November 7, Jack Singer Concert Hall (Calgary) November 8 the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (Edmonton) November 9, the Kelowna Community Theatre (Kelowna) November 12, the Orpheum (Vancouver) November 14, the McPherson Playhouse (Victoria) November 15, and the Bell Performing Arts Centre (Surrey) November 16. Also read our chat with fellow touring comedian Demetri Martin here.AB, Alberta, Bell Performing Arts Centre, Capital One Just For Laughs Comedy Tour, Jack Singer Concert Hall, Jon Dore, Just For Laughs, Kelowna Community Theatre, McPherson Playhouse, Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Orpheum Theatre, Red Deer Memorial Centre, stand-up comedy