"I haven't ever experienced personally any racial stuff towards me while I've been in Canada but I've seen it take place as far as with the natives and stuff like that, some East Indians, some French. But I've never experienced it."
– Darryl Lenox
Guy MacPherson: When did you move here, exactly?
Darryl Lenox: September, '96.
GM: From where?
GM: And the obvious question: Why? Were you a comedian at that time?
DL: Yup. I was going through a divorce and I didn't have anyplace else to go, so I was living on the road, stopped and did a show here and decided I wasn't going back.
GM: What was it that made you decide you weren't going back? Just the physical beauty?
DL: The different level of racial tolerance. It was like I didn't even know I was black up here.
GM: You talk a lot about that in your act. I don't know if they were all based on true stories, about the time the police stopped a guy on the street.
DL: That was all true.
DL: Yeah. I saw them [jack] this guy up right there on Howe Street, right in front of Fitness World.
GM: And what happened, exactly?
DL: I was coming from one of the clubs and two cop cars came out and they jumped out and one of them goes, "Freeze!" So I thought she meant me. And so they start running and it was this white guy, and he froze so they jumped him.
GM: And what was going through your mind?
DL: That's what I thought, "This is the best country I've ever been in my life."
GM: What would have happened if that was in L.A?
DL: I would have assumed it was me, and they would have ran up on me.
GM: Has that happened to you in L.A. or in other parts of the States?
DL: Yeah... Yup.
GM: What? Just being harrassed?
DL: They just stop you, check you for ID, go up to you and your buddies for no reason and all that kind of stuff.
GM: Has it ever happened here?
DL: No. Not a once.
GM: You speak to people here of different races and they say there still is racism here.
GM: Do you ever experience any of that?
DL: Um, I haven't ever experienced personally any racial stuff towards me while I've been in Canada but I've seen it take place as far as with the natives and stuff like that, some East Indians, some French. But I've never experienced it.
GM: Why do you think that is?
GM: The black population.
DL: Yeah, if there was more, then it would be different. But because there are more East Indians, there's more Chinese and natives and everything that it's just part of this particular country's issues and culture.
GM: I was speaking to Blue Edwards of the Grizzlies and he was saying that there's not a community, so you miss that.
GM: You miss being around your own people and the cultural aspects of that.
DL: I miss that quite a bit.
GM: But obviously not enough to go back.
DL: I'm going back in January.
GM: You're going back to live?
DL: Yeah, I'm going back to live in January.
GM: Why is this? Career move?
GM: To L.A?
DL: Yeah, back to L.A.
GM: And how do you feel about that?
DL: I'm excited. You know, honestly, Guy, I want to be one of the best comics ever, so the resources... There's so much issues and strife in that particular part of the world that I have so much more stuff to draw from. And then here, it's just like the best place in the world to relax, but it's hard to draw social material, social stuff that I like to talk about here because everything is just so nice and it's so laid back. It's just different.
GM: So the problems will help you creatively.
GM: So it's a give and take, then.
DL: Yup, it is a give and take.
GM: I assume that when you were performing up here for the past five or so years, you were still making forays into the States.
GM: And from seeing you here, most of your material is about being a black man in Canada.
DL: (long pause) Is that a question?
GM: No, it's not a question. But it's a conversation.
DL: You know, the initial opening parts of my show, I talk about it just because it's the obvious, but it depends on where you saw me, because I try not to spend too much time talking about being black anywhere. I more like talking about social issues. Though in Canada they really enjoy the details which as an American I can pay attention to.
GM: When you then get to the States, all that part of your act, you can't use that. So then you go more with the social issues.
GM: Do you think Vancouver is a real whitebread town?
GM: Even though there are, like you say, Indians, East Indians, Asians.
GM: How so?
DL: Uh, in a way, it's not a city that has a great passion. So it's different. Usually, if you go someplace where there's a real, real high mixture of dark skin races, it's just incredible. Like in Montreal and Chicago and even L.A. with Mexicans and blacks. There's a passion behind the place. But here's it's, I would say, whitebread because nobody really gets too excited about anything other than hockey. I think it's just a place where people like to relax and just enjoy stuff as opposed to creating. I don't know how to describe it, but, yeah, I would say whitebread is the right word for it. The nightlife and everything, it's just a place where you like to relax and enjoy yourself.
GM: It's more a west coast, laid-back feel.
GM: Although why does L.A. have the passion?
DL: All those crazy-ass people trying to make their dreams come true. And then the fact that you can have that much decadence right next to that much poverty and struggle. I mean, that's combustible. And that's why I say it is what it is.
GM: Do you think it'll be hard for you to go back and live down there after being here in this safe, whitebread environment?
DL: No, it won't be hard. Not at all. I spend most of my time working there anywhere. And it's where I'm from. So it's not going to be hard at all.
GM: Do your friends and family ask you, 'What are you doing up there?'
DL: You know what? They saw the results. So they've seen me mature. I come back and they see the difference. Now they've all been trying to come up here just to see if some of that magic will rub off on them. They all come up to visit, and all my friends have. It's a special place.
GM: So you're going away but you're not feeling bad about the city.
DL: No, it's just trying to move to the next level.
GM: You were about to go on The Tonight Show at one point. What happened with that?
DL: That just completely fell... We just don't see eye to eye on material choices. So they had to end up getting a new talent coordinator who's a comic. Before the guy wasn't a comic. So the old coordinator and I just didn't get along real well. I wanted to push my social stuff and he wanted to do a little more I like to call the Ben Vereen-y kind of stuff. So it just never worked out. So I'm going to go for Letterman instead of .
GM: It's better, anyway. The Tonight Show is more... Talk about whitebread.
DL: Oh, man, I know.
GM: You were coming off a divorce when you moved up here. Any success up here?
DL: I'm still single.
GM: How do the people compare in relationships? Is there a difference between people in Vancouver and the U.S?
DL: I think Canada is more old-fashioned in so far as women aren't so career obsessed and me-first-ish like they are in America, where it's all status and it's all money and it's all, just different. It's just different. So it's easier to meet people here. And the people are friendly.
GM: When you're big and successful and famous, you can have a place in both cities.
GM: And you'll still come back and perform, I hope.
DL: Yup, definitely.
GM: Anything else you'd like to say about the city, culturally speaking?
DL: It's my favourite city in the world, and I've been all over the world. By far it's my favourite city. How come you guys don't do enough talking about standup? That's the only thing that I don't like about it. It doesn't support the arts the way I think a major city should.
GM: All the arts, or standup in particular?
DL: Uh, I don't know any of the arts that get truly supported, unless you do.