Canadians are said to be funnier than Americans. True or False?
This is a very nuanced statement that is not nearly as black-and-white as the true-false dichotomy would imply. Allow me to unpack this question with following riddle -- Why did the American cross the Trans-Canada Highway? It’s a rhetorical riddle and it pretty much sums it up, don't you think?
How does your Canadian background influence your work in American public broadcasting?
For one thing, I try to book interviews with as many of my fellow Canadians as possible. In 2005, I produced a whole show about Canada . My Canadian heritage also inspired the second show in my special audio anthology series, “New Audio Showroom.” The second episode was called “This Canadian Existence”and it attempted to answer the question, “Are Canadians just Americans who carry hockey sticks instead of guns.” I think being a Canadian working in American public broadcasting for almost 12 years now has also led me to fully embrace my self-image as an outsider and to trust myself to follow my creative muse into the strange directions it often takes me.
You’re really interested in pushing the envelope of radio as a sound medium. You’ve come up with great concepts, like“commentaraoke.” What is that exactly?
A “Commentaraoke” is a topical commentary that the whole family can sing along with. Basically, they’re song parodies a la “Weird Al” Yankovic. I like to call them “commentaraokes” because they involve creating new lyrics and singing them to karaoke tracks. The first piece I ever did for TTBOOK was actually a commentaraoke called “Smells Like Teen Sweatshops.” It poked fun at such big-brand behemoths as Starbucks, The Gap and Ikea and was sung to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “The Coffee Song.”
Where can I hear samples of your CBC Radio work?
At "Doug Gordon's House of Sound." Thank you for asking.
You’ve also developed an alter-ego of sorts named Angus MacAbre. Who’s he?
Angus MacAbre is “Scotland’s Funniest Zombie Comedian.” He’s a highly-evolved thinking person’s zombie, complete with consciousness, intelligence and an irreverent sense of humor. Angus hosted the film, “The Zombeatles: All You Need Is Brains.” The film chronicles the rise and fall of The Fab Gore– Jaw Nlennon, Pall IcKartney, Gorge Harryson and Dingo Scarr. You can see some of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kztlLaGRf1o
Getting back to your work on TTBOOK, what are some shows you’ve especially enjoyed producing?
I would say that the TTBOOK shows that I’m most proud of producing are: “The Art of Noise” which features a lot of noise, fittingly, and a great commentary by our Technical Director, Caryl Owen; “Karaoke”; “Boredom: The Tedium is the Message”; and “ProcrastiNation.” I’m particularly partial to the “boredom” and “procrastination” shows because they explore universal experiences that don’t receive the amount of media coverage and discussion that I think they deserve.
Any other creative projects you’re developing?
The project that will probably be of most interest to our listeners is a live radio variety program called “A Scary Home Companion.” I will portray Garrison Karloff, a mad scientist with anger management issues. He lives in a haunted Mcmansion on the outskirts of a post-apocalyptic Prairie town. Garrison also has a radio laboratory down in the dank, dark basement where he performs various evil sonic experiments and listens to upbeat folk music. It can’t miss.