This is a guest post from producer Annalee Newitz, who just a few days ago published a series of tweets from her interview with comedian Shawn Micallef, whom we’ve featured on a number of occasions.
I’ve liked him for a while now — his singular brand of lowbrow humor as it relates to politics, government dysfunction, celebrity-on-celebrity conflict and my current obsession with pop culture.
But his recent tour poster is something else:
Read carefully and it pretty clearly describes his mission.
If this were Howard Beale from the Vietnam War movie, saying “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” or if he was Jim Cramer reciting the famous line about how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “too big to fail,” it would be a decidedly batshit rant.
His topic: The Ontario government’s plan to spend more money on roads and bridges — a project every liberal Democrat in the state would embrace if he told them they should give back every extra cent in taxes they’ve collected.
“Look at the numbers,” he tells me in a manner even more discordant than a lot of Mad Libs: “Every year for the last 20 years the money we keep getting comes from people’s premiums from natural disasters, so why do you want to spend your hard-earned money on more of them,” he spits into the phone.
“You put the issue in the hands of the people, not the politicians … These men and women are out of touch. They’re the 100 percent on the left and they’re the 10 percent on the right. The only problem is they’re 100 percent wrong. They’re helping themselves.”
This straight-shootin’ hothead is no surprise to most who’ve seen him over the years. His outlandish bits predate the alleged racist comments about Barack Obama made by some of his colleagues on “The Rebel” Podcast, for instance. The other day we hit on just how different his stand-up persona was 15 years ago and how much more refined it has become now that he’s discovered podcasting and comedy writing.
And while one could theoretically argue that the charitable stuff he does for children and the YMCA would justify some of the verbal fire he’s built into his material, I can’t make that argument without citing examples that might be considered questionable. He’s visited an all-girls school and built a skate park in Toronto. He writes regularly for the Red Cross. He even took an Anonymous act on himself and posted on social media that he had hired a private detective to find out where the government was keeping all of the province’s money.
He’s also a standout, and frequently upstarts, in the community of Western comics that include former College Humor creators Adam Carolla and Rob Huebel, Detroit’s Erik Weiner and the underrated Adam Buxton.
The bar is not particularly high when it comes to touring comics. Each tour is financially and professionally self-supporting. Not so in the comedy business. So, when you have a triple-threat like Micallef, who writes his material and performs his own stand-up routine, along with doing a regular (as it were) podcast and playing stand-up performances, you can consider this a very big operation indeed.
Take heed, Doug Ford. You cannot afford to miss out on the 2017 Shawn Micallef tour.