Yes, he’s mis­er­able ... but in a good way

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Brad Oswald

THEY say that mis­ery loves com­pany. It must be true, be­cause large crowds show up when Jeremy Hotz per­forms, and he’s about as mis­er­able as a spec­tac­u­larly funny fel­low can be.

“To be hon­est with you, I get up on­stage, and sh-- both­ers me, so I talk about it,” says South African-born, Ot­tawa-raised Hotz, who has called Los An­ge­les home for more than a decade. “That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it al­ways will be. I don’t really plan out ex­actly what I’m go­ing to do; a lot of it is just the fact that 50’s coming (he’s 49), and what am I go­ing to do when I’m 50 years old?”

Mid-life cri­sis con­cerns might be sour­ing his on-stage mood some­what, but the fact is that Hotz has been em­ploy­ing a dead­pan-grumpy style to great comedic ef­fect for more than a quar­ter of a cen­tury. A fix­ture at Mon­treal’s Just For Laughs fes­ti­val for many years, he has been hon­oured by the Cana­dian Com­edy Awards as the coun­try’s top male standup and has also re­ceived the pres­ti­gious Dave Broad­foot Comic Ge­nius Award.

Hotz also re­ceived a Gemini Award for his work on Win­nipeg­ger Ken Fin­kle­man’s beloved CBC com­edy The News­room, and re­cently signed on to ap­pear along­side Ja­son Pri­est­ley in the fourth sea­son of HBO Canada’s Call Me Fitz.

But the fo­cus of this phone con­ver­sa­tion from Hotz’s L.A. home is the crossCanada com­edy tour, which a press re­lease de­scribes as gru­elling 21-city jaunt made even more mis­er­able by the fact Hotz is mak­ing the jour­ney in a not-so-clas­sic pump­kin-or­ange Volk­swa­gen van.

“They got a van, I did a press day with it, and they ba­si­cally lied to the coun­try,” Hotz says with a laugh, con­fess­ing that his mode of trans­port with be de­cid­edly more mod­ern and air­borne than ad­ver­tised. “I’d never make it across the coun­try in that thing; they barely got it in for the photo shoot.

“I mean, (driv­ing across Canada) Tonight at 7:30 Bur­ton Cum­mings The­atre Tick­ets $41 & $48 at Tick­etmaster was a ro­man­tic no­tion, maybe, in 1967. But I think they were just try­ing to tie it all into the mis­er­able thing — you know, Fe­bru­ary in a van, that sort of thing.”

Trans­porta­tion is­sues aside, Hotz says he is glad to be cross­ing the bor­der and tak­ing his com­edy act to a Cana­dian au­di­ence.

“I like go­ing back to Canada,” he ex­plains. “First of all, I’m from there, so it’s home. And the crowds un­der­stand, so I can do my act nor­mally; I’m talk­ing to peo­ple who are like me, so I don’t have throw any­thing out of the act.

“Down here (in the U.S.), it’s a bit dif­fer­ent — I’ll of­ten go, ‘Oh, they’ll never get that,’ so I’ll take stuff out. But in Canada, I don’t have to change jokes. They get it.”

Hotz cred­its his Cana­dian up­bring­ing for the fact he’s funny in the first place.

“I think it’s a cul­tural thing,” he says. “That’s why you see so many Cana­di­ans in com­edy — we don’t have any guns, so we have to make jokes. Which is bet­ter, I guess.

“Hon­estly, I think the Cana­dian style of com­edy is dif­fer­ent, maybe be­cause when we were kids, we were in­flu­enced by all those Bri­tish TV shows, like On the Buses and Benny Hill and things like that. (Amer­i­cans) didn’t have that stuff. And their com­edy tends to be big­ger, all HIGH EN­ERGY all the time. But Cana­di­ans try to be dif­fer­ent in­stead of try­ing to all be the same.”

Cana­dian com­edy star­dom, he adds, is a dif­fer­ent, down­scaled kind of fame.

While shoot­ing episodes re­cently for Sea­son 4 of Call Me Fitz, Hotz was sta­tioned in Hal­i­fax, which al­lowed him to re­unite briefly with erst­while News­room cast­mate Mark Far­rell, a former standup who has since be­come one of Canada’s most suc­cess­ful TV­com­edy writer/pro­duc­ers (with a list of cred­its that in­cludes This Hour Has 22 Min­utes, Made in Canada, Cor­ner Gas and the cur­rent Ci­tytv sit­com Seed).

“That was the great­est thing,” says Hotz. “We went to Yuk Yuk’s and I did a (standup) set, and then we went to this bar, and this old guy came up to us and said, ‘Hey, aren’t you those guys from that show?’ I couldn’t be­lieve it — all th­ese years later, and some­body re­mem­bers us from The News­room. We’re not the young guys on that show; we’re a cou­ple of old men sit­ting in a bar. But he re­mem­bered. That’s fan­tas­tic.”

Fan­tas­tic, you say? Well, that hardly sounds mis­er­able at all.

You can sam­ple Jeremy Hotz’s com­edy style by vis­it­ing www.jere­my­hotz. com.

TRIS­TAN BRAND FOR CRABBAPPLE ME­DIA

Hotz cred­its his Cana­dian up­bring­ing for be­ing funny: ‘We don’t have any guns, so we have to make jokes.’

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