Otherwise known as “Smokin’ Joe deVilla”


Tuesday night marked my return to the stand-up comedy circuit.

I haven’t done much stand-up; I first tried it early last year at Brain Wash, a laundromat-cafe located across the street from the office in which I worked. I didn’t know many people in San Francisco, and I thought it might be a fun way to meet new people. My routine was half jokes — mostly of the musical variety — and half twisted accordion renditions of popular songs in a medley. It went over well, and by the time the company had closed the San Francisco office and sent me back to Toronto, I was getting regular offers to do sets at comedy venues and had made a handful of comedian friends. We’d even gotten together to brainstorm joke ideas, something I haven’t done since my days at the humour paper back at Queen’s.

(George and I used to write some really hilarious stuff. Hilarious meaning anything from “truly funny” to “truly legally actionable”.)

On Monday night, I got a phone call from a guy named Bert. I met Bert on that Tuesday night in April, a perfectly sunny day with unseasonably summer-like temperatures. My friends Will and “Too-Tall” Tina and I had gone to the Bovine Sex Club for some post-Tuuli-concert drinks. As usual, I had the accordion with me, slung on my back. Bert walked up to me and said that it took balls and a sense of humour to walk into the Bovine with an accordion. He then suggested that perhaps I might be funny and cojones-endowed enough to try comedy. I gave him my number, and that weekend I auditioned for him and his friends, a comedy troupe called Slap and Tickle. I left them my phone number and e-mail and didn’t hear from them until Monday night.

“I hope you like the way we had you listed,” said Bert on that Monday night phone call, “we have you down as ‘Smokin’ Joe deVilla’. Does that sound all right?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said, a little surprised. Sounds a little like “Crazy Joe Davola” from Seinfeld.

I got e-mail from my friend Anne the next day, asking if I was the same person listed in the NOW and eye comedy show listings. I hit the NOW Web site and found myself:

slap & tickle get male! Slap & Tickle present comedy w/ guests Michael Black, Joe DeVilla, Paul Haywood and Jason Rouse, Jun 4 at 8:30 pm. $5. The Cameron House, 408 Queen W. 416-703-0811.

Hmmm. No “Smokin'”.

The gig went well. I went on about a third of the way through the show, told a couple of jokes and cut into a medley that concluded with a tribute to the all-male show (Slap and Tickle have a woman in the troupe, but she was away that evening), AC/DC’s Big Balls. The audience joined in on the choruses, and I got a lot of laughs. I’d like to send my thanks to the guy in the front row who couldn’t stop laughing, even during my sound check when I did Moby’s We Are All Made of Stars as my test number. You’re good people, sir. The show organizers were generous with me, what with all the beer tickets and a crisp twenty for my seven minutes’ worth of being a goof, which I normally do for free.

The other comedians were really funny; my only minor complaint is that a lot of them kept having to step away from the mic to look at their notes. Most of them kept their notes on sheets of paper, except for one guy — a very funny one, I might add — who kept his on a Palm V handheld. This is where the borscht belt meets the 21st century, I suppose.

After the gig, we went back to one of the guys’ apartments and had a happy little after-show party. I got invited to do another show with Slap and Tickle at the Poor Alex on the 14th, so if you’re in town, you might want to drop by.

“…if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”

The boys from the trivia game software company for which I work and I had decided to go for all-you-can-eat Indian food yesterday. We walked up John Street and rounded the corner where CityTV/MuchMusic/Space/Bravo’s studios are and were buttonholed by the host for I-forget-which-show and a cameraman. He thrust the mic in the VP of Technology’s face and asked him who the main characters on Scooby-Doo were.

“Uh, Shaggy, Scooby…uh…,” he said.

“Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby,” I replied.

The host swung the mic my way. “What was the name of their van?”

“The Mystery Machine.”

“Can you name at least three of Scooby’s relativies?”

“Scrappy-Doo, Scooby-Dum, and Scooby-Dee.”

“Can you name three celebrity guest stars who appeared in the cartoon?”

“Sonny and Cher, Don Knotts and the Harlem Globetrotters. Back when Meadowlark and Curly were part of the team. I think Davey Jones might’ve appeared on the show, too.”

“Uh, this guy’s good. Scary good,” he turned to the cameraman. “Do you have any questions for him?”

“Yeah,” said the cameraman, “do you know what it means to Jump the Shark, and when that happened to Scooby Doo?”

“Jumping the Shark is the moment when the show startes to go bad, and I’d say it was when they introduced Scrappy-Doo. Or maybe the Laff-A-Lympics.”

“Do you have any theories as to what kind of van the Mystery Machine was?”

“I’m thinking a Ford Econoline with a custom paint job and a lot of weed in the back. Shaggy and Scooby were always hungry, if you know what I mean.”

“We gonna have to bleep that out?” said the host.

“No, I think everyone knows what ‘Scooby snacks’ are by now,” replied the cameraman.

“Well, here’s your free T-shirt.”

“Well, here he is,” said the host, putting his arm around me and facing the camera to close the interview. “The Scooby Doo trivia champion — your name is –?”


“Joey! And that’s Scooby-Doo, in theatres soon!”

If the clip made it to TV and you saw it, could you let me know?

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