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Spinning around in the cold…
I am starting 2016 in a lucky and joyful fashion, touring Spin for the month of January in the frigid yet heartwarming west of Canada. After a week long run at the High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, the Spin crew has settled into the Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg, where we are doing a 3 week run for some really lovely audiences. Is it freezing here? Yes. Is it wonderful? Also yes.
The regular Spin “crew” – Evalyn, myself and tech extraordinaire Shanna Miller – is augmented on this tour by a string trio consisting of Kathleen Kajioka, Angela Rudden and Kevin Fox. It is so fun to be touring with a large(r) ensemble…and the show has never sounded better. Really good folks and wonderful musicians – you can’t beat that for gigs. (One of those string players, like myself, is a serious scotch head, so we have been staving off the low mercury readings with some serious single malts. Laphroaig 18?! Good lord. To quote myself – it tastes like band aids…worn by angels.)
There has been some great media coverage for the show here in the ‘Peg – some of it even featuring me!
While having our brief moment of relative media frenzy here at the Prairie Theatre Exchange, we are also reminded of the relevancy of this show. Manitoba is currently “celebrating” the 100th year anniversary of women having the right to vote. For those keeping count, that is almost 50 years into this thing we call Canada. We are moving forward, yes – but we are still on the upward climb toward true equality. Evalyn’s writing in Spin is razor sharp, and continues to remind audiences (and me) how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go. It is an illuminating show – and I dare say a heart-and-soul warming experience for a cold Canadian winter’s night…
MAY 20, 2015
Like most people I know, watching David Letterman is not part of my day to day existence. But this was not always the case. Far, far from it.
I was more or less a nocturnal creature from birth, and Late Night with David Letterman was a show I started watching when I was surely too young to be up that late. As so many columnists have been saying in the past month or so, it is easy to undervalue or forget how incredibly fresh and groundbreaking Late Night was. But I don’t do either of those things – that show had a tremendous impact on me. An impact on what I liked and on what I was like. For a comedy lover who already had suspicions about authority and distain for rules – and especially for those who just followed those rules blindly – a show with a wiseass of a host that set out to mock the very format of its own structure was tailor made. It was many times truly surprising – so full of wacky, inspired ideas – but it also made perfect sense to me. To me and to those who became my kindred comedy spirits.
Late Night, particularly in high school, was a yard stick for measuring who were going to be your friends – and it was a language to speak with those friends. Lots of people watched SNL (myself included)… that was already a “classic” show – but if you weren’t staying up ‘til 1:30am 5 nights a week, well, your priorities were clearly askew. “Getting good grades”, “planning for your future” or “sleep” were just not as cool as watching an hour long show that randomly chose for one episode to rotate its image 360 degrees over the course of the hour for no good reason.
And back then, the show really was cool – in the true euphemistic sense of the word. Not cool in a Duran Duran way… cool in a Tom Waits way. Not cool in a “I just saw this awesome movie called Back To The Future” way… cool in a “I just saw the star of Back To The Future become unhinged and try to kick a talk show host in the head” kinda way. There’s a difference. And the people who would gather to discuss last night’s top ten list, misfits and weirdos alike – they were cool, too. They were my people. And many of them still are.
It seemed, like most great things, to be somewhat generational. I can recall watching the odd show with my parents – coming as it did after Carson – and for the most part my folks finding Letterman’s antics stupid. I remember Dave on one show making a big deal about them securing a satellite hook up – expensive and fancy technology at the time – and then using it to film people two blocks away doing laundry at a laundromat. My stepfather thought that was idiotic. I knew it was genius – a mockery of technology and corporate wealth and hype and entertainment… while also managing to just be funny. There was always a lot packed into what Letterman was up to back then. Some of it big and silly, some of it subtle. In those early shows, Dave would always glance down at his “mark” before landing on it to deliver the opening monologue. It was such a small, almost imperceptible thing, but it was there. The idea that someone hosting a big time network TV show didn’t know how to hit his mark without a glance at it was the kind of mocking deconstruction that the show was all about. My favourite running week of the show was in the summer of ’88 or ’89 – can’t remember which now. There was a writers strike that summer, and there were a lot of re-runs, but for one week Letterman did Late Night with no writers. It was like watching a cable access show, only it was on NBC. It somehow managed to completely highlight the “we just don’t give a shit about anything” nature of the show, while also showing how important the otherwise invisible writing staff was. It was such an awkward, silly, insane run of shows, and although I can’t remember many details from those 5 episodes, they left the kind of warm glow that can only come from a middle finger being pointed squarely and aggressively at the status quo.
When the show moved to CBS and Late Night became The Late Show, I somewhat drifted away from it. For me, 12:30, after Johnny Carson, is what it was all about. Having a sort of weird, anti talk show talk-show on after the great, witty and warm Tonight Show was just perfect, but the head-to-head Leno/Letterman thing just wasn’t as hip. (Of course, Letterman after Leno made no sense, either. It was a no win thing.) And people are different at 11:30 than they are at 12:30. Some old people are still up at 11:30! (Myself included). People at 11:30 don’t want to tune into a show that is always shot with a standard 4 cameras only to find they’ve decided to shoot tonights show with 13 – just for the hell of it! Fallon or someone could do that as a 3 minute sketch or something now at 11:30 – but to keep that up for the whole show?! The director cutting between 13 different angles? The fact that there are more than 3 times as many cameras and camera operators on the floor, distracting from the regular flow of the show, just ‘cause they thought the novelty would be funny?! That’s just too weird for before midnight. (Of course, timeslots are almost completely irrelevant now. But there was that time, just after the dark ages, where you had to watch things when they were on…) So I think the show – and Dave himself – got a bit slicker. There were still great moments, for sure, and I feel lucky to have gone to a taping of The Late Show in the ‘90s, but for me, Letterman is the guy in khakis and Adidas wrestling shoes, not doing a very good job of hiding either his contempt or his cigar.
My friends and I were always trying to be funny, and so for a large part that meant we were all trying to be David Letterman. In school, despite being self-conscious and somewhat shy, I did whatever I could to get on stage and be funny… and it was Letterman’s cool, ironic delivery that I tried to ape. By the time I started doing stand-up/storytelling, my influences (ie the people I was stealing from) were less acerbic – Bill Cosby’s late 60’s childhood mini operas and Woody Allen’s self-deprecating intellect – but the odd moments in my comic writing where I’m not directing the jokes at myself, where some person outside of me becomes the target… well, Letterman’s in there for sure. There’s just no way he couldn’t be.
So the guy retiring tonight, for me anyway, is just a shell of the guy that I adored. But as shells go, not so bad. So I will tune in tonight, and watch him hit his mark, probably without looking down, and I will feel that strange nostalgic sadness of losing something that you haven’t even had for a long time. And I will think of the friends I have who remember, with me, that quirky little place in time that only existed between 12:30 and 1:30am, where amazing, strange, subversive and hilarious things happened.
NOVEMBER 16, 2014
SPIN AT BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE, NOVEMBER 19-23!
I am super excited that we are bringing SPIN back to Toronto this week! After touring all around Canada – literally from coast to coast to coast – we are bringing the show back to the place that it all started – for six special shows.
We have been busy these past few weeks, rehearsing with the brand new SPIN string trio. Arranger Michael Holt has written a fantastic score for this run of the show, and musicians Don Kerr, Anne Lindsay and Kathleen Kajioka have been bringing it to life with their immense talents. It’s been an exciting process to be a part of. All of this beauty is, of course, rooted to and in service of Evalyn’s beautiful songs, fierce words and inspiring vision. (And whatever weird stuff I’m doing over there on the bike…)
When we launched this show at Buddies back in 2011 (after a long gestation period including workshops in Toronto and a wonderful run at the Minnesota Fringe) one of the main themes of the show (cycling – d’uh!) felt like it was under attack here at home. Rob Ford had just become our mayor a matter of months before. I, in fact, remember standing with Evalyn at the Cadillac Lounge, pints in hand and jaws slowly dropping, as those election results unfolded on the TV above our heads. The “war on the car” was over, thank god, and if cyclists got killed on the roads, well… his heart went out to them, but in the end, it was their fault.
It is hard to know, as a new mayor has been elected but not yet taken office, if we are further ahead or not regarding cycling in this city. Certainly the Cycle Track Pilot Project along Richmond and Adelaide Streets feels like progress. But how John Tory will move forward regarding cycling issues remains to be seen…
But as we bring this show back to our hometown in the fall of 2014, the other big themes of this show – feminism and equality – feel incredibly relevant. Sadly relevant. Darker times.
It seems like every single person who can put pen to paper or finger to keyboard has given their opinion on the situation with Jian Ghomeshi, and I don’t really care to go on about it here – except to say that my voice is among those who hope so strongly that an awareness of where we are really at can come out of these horrific events. And that we can move forward based on those truths. That we have an opportunity to have a real discussion about the inequities that still exist in our society. That those inequities are systemic, and that it is going to take strong willed women and men to make this a less violent, more just society. We’ve seen the strong willed women step up – #ibelieveher, #BeenRapedNeverReported etc… I have hope that men will, too.
But that hope is hard to sustain these days. You can feel, certainly among your like-minded friends, that there is a sea change on the way… but then you see that a provincial court judge in Halifax gives a slap on the wrist to a (now) man who took a photo of a sexual assault that eventually lead to Rehtaeh Parsons taking her own life. Why don’t women come forward, again? These things are systemic.
And prevalent. It is imbalance by a million tiny cuts.
We have performed SPIN a few times for younger audiences, and I have a strong memory of one of those. We were playing for an theatre full of 12 or so year olds. 12 year olds, as it turned out, hopped up on Halloween candy – driven by the sugars surging through their veins to loudly clap along faster than the tempos of the songs…causing this time keeper to struggle against the arhythmic wave in front of him.
Sitting directly in front of me was a small group of boys, sniggering and rolling their collective eyes through much of the performance. Now, I remember being a 12 year old boy, and I understand peer pressure and the adolescent need to be (in front of your friends, anyway) cooler than anything that’s happening in front of you. I get it. But as we were mid way through The Ballad Of Annie Londonderry at that show – a story about the first woman to ride around the world on a bike – I had a small, if seemingly obvious, epiphany.
If we tell an adventure story to a room full of kids – boys and girls – be it a historical fact, a piece of literature or a hollywood film, we almost always tell that story about a man. And I guess we just expect girls to transpose in their heads if they care to. Or just enjoy the glorification of something that they can’t absolutely relate to. But if you reverse that – as we were doing for those fructose-addled pre-teens… well… you’ll confound a few too-cool-for-school boys huddled together in their seats…
And we need to be confounded. And shook up. Badly.
And in its small, independent theatre, weird niche way, I think SPIN does that. I’m immensely proud to be part of this show – a show that reminds us both of how far we’ve come, but more importantly, how far we still need to go. Evalyn’s writing is hopeful and forward thinking – but with a wickedly keen eye on how screwed up things have been. And still are.
ALL of this is to say; the hopefulness that is inherent in this show (and the fact that the show has moved so many people along its journey) has helped me feel less despondent in these dark times. And I would venture to say that if that despondency has been clawing at you lately (or constantly), the strong, intelligent feminist call for progress that is SPIN is probably worth your time this week. It is a constant reminder to me to recommit to the positive need for change. It does my soul good. I think it may just do the same for you. We are all very excited to share in it with you.
OCTOBER 19, 2014
Played a gig this evening with James Hill – launching his brand new album The Old Silo at Hugh’s Room to a packed and appreciative audience. James is a super-talented musician, a virtuoso on the ukulele who takes that instrument to a whole new place. Along with his partner Anne Janelle, James makes beautiful music, and his new record takes them into a groovy and gritty territory where you might find the Black Keys and The Band having a drink. Or a bar fight. If you get a chance, check James out.
And, I just had to post this bird’s eye view of the drums from that show. Sometimes, when I sit behind the traps, it sort of feels like the first time. (I mean in the best way possible – not in the “I have no idea how to play these things” way. I mean… I have those gigs, too. I just don’t tend to write about them on my website. I more tend to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth about those, but now I’m getting off topic…) Sometimes I just feel the fresh excitement of playing the drums… of being in love with them. Of getting so much joy from the relationship between hand, stick and instrument. Tonight was one of those nights, where the music that comes out of those shiny, lovely drums feels like a blessing. And come on – even to you, dear reader, it must look like those cymbals dropped onto the kit directly from heaven…
JULY 20, 2014
Venue announcement! OH GOD – THE DRUMS will be performed at Mitzi’s Sister (now, actually, The Sister)1554 Queen St W at 7pm on both Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th as part of Lab Cab. Two shows. The show is an hour long, and like all performances at Lab Cab, it is free!
I will also be playing sets with Amélie & Les Singes Bleus as part of Lab Cab. We will be at the Dufferin Amphitheatre at the north west corner of Dufferin and Queen, playing sets at 2:00pm and also 3:15pm. Both days! So if you really want, you can come to the Amphitheatre and watch me play, and then come to The Sister at 7pm and find out all the funny and horrid reasons why I play… I can’t wait to spend next weekend celebrating the wonderful neighbourhood of Parkdale with Lab Cab!
JULY 10, 2014
I’m super excited to be taking part in this year’s Lab Cab festival! It is a wonderful, eclectic fest that takes place in venues all over Parkdale over two days – July 26th and 27th. I can’t think of a better way for me to celebrate my 10 year anniversary as a Parkdalian than to be part of it!
I will be playing a set with Amélie & Les Singes Bleus in the early afternoon(s) and then performing OH GOD – THE DRUMS in the evening(s). If you missed the show at the fringe last summer, please come on out and see it! Time and venue will be set in the coming days. But for now, here’s a little clip from the show…
Amélie & Les Singes Bleus has a brand new website! Please look for gigs and updates at www.ALSB.ca!
OCTOBER 12, 2013
I am super-excited to be heading to the North West Territories tomorrow to do a two week tour of SPIN! Dates and venues can be found at evalynparry.com , and I will try and post updates from the tour as it goes along!
JULY 22, 2013
A lovely 3rd performance of OH GOD – THE DRUMS last night at the Citadel Studio! Just loved performing it for such a wonderful, enthusiastic audience…
Here’s a LINK to another wonderful review of the show!
JULY 20, 2013
Two things – here’s a LINK to a lovely review of OH GOD – THE DRUMS from opening night at the Hamilton Fringe!
And here’s a one minute pitch for CBC Hamilton, explaining why you should come see the show!
JULY 19, 2013
Had a lovely opening at the Hamilton Fringe Festival with OH GOD – THE DRUMS last night, capped off by receiving the award for the New Play Contest! So excited to be part of Hamilton Fringe!
JULY 10th, 2013
Here’s a little promo video for the upcoming Hamilton Fringe Festival!
JULY 7, 2013
I am two shows into the Toronto Fringe run of OH GOD – THE DRUMS and the shows are going great! Big thank yous to everyone who has come out so far.
So happy to receive a 5 NNNNN review from Now Magazine!
Also, here is a lovely review of the show at Moony On Theatre!
JUNE 19, 2013
Here’s a little promo video for OH GOD – THE DRUMS at the Toronto Fringe Festival…
MAY 27, 2013
More Fringe news!
Here are the dates and times for OH GOD – THE DRUMS at the Toronto Fringe Festival! I will be performing my one-man show at St Vladimir’s Auditorium (620 Spadina Ave) on:
Wednesday, July 3rd at 8:45pm
Saturday, July 6th at 2:15pm
Monday, July 8th at 3pm
Wednesday, July 10th at 7:45pm
Friday, July 12th at 2:15pm
Saturday, July 13th at 12pm (or noon, as the kids say)
Sunday, July 14th at 9pm
Uh… please come!
MAY 22, 2013
Excited to share with you dates, times and venue for the 2013 Hamilton Fringe Festival! OH GOD – THE DRUMS will be at the Citadel Studio at 28 Rebecca St. Shows are:
Thursday, July 18th at 8pm
Saturday, July 20th at 7pm
Sunday, July 21st at 10pm
Monday, July 22nd at 8pm
Friday, July 26th at 11:30pm
Saturday, July 27th at 1pm
Sunday, July 28th at 7pm
Please feel free to come to one or more of these shows! (But maybe don’t come to all of them. That would be weird. I mean, seven shows of me talking about myself for an hour?! I’m not sure I’m gonna go to all seven…)
In other news, my friend and film-script collaborator Sarah Goodman is getting ready to shoot her first feature film entitled Porch Stories. She is currently asking for donations at this link to make the film. She has been nice enough to cast me in a small part – but you might want to fund it anyway…
APRIL 19, 2013
I am thrilled to announce that OH GOD – THE DRUMS will be part of the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival line-up!! Dates to follow!
APRIL 11, 2013
The run at the Cultch has started, and already the audiences have been wonderful and, well…plentiful!
I just wanted to share a little rehearsal footage from the show. This is from our tech run right before opening night, and is one of my favourite songs that Evalyn has written. (Technically, that she has co – written… The lyrics of this piece are an adaptation of Frances E. Willard’s “Instructions for how to ride a bicycle”…)
APRIL 8, 2013
Currently in Vancouver, getting ready to open SPIN at the Cultch tomorrow night. We did two shows in North Carolina last week, including one at the incredible Thalian Hall in Wilmington. I have played some amazing venues in my travels, and have crept the boards where some pretty famous and great people have performed, but not until last week could I say I played a stage that Oscar Wilde had played! (To celebrate, I read The Importance Of Being Earnest on the plane between North Carolina and Denver…). Thanks to everyone who came out and made those shows so great!
MARCH 29, 2013
I was in the middle of a SPIN rehearsal today – we are gearing up for a month-long tour of Canada and the US, and were finessing, among other things, the timing of a bunch of exciting new projections – when I received an email informing me that I’d won the 2013 Hamilton Fringe New Play Contest for OH GOD – THE DRUMS!
I am extremely thrilled and grateful to receive this honour, and cannot wait to share the show with you. Please check back for schedule dates and times!
MARCH 5, 2013
Les Singes Bleus has been nominated for a handful (I think four is a handful, don’t you? Guess it depends on their size…) of awards! We are very honoured to be considered for the Trille Or Awards in the categories of Best Show, Best Band, Best Single (Avec Toi) and Best Songwriting!
The award ceremony is held on March 21st – I will update info here if we are lucky enough to take one of those home. (And if we don’t, maybe I’ll get really drunk and write a rambling, angry post about how we were robbed. I mean, come on – I’m only in this music racket because it gives me an excuse to exercise my rampant competitive streak…)
Les Singes Bleus will not be at the ceremony, however, as we will be in the middle of a tour! Dates are as follows –
March 15th – The Staircase Café in Hamilton.
March 20th – Cultural Centre Louis-Hemon in Chapleau.
March 21st – Centre Culturel La Ronde in Timmins.
March 22nd – Conseil des arts de Hearst in (yep) Hearst.
March 23rd – Le Centre régional de Loisirs culturels in Kapuskasing.
March 24th – Conseil des arts de Nipissing Ouest in Sturgeon Falls.
March 25th – Centre culturel ARTEM in New Liksheard.
We are very excited to be monkeying our way through Southern and Northern Ontario this month! If you are in or around those towns, please come on by for some frantic cabaret!
I will also be climbing back on the bike at the end of the month! SPIN is on tour across the United States and Canada. Upcoming dates are –
March 8th – Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, Richmond Hill.
April 4th – Thalian Hall Centre for the Performing Arts, Willmington North Carolina.
April 5th – Batte Centre, McGee Theatre, Wingate North Carolina.
April 9th – 20th – The Cultch, Vancouver BC.
April 23rd – Artspring, Salt Spring Island, BC.
SPIN will then head from west to east, touring around the Maritimes –
April 30th – Imperial Theatre, St. John, NB.
May 2nd – King’s Theatre, Annapolis Royal, NS.
May 3rd – L’association Le Moulin de la Baie, Saulinierville, NS.
May 4th – Osprey Arts Centre, Shelburne, NS.
May 6th – The Fredricton Playhouse, Fredricton, NB.
May 7th – Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside, PEI.
We then head back out to the west coast to play –
May 23rd – 24th – Uno Festival, Victoria, BC.
Oh – and I’m also squeezing in a fun gig with Treasa Levasseur on March 18th – playing a Good Shepard Fundraiser in Ancaster ON. Can’t wait!
JANUARY 18, 2013
OH GOD – THE DRUMS has been accepted to this year’s Hamilton Fringe Festival! Dates and details to come!
JANUARY 5, 2013
Les Singes Bleus is excited to begin our franco-ontarien tour this month!
We will be starting in Oshawa at the Conseil des organismes francophones de la région de Durham Saturday January 26th. After that we head to Orléans to play at the Centre des Arts Shenkman on Thursday January 31st. From there we go to Alexandria, playing at the Centre culturel Les trois p’tits points on February 1st and then on to Kingston at Centre culturel Frontenac on the 2nd. I am really proud (if I do say so myself) of our new record À l’étage des funambules, and look forward to putting on the ole “monkey suit” (metaphorically, of course) and playing some fun, frantic french cabaret gigs! Stay tuned for more upcoming dates. (Well, you know, not “stay tuned” exactly. “Continue to be connected to the internet”, perhaps…)
Oh – here’s us playing the lead track on the new record – Avec Toi!
Les Singes Bleus will be playing the National Centre For The Arts in Ottawa on Thursday, December 6th. We are doubling billing with Janie Myner. Show is at 7:30pm.
A quick thank you to all who came out to see the premiere performance(s) of OH GOD – THE DRUMS. It was a great pleasure for me to share it with you – and also to get to introduce a few of “my people” to Morgan’s wonderfully funny Emergency Monologues! If you wanted to catch the show but missed it, please stay tuned for further dates! Thanks again to the Cameron House for having us and everyone else for their support.
OH GOD – THE DRUMS is having its premiere performance!
I will be performing my brand new one-man show on Saturday, December 1st at 8pm and then again on Sunday, December 2nd at 4pm. The venue is the back room of the Cameron House – 408 Queen St W, Toronto. I am double billing with Morgan Jones Phillips who is performing his amazingly funny show The Emergency Monologues after me. Morgan graciously asked me to open for him, and I am very excited to share the show with you. Cover is $20 for both shows, so even if mine sucks, trust me, you’re still getting good value for your money…
SPIN is coming to a town near you! (Unless you don’t live close to a town we’re coming to…)
SPIN will be at the following venues in November…
The Grand Theatre (Baby Grand) in Kingston, November 6th – 11th.
The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, November 15th.
The Centre For The Arts in St. Catherines, November 17th.
The Capital Centre in North Bay, November 21st.
I will also be playing a gig with Treasa Levasseur at the Boathouse in Kitchener on Friday, November 23rd -(It’ll be fun to hit some drums after rapping my knuckles on a bike frame all month!) – before playing one more SPIN show in November at the St Laurence Acoustic Stage in Morrisburg, On.