Interview with Comedian Jon Dore

JON DORE’S APPROACH TO STAND UP MAKES HIM A STAND OUT. It gets meta out there–often piling joke on top of joke without ever losing the audience, Dore’s received much acclaim for his performances on stage and in festivals as well as television appearances ranging from talk show segments to sitcom spots, and even from a show of his own: The Jon Dore Television Show. He is now the host of HBO’s Canada’s Funny as Hell, a show featuring an array of performing comedians, and was the first featured stand up to appear on Conan O’Brien’s late night program CONAN, for which he has since been back multiple times.

Dore is now considered one of the Ten Comedians to Watch according to Variety Magazine.

The Smoking Jacket: What would you say drew you to comedy?

Jon Dore: First off, I’d just like to say, “Thanks for drawing up some great questions, Kyle.” Now… What drew me to comedy? More like who. The Lord Jesus Henry Christ.

TSJ: You have a very unique style of stand up. When did you first think it was something you could do?

JD: I’m still wondering if it’s something I can do. I lose confidence in myself approximately every eight months. I spend another four months building myself back up before the anxiety and doubt rear their disgusting, stupid, fat, heads in again. I think I was delusional and thought it was something I could do right away. It’s until years later I realized how terrible I was. I’ll probably have that same thought about myself now in years to come. Unless I die in my sleep tonight. Next question, cutie pie.

TSJ: Has your style and delivery been nearly constant over the years or has it evolved?

JD: It has been a constant, and drastic evolution. It wasn’t that long ago I was on a stage asking the audience if they had ever considered what it would be like if Kramer and Robert De Niro had their own cooking show. So yeah, I used to ask the big questions.

TSJ: Your act is very conversational. Is there any improvisation in it?

JD: You’re act is conversational Kyle!!! Sometimes. Yes. It depends on the environment. I’m also a lazy joke writer. I don’t turn over material as quickly as I would like, therefore, improvising becomes a survival skill. Hopefully it leads to something new as well.

TSJ: Do you remember the first joke you told on stage?

JD: I don’t remember my very first joke. I do remember that I had no business being up on a stage. One of the earlier jokes I can remember had something to do with calling George Lucas the Oscar Schindler of the midget community. You know, employing little people to portray Jaw Waws and Ewoks… Genius shit like that.

TSJ: I’ve spoken with a number of comedians and they’ve expressed that when they perform they are chasing the high they got from their first laugh. Would you agree?

JD: No.

TSJ: What is it like going from performing comedy in Canada to performing in the US?

JD: In America, I can’t do my thirty-minute bit about the FLQ andTrudeau’s War Measures Act. Once I get to my impression of James Cross explaining to his captors the irony behind kidnapping a man who fought for the liberation of France in the Second World War… the reference seems to be lost on them. That, and it seems like more people in America pretend that God is real.

TSJ: How do the audiences differ? If at all?

JD: For the most part they do not differ. There is usually at least one ridiculously, drunken audience per weekend, regardless of what country I am in.

TSJ: The Jon Dore Television Show was a great show. It was an ingenious way of getting your style of comedy across. Did you have a good experience with that?

JD: I did. Making the show was the most fun I have had in my professional career. I have wonderful memories. I was able to work with all of my friends. I laughed hysterically every day. We were able to be as juvenile and silly as we wanted. I miss it. I’d love to make a movie of the week, “The Jon Dore Television Show the Movie of the Week!”

TSJ: It seemed that you were able to do it with your friends, which must have been fun. How did the idea come about?

JD: John Brunton, Executive Producer and all around wonderful human, suggested that he and I develop a show to take to the Comedy Network. I initially worked with Producer Mark Mcinnis, and writers Charles Johnson and Alex Ganatakos. We wrote and produced a pilot episode about body hair. It was pretty close to what the show ultimately became, however, it lacked structure. I was then introduced to part time lunatic, full time sweet heart, and Creative Producer Ed MacDonald. Based on 6 new episode outlines we wrote, The Comedy Network agreed to pick up thirteen shows. I wanted real people to part of the show, so we wrapped a written storyline around conversations with genuine experts and the rest is the anti-future. A few fart jokes later we had 26 episodes in the can.

TSJ: What was your favorite part of doing the show?

JD: That’s impossible to narrow down. I love seeing ideas come to life. Years before the show was even an idea, my roommate/writer Steve and I imagined: What If you sarcastically asked a man, who was wearing the colour red from head to toe, what his favourite colour was. Then a tear forms in the man in red’s eye, as he genuinely answers, “Blue.” We laughed hysterically because there are so many questions left unanswered. Why was he so sad? Why would he own so many red items when his favourite colour was blue? Is he being forced to wear red by an abusive wife? Anyway, years later, we wrote it into the show. When I walked onto set that day and saw a completely red room it made me really happy. It was a completely selfish idea.

TSJ: How did Funny As Hell on HBO Canada start?

JD: Not sure exactly. They asked me to host the show and I agreed. I know that they wanted a different television program to show off the talent that the festival attracts. A show without network censorship.

TSJ: How do you pick which comics will perform?

JD: I don’t pick the comics. Just For Laughs and HBO Canada pick the comics.

TSJ: You’ve been on CONAN three times, working on your fourth now I’m told. Do you prefer being on that show more so than others?

JD: I can’t compare considering it’s the only late night show I have performed on. I really like Conan’s sensibility. I think it’s a good fit and I’m really comfortable there. I’d like to keep performing on the Conan show until I annoy them.

TSJ: Was it exciting being the first comedian to appear on his new show?

JD: I think so.

TSJ: When you perform I would imagine there are pros and cons to having a crowd present to see only you as opposed to going to a comedy club with a bunch of comics. How do you combat that?

JD: Yeah. It’s sometimes more fun to perform to people who don’t know me. It’s easier to make them upset.

TSJ: Is there a particular subject you won’t touch?

JD: Math.

TSJ: Who were your influences growing up?

JD: Michael Jordan, Gord Dowie, David Letterman, and the Pope.

TSJ: Are there any comedians you consider yourself a big fan of today?

JD: Absolutely. Steve Coogan. He’s brilliant.

TSJ: Who are some of the comedians you like working with today?

JD: I like festivals. It’s fun to be part of a line up of comics like, Reggie Watts, Rory Scovel, Bo Burnham, Lynn Shawcroft, Matt Braunger. Too many people to name. I think I like most comedians!

TSJ: How often are you on the road now?

JD: Depends on what else is distracting me. I like to be home as much as possible. I might be on the road for a couple of weeks, at the very most, then home for a while. I used to love hotels. Now I love certain hotels.

TSJ: Some comedians begin stand up just wanting to be a comic but then others have a plan of TV and movies. Was your ultimate goal to be a comedian or was there more behind it?

JD: I always wanted to be a talk show host like David Letterman. I think I still do, but that world seems to be over saturated at the moment.

TSJ: Was there ever a different career path in mind when you were younger?

JD: When I was five it was fireman. When I was seven it was superhero/spy and by that, I mean a superhero who is also a spy. When I was in high school I wanted to be someone who wasn’t in high school. Eventually I painted myself into a corner and ended up in a TV broadcasting program. It changed everything. I loved everything about it. Editing, writing, and hosting. It made think things were possible. It was a positive feeling.

TSJ: What would you say is your greatest moment in comedy thus far?

JD: I don’t really think that way.

TSJ: Are you working on anything new?

JD: Potentially a television show with my friend Rory Scovel. When I know more you’ll be the 12th to know. Okay Kyle? I promise. Love, Jon.


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