What is Am I Right??
Evan: Am I Right?? is the Wednesday evening comedy program on CJSW. We air at 11 o’clock on Wednesdays and we go until midnight. As well we have a podcast that typically comes out on Friday mornings.
Jesse: Comedy program makes it sound like we just play jokes, but every week we have a different comedian on and we’ll have an hour-long interview.
Are you comedians as well, or is it just your guests?
Jesse: We joke around. We know better than to identify ourselves as comedians.
Evan: For one reason, if you call yourself a comedian, the expectation is there for you to be funny, which... we’re not always that funny. The second thing is, I think real comedians would get offended if we were to put ourselves in that same category.
Jesse: There’s a bit of a statement attached to the word at this point.
Evan: What are you, a comedian?!
Are you just copping out of being funny?
Jesse: Well, the whole process of the show is to make every party laugh. We’re laughing, they’re laughing. I’d say we’re funny, I mean, we have a good time.
Evan: Seriously, if real comedians heard us say we are comedians, that would be the end of it.
Jesse: I just want to make it clear that there is no direct correlation between the word comedian and the word funny.
What’s with the fascination with comedy? Why are you so interested in talking to people that do call themselves comedians?
Jesse: Well, I think, first and foremost we’re fans of comedy and big comedy nerds from the get-go, but also it filled a bit of a hole in the Calgary programming sphere.
Evan: There wasn’t anything in Calgary that was doing what we came to be doing, which is basically giving a chance to have funny stuff on the air that’s not as scripted, or not as forced as some of the comedy stuff on the radio can tend to be. And then, well Jesse, you can talk about how we got to interviews.
Jesse: Well, an interview came down the pipeline with Shaun Majumder and then, well, they can’t all be gems. So, we had an interview, and what we realized with the interviews is that they filled up a lot more time. So we actively pursued interviews from then on out. And we came to enjoy it.
Evan: And as it turned out too, a lot of the comedians that Jesse and I like aren’t like... they aren’t these huge million followers... the comedians that we like aren’t going to be the guys playing the Saddledome or something like that, and we realized that a lot of these comedians are kind of just hungry fans like we are and that makes them really easy to get a hold of and willing to come and hang out for a bit.
Jesse: That’s the other thing about the show, they’re not really interviews. We call it an interview program, but they’re kind of just chats.
Have you had a favourite comedian that’s come on?
Evan: Jesse, I’m going to put words in your mouth too. Our favourite guest, consistently, week after week after week, is Andy Kindler. He’d be mine, anyway.
Jesse: Well, I can’t dispute that.
Evan: Andy is.... You hear people say that somebody is a friend of the show. Andy Kindler visits us probably once every six weeks?
Jesse: Sometimes more often.
Who’s Andy Kindler?
Evan: Andy Kindler is a longtime comedian. He’s kind of the definition of a comic’s comic. He likes to come on. He likes to talk about comedy, for good or bad. He has, I think, a monthly spot on David Letterman where he just comes and does what he wants on the show. Every July at Just for Laughs, he’s the guy they get to do the state of industry address. He’s also, he was on Everyone Loves Raymond.
Jesse: I don’t think that was the name of the show, just sayin’.
Jesse and Evan: Everybody.
Jesse: Everyone might, but everybody does.
Why is he on the show so often? Did he become enamoured with you or does it go back to that thing that he’s hungry for attention?
Jesse: I think with a lot of the guests, they have a good time. We tell them the time’s up, they don’t say ‘I gotta go.’ You just sort of develop a relationship. Not a real one, I’m not calling anyone at home. It’s a professional relationship.
Evan: People have fun. There’s been instances where we said: “Yeah, we’ll probably be an hour or so on the phone.” And then if it gets cut short, the people are like, “oh, can’t we keep going?” So, I think we’re fun.
Jesse: Or they tell us they can do 15 and then we cut them off.
Evan: An hour later because there’s no room left on the hard drive we’re recording it on.
Now, you guys are up for a Canadian Comedy Award for best radio program. What’s that? Apparently this is a big deal.
Jesse: I wasn’t aware that it was a big deal.
Evan: What I’ve been telling people is that it’s the Junos, but for comedy.
Jesse: Which in itself is hilarious.
Evan: Is there anything bigger than the Junos? We’re like the shitty Grammys of comedy.
But come on, you guys are up against The Debaters, that show’s funny.
Jesse: We’re not besmirching any of the programs we’re going up against. They have assistants, they have a budget, they have national distribution. We do this by ourselves, for ourselves — well, I guess we have an audience now. It’s just about the love and we could use the love. This isn’t really going to do anything for them.
Evan: We need this.
Evan: The thing is, when Jesse and I started doing this — we’ve been doing it for four years now — we had fun and we laughed together and we thought: let’s do this. And we really only do it to keep each other interested and to keep each other laughing and it’s kind of cool that this thing we’re doing for ourselves is competing, was chosen by industry people who supposedly know stuff — we might have pulled the wool over their eyes — people who work in the industry that are exposed to funny stuff every day, they said: “You know what? These two hosers from Calgary are just as good as the stuff that’s being put together by people who are professional comedians and wake up making jokes and writing jokes.” It’s a pretty flattering feeling. Too bad we’re going to have to beat them all in this contest.
Jesse: Well, here’s hoping.
So, you’ve been nominated and now it’s all about getting votes, correct?
Evan and Jesse: Yeah.
When can people vote until?
Evan: July 29th is the day that voting closes — midnight, Eastern. They can go to canadiancomedy.ca. Do it now, you’re in front of a computer, or a newspaper, there’s no excuse. You’re at work surfing the Internet, go vote.
What do you think of the local comedy scene?
Jesse: Well, you know what? It’s always been in our mandate to sort of foster and showcase that local talent. We have more local comedians on than anybody. We talk about the new nights coming up, if someone’s recording an album we review it, if someone’s got a tour coming up, we talk about it. Calgary is booming with comedy. It’s seen so much growth in the last few years.
Evan: There’s three full-time clubs — Yuk Yuk’s, The Laugh Shop and Comedy Cave — and every night of the week except Fridays and Saturdays, there’s a room that has a full lineup that’s just put on by guys who are like “you know what? I want more stage time.” Whether it’s an open-mic or whether these are booked shows, you could go see comedy with local comedians every night of the week. People don’t know about it and they really should. It’s a cheap night out, it’s a lot of fun.... Some people are going to go and have some real success I think, because there’s a lot of funny people here.
Jesse: We’re already seeing that success in a lot of the local talent.
Evan: Last year, Amanda Brooke Perrin from Calgary won this big Comedy Network contest and got to work there. Chris Griffin is a guy who got sent off to the Great Canadian Laugh Off and did really well there.
Jesse: These people were both showcased on the program long before that.
Evan: If we think somebody’s funny, we throw them on.
Do you guys go out to shows all the time?
Jesse: At the Sled Island festival we do. I was there all the four nights for three-and-a-half hours. And we go to the open mics here and there. We fit it in where we can. We have our lives and we try our damnedest to fill them with jokes.
Evan: Something like Comedy Monday Night. That’s every Monday at Broken City. I try to go twice a month, because you know there’s going to be something good, there’s going to be a good headliner.
Jesse: And you might see a brand-new face too.
Evan: Which is sometimes good. You can get surprised at Comedy Monday Night — surprised at how good some stuff is, and surprised at how... entertaining stuff is.
Jesse: What’s so great about how active Calgary’s comedy community is, is that you can really see a lot of the young comedians grow.
Evan: And one thing too, just as far as local comedy goes. Jesse had mentioned Sled Island before and the crowds that came out to the Sled Island comedy were amazing. I don’t know what the capacity of that room is, but the shows were sold out an hour-and-a-half before every show, every night. So if those people that were there that night are reading this... if you liked your night out at Todd Barry and Neil Hamburger and Tim and you go for names like that, go to all these other shows because, granted you’re not going to see Todd Barry every night, but you don’t have to see Todd Barry every night. There’s lots of great stuff here. If you like going to the comedy, you’re still going to like it, whether you know these names or not.
Jesse: And if they’re not there that night, they’re on our podcast.