Times Colonist

Life of mu­sic, laugh­ter

There’s no big pay­off yet, but you can’t say per­former Wes Borg isn’t de­voted to his craft

- MIKE DEVLIN They Might Be Giants mde­vlin@times­colonist.com Entertainment · The Beatles · Bill Gates · Edmonton · England · Grande Prairie · Toronto · Rick Mercer · Bob Dylan · Pink Floyd · Victoria’s Secret · Centre · David Mamet · William H. Macy · The Office · Malcolm Gladwell · They Might Be Giants · Joan Cusack

Ten thou­sand hours.

That’s the length of time it takes a per­son to fully per­fect some­thing, ac­cord­ing to author Mal­colm Glad­well. The Cana­dian author’s 10,000 Hour Rule has since been ap­plied to ev­ery­one from the Bea­tles to Bill Gates, ge­niuses whose con­sid­er­able tal­ent, Glad­well ar­gues, was de­vel­oped over many thou­sands of hours of prac­tice, in­spi­ra­tion and in­no­va­tion.

Wes Borg, a pop­u­lar lo­cal play­wright, ac­tor and mu­si­cian, fig­ures he has put said amount of time into his craft, though he’s still wait­ing for his Gates-like pay­off. “Ap­par­ently, that’s the magic num­ber,” Borg, 43, said.

“But I’ve got my 10,000 hours, why do I still suck? I think I’m of the group that has to do 20,000.”

Borg put a con­sid­er­able amount of time and ef­fort into the­atre and mu­sic dur­ing his time in Edmonton, where he lived un­til the age of 40.

He al­ways con­sid­ered him­self a na­tive of the Al­berta cap­i­tal un­til he ap­plied for a birth cer­tifi­cate and pass­port prior to em­bark­ing on a trip of Eng­land. He learned then of his early fam­ily his­tory.

He was born Randy David in the small town Val­ley View, lo­cated 100 kilo­me­tres east of Grande Prairie. At eight months he was adopted by a fam­ily in Edmonton, where he lived un­til mov­ing to Vic­to­ria in late 2007.

Borg brought with him to Vic­to­ria lit­tle in terms of per­sonal pos­ses­sions (“I had $30 and a half a pack of smokes,” he ad­mit­ted) but had plenty in the way of pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence.

His per­form­ing arts ca­reer be­gan at the age 15 when the self-pro­fessed “band and drama nerd” was en­tered into a Theatre­s­ports im­prov tour­na­ment by a group of friends. To their sur­prise, Borg and his col­lab­o­ra­tors won their divi­sion.

From that point on­ward, Borg said “the nee­dle was in the vein,” so to speak. He gained fame early on as a mem­ber of the im­prov and sketch com­edy col­lec­tive Three Dead Trolls in a Bag­gie, which ran full-time for the bet­ter part of 25 years. The Trolls en­joyed a sub­stan­tial run dur­ing their time, pen­ning the oc­ca­sional nov­elty hit ( The

Toronto Song) and wow­ing Fringe fes­ti­val au­di­ences across the coun­try.

The Trolls even came close, at one point, to se­cur­ing a CBC TV se­ries of their own.

The project even­tu­ally ran out of steam, Borg said. Cast mem­bers Neil Grahn and Cath­leen Root­saert quit the group, while Paul Mather went on to write for This Hour Has 22 Min­utes,

Cor­ner Gas and The Rick Mercer Re­port.

At first, Borg and co- founder Joe Bird con­tin­ued, though Bird’s in­ter­est even­tu­ally waned, too. “And then he died, which re­ally cut down the num­ber of book­ings,” Borg joked.

Bird died of con­gen­i­tal heart fail­ure, two and half years ago — on April Fool’s Day, of all spots on the cal­en­dar — so a re­union is out of the ques­tion. Borg still does some Trolls bits dur­ing his stand-up com­edy rou­tines and con­certs, but for the most part that chap­ter of his life has been put to bed.

“There’s still some sur­viv­ing bits, but ba­si­cally that’s that,” he said.

Borg found his muse again in Vic­to­ria. He ar­rived here big-time de­pressed over the state of Edmonton’s im­prov and com­edy scene, which had dried up. A one-week va­ca­tion in Vic­to­ria to raise his spir­its got bet­ter when his long­time friend, Vic­to­ria in­sti­tu­tion Carolyn Mark, who has known Borg since the late ’80s, let Borg have the run of her place for a month.

Mark was go­ing out on tour, so Borg took over as un­of­fi­cial care­taker of her house, which she had dubbed — fit­tingly, in Borg’s case — the Last Re­sort.

He couch surfed for a few months, then bought a retro-fit­ted (read: beat-up) RV that be­came his per­ma­nent res­i­dence. He lived there for a year, un­til it burned to the ground.

Iron­i­cally, around the same time his tal­ents were heat­ing up.

He re­mounted in 2008 a one-man show (which he’d co-writ­ten with Chris Craddock) ti­tled Ha!, which made some waves lo­cally. “At that point, peo­ple went, ‘Oh, he’s not an id­iot.’ Or at least, ‘He’s our kind of id­iot.’ Grad­u­ally, I started to get gigs.”

Borg started work­ing with Atomic Vaude­ville and joined the board of In­trepid The­atre, which runs the city’s an­nual Fringe fes­ti­val (fun fact: Borg per­formed at the first Vic­to­ria Fringe, 25 years ago, with the Trolls).

“I’m a Fringe guy,” Borg said. “That’s the thing I know how to do.”

His plate has been in­cred­i­bly full in the past few years. He saw an online re­vival of his pop­u­lar In­ter­net par­ody, In­ter­net Help

Desk; re-staged the pop­u­lar re­vue, War of 1812, which he co-wrote with Mather in 1996; or­ga­nized Vic­to­ria Cov­ers, an all-star band that paid mu­si­cal trib­ute to They Might Be Giants, Bob Dy­lan, and Pink Floyd; and cre­ated Phillips Com­edy Night at the Vic­to­ria Event Cen­tre, a monthly show­case of skits, im­prov and songs.

He per­forms his mu­si­cal stand-up on a monthly ba­sis at Heckler’s Bar and Grill, and ev­ery Tues­day through April 17 will ap­pear in the im­prov show Sin City:

Carnies at the Vic­to­ria Event Cen­tre, where he also works. Borg is also ap­pear­ing on stage in a lo­cal pro­duc­tion of David Mamet’s

Glen­garry Glen Ross, which opens Nov. 16.

Though it ap­pears his ca­reer is pro­gress­ing nicely, Borg is his usual dead­pan self when asked about the fu­ture.

He did sug­gest that — maybe — there is some­thing truth­ful about Glad­well’s 10,000 Hour Rule. He’s not out of the woods yet, but Borg was told re­cently that a song he wrote in the Trolls days was used in the new Show­time se­ries, Shame­less, which stars Wil­liam H. Macy and Joan Cu­sack.

“Ap­par­ently, there’s a $300 cheque in the mail,” he said.

“I’m en­ter­tain­ing the world, 20 peo­ple at a time, be­ing paid $300 at a time.” Wes Borg per­forms Satur­day at The Of­fice (759 Yates St.) as part of the First An­nual Mu­sic and Laugh­ter Fes­ti­val. Tick­ets are $5 nightly or $8 for a week­end pass.

 ??  ?? Vic­to­ria-based singer, co­me­dian, ac­tor and play­wright Wes Borg is per­form­ing this week­end as part of the Mu­sic and Laugh­ter Fes­ti­val.
Vic­to­ria-based singer, co­me­dian, ac­tor and play­wright Wes Borg is per­form­ing this week­end as part of the Mu­sic and Laugh­ter Fes­ti­val.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada