ARTS Ed the Sock re­turns, grouch­ier and smellier

The Georgia Straight - - Arts - By

TGuy Macpher­son

he life­span of your av­er­age sock is six months to a year. Even if you stretch that out to two years, or longer, it’s doubt­ful you have any that last 31 years. That’s Ed the Sock’s age. But he’s no or­di­nary sock. He’s been a Cana­dian in­sti­tu­tion since 1987, a green­haired, cigar-chomp­ing grouch of a pup­pet who has in­ter­viewed celebri­ties, been a VJ (re­mem­ber those?), and hosted both a late-night talk show and one in prime time. Only in Canada!

Mr. The Sock pre­dates an­other cigar-lov­ing celebrity pup­pet, Tri­umph the In­sult Comic Dog. His early se­ries fea­tured hot tubs and dancers be­fore The Man Show did. He was as in­no­va­tive as any sock in the his­tory of sock­dom. And then, darn it, he went into ex­ile, spend­ing 10 years in the top drawer.

But he’s back, grouch­ier and smellier than ever. The Straight spoke to Ed on the phone from his home in Toronto. Some­times it was un­clear when it was our beloved pup­pet and when it was Steven Kerzner, the man with his arm up Ed’s butt, but they have sim­i­lar view­points, so we’ll just say it was Ed.

“There’s no bet­ter time to re­turn to the world, be­cause the world has never needed me more than it does now,” he said. “I went away and look what you’ve done with the place! The world to­day is like the af­ter­math of a frat party in an ’80s teen com­edy. It’s just chaos and an­ar­chy. It’s not so much that peo­ple are more stupid to­day; it’s that peo­ple are will­ingly em­brac­ing their stu­pid­ity. Be­cause ‘stupid’ isn’t about in­tel­lec­tual ca­pac­ity; ‘stupid’ is about will­ingly op­er­at­ing be­neath your in­tel­lec­tual ca­pac­ity.”

Those are some fancy words for a pup­pet. “It’s my eth­nic­ity, but I’m not de­fined by it,” said Ed, who looks re­mark­ably good for his age. “Anger is time­less. But what peo­ple don’t re­al­ize is that I smile a lot; it just doesn’t re­ally look like a smile. If I’ve aged at all, I’ve aged bet­ter. I’m kind of like the Ge­orge Hamil­ton of pup­pets, with­out the in­hu­man tan.”

Ed the Sock is em­bark­ing on a western Cana­dian tour: 10 dates in 11 days, hit­ting Van­cou­ver on Thurs­day. He’ll be spout­ing off on to­day’s sorry state of af­fairs and show­ing clas­sic videos from Much­mu­sic en­coun­ters with celebs that haven’t been seen in years, while giv­ing the be­hind-the-scenes ac­counts of what the view­ers didn’t get to see.

These are “clips that we were able to air in prime time and af­ter­noons on Much­mu­sic 10 years ago, but to­day you couldn’t put them on tele­vi­sion be­cause the world has be­come so con­stricted and peo­ple are so afraid to talk about any­thing”.

Ed’s cur­mud­geonly rants are more pro­gres­sive than you might think, given the man­ner in which they’re de­liv­ered. “I like to think I’m not the old racist un­cle or grandpa. I’m not the old in­tol­er­ant one. But I’m some­body who speaks with the same vo­cal tones they do, the same word­ing, the same pac­ing. I’m just us­ing that to say things that are a lit­tle more pos­i­tive than things that re­flect ig­no­rance. So I’m like a sheep in wolf’s cloth­ing,” he said. “Whether you’re on the right or on the left, I’ll be spilling your Koolaid. I like to call it ther­a­peu­tic ridicule to open peo­ple’s minds.”

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