"I'm hanging on to the old Canada thing. Man, if I make it, I'm moving back. I'm telling you, I'm going to be Donald Sutherland. I swear to God, I'm going to live out of Canada. This place reeks. You know? I don't like it at all."
– Jeremy Hotz
Guy MacPherson: How are you?
Jeremy Hotz: I'm all right. ... I've got a little dog problem going on here right now.
GM: Oh? What's that?
JH: The neighbour's dog is over and my dog is going crazy.
GM: Where are you?
JH: I'm at home.
GM: In Tarzana?
JH: No. Studio City. I don't really live in fuckin' Tarzana.
GM: You don't live in a treehouse?
GM: Well, there goes the interview.
JH: There goes the whole thing right there. ... The number one-asked question after my set: "So, do you really live in Tarzana?"
GM: Well, there is such a place.
JH: My whole act is a lie.
JH: That's where I got the joke. I saw the sign. It's near here, you know? I just drove by and saw it. I can't believe it. It's so funny that it takes a Canadian to come in and do that joke. I can't believe nobody ever thought of it before! It's so simple, you know? ... I don't know what it is.
GM: Where do you live?
JH: I live in Studio City. Then it goes Sherman Oaks, Tarzana.
GM: No jokes there for Studio City?
JH: Not really.
GM: "I live in a Studio."
JH: Yeah. I think I got the Tarzana joke down. I'll stick with that one. ... (dog barking) Hey, hey, hey, no fighting! Shh-shh-shh-shh-shh. ... OK, sorry, man. I just got him back from his walk. I'm just sort of in between interviews right now.
GM: No, you're right in the middle of one, actually.
JH: That's right.
GM: I count, dammit.
JH: (laughs) I know! ... Bruce Hill really keeps you working on this tour.
GM: Does he?
JH: It's unbelievable. So where is it in Vancouver? Do you know?
GM: The show?
GM: Richard's on Richards.
JH: What's that, exactly?
GM: Dicks on Dicks.
JH: Yeah, what is that?
GM: It's a nightclub. I guess they had one night last year, the Just For Laughs. And it was there, hosted by Harland Williams. It's not a bad venue. It's a club. You know, it's a nightclub. It's not a theatre.
JH: It's not a theatre.
JH: Well, I thought we were doing theatres, man. How many people does it hold?
GM: I don't know. Enough.
JH: I haven't been to Vancouver in ... in ... I don't know. Five years?
GM: Yeah? Where did you play last time?
JH: Yuk Yuks. ... Maybe longer, man. But my sister lives there. And she's got a new baby and I've never seen him, so there you go.
GM: So it doesn't matter if it's a theatre or not.
JH: No. And now she's going to finally get off my ass about seeing her kid. You know what I mean?
GM: You've got to be paid to see her kid.
JH: Well, it worked out, you know? I'm a busy guy, what can I say? I've got a dog here I'm looking after.
GM: Where are you from?
GM: And when did you move down south?
JH: To LA?
GM: Or wherever.
JH: I went to Toronto, New York, Los Angeles.
GM: How long have you been in the States?
JH: Uh, three years now.
JH: Yeah, I'm still a baby here.
GM: Are you? Are you American now?
JH: No, I'm hanging on to the old Canada thing. Man, if I make it, I'm moving back. I'm telling you, I'm going to be Donald Sutherland. I swear to God, I'm going to live out of Canada. This place reeks. You know? I don't like it at all.
JH: Oh, man. You walk outside sometimes in the summertime and it feels like you're still indoors. You know what I mean?
GM: Why? Because of the heat?
JH: Yeah, it's the heat, it's the smog. It's like you're in some hangar.
GM: Yeah, it would be best if you're that in demand that you can live wherever you want and people will come to you.
JH: Can you imagine having that kind of success?
GM: No, I can't, but you can, I guess.
JH: That would be great. I'm looking forward to it.
GM: What are you doing now?
JH: I'm working on a sitcom with Anthony Clark for CBS. I'm under contract with them until July, the middle of July.
GM: Is he the one in Boston Common?
JH: Yeah, the same dude.
GM: He's pretty funny.
JH: I'm also doing a cartoon for Comedy Central called, Too Much Coffee Man.
GM: And you're creating that?
JH: Yeah, yeah. Comedy Central picked it up and said, "Can you write a script for it?" It's on the internet if you want to check it out. Shannon Wheeler is his name, and he's got a character that he does for comic books – an underground comic – called Too Much Coffee Man. If you go to toomuchcoffeeman.com it's all there. And we're going to start writing scripts. And I'm doing another one for Nelvana, called Quads.
GM: What is Nelvana?
JH: Nelvana is like a Canadian company that's in the States. An animation company.
GM: Oh, OK.
JH: John Callaghan, he's a quadriplegic.
GM: Yes. He does the single panel cartoons.
JH: That's right.
GM: He's funny. Sick.
JH: They've sold 13 of those. I think it's going to be on in Canada. And then I'm doing a special for Comedy Central in the middle of the month. So I'm leaving the tour with Bruce Hill to tape a 30-minute standup special in New York for Comedy Central, and then going back on the tour. I'm busy.
GM: You are busy. Who knew Canadian show business...
JH: Yeah, whatever, huh? Good move to come here, don't you think?
JH: It worked out for me, all right. And I still see my friends. I see Harland from time to time. And Seán Cullin's here. And we watch the hockey together on the satellite dishes and follow our beloved Leafs as they are having one of the greatest seasons in recent memory.
GM: Are they? I'm one of the few Canadians who doesn't follow hockey.
JH: You don't follow hockey?!
GM: I follow basketball.
JH: Oh, God, move here, man. What are you doing?
GM: We've got the Grizzlies.
JH: Oh, Christ.
GM: I don't need to move there.
JH: Do you actually follow basketball?
JH: Wow. I fucking hate it. It bores me, man. It's like the team that misses more, you know, loses.
GM: And hockey is fluke. You just hit it as hard as you can to the goalie and it might squeeze past him.
JH: Shut up. It's a skill game, man.
GM: Shut up.
JH: A fight never breaks out in a basketball game. Who wants to watch that?
GM: Yeah, that's skill. ... I don't want to get in a fight with you, OK? Let's just get along. We're Canadians.
JH: (pause) You started it. ... That's another thing here. Nobody fights. If you're in a bar and stuff? This guy'll call you an asshole and then you stand up and in Canada you go at that point, right? Here you stand up and the guy just stares at you and then he sits down again. (laughs) You know? Because they all think they have guns or something.
GM: That's a good move. I wouldn't get involved down there, either.
JH: I had one night in a bar playing darts and this guy was bothering me. So I went, like, right in his face and my friends later said, "What are you doing, man?! The guy's got a knife or a gun and he'll kill you!" But I thought the guy wanted to fight me. In Canada, a guy does that, he wants to fight. You go. I mean, you know, the first line that's crossed and then you fight. Isn't that right?
GM: Well, yeah. Have you been in lots of fights?
JH: No, not really. But that guy was asking for it, I think. But apparently I was in the wrong, according to my buddies.
GM: Could you take him, do you think, if it was just fair?
JH: I think he was really drunk! And I think I could have easily won that fight, yeah. I think he was the one guy in the bar I might have been able to beat up. Yeah, I found the guy.
GM: And he backed out.
JH: He made like he was joking. You know? He calls me all these filthy names, he doesn't even know me, and then he makes like he's joking. ... Whatever.
GM: Maybe he recognized you.
JH: Yeah, right.
GM: Do you get recognized?
JH: Sure, sometimes. Definitely. From Speed 2, mostly. And My Favorite Martian. From those films that I did.
GM: I never saw those films.
JH: But then again, you don't like hockey. So it all makes sense.
GM: Did you have big parts in those?
JH: In Speed 2, yeah, pretty big. And My Favorite Martian, average. But My Favorite Martian had a lot of stars in it. And that's why I had a high billing list but I wasn't in the movie that much.
GM: Was Sandra Bullock in Speed 2?
JH: Yeah, she was in it.
GM: And did you have scenes with her?
GM: Oh, man!
JH: And Willem Defoe...
GM: I don't care about him. Sandra Bullock.
JH: Sandra Bullock, I had a scene with her. She was nice.
GM: She's a partyer, right?
JH: She did throw a party on the island we were all at. We all went. It was a lot of fun.
GM: She goes, right?
JH: What's that? (laughing) She drinks?
GM: She goes.
JH: I don't know. ... Not with Klinger from M*A*S*H, I'll tell you that much.
GM: I've seen your act several times on TV. Funny. I like it. How did that character develop? Are you suppressing a laugh or a cry?
JH: That's sort of what I tried to do. I tried to make a guy that was so, sort of, down, but still had the ability to make people laugh. That was sort of my plan, what I set out to do. It's a tremendous contrast. You've got to laugh, but... Yes, the guy's hurting, but the key in it was having the material, the shit that he complains about in his life seem so horrible, being really nothing at all. And that's where the humour comes from. That's what I was trying to do. When I first started I was, like, all manic. Like, out there. Like, "Hey, how's it going? Good to be here!" That guy. And I was doing well, but I felt like I was kind of babysitting audiences. Being one of those, "Everyone's here to have a good time!" guys. And then I just thought, well, I'm getting, really, nothing out of this. I'm not really satisfied. So then I went to this real insular character that just sort of stood there and was really, really quiet. And that was just boring. So that didn't work, either (laughs). And then I went to this sort of cross between the two, a really emotionally-driven guy. And I came up with him, like, six months before I did the Montreal Comedy Festival. And then my whole career changed. Right after that I got Letterman, Leno. Just because I changed my character.
GM: Because it's something no one's ever seen before. With the manic guy, it's like babysitting. But with this guy, people are waiting to hear what he's going to say.
JH: Yeah. It's really hard to be a low-energy comic and destroy, to really do well, you know? People expect the person to be jumping around. "Hey, I'm the funny guy." You know?
GM: The class clown.
JH: Yeah. When I first moved here... Like, it takes a while to adjust to LA. LA's crowds are like nowhere else in the world. They're really different. What they laugh at is, like, really different. Because they're all insane, the people who live here. (laughs) So you never know what you're going to get. And when you get a mostly local, insane crowd... Like, I thought when I first moved here that they hated me. And then the Improv started bringing me on the weekend all the time, and, like, I was the guy. And I slowly realized, oh, this is them liking me.
GM: Is it they're not laughing? Or they're laughing at different parts?
JH: Different parts. You'll hear no laughter sometimes, and there'll be an applause break. (laughs) It's really fucking weird.
GM: I hate that applause. That's got to stop.
JH: And then you go into Hermosa Beach, just out of town, at the Comedy and Magic Club. You get out of town and you play that club, and it's like regular people. So it depends where you are. LA's really weird that way. You know, Toronto's the same as Ottawa and Hamilton and Vancouver. It's Canada!
GM: So are the Canadian audiences different?
JH: I love the Canadian audiences.
GM: Don't suck up.
JH: They get everything.
GM: You know that's going in the paper.
JH: Oh really? Don't bother.
GM: But why is that?
JH: First of all, I started in Canada.
GM: Yeah. But you left.
JH: Oh, that's the tone that I cannot stand. I left for one reason and one reason only. What the fuck could I stay for? Tell me what I could be doing right now?
GM: You mean in your career?
JH: Yeah. I could be a journalist. That's a king in Canada. As far as you can go. How many television shows do they have on the air right now? Six?
GM: I don't know.
JH: Try getting a part on one, man.
GM: You don't want to be on Road to Avonlea?
JH: (laughs) Oh, you know, they only put that show on because they've got the costumes. And they want to shoot something in Upper Canada Village. (laughs)
GM: So you're from Canada, so the audiences want to like you more?
JH: I think so.
GM: And that you've made it down south.
JH: No! Not at all. I think the audiences are just generally... I'm more comfortable in front of a Canadian audience.
GM: Because they get the references?
JH: Because I think I have more years working in front of them than any other group of people, I think. And I just find them better. They're just better. And quite honestly, I think they're smarter. They get subtlety better. Like I said, when I first moved here I thought that they were going to hate my guts, hate this quiet character because he didn't go out and grab them, you know? You wait for them to come to him, which is always dangerous. You're really putting your ass on the line. Whenever I do TV, it's always, like, really scary, because the first 30 seconds you have to get my character. They're just burnt minutes, you realize that? Right? Whereas a guy who just goes out and tells a joke, "Hey, I'm going to be this guy the whole time," he's going to have a better chance, you know? But, yeah, so, you know. Whatever. I mean, the reason why the character came out was because in Canada there was no TV to do, right? There was no standup TV to do, really, when we were coming up. So we were all encouraged to write these acts that were different and unique from everybody else. Whereas in the States, everyone was trying to get on television. So they all ended up sounding exactly the same because they were looking for that one guy. America's view of what a comic should be. So that's why all these Canadians come here and do really well. Like Harland, like Sean Cullin. You know? Because we're different. Luckily, by the time us Canadians got down here, the day of the standup on television was gone. Those shows were finished. And then comics were just starting to learn that they had to be unique and different. But we already were.
GM: What about working as a character? Doesn't that limit you? Like Bobcat Goldthwait or PeeWee Herman.
JH: The beauty of that is when I do, like, Letterman or the Tonight Show, and I panel, I'm just a regular guy. It even happened where they said to me, one of the guys said, "Hey, it's really weird that you do your act and you're really strange, then you come down here, you sit down and we talk and you're like a regular guy." And I looked at him and I said, "It's an act, man." (laughs) And everybody died laughing. I mean, I established very quickly that I'm not going to be that guy that can only be that guy, you know?
GM: Yeah, that's a danger.
JH: Again, you're talking about limitations. And being limited. You can't do that. You have to show that you're versatile. The sitcom for CBS I'm not playing that guy with the hand in front of my face.
GM: What are you playing?
JH: Why would I be the guy with the hand in front of my face? I mean, that guy wouldn't be gainfully employed by an institution. (laughs) He'd be in an asylum. He's insane!
GM: Did producers want you to be that character?
JH: No, what it is, when pushed to a certain point, he becomes very insular and very paranoid and afraid. So it's almost like one side of his character. Which is, like, you know, where that character comes from anyway. We all have days where we feel like not talking to anybody. Well, unfortunately you're a standup, so you have to. Right?
GM: I suppose.
JH: I just tried to set up where everyone was going, "It's great to be here," to "It's really shitty to be here." I didn't want to be there. It's horrible. Some nights, especially in LA, I'll just tell them over and over again while they're laughing at my act, how I don't want to be there and how horrible it is.
GM: And that you don't like them? Do you ever say that?
JH: No, I never go I don't like them. It's like I don't like the whole thing of doing standup. And they're fine with it. Anything that's bad is good for me. ... Shit, it's raining again, man. Is it raining in Vancouver?
GM: No. It hasn't rained in days here.
JH: Are you serious?
GM: Serious. ... But it will be by next week, don't worry.
JH: When I'm there, you mean?
JH: You have the sun out now?
GM: The last couple days have been really sunny. And today's clouded over but it's dry.
JH: It's rained here like all month. This is the green time of year for shitty brown LA. ... I hate it. ... What else do you need to know?
GM: You talked about Canadian audiences. There's that whole thing Americans ask, Why are Canadians so funny? I guess because of all the Canadian comics. Do you think it's true? That they are? We are?
GM: Funnier, yeah.
JH: There's funny guys here, too, you know.
GM: Yeah. But as a group. In general.
JH: You know why, I think, maybe? There just seems to be a sense of freedom in Canada. Almost that nobody really cares about anything. You know what I'm saying? We all know that we're going to wake up and someone at night is going to have swept the streets and everything's going to be OK again. Here you're not really too sure about that and you're worried about your taxes and this and that and the other. Canadians have very little to worry about. You get sick, you go to the doctor, it's paid for. Here it's not like that. It's almost like a country of babies [Canada] that are being looked after.
JH: Yeah. By their parents. And what do children do, you know? Run around and have fun. And that's why I think we're funny.
GM: Good analogy.
JH: And that's what I have to say about that. ... Look at my beautiful dog. You can't see him.
GM: What kind?
JH: Mixed. The greatest animal of all time. Really smart. Sometimes the phone rings and it's like a pizza delivery guy and I'll answer it and I'll press the button to let him in, and the dog goes nuts. He knows the guy's bringing food.
GM: The dog eats pizza? I don't think that's good for a dog.
JH: Come on. He eats what I eat. If I'm dying, he's going down with me.
GM: So you're here next Thursday.
JH: Are you going to be at the show?
GM: I'll be there.
JH: OK, man. Well, come up to me. Because I never know, you know?
GM: Then you can brush me off.
JH: I'm not going to brush you off, man. I'm a Canadian.