"I like to think I'm a little more central than right. But I'm not a bleeding heart liberal, that's for sure. I'd be the antithesis of bleeding heart liberal. A little left of right, I like to think. Or a little right of centre."
– Glen Foster
Guy MacPherson: So how's the lobbying going?
Glen Foster: (laughs) Well, it continues to build, although I have not heard word one from 22 Minutes.
GM: How did this get started?
GF: The background to it is I did this special called "That Canadian Guy." And in the special, I do a joke about my website, which is thatcanadianguy.com, the joke being that you're not going to remember me anyway. Tomorrow you'll go, "Oh, that Canadian guy, he was funny," you won't remember any names. So it's sort of a joke but sort of serious. And you wouldn't believe the number of e-mails after that show aired. It was incredible. I mean, on the first airing, there were close to a thousand e-mails.
GM: To who?
GF: To me! At thatcanadianguy.com. So I got so much e-mail from people saying, "I couldn't remember your name, but I remembered thatcanadianguy." So it seems to be working. Anyway, so a few weeks ago, I guess, someone sent me an e-mail that said, "You know, Rick Mercer's leaving. Why don't you try and get his job?" I hadn't really lobbied for it or anything to that point. But what I did was, I have this bulletin board set up and I sent out a quick little e-mail to people saying a few people had asked me if a wanted Rick Mercer's job and it's not my decision but... What I was looking for really was a way to have something that would get the attention of the producers without actually giving people their e-mail addresses and being a nuisance, really, you know? So what I came up with was this idea that people could post – if they wanted to, of course – and I was really surprised at the response. It must be well over a hundred posts by now.
GM: I read them all.
GF: There you go. And what surprised me, too, is that some of them are from kids, and adults, and older people. Quite a range, really.
GM: Do you forward them on to the producers?
GF: I have let them know about the web page and they have the tapes and I haven't heard a word.
GM: Is that typical CBC?
GF: I don't really know. I don't know what's typical, you know?
GM: You are serious about this?
GF: Oh, yes! I think I'd be great for the job. In many respects, I've done the job before. I do a lot of political material. When I was working on the Ralph Benmurgi show a few years back, I actually did a couple of the opening newscasts. And also I had sort of an Andy Rooney-like thing at W-5 a few seasons ago.
GM: How long did that go?
GF: That was about a half a season, I think. What had happened there was they decided that they were gonna revamp W-5 and make it more of an American-style Hard Copy-type thing and put some more lighter elements into it than they had in the past. And when the new producers took over at the end of the season, they said, "Nope, we're going back to the old format." So out I went. I didn't do all of them. There were, I think, about 18 episodes that year and there were four or five people that did these humorous commentaries, and I was one of them. But I got the most. I got about eight or 12 out of the 20, so I had the lion's share of it, as it were.
GM: Is 22 Minutes holding auditions that you know of?
GF: Yeah, they are. That's what I found through the grapevines after having sent my tape a long time ago – for various reasons. I wasn't specifically auditioning for them. They've had my tape for some time, long before even Rick Mercer decided to leave. Because I was interested also in possibly writing for them or whatever, you know? But yes, they have definitely had auditions. In fact, I spoke very briefly to the casting person. I think it's Tina Gerussi – I don't know if that name's connected – and basically they said, yeah, we're already in call-back stage. I had heard that a few people had had auditions, and not me. I can't say for sure, but the National Post says it could be that I'm perceived as a bit of a right-winger and they are, I think, pretty left wing.
GM: How right wing are you? What are your politics?
GF: Well, I like to think I'm a little more central than right. But I'm not a bleeding heart liberal, that's for sure. I'd be the antithesis of bleeding heart liberal. A little left of right, I like to think. Or a little right of centre.
GM: If elected, what do you promise?
GF: It's certainly not a job I want, I can tell you that. No, seriously. Because American president, that's a cool job: You command the largest army in the world, you have spy satellites, you can look in on anyone from a thousand miles out, you can pardon all your asshole friends and get blown while you're doing it. That's a good job. Rock stars look at that job and go, "Aw, shit, I wish I was president." But Canadian prime minister? That's a horrible job. That's just an opportunity for Canadians to bitch at you all the time, you know? "I need a job, lower the taxes, save the medicare, stop spraying pepper in my eyes."
GM: What do you offer to 22 Minutes?
GF: I think a different, more balanced perspective. A) being from Toronto and not the east coast, and B) leaning a little more right than the rest of the crew, and, of course, my dark, twisted sense of humour. Certainly I have, and continue to do, a lot of political material. And certainly my average Canadian perspective... I do drift into that Canadian guy character: "What the hell is going on, who's paying for this, and where's my tax dollars going?" and that sort of thing. The taxpayer's rant, as it were.
GM: Your accent--
GF: That's a funny thing, too. The number of people that think I'm from the east coast.
GM: You'd fit right in.
GF: But again, it's not my decision. What more can I do? I don't know what more I can do. I've sent my tape, they know who I am. I'll start sending them some of these articles that are coming out, that's for damn sure. I'll let them know there's sort of a grassroots thing going here.
GM: If you don't get it, how disappointed will you be?
GF: Well, I won't be terribly disappointed because the publicity's been quite good nonetheless, right? But I mean, I'd love to get it. It's the best show on Canadian television. Here's a show that reflects Canadian sensibilities and Canadian politics and so on and so forth. And the exposure would be great for me. But the other thing is, if I don't get it, I'm getting enough publicity that another network – and there are a couple national networks now – might actually say, "Well, shit, give this guy a job and put him up against 22 Minutes." It's a great show, but I could put together a team that could do just as good if not a better show. You know, I know all the people.
GM: I would think you could do better. I'm not a big fan of 22 Minutes. But you did get it, I would watch. Every season I tune in wanting to like it--
GF: In general, it's a good show. It has great moments. But like any other show, like Saturday Night Live, like all these other shows, they do have their moments of drifting off into self-indulgence. And you know, I have my moments of drifting off into self-indulgence. But I think overall, it's the best thing of what it is for Canadian television. The best of the genre, as it were.
GM: If you get the job, don't YELL YOUR JOKES like they do. That's my big peeve.
GF: DON'T SAY A PUNCHLINE. HERE'S THE FUNNY PART!
GF: That's the other thing. They come from an acting background, I come from a standup comedy background, from a punch-punch-punch-punch-punchline background.
GM: That's certainly the wave in the States, with shows like The Daily Show.
GF: The Daily Show is brilliant. We need a Daily Show in Canada. Or a Monthly Show.
GM: If you get the job, will you retire from standup, or will you fees just go up?
GF: No, it'll be even better for standup. It'll raise my fee and when I tour, more people will know who I am. It can't hurt from a standup point of view. There's no way. Now, I might have to back off a little on the number of gigs I take, because I'd have to be out in Halifax for a while. But there's no way it can possibly hurt. In fact, even not having the job right now, the publicity has been great.
GM: How would you describe your standup?
GF: Someone once described it as whitebread gone bad. Another way that I've heard people describe it is, if you love to hate this country. Some people have said that I'm allowed to say the things that they could never say at work or in public or wherever, you know what I mean? Because I'm making a joke – I'm making a point, but I'm making a joke. I'm first trying to make the joke. I'm not one of these people that is trying to ram something home. I've seen people do that in comedy, and it's more preaching than comedy. But it's comedy first. If it happens to make a point, so much the better, but you gotta get a laugh, right?
GM: You love to hate the country, but it comes from love, right?
GF: Exactly. Canada's a great country, but I look around and I look at what's happening to Canada on so many levels and it's being trashed. And we could be so much more.
GM: If you're topical, you've got to be constantly writing. How often do you change your act?
GF: It is a tough thing to write new material constantly, but my goal is to hit the stage with at least a couple new jokes every show. And then eventually over time, roll them over. But the funny thing is, it's a weird thing, people come out to see a show and some of them come out see the show they saw on television and they want to see some of the jokes they saw on TV, and some of them want to see new stuff. So you have to do some of your old stuff and some of your new stuff to keep everybody happy.
GM: You've got to do what works.
GF: Yeah, you gotta do what works. They want to see just enough of what they saw to know that it's what they paid for, and then they want to see some new stuff, too.
GM: It's like a pop band. They want to hear the hits.
GF: Exactly! They want to hear the hits but then a little bit extra. There's gotta be a balance, like everything else.