"I take the bus a lot out here so I do get recognized on the bus, which is always so humbling. I got rid of my car a couple years ago and just haven't bothered getting a new one, so I take Transit most of the time. I really like it but every now and then someone will be like, 'Aren't you on TV?' And I'll be like, 'Yeah.' And they're, 'Why are you on the bus?'"
– Darcy Michael
Guy MacPherson: You've got all this stuff going on. I last wrote about you in 2012. The other comics must really hate you. And me.
Darcy Michael: Yeah. Probably, eh?! I was wondering. I think was when I just lost all the weight. That was the Skinny Bitch reveal, or whatever it was.
GM: You'd lost 120 pounds. And now you've ballooned back up.
DM: I know, eh?! (laughs) Yeah, my weight fluctuates more than Beyoncé's weaves. I'm so sensitive about that.
GM: I was kidding!
DM: Oh, okay. Well, clearly you haven't seen Spun Out.
GM: If I had thought it was true, I wouldn't have joked about it.
DM: No, I know, I'm just kidding. I'm gorgeous.
GM: You didn't have Spun Out in 2012.
DM: No, I knew about it. It was on the radar. I was auditioning at the time for the Nelson character, the gay guy, on the show. So I auditioned a few times for that but it was like every other audition where it was like you audition and then you forget about it kind of thing. Last time we talked I think I had just finished filming The Skinny, which was that talk show that never came about. Add that to the list of things that never came to fruition. And then Spun Out came in December of 2012. It was when we knew we were going ahead with the pilot. But I wasn't going with Nelson; I was going with this Gordon character.
GM: And when did it air?
DM: It aired in the spring of 2014. We filmed the pilot in January 2013 and then we filmed the season from April to August of 2013. We're going into production 14 months after we closed the first season production. So our season two is starting in October.
GM: And everyone looks different!
DM: Oh, man, that's what I was worried about. But no, everyone's pretty much the same. I'm hoping I'm skinnier by the time we go to production in three weeks so we'll see. I move to Toronto on the 24th for that XM finals and then I fly home for ten hours to do the Russell Peters thing, then fly back on a red eye to start work the next day.
GM: And you're also doing the MIX.
DM: Yeah, I'm doing the MIX the 18th to the 20th. So I'm here until the 24th.
GM: Normally sitcoms start airing in September. Or at least they did when I was a kid. But you're filming in September.
DM: Yeah, we were a mid-season show. I thought we were going to debut in January or February and then the network smartly held off until March because CTV was airing the Oscars so they got to promote the show a bunch during the Oscars and a bunch during a couple other awards shows. Then we were March to June. It was fun for us because there wasn't as much competition. When a show airs in September, it's going up against 30 other brand new shows. CTV was smart in that sense. Instead of competing with everything, they waited for everyone else to die off and then threw us on the schedule on a Friday night at 8 o'clock because that's the glory hour of television, isn't it?! They put us on the occasional Thursday as well after Big Bang. But no one watches TV the same anymore. It's not scheduled television anymore. People are PVR'ing everything.
GM: And that's good.
DM: It's good. It's terrible when you're looking at ratings sometimes because you're like, 'Oh my God, no one watches!' But then we'd get the PVR numbers and be like, 'Oh my God, people watch!' I just stopped looking at all that stuff. I was like, I'll just focus on the Twitter hate and go from there. (laughs)
GM: You're just a hired hand. You can't really care about those things.
DM: Well, as a Canadian actor and comedian, you're looking at it like, 'Am I going to have job security? Is it going to be a hit?'
GM: How many did you do in the first season?
DM: Thirteen. And we're doing thirteen again.
GM: I was looking at The Dick Van Dyke Show on Netflix today. They have five seasons. Do you know how many they did a season?
DM: Jesus! Oh, my God.
GM: That's like 15 years' worth.
DM: Not only that, that's 31 weeks of work out of 52. That's a lot. I don't mind the 13. Actually, no, I was hoping for 24.
GM: Did they create the Gordon character for you or was he already in the script when you were auditioning for the other guy?
DM: They had a guy in mind for him. He wasn't a very big part. And still I don't think he's a very big part. I think he's the perfect size part. But in the pilot I think I had one or two lines originally and then throughout the week, as the rehearsals were going, I was getting more and more stuff handed to me. And the character kinda grew. But there was never a guarantee of Gordon being past the pilot. He was just an office guy. I wasn't even supposed to be in all 13 episodes of the first season but then they just kept throwing me into it. I was excited by it. But it's so stressful to because it's like, is my job still going to be here? And when the show got picked up for the second season, I was one of the cast that didn't know if I was coming back. Because a lot of people are locked in; I'm not. So there was that stress of waiting for the phone call. So eventually I just started calling. I was like, 'Where the fuck's my contract?!' So yeah, I was glad to be brought back.
GM: Are you getting recognized?
DM: Yeah. Not so much out west. I take the bus a lot out here so I do get recognized on the bus, which is always so humbling. I got rid of my car a couple years ago and just haven't bothered getting a new one, so I take Transit most of the time. I really like it but every now and then someone will be like, 'Aren't you on TV?' And I'll be like, 'Yeah.' And they're, 'Why are you on the bus?'
GM: You're keeping it real.
DM: I like it because I'm never really in Vancouver much so paying for a car doesn't make sense to me.
GM: How did you get here tonight?
DM: I took my husband's. He's got a car. When we got the show, I bought him a fancy car. And I was like, 'Well, when I want this, then I'll drive you to work' kinda thing.
GM: So you move to Toronto just for the filming?
DM: Yeah, I'll go for three months. I'll be there until December. And then I'll come back. I keep a place in Ontario just for when I'm touring and stuff and there for work. But I just float back and forth between there and here. I stay here when it's warmer.
GM: Were you still doing standup?
DM: It was tricky because we were working a lot. But Dave does standup, as well. I'm like most comics. After a couple weeks of not doing a show, I start to get really itchy for it. So I try to do at least little sets. I definitely wasn't touring on weekends just because we filmed live on Friday nights and then we'd be back to work first thing Monday morning so there wasn't time for me to really fly anywhere and do any shows. So I just kinda stuck to doing the open mics and working on material. I think the longest stretch I went without doing a show was like maybe three weeks. But Dave and I did a fundraiser for the Alberta relief, for the flood last year. We did a fundraiser at Yuks one night, which was super fun. And the rest of the time I was just ego-stroking. But when you're doing a show like that, you're kind of a monkey. As a comedian who's done some acting, there was always that difficult balance of saying the words the writers want you to say. So the urge to do standup during filming kind of started coming out more and more because it was like, 'I just want to talk.' I wanna be me. So I found I was doing more and more near the end of the run of the series. It was like, okay, I gotta go spout off a bit.
GM: And once filming stopped, you hit the road?
DM: No, I took two months off! From August to September, I fell into a deep spiral of Wreck Beach depression. We wrapped the August long weekend last year, so I came home and the family and I went up to the woods to go camping. We do this family vacation every year with a couple other families. So we went up there. On the Friday, I had a driver and all the fancy shit that comes with being on a show – you've got a driver and people that are taking care of you. And on the Saturday, I didn't have a toilet. It's like, okay, we're ripping the Band-Aid real quick! And then I just kind of bummed around for two months and did some writing and little sets here and there. And then I've been touring since.
GM: Writing for your standup?
DM: Yeah, yeah. And just working on a couple different projects that are slowly coming to fruition. Because I don't know how long the show's going to be around for. Every episode we get's a blessing. My agent thinks I'm a lunatic. On Friday I had a meeting with him and I was like, 'But what are we doing in January?' And he was like, 'Don't worry about it. You're fine until December.' And I was like, 'I need to know what's happening next!' And he's like, 'You can't just be happy.' I was like, 'I'm happy.' But it's also this is a business. You have to constantly be working to make money.
GM: But most of your peers don't have that.
DM: For sure. But if they, I'd like to think that they still would want to work. This is what we do. This is what I want to do. I want to be filming during the day and doing shows at night for the rest of my life. Yeah, I've got this little bit of extra money coming in that I don't normally have through standup, but I still want to do standup. I still want to be creating my own shows and creating my own little projects. That's the way I look at it, at least. I kicked myself last year for not having a tour planned for right after we wrapped because it was just idle hands. I was just sitting around. So for me it's just a matter of doing better when I'm busy.
GM: So since you finished your two months rest, have you been working steadily?
DM: Yeah, it's been good. The summer's slowed down. I left Yuk's in June. I was lucky I got to do Massey Hall in Toronto for New Year's Eve. And then I did all the festivals. I did Just For Laughs in July and filmed a new spot for the Comedy Network there. And I kinda hit every city I wanted to hit. From January to April, I toured really hard. Since I left Yuk's, it's been really fun. This is my first time back headlining the MIX. It's my home.
GM: Are there enough independent clubs across the country?
DM: For sure, there are. And it's also just a matter of you don't need comedy clubs to tour. It's not like in the '90s where there were so many comedy clubs everywhere that you could just go small town to small town to small town and tour all the time. I think you can tour in Canada and in the States a lot smarter nowadays because you can get a couple-hundred-seat theatre or a little venue or something to do your own show and you have way more control over it and way more fun.
GM: But you've got to have enough of a following.
DM: You'd hope, but at the same time people will come for comedy.
GM: Is that what you were doing?
DM: It's what we're planning on doing. We're working on the tour for the new year. I'm working on a bunch of new material that I'm going to try out at the MIX but the MIX is kind of like my welcome back so I want it to be a really fun weekend. But after that, the rest of the year is going to be focussed on just developing the new material and getting ready for a tour. So we'll do a bit of clubs and a bit of theatres in the new year and see how it goes. We're going to try and hope people show up.
GM: Are there other comics involved?
DM: I'll bring Jane [Stanton] with me because she just keeps things so fucking fun. She's a riot. So she'll open for me on most of the tours. We'll make sure it's financially feasible for some of the farther away shows.
GM: Is there a bit of juice from being on Spun Out?
DM: Having Dave attached to it gives it a new level of street cred. It's a fine line between humble and brag but at the same time, I'm really proud that I get to work with Dave Foley. He's one of my idols. And we had all five Kids in the Hall for an episode. I got to spend a week watching the five of them write together and it was magic. So there's a certain level of street cred that goes with it. I've done all the festivals in the country. I've done all the shows that are being done in Canada. And now I've got Spun Out. It's all tiers on the ladder, I guess.
GM: And that helps bring in fans?
DM: Oh, for sure. It's funny, too, I definitely notice more people are coming to see me because of Spun Out and the people that are coming aren't always expecting Darcy Michael. I play a very specific guy on the show and he's not me at all. So it's been really fun for me to talk to fans after the show and them being like, 'You're not a lot like Gordon.'
GM: You're not mentally challenged.
DM: No, I am not mentally challenged. Thank God for that. Or I'm mentally challenged in a different way.
GM: No, the character's not mentally challenged.
DM: No, God no.
GM: But he's a little odd.
DM: He's just an oddball. I don't put much thought into it. It's a sitcom. I put on a silly voice and stick out my gut and make my bald spot bigger and just do what we gotta do.
GM: So when they come to see you, not only do you sound different, but you look hipper.
DM: Yeah. Yeah, well, I fucking hope I look hipper! I'm not in a cardigan. Yeah, it's fun. If I'm wearing a hat, people generally don't recognize me. If I just go with the old Gordon look of glasses and no hat, it's definitely inviting more people to kind of come and say hi.
GM: So when you're feeling lonely...
DM: (laughs) Yeah, I just walk around going, [as Gordon] 'Hi! How are you?'... Oh, fuck, it's been so long since I did the voice, I don't think I did it right.
GM: You're going to have to go back and listen to it.
DM: It's in my calendar to spend a day watching last season, kind of getting ready for it.
GM: You mentioned the Twitter hate.
DM: With anything, there's always going to be hate and love. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much love came for the show on Twitter towards me and towards the rest of the cast. There's the occasional one that didn't like the show. I always love retweeting the hate a bit. I get a kick out of it. Because it's like, really, if I don't like something, I acknowledge it maybe in my brain and move on. I've never understood the trolling side of the internet, like, I need everyone to know how much I hate something. If everyone is indifferent to your craft or to your art, then you're not doing it right. Look at Joan Rivers. She's the best example. People hated her because of how she spoke.
GM: Until she died.
DM: And then she died and people were like, 'I hated hating her.'
GM: You wouldn't see the negative unless there was a significant amount of positive.
DM: You'd hope there's the equal positive! I got a kick out of how many comics didn't like the show. And I'm like, but let's put you all in a room and give you the choice of taking the job or not and tell me you wouldn't take the job. I didn't take the job just for the sake of it, I took it because I needed to pay my rent! And because I actually really enjoy the work. I don't like acting a lot of the time. Acting on a closed set where you're just doing take after take after take and moving cameras around, I find that quite kind of draining. But on a multi-cam set where you're in front of a live studio audience and you're doing one take, maybe two takes, of each scene and you're firing off different punchlines, it's very close to standup comedy. It's quite rewarding on that side.
GM: People forget that what you're doing is a job.
DM: There's also gigs that you hate as a standup where you're like, 'I'm doing this to pay for my kid's braces or make a car payment.' It's a weird thing when your art is also what pays the bills. One of the reasons I left Yuk's is because I was so complacent touring for them all the time. People always badmouth Yuk's after they leave. I haven't even really announced anything about me leaving because I hope to work with them again. But because you can only work with them, I didn't want that. I was getting complacent being on the same stage all the time. It was becoming like going to my shift at work where I just had to be the monkey and dance in the cage. The reason I decided to leave was because it was like I needed to be on some stages where I need to be more nervous than I normally am. I still get nervous, but I was getting less nervous and caring less about those shows. So that's why I just decided maybe it would make it more difficult to tour because you can't just pick up the phone and book six months of touring. You've got to be a little more hands-on. But at least it's putting me on stages I haven't been on in years. Like when I did the XM competition, it was at the MIX and I hadn't been on the stage at the MIX in four years. And that was my home club for the first four years of my career.
GM: But the rooms are kinda similar.
DM: But it's the same view. When you're standing on the same stage six times in a week and then a month later you're hosting that stage, and then six months later you're headlining...I was at Yuk's a lot. Especially back east. Every time I was back there I was doing the main club or one of the other clubs around the city. It was just time. I wanted to mix it up.
GM: As for the competition, it seems odd that a guy on a national network sitcom every week would be in a competition.
DM: It's weird. I didn't want to do it. Ben Miner, who's a good friend of mine who runs XM for Canada called me twice and asked me to sign up and I said no. Because it was like, 'Dude, I'm still waiting to hear about the second season.' We hadn't heard about the second season when I finally agreed to do the competition. The main reason I agreed to do it was because it was at the MIX and I was like I really wanted to do seven minutes at my favourite club. And the other thing was I was getting ready for JFL and it was the same set length. So let's try it out and see how it goes, see if it works. But I felt really bad when I did it. When it got to the voting level, I sent out a few tweets but I didn't really push it. Even when Ben called to tell me I'd won, I was like, aw, man, I was really hoping, like, Alex Sparling would have social media-ed the crap out of it and beat me because he's an up-and-comer and it gives him a good chance. But last year Pete Zedlacher won the XM Top Comic and he writes for all the top shows in Canada and he's a headliner. And that's how Ben pitched it. He was like, 'We're looking for the best in each city to compete against each other.' And when you look at the list of people who made the finals, especially the Ontario comics, they're all working headliners that are writing on shows and acting in movies and stuff. So I feel like we're all kind of on par. Pat Thornton's in the finals and he's been on every show that's ever been made in Canada. So when I saw the finals list, I was like, okay, I don't feel so bad. But for a while I was like, this is kinda dirty. I shouldn't be doing this.
GM: How many in the finals?
DM: There's eight of us.
GM: How is the voting done?
DM: It's done that night. It's judged. There's four judges. The semi-finals was public voting. I'm still kind of surprised I won, to be honest. But now I have to go and actually win.
GM: But your buddy runs the thing.
DM: Oh, come on, now! Ben knows everybody! Ben's a comic.
GM: And the winner gets 15 grand. You must make that in an episode of your show!
DM: It'd be a nice little tip to the year if I could win. It'd help offset the shitty pay I'm getting for Russell Peters.
GM: Which was part of the award, too, right?
DM: Yeah, I don't know how that worked because it was never advertised. I don't necessarily know if all the finalists get to do it. All I know is they asked me if I'd come back and do Rogers Arena and I was like, 'I think I can make time for that.'
GM: You're going to be in your element.
DM: I'm really nervous.
GM: Have you ever been to an arena show?
GM: I've seen Russell at an arena and they're pretty intimate because there are huge screens and a great sound system. No echoes, like I was expecting.
DM: That's what I worry about, the echo. There isn't, eh?
GM: There isn't any. It's fantastic.
DM: Okay. I can't wait. I'm so excited. The last time my dad was at a show was at Zesty's eight years ago. He's got health problems. He watches the stuff on TV and he's a big fan and he listens to my stuff all the time but he hasn't seen me live in eight years and I'm nine years into standup. So he saw me a year in live and I'm so excited for him to see this one. And my daughter's never been to a show. This is the first one we're letting her go to.
GM: But she's seen your act, hasn't she?
DM: No. When she was twelve, I said she could watch one of my Comedy specials until I swore and then we had to stop it. And so we were 22 seconds in and it was like, 'Alright, there you go.' She was like, 'I don't even know how the joke ends!' Whatever. I'm sure she's Googled me before. She's a big fan. She loves Spun Out. She came to a couple of tapings in Toronto and she really liked the show.
GM: How old is she?
DM: She just turned 16 last week.
GM: So she's old enough.
DM: For sure.
GM: Will you tame it down?
DM: No. If anything, after Joan Rivers and Robin Williams dying, it's just reiterated the fact that there's no more editing, there's no more caring. But she also lives with me. She probably hears things that are ten times worse than what I say on stage. She's got a pretty good sense of humour. She's pretty dark.
GM: And she also knows the real you.
DM: That's just it. Darcy Michael on stage is a persona just as much as Gordon is a character. Every comic's like that. I'd like to think I'm way more chill and less sporadic than I am on stage.
GM: That's because you're always stoned at home.
DM: Everyone thinks that! I'm not that big of a stoner.
GM: Because you always used to put forward that image.
DM: Yeah, I know. I guess I like weed. I still dabble in it every day but not much. (laughs)
GM: Where did they get this idea?!
DM: Well, like some people have a glass of wine at night with dinner. I just follow my glass of wine with a giant doobie... No... It depends. Depends on if I'm trying to lose weight like I am right now. I don't have any weed at home. I go to my neighbour's every night, though, for a little hoot. Because if I don't have it and she does, I can just go and knock on the door and be like, 'Let's have a little hoot before I go to bed.' Because then I can go home and go right to bed and not stay up until three in the morning eating. Anyway, I think it's fun because the week before I'm doing Rogers Arena I'm at the MIX. So you can see me for twenty dollars or a week later you can see me for, what is it, like $280 or something for a ticket?
GM: Is it?
DM: I don't know. It cost me a fucking fortune for the eight tickets I bought! God, I hope it's a good set. I'm so nervous. I just want to know if I can take my notebook on stage. (laughs)
GM: You usually do, right?
DM: I have a really terrible memory. A lot of people think it's part of the shtick but it's just that I need to know where I'm going next. It's definitely a security blanket. When I do television tapings I don't have my notebook because I have a teleprompter with my set list. It's never written out. It's all just a set list just like a musician would use. But at clubs, sometimes I'll have like a printed out set list on the stage floor. But most of the time I just take my notebook.
GM: Does Jeremy offer any tags or give you any material?
DM: If Jeremy laughs at a joke when I'm writing it, I immediately throw it away. That's a God's honest truth. I learned that the first two years into standup. Anything Jer finds funny, audiences look at me likeI have a dick growing out of my forehead. They're just like, what?
GM: What kind of sense of humour does he have?
DM: He is very quirky. And very dry. And just silly and stupid. He's not very funny! (laughs) He is, he makes us laugh but he definitely doesn't understand comedy.
GM: So he's not going to be a writing partner.
DM: No, no. My best friend is my writing partner. Karl. He lives in Peterborough now. We're working on a couple different projects together but he'll help me with jokes. There was one joke that I just couldn't... Because I write most of my stuff on stage, and I was just trying to get this one joke to work. I was talking about pot brownies at this party and saying they had two kinds, they had the good ones and then the ones without weed. And he's like, 'Change "good" to "normal".' And I was like, Oh my God. They have the normal ones and then the ones without weed. That's what I love about this craft is that one word made that whole set come together for me.
GM: And it tells a lot about you.
DM: Exactly. And it gets the joke out. It's a bit of a roller for some audiences but it killed at Just For Laughs and I was so excited. He was there and he always gets to come on the road and hang out because he doesn't have a day job like Jer so Jer stays at home and Karl and I get to go party. (laughs).
GM: Do you just email bits to each other?
DM: Every morning at 6:30 he calls me. So we talk for usually an hour, an hour and a half every morning. And then we'll do some writing. A lot of the times I write the idea out or I'll have a story that I want to tell on stage and I'll tell it a few times and he'll just kind of pipe in with some suggestions and stuff.
GM: And he's not a comic?
DM: No. He's my tattoo artist. He does all my tattoos. Him and I are very funny together. We have a good rapport and we know each others' brains very well. No one ever wants to hang out with Karl and I.
GM: You met him through tattooing?
DM: No, we met years and years ago. The first time I ever met him was at the Urban Well. He was at my second show ever in the front row. And he's a gorgeous, gorgeous... Like, he used to be a model so obviously I hit on him from the stage and we talked afterwards for a minute then I didn't see him for six months. A mutual friend of ours worked at this bong shop that we used to go and smoke joints at all the time and we just hit it off in this bong shop smoking a joint one day and it just kinda grew from there.
DM: Yeah, in Vancouver. And now he lives in Peterborough.
GM: Is he gay?
DM: Yeah, yeah. It's the old adage. People are still surprised that we don't bang.
GM: You're married!
DM: I know, and he's engaged. He's the first gay best friend... It's weird because most gay guys don't have gay best friends. Or I guess they do. I don't know.
GM: They just bang them.
DM: Yeah, they probably fuck all the time. Like, we'll give each other a dry hand job if it's a slow day or something, but you know, nothing crazy! (laughs)
GM: Jim Gaffigan has a writing partner: his wife. But there's such a stigma in standup for that.
DM: The industry we're in, in general, when it comes to writing stuff, comics will give each other tags all the time. And it's no different. Karl is not a comedian but has a very funny outlook on life. And all my material comes from my life so the people around me are contributing to it whether they're writing it with me or just being a part in my life. They're contributing somehow. So Karl is very much involved because he's part of the joke most of the time. Or Jer is. Him and I talk every morning for an hour at least and just by having that conversation – 'What did you do yesterday?' – you start talking and you start laughing and riffing back and forth and then it's like, 'I'm gonna write that down. That's pretty funny.' It's fun.
GM: You got everything going on.
DM: It's all right. I'm ready for the crash.
GM: It'll happen.
DM: It's why I'm not buying a car anytime soon.
GM: That is show business. You try to prepare for what comes next. But you always have standup.
DM: And that's the beautiful thing is I'm not one of these guys that got a sitcom before he started standup and then eight years later is doing standup to pay the bills because he doesn't have a show anymore, right?
GM: Like Dave Foley?
DM: I realized as I was saying that sentence that I was describing...
GM: I was impressed with his standup.
DM: Let me tell you something about Dave Foley. He is hands-down one of the funniest people on the planet. He's like a golden retriever with a sense of humour. He's so gentle and loyal and trustworthy. Watching how he would shape jokes on the show... He knows his shit. But his standup I find very funny. And him in general just super funny and super humble. Other than when he's drunk and introducing himself as "National treasure Dave Foley." (laughs)
GM: I would imagine actors must hate you. You're a guy with very little acting experience...
DM: I've been in a few movies! But yeah.
GM: But compared to some actors who would have gone out for your part.
DM: Yeah, oh I'm sure they do. But also I started in the industry as an actor. I did a lot of theatre before I started standup and then I just realized that standup was kind of more what I liked doing. But I think for what the character I'm playing on Spun Out, it makes the most sense to have a comedian playing that character. They really gave me a lot of freedom with the character. I think that has a lot to do with my standup being a part of it.