Interview with: Shane Ogden

Since having my eyes opened to the very large (and funny!) comedy scene in Saint John – I haven’t been able to escape the advertisements for show after show, weekend after weekend of comedy.

I met Shane at a new material night at Happinez Wine Bar a few months ago. He told me about his regular comedy series, Shane Ogden Presents and naturally, I wanted to share with you.

The next Shane Ogden Presents… show is August 14th in Saint John at 3 Miles’ Function Junction and features Comedy Legend Mike Macdonald. Tickets are $20 and $5 off of every ticket goes to the RCMP Foundation.  I think my favourite thing about SOP is how personal it is – you can text (506) 608-3677 for FREE ticket delivery anywhere in the Saint John area by a real human! You don’t even need to leave your couch!

Enjoy!

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Hi Shane! Tell me about yourself and what you do.

I’m a father, comedian, and electrician.  I assume you are asking about comedy.. I’m 38 and I’m still learning who I am.  I’m certainly not who I thought I was going to be… I’m sure I’ll be a couple of more things before I die. 

How did you get started in comedy? Do you remember your first “bit”?

I was in a couple of plays in High School, when I graduated I went to Calgary, where I continued to act in community plays and a travelling Dinner Theatre Group.  After one of these plays our cast party was at a comedy club, and I decided I had to try stand up.  It looked like a lot of fun.  I’m understating that, I was in an obsessive trance.  I knew I was going to do it for the rest of my life.   My first “routine” was about air travel… I am to embarrassed to even repeat it, lol.  I will say I wasn’t good right away… for every good bit I’ve had I’ve made 10 peoples’ ears bleed with failed attempts.  I have gone through a lot of different phases and have taken several different approaches to stand up.  I’m currently in my favourite  headspace which is a clinically depressed terrible parent with O.C.D.  Seems like the more problems you have the funnier it is to people.   Human beings are really awful, terrible creatures, lol. 

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James Mullinger performing at Shane Ogden Presents!

Comedy in Saint John is not new – but it seems like it’s gone through some sort of rebirth or new identity.

Enlighten me on Comedy in SJ.

Comedy in Saint John has been infrequent, often big stars blow through town, which does not breed healthy well rounded experiences for audiences.  If you go see an open mic it SHOULD be people who are new, or comedians with experience trying new things.  If you go see a draw (TV or movie star/established comedian), you’ll see a great show, but chances are you’ll pay a higher ticket price.  Neither of those experiences, big names or open mics, are lasting, organic experiences that resonate with the community.  The reason comedy is experiencing a rebirth in Saint John is because of three cornerstones of love and enthusiasm.  Five years ago I started performing regular shows in Saint John.  When I started running out of material I hired my favourite comedians, opened for them and called it “Shane Ogden Presents…”

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Tell me about Shane Ogden Presents!

This series is regularly sold out and is not a money maker for me, it’s about high quality entertainment at affordable prices.  My regular shows are just ten dollars, and feature comedians who are not household names, but have amazing comedic abilities.  I make only enough to generously pay the performers, no agency fees, no middle men, just production costs, equipment rental, and laughter.  I also hire local comedians and give them opportunities to be part of a professional show.    Even before me there was also Lloyd Ravn, who has taken a brake to care for his family.  He put on loads of regular shows at great expense and definitely made a huge impact.   Then there is the pure magic of James Mullinger, whose enthusiasm is matched only by his tremendous comedic talent.  He is currently setting up shows all over New Brunswick, and is making great things happen.  Between Lloyd, James and myself we’re the reason there are regular, professional stand up comedy shows in Saint John… and all of NB.  

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Recommend 10 stand-ups I need to hear right now

Mike Macdonald, Derrick Edwards, Mike Wilmot, Tom Stade, Pete Zedlacher, Brett Martin, Debra Digiovanni, Mark Little, Sean Lecomber, and Paul Myrehaug.  All amazing under appreciated Canadian artists, all among the best period.  If I were to put a dream team Canadian Olympic Stand Up Comedy Team, that’d be it.  There are so many great talents, and Canada has the best Comedians in the world and because I love stand up so much I feel it’s my mission to make sure people know their names.

What’s a typical day like for you / what is your dream day?

I don’t know how typical my days are… but generally I wake up waaaay to early to go to a job far away from my home… the day is usually broken up and peppered with thoughts of missing my family, a new bit I’m working on, or how I’m going to pay for the next “Shane Ogden Presents…” Show.  My dream day would be sleeping all day, waking only to play with my kids, write for an hour on a shaded balcony, perform at a regular open mic, see all my friends, and then I can’t tell you how my day would end except to say it would involve illegal substances, my wife and things she won’t even do on my birthday.

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What’s next?

Next I will focus on loving my family and friends, writing and performing stand up, and making “Shane Ogden Presents…” the best it can be by providing quality entertainment at affordable prices.

The next “Shane Ogden Presents…” show is August 14th in Saint John at 3 Miles’ Function Junction and features Comedy Legend Mike Macdonald.  Tickets are $20 and $5 off of every ticket goes to the RCMP Foundation.  Text (506) 608-3677 for FREE ticket delivery anywhere in the Saint John area.

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See you there!

A place you should be staying: Chipman Hill Suites (Guest Post)

A few months ago I was approached by Susan Fullerton to stay a night, with her compliments, at the Chipman Hill Suites – a getaway within my own City. Rather than have a sleepover, wake up and head back to my own home, I approached my friends Candice and Jason (who were currently planning a trip home for a week) to take Susan up on her offer.

Read below for a review of Candice and Jason’s Chipman Hill Suites experience!

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When Barb approached me about staying at Chipman Hill Suites for part of a recent visit to Saint John, I immediately accepted. Having previously lived in the city’s uptown, it made perfect sense to stay in one of Saint John’s charming, older properties instead of opting for a local chain hotel. Not surprisingly, we were very happy with our decision!

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My fiance Jason and I spent two nights at 71 Sydney St., which is a stone’s throw away from where our former apartment is located. The non-traditional check-in worked well for us (there’s no front desk, so you pick up your keys by entering the building with a security code provided to you several days before you arrive), and we absolutely loved the historic details found inside. The main floor is outfitted with several sitting areas, and while we didn’t make much use of the space, it was neat to see inside the circular sun room we’d walked by many times (visible from the corner of Sydney and Princess streets.)

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The suite was equipped with a kitchenette, small dining table, two televisions, a king-sized bed and the kinds of small, beautiful details you usually find in well-maintained, older Saint John buildings, including wood carvings and stained-glass windows. The large window in the bedroom made it very bright in the room in the morning, even with the shutters closed, but with a busy schedule each day, we didn’t mind this wake up call.

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We were lucky to have our stay fall on two beautiful, summer days. The first night, we walked through King’s Square down to the boardwalk just before the sun set, and Jason and I both commented on how similar it felt to when we lived in the city, and how nice the feeling was. We were also able to invite several friends over to visit us at the suite, which was wonderful.

I’d highly recommend any Saint John visitors to consider Chipman Hill Suites during their stay! The rates are extremely reasonable, given that wifi, parking and laundry was also available (at 71 Sydney St.) The experience is sure to give former Saint John residents a taste of home, and new visitors a glimpse into life in the city.

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Thanks so much, Candice! Come back soon <3

Take a minute and join the Chipman Hill Suites newsletter – by clicking here.

They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

… Now for the fun part!

Do you need a getaway? Do you need a home away from home for a night?

Tell us your story in the comments to be entered to win a complimentary night at the Chipman Hill Suites!

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Product Review: Triumph

As you know, from time to time I’m approached by companies to try out products. Normally, I pass those opportunities along to you guys – but this time I couldn’t resist. I was approached by Triumph to have an over-the-phone bra fitting and to be sent a sample of their product.

When they originally contacted me I was in full #30before30 swing. I was going to the gym 4-5 times per week and was noticing that my current bra wasn’t cutting it. (read – skipping, push-ups and burpees were a v-neck t-shirt disaster/peep show).

BRA FACTS:

Apparently 64% of women are wearing the wrong size (and almost 30% of them do this knowingly). This isn’t shocking to me. I was. And I was. It’s REALLY hard to resist a $5 La Senze deal.

I was sized over the telephone by a sweetheart in Toronto. It was easier than I thought… one measurement, two measurements, sized. I was wearing a size WAY OFF from what she suggested I should be wearing. (See fact above).

At the end of the call it was decided that she would send me a sized sports bra (a thing I didn’t know existed). I was surprised when my bra arrived that she had also send along the Amourette bra and panty set. #winning

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They fit me like. a. glove. It was INCREDIBLE. I was instantly more confident and most of my shirts fit me better than they did before.

Here are some signs you’re wearing the wrong size:

– Your straps are digging into your shoulder.
– Your straps are falling off your shoulder.
– Your underwire is sticking out.
– You’re “spilling out” – you know what I’m talking about.
– The center of your bra (between the two cups) does not rest perfectly on your skin.
– The band keeps moving up in the back – or – the strap is causing an ugly bulge.

You can be sized almost anywhere – even over the telephone. Feel free to contact an expert Triumph Bra Stylist at bra.fittings.ca@triumph.com.

Full disclosure – of course these bras were sent with their compliments. Since receiving them, I have purchased 2 additional Triumph bras (available locally at Sears and Lillianne) because I seriously love them that much. 

Interview with: Lucas Hicks from SappyFest

Guys. I can’t even handle my excitement.

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SappyFest 9 is just around the corner. On August 1st everyone will gather on Bridge Street in Sackville for another full weekend of your favourite music.

The Constantines, Rae Spoon, Cousins, Mike Feuerstack, Julie Doiron … It’s old home week.

I interviewed Lucas Hicks, the new Creative Director at SappyFest. Check it out!

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Hey Lucas! Tell me about yourself and what you do

I’m an original Sackville local. I’ve been here for my whole 20 years.
I help co-founders and ex-festival directors, Paul Henderson and Jon Claytor, run a pub in town called Thunder & Lightning.
I’m also organizing myself to start a booking agency here on the East Coast.

This past year was rough, tell me about it.

It was rough, but we pulled through thanks to our dear supporters.
After last year’s festival there was a deficit of about 15k. Paul and Jon came up with the idea to create a coffee table book highlighting the last eight years of the festival. They both had decided it was going to be their last festival before it happened but stuck around to raise the money and create the book, SappyForever. It’s a tremendous piece of work. We pre-sold over 250 copies and set out on a tour from Halifax to Toronto to throw shows and deliver the books. It was a huge success and meant a lot to all of us. It helped strengthen the organization. Paul and Jon both still play a really important role and there’s a bigger and better board of directors.

What is your relationship with SappyFest?

What are some of your favourite memories of the festival?

I found out about the festival 6 years ago when I was in middle school. Shotgun Jimmie came to play a few songs for my class and told us all about the festival. I emailed Paul, the director at the time, and insisted that I get involved somehow. It’s always primarily been a 19+ event due to liquor laws in New Brunswick, but they created a great youth volunteer position that allowed me to help out and still get cultured. I stuck pretty close to him after that, he’s taught me a lot.

The SappyFest lineup this year is like a family reunion.

What should I be looking forward to?

I’m really excited to have all the classic Sappy artists together: Michael Feuerstack (ex-Snailhouse), Julie Doiron, Shotgun & Jaybird. It’s going to be really special.
There’s also some amazing bands that are pretty fresh and haven’t played the festival yet like Ought, Freelove Fenner, and Dusted. It’s a great mix.

If someone is new to SappyFest

What should they know going in? How can you ever really prepare?

Don’t prepare too much. It’s an amazing environment and an even better community.

What is a typical day like for you?

I’m in the office by 9 responding to emails and making sure all the day to day stuff is running smoothly. I take care of the programming, production, and artist relations so there’s always something to do.

and what’s your dream day like?

Listening to all the Pavement records in order and strolling downtown for ice cream, which basically happens weekly. I’m pretty lucky.

What’s next?

Things have been really busy with the festival just a month away. Planning for next year pretty much starts immediately after So it stays busy but is much less stressful. I’ll hopefully be able to focus my time into starting the booking agency up.

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Thanks, Lucas!

Weekend passes for SappyFest are on sale here. They’re still looking for volunteers and billets – find more info on that by clicking either word.

Here’s the SappyFest schedule:

(you should click it so you can actually read it)

I’ll see you there.

An event you should be attending: Photo workshops with Allie Beckwith

I met Allie back in 2012 when I invited her on a whim to take part in #SaintJohnCut3. I loved her photographs from the shoot and since then have been in awe of her fast and awesome success.

In just a few short years (while finishing up her studies) she has shot at New York Fashion Week, been published on the Italian Vogue website and has shot for the blog And I Was Like.

Next week Allie is holding a photo workshop where she’ll have everything laid out for you – the venue, the model, the backdrop and the assistance. You show up with your camera and she’ll guide you through the process of a fashion shoot. The next night you’ll gather at UNBSJ and she’ll critique your portfolio and your shots from the night before.

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I asked Allie about an instance when she was able to have one on one time with a photographer and how that benefited her and her photography career….

A few months ago I had an 1h long phone call with Fashion Photographer, Chris Nicholls. He is a photographer based in Toronto and works a lot with FLARE Magazine. He has photographed Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry & Lorde and so many more. He really gave me a lot of confidence in my shooting. He told me his story of how his career evolved over the years and the steps he had to take to get where he is today. He was really encouraging and told me that I was already ahead of where he was at 20 years old, so that really gave me perspective to where I stand and gave me a lot of valuable advice moving forward. 

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I was also able to chat with Allie about what kind of advice she’ll be giving when looking through your existing portfolios, whether you’re a model or a photographer…

When reviewing a model’s portfolio I look for how many shoots they have under their belt, if they are experienced, if they have diversity, if there are photos without makeup so I can see if they have potential to what I’d like to turn them into, if they can hold some looks better than others, etc. 
The advice I would give to models is to show as much range as possible, I like working with a model that is really confident in all the situations I face her with, and also be creative with posing, it excites photographers like me reviewing a models book when she has unique posing. 
While when reviewing a photographer’s portfolio I am looking at lighting, concept, location, retouching, post processing, the image as a whole, not so much the models features.
For photographers, I would say stick with one theme, if it’s fashion keep it fashion, if it’s weddings, keep it weddings. It’s tough reviewing a portfolio that has fine art, to new born, to event photography, to sports, etc. You want to show your strongest field. 

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For more info on the workshops click here.

As of June 27th there are only 2 spots left – so don’t delay!

xo,

B

A contest you should be entering: Brunswick Square’s Summer Style Contest

I like to consider myself a pretty knowledgeable person. I might not be able to tell you who sings a certain song or who the main character is in a movie… but ask me who designed a certain dress or pair of sunglasses and I’m ON IT.

Brunswick Square is holding a contest that, I’m sure, was made for me.

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Use your fashion sense and guess which Brunswick Square store styled each outfit currently on display on the 3rd level, next to Baubles.

I stopped by yesterday to check out the scene and snapped a few photos…

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Do you think you know? I have my guesses.

Drop by Brunswick Square and fill out a ballot. You could win… wait for it… a $500 shopping spree. That could buy a lot of summer style.

xo

P.S.

Follow Brunswick Square on Twitter and Facebook below:


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Interview with: Scott Thomas + an event you should be attending

It took me so long to finally get my act together and attend an Improve show at the Saint John Theatre Company, hosted by the Improvisation Corporation. It was REALLY FUNNY.

I think I was nervous at first to attend because I’m not into the “make fun of the audience” style of comedy. This wasn’t like that! They ask for volunteers to tell a story from their day or week and they add to it. It’s funny.

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This Friday is the “Season Finale” featuring my friends, Bad People, as their musical guest.

I think you should add this to your calendar. I’ll see you there.

In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Scott Thomas, funny guy and great actor!

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Hi Scott, tell me about yourself and what you do?

I’m a dad and an academic advisor at UNBSj and also a local theatre devotee. Ive been heavily involved in theatre performance and production for over 20 years now and my journeys on the stage have taken me to all sorts of places – but eventually back to my home town. Ive been working with the SJ Theatre Co for 10 years now and have operated my own improvisational comedy group (Improv Corp) for about 8 years.

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How did you get started in theatre?

Probably doing skits around campfires at summer camp – its a tough environment – a set with live fire and an audience more interested in making out than laughing. High School theatre at St Macs really gave me the bug and just enough success to develop an ego. Later after giving up theatre forever after Bob Doherty didn’t cast me in his production of Little Shop of Horrors, I rediscovered theatre while at university. Those early theatre days in Halifax stripped the ego away and had me working as background set painter, tech crew, chorus, writer and whatever other parts I could scrape together. Over time I managed to find my way to working with some very talented and sensible people who gave me an excellent grounding in theatre performance and production. Over time opportunities came to work around the maritimes including a very fun 2 year stint with TNB.

How did you get started in Theatre in Saint John?

I arrived back in SJ like most people – unexpectedly – and began to seek out local theatre. I was initially going to avoid the SJ Theatre Co as I hadn’t heard very good things – but when they put out a call to do Guys and Dolls (my favourite musical of all time) I had to jump at the opportunity. Bob Doherty was the director and this time he did cast me in the leading role. Working with the company has been a great experience ever since.

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When did Comedy enter the picture… specifically improv?

I have always been a comedy junkie. Growing up it was Monty Python, SCTV, Abbott and Costello, the Marx Bros, Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Bob Newhart – you named it, I wanted to listen to it. But it was at the Halifax Fringe festival in the summer of 1992 that I saw the format I really wanted to take on. A group by the name of Scriptwrecked featuring local Halifax celebs Jamie Bradley and the late Bill Forbes did an entire show of improvised comedy. It was brilliant. I took every workshop and training session I could find, but it wasn’t until the early 2000’s when I was settled down and had a group of like minded people around me who were equally interested in performing improv comedy. They had previously tried the format with a local group called the Comedy Knights and we relaunched the group under my direction and called ourselves Improvisation Corporation. We’ve been going for close to a decade now and have evolved through differing formats, locations and cast members – but somehow we march on.

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Tell me about Cheese Monkey Box Pirate?

How did that get started?

CMBP is our monthly improv show at the BMO Theatre on Princess St. While rehearsing for our live shows, we would often have to shout out random words to one another as inspiration. As improvisors know, there are some words and names that just keep coming back again and again no mater how random you think things are – for example – it is very common for people to use the name JOHNSON in shows. “Mr. Johnson I have your review here….” For us, the words CHEESE, MONKEY, BOX or PIRATE kept coming up again and again. So we said we would just get it out of the way by naming the show those words. Its our current series name – but that too could change – past shows have been called Potato Salad, Funzai, Comedy Night in SJ and The Maple Leaf Queens Comedy Buffet – who knows what it will be next year?

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What can an audience member expect at a CMBP show?

We do scenic long form improv based on tales told to us by our guest stars – usually a local celeb or musician. Once we have their story we used it like a shopping list an explore the ideas and characters in a variety of short improvised scenes. Sometimes they are connected other times not – you never know. What an audience can expect is the unexpected – which is often a funny take on relatable situations. Its a fun night – we have a bar, its a cabaret party atmosphere and it’s free to get in the doors – all we ask is that you “Pay what you can” when we put out out bucket of truth. Al of our CMBP proceeds support the SJ Theatre company and we’ve already had success with helping them get new chairs and tech equipment for our current space the BMO Theatre.

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Thanks, Scott!

See you Friday!

Facebook event (( here ))

#30before30 – Here we are

HI!

It’s May 28th… approximately 141 days since my very first OnRamp class at Fundy CrossFit and 148 days since going cold turkey on spaghetti for every meal, cutting out “bagels as lunch” and omitting “extra cheese” from everything I consume.

My goal in January was to lose 30 pounds before my 30th birthday. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m happy to report….

*looks up HTML for blinking, scrolling, flashing text*

I did it everybody! I’m 30 pounds lighter and 100x happier!

Eating Well

From years of experience, It’s very clear to me that going to the gym and being active is only 40% of the battle toward looking and feeling better. The remaining 60% is fuelling your body with what it needs and avoiding and cutting down on what it doesn’t.

I tried my best to count points for the first few months of the year. Once I got the hang of it, I found I didn’t really need all of the crap that I did before. I snacked on a lot of Special K crackers, salsa and apple sauce.

Being Active

I was reminded last night that my original plan for #30before30 was to try a bunch of activities. I would spend a month doing yoga, try my hand at boxing, take up running or cycling or skating…

The only activity I managed to do (other than CF) was a few extra walks here and there! I didn’t expect to become as addicted as I did (and am) to CrossFit.

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I’m SO GLAD I stuck it out.

When people ask me “oh my goodness how do you do CrossFit? – It’s so hard!”, I try to get across to them – it WAS hard. Now I want it to be harder. I can’t wait for it to be harder. When a workout isn’t that bad, I’m bummed I didn’t add on 5 more pounds. Or when I’m not panting and sweating and wanting a good nap on the gym floor, I think “yeah, I could have pushed harder in the last 2 minutes”.

CrossFit isn’t about beating the person beside you (believe me, I’ve done too many WODs beside Rob Pearson), it’s about beating yourself and the last time you did it.

Since January – I can successfully do a string of real pushups, dead-lift over 110 pounds and jerk 65 pounds over my head. My clean is up to 75 pounds and my box jump is just shy of 16 inches. I feel like I’m winning.

Don’t get me wrong, there were absolutely times when I was losing.

I went 8 weeks straight without improving at all on my back squat. I actually asked if it was possible that “squats just weren’t for me”.

There was also a workout that I still have nightmares over – 150 wall balls for time. I finished that WOD a good 6 minutes after everyone else. A good time for this benchmark workout is around 6 minutes if you do the wall balls unbroken. I was 15 minutes. I actually cried. During the workout. Not a joke. Gillian Goldie finished the workout with me by doing 20 ADDITIONAL wall balls beside me to cheer me on.

I’m so thankful for her and the entire CrossFit community. I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have made it to my goal without their encouragement.

GAH. Sorry. I’m a sap.

THANK YOU

Thanks Adam Kierstead (for buying healthy groceries & also cooking them all for me), Gillian Goldie (for doing extra wall balls and cheering me on all the time), Greg Pattman (for believing I COULD actually do a squat and then high-fiving me when I (14 weeks later) finally nailed it), Cory Brown (for telling me try on a pair of jeans that didn’t fit me and then following up when he knew they would) and Jen Constantine (who I overheard saying I was faster at burpees. Thanks. That put me on cloud nine for weeks).

Here’s to 30 more pounds! (and a lot less CrossFit talk on barbbarbbarb.com!)

An Event You Should Be Attending + Interview With: Elaine Shannon

I love when people make things happen in Saint John.

Adriano Silva, Nelson Hum, Kyle Willis ans Gary Stackhouse (plus many, many others) star in the second full length film from Let Em Laugh Productions.

The opening is this weekend (plus another in June) at the Saint John Theater Company BMO Rehearsal Hall. Friday and Saturday is sold out – but there are still tickets available for June 4th and 5th! You can pick up your tickets here: TICKETS

I hope you enjoy the interview below with Elaine Shannon, Producer of the Divorce.

Hi Elaine! Tell me about yourself and what you do!

Besides being a Mom to three busy teens and married to a Marine Engineer I am the Producer and Host of Simply Zen for the Bell Aliant Community One Network. This 30 minute bi-weekly show is how I give back to my community. Every episode touches on an aspect of wellness and it highlights many of the amazing people in our community that are also of service to others to promote wellness. I am so inspired by the guests.

In addition to the TV show I am wrapping production of the Divorce Movie, an independent feature length film that was produced in and around Saint John with a total of 20 locations and over 100 people in cast/crew in a time frame of just under 5 months to film. We have now almost completed post production and will be screening the film May 23/24 June 4/5 at the Saint John Theatre Company to friends and family. We will be submitting the film to film festivals in the next few weeks. From TIFF to Sundance and the Atlantic Film Festival and many niche comedy festivals.

I am also part of the Production team for the Movie Owl River Runners that was chosen as one of the films for the Indiecan10K Challenge. We have 8 months to produce a film with only 10k that we have to raise in an indiegogo campaign. There are 7 films in the challenge from across Canada.

These projects I am currently working on are like a dream to me. I get to use my organizational and project management skills in a creative environment with amazing people…and I get to work with my family on all of my projects.

Tell me about the film – what’s it about?

It is a road trip movie with four main cast and their adventures on a guys weekend to help their buddy take his mind off the divorce.

“The Divorce” Official Trailer #1 from Let Em Laugh Productions on Vimeo.

What is your role in The Divorce film?

My role in the movie is Producer, Production Manager and so many more titles…it is a volunteer project so we are all wearing many hats.

The film opening is this weekend at the Saint John Theatre Company BMO Theatre

What can the audience expect?

We are actually having 4 screenings of the film May 23/24 June 4/5 at the Saint John Theatre Company. The 23rd/24th is sold out. These screenings will help us through feedback from the audience on any changes that we need to do before the festival applications go out and it is also to help raise much needed funds to cover the costs for audio. All of the movie expenses have been covered out of pocket by Rob Parsons the writer/director however the audio is around $5000 and that is something that we need help with financially.

What’s next?

I never really know the answer to that question.
What I do know is it will be fun, it will involve amazing talented people and I will be LIVING life to the fullest and mostly following the breadcrumbs.

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Follow along with the Let Em Laugh Crew and Elaine on Twitter here:




Interview with: James Mullinger

I think meeting Judith Mackin may have been the turning point in my Saint John love-affair-of-a-life. Since meeting Judith, I have welcomed so many great people into my circle of friends that love Saint John as much as I do.

Imagine my surprise when I started following James Mullinger on Twitter and Instagram. Who is this stranger that seems to love Saint John as much as I do? and… (*shocker*) … how can I meet this guy? OF COURSE – it’s not a few weeks later and I’m invited to a meet and greet with James and Pam to welcome them to Saint John – newly arrived from London, England.

Since meeting the Mullingers, my eyes have also been opened to the comedy scene in Saint John. A thing – I’m ashamed to admit – I knew nothing about. Now I’m adding “Comedy Show” to my calendar on the regular.

I hope you enjoy the interview with James Mullinger, new Rothesay resident!

Living the Dream at the Barrel’s Head

Hi James! Tell me about yourself and what you do.

I’m 36 years old and I’m a stand up comedian and writer. I spent 14 years working for GQ magazine in London and almost 10 years as a comedian on the UK comedy circuit. I now live in Rothesay, New Brunswick. Which also happens to be my favourite place on the planet. I have an office at home where I work as GQ’s Comedy Editor and I travel all over the world telling jokes. I am also the Senior Vice President of Richwater Films North American office, who are the leading independent producer of British crime thrillers.

You, your wife Pam and your small children recently made the move across the ocean.

How did that come about?

The short answer is that we wanted a better life. And there is nowhere better than New Brunswick. In my last job I had to spend a lot of time in New York and LA. As a comedian I travel the world. But I can honestly say I have never seen a view more beautiful than across the Kennebecasis River, which is right in front of my new home.

Don’t get me wrong, London is a wonderful and amazing place to visit. But when you have lived there for almost two decades as we did and have two young children it just doesn’t make sense. We had a good life there but my wife travelled a lot for work and I was on the road constantly. We never saw each other and were spending a fortune on childcare. Most depressingly we did not see enough of our son Hunter. So when our second son River was born we knew we needed a change. My wife is from the Kingston Peninsula and had the happiest childhood imaginable. I wanted that for my children.

How did you and your wife meet?

We met 14 years ago when she worked for Vanity Fair magazine. It was my first day at GQ and a mutual friend who was working with her introduced us. Every year since we visited Saint John and spent time with her amazing family who are in Fredericton, Sussex, Saint John and the Kingston Peninsula. I love them all very much and always felt sad when we had to leave. Beautiful people in a beautiful place.

I had a life that some would envy. Parties in glamourous places, photo shoots with supermodels on sunny beaches, interviewing famous people, crap like that. But I was always jealous of my wife’s family and the amazing life they have here.

We knew we needed a change. We debated New York. We debated a suburb of New York. We debated Toronto. I was keen on LA. But ultimately why not come to the most beautiful place in the world with the most lovely people in the world? So one day I suggested we move here. More than a year of heartache and hassle, here we are.

It took a lot of work to get here. Telling my family and our friends was heartbreaking. Dealing with dodgy shipping companies to get our treasured possessions here, the insanely difficult process for me to come and work here and we had a very disappointing experience with our realtor here in Rothesay so the last six months have been rather traumatic. It’s been a very rough ride but we are here now and it’s all been worth it. Not a day goes by without me waking up and realising how lucky we are to live here.

Not only is this the most picture-esque place in the world, it has everything and more that you could want from a city. An amazing theatre, cool bars like Happinez, the best interiors shop I have ever visited (Judith Mackin’s Tuck Studio) and politicians that really care. I honestly feel like the people running Saint John love the city and love the people. That is unique. I have been lucky or unlucky enough to meet and, in some cases interview, lots of politicians in my life: one American President, four British prime ministers, two London mayors so my bullshit detector is pretty good. Mayor Mel Norton is the real deal. A decent, honest, hardworking man who cares about people. And unlike almost all of the politicians I have met, he has charm and style too.

With the exception of our truly terrible realtor experience (which I will happily share with anyone who is interested on what to avoid), every single person we have met and dealt with here has been a joy. In England it is very rare that you get good service. And any time we had work done in our house it was hell. A full-on total nightmare – shoddy workmanship, theft, damage, you name it. Our house in Rothesay is currently being worked on by Dave Walker of Wham Design (who was brought to us by the incredible Judith Mackin who is doing wonders with our interior design) and I have honestly never met a more professional or talented contractor in my life. Dave and his team are actually making the process pleasurable, which I never thought was possible.

Tell me about how you got your start in journalism and comedy?

Well, a lot of this forms part of my Living The Canadian Dream show but to summarize, I spent my childhood as a massive movie buff. I have been collecting movie memorabilia since I was 11 years old, a hobby encouraged and supported by my parents. I used to make my own film fanzines using a typewriter and pictures cut out of other magazines and photos I took of my VHS tapes. I was obsessed with trashy B-movies like The Toxic Avenger and devoted a fanzine to that. I never thought I would be lucky enough to work for a magazine but after securing an internship at GQ I worked my arse off and they offered me a job. I stayed there until a few months ago when I moved here.

At 11 years old, I went to an English boarding school where I was bullied quite badly. We weren’t allowed to see our parents very often (once a month at most) and were not allowed to watch movies except for once a week on movie night. I used to seek solace in comedy tapes, sitting in my room listening to recordings of Steve Martin, Woody Allen, Bill Hicks and English comics like Ben Elton, Mel Smith, Rowan Atkinson. I just loved the art form. As a child who could barely muster the confidence to speak to a girl, I couldn’t understand how these amazing people could be on stage so calm and at ease and on top of that make people laugh. It became a dream to do this but I never thought I would ever be able to get on a stage and speak.

In my mid-twenties I had something of a quarter life crisis after being turned down for a promotion at GQ. I decided I had to try my hand at stand up. I remember the exact moment I made the decision and bizarrely it was here in Saint John. It was New Years Eve 2004 and I was in Steamers enjoying Dinner Theatre with my wife and her parents Barry and Wilhelmina. I was depressed with my life in London, with what I was doing. I looked at these talented young people performing and admired them but was also jealous of them. Whatever they were doing during the day in their day jobs, there they were at night – stars of the stage. Wowing and entertaining us. I decided there and then that 2005 would be the year I did my first open spot. Thanks to my best friend Julian Tuddenham who made us do it, we started in May 2005. He was and is the funniest person I have ever met but gave up doing stand up. I think he hates people too much. Which is fair enough. He is currently writing a script, which I cannot wait to read. It will probably be about how much he hates people.

I still collect movie memorabilia and especially VHS videotapes. My happiest memories as a child are of me scouring a video shop in Maidenhead called Video 83. I still love the musky smell from a video box. It takes me back. I am lucky that my parents encouraged this pursuit, very lucky.

What is the comedy scene like in the London area?

How different/similar is it from the comedy scene here?

Well, there is no doubt that there is a comedy boom right now in the UK but it’s essentially a Ponzi scheme. A dozen or so stand ups at the top are making tens of millions due to arena shows and appearing on every TV show going. The club comics are suffering because clubs keep closing due to the public choosing to spend their hard earned cash on arena shows.

I did alright because as well as doing clubs and universities, I made my own work – toured my own shows and promoted them myself. No agent, no tour manager, no PR. So the shows were exactly as I wanted them and I didn’t have to pay most of the money to someone else.

Now, I had heard from Canadian comics that things were much worse here in Canada. That the comedy circuit is dead. I beg to differ because you just have to make your own work, do it yourself. Don’t just sit back and wait for an agent to do it. I have found as much stand up work in the three months I’ve been here as I did in the UK. Possibly more. And moving to Canada has brought me many opportunities I would no have had in England. In March I opened for one of my favourite American comedians Orny Adams in Edmonton doing seven shows in five nights. I would never have got that opportunity if I was still in England. I am travelling all over Canada doing Yuk Yuks gigs and all over summer I am doing a show in a vineyard. Yes, a vineyard. Talk about living the dream.

And let’s not forget, Canada has the greatest comedy event in the world in Montreal every July. Just For Laughs is simply the most wonderful celebration of comedy. Forget Edinburgh, which is designed to bankrupt comedians and has no filter on it, Montreal is the best of the best while also championing new talent. I love that festival, there is nothing else like it.

Before we met, I had no idea that there was this huge comedy scene here in NB.

but I see that every week you’re working – playing clubs, theatres, bars, pubs, vineyards.

How come I didn’t know all of this was going on until you got here?

Very good question. I don’t know. But to be honest I have been surprised how much comedy there is here and how many brilliant up and coming comics there are here. I was aware of a handful before I moved. Neal Mundle and Lloyd Ravn are two of my favourite comics and are from Moncton and Sussex respectively. And Shane Ogden is a powerhouse of a stand up, hugely respected all over Canada, based in Grand-Bay Westfield and he along with Lloyd have done so much for comedy here. Shane has for five years been organising stand up shows eight times a year featuring the best headliners the world has to offer. Lots of people are certainly aware of him and what he does because his shows are always sold out why don’t more people know about them? It’s odd that these shows don’t get much press coverage.

In other places that I perform a lot (i.e. LA, New York and London) comedy is taken very seriously. Shows are reviewed by the local papers, they have sections devoted to comedy listings. It is strange to me that you don’t have that here.

Obviously I wish there was a Yuk Yuks here, the closest ones are Halifax and St John’s (both of which I am playing in August) which are amazing clubs. Yuk Yuks is a real seal of quality when it comes to stand up and Mark Breslin is a genius but I just wish there was one here in New Brunswick. The market is clearly there. Tickets are selling very fast for my solo show at the Imperial Theatre, which has over 800 seats. Shane’s shows always sell out with more than 300 people packed in. Comedy is big here. And it’s getting bigger. I have edited a comedy issue for British GQ for the past three years. Prior to that GQ had very little comedy on its pages. Now it has a whole issue devoted to it. I wish that the Maritimes media would do the same and devote more coverage to comedy. Then more comedians would come here and more clubs could open.

As we know this is a beautiful place, it is also a great place to do comedy. That’s why I’m here. I spoke with Jerry Seinfeld shortly after his show at the Harbour Station. He loved it, said the audience were exceptionally smart and that he would definitely come back. Let’s celebrate comedy a bit more, highlight the incredible array of homegrown talent here and make Saint John and New Brunswick a real comedy destination for all stand ups. There is such a deep pool of talent here, it’s amazing. Ask me to name you ten stand ups that I would recommend who live in the Maritimes.

OK, recommend ten stand ups that you…

… (Said straight away with no pauses) Jimmy Mackinley. Debra Steeves, Glen K Amo. Darren Elmore. Shane Ogden. Clint Gardiner. Lloyd Ravn. Neal Mundle. Martin Saulnier. Scott Campangna. Trevor Muxworthy. Marcel Richard.

I think that’s twelve.

Well there you go. And there are loads more. I went to Trevor Muxworthy’s gig at Wilser’s Room in Fredericton with my wife’s cousins a few months back and we honestly pissed ourselves laughing non stop all night – it was one of the consistently brilliant nights of comedy I’d seen in ages. About ten acts. All from Fredericton.

There are very few other places that I could name you ten brilliant stand ups other than LA, New York and London. In short, the Maritimes is crawling with awesome stand ups. And yet, here’s you Barb, a very culturally aware and intelligent person who loves going out, had no idea this was all here. Clearly something is very wrong. Why are people not aware of this incredible thing that is happening here right under their noses?

Who are your favourite comedians in the world?

My favourite American comic of all time is Jerry Seinfeld. My favourite British comic is Frank Skinner. I love Katherine Ryan who is a Canadian comic, not very well known here but a huge star in the UK. She is one of my all time favourites – profound and profoundly filthy. And she somehow skilfully weaves feminism into her set as well. Genius. I also love Chris Rock, Doug Stanhope, Carly Smallman, Scott Capurro, Orny Adams, Adam Bloom, Derek Seguin, Allyson June Smith, Tony Law, Andrew Doyle. I admire all comedians, I like most, but those are the ones I love that I can think of right now.

Tell me about “Living the (Canadian) Dream”

(and your upcoming show(s))

It’s a show I toured all over the UK and am doing in Montreal for a week in June. It’s a show I worked very hard on and audiences seem to like it. With other tours I have had the occasional bad show. Every night performing this was a joy. I am very proud of it and I hope everyone at the Imperial likes it. It is all about the notion of Living The Dream and how some of my childhood dreams came true and I messed them up. The aim of the show is to make the audience laugh at my misfortune and leave feeling happy that they aren’t as much of a loser as me. Previous shows I turned were darker, this one has dark moments but is ultimately uplifting and joyful. The first half of the show however will be all new material about my life in New Brunswick. Why we came, who we’ve met, my observations on Saint John and Canada as a whole and anecdotes and funny stories about things that have happened. I pride myself on the fact that the butt of every joke in my shows is me. I don’t like bullying in comedy. I won’t be doing lazy jokes targeting people, or groups of people. The show may be crude at times but the victim is always me. People pay to come out and have a good time and they don’t want to feel uncomfortable or offended. So I am the target of all my jokes. No one else gets abused. Is it the best stand up comedy show you are going to see this year? Not for me to say. But lots of people have told me it is!

Do you still get nervous?

I don’t get nervous as such but I do get, how can I put this, apprehensive. I want the gigs to go well. And I work hard on every facet of the performance and stage persona to make it work perfectly. It sounds pretentious but is a fine art and one slip up on stage because of something you say or do, and you lose the crowd, then it’s all over. So because I take all of this so seriously, I do become obsessive about ensuring the gigs go well. Sometimes this can be nerves, panic, whatever. I may spend a lot of time in the bathroom before particularly big shows. But it is all healthy. It means I care. I take the responsibility very seriously that a lot of good people have paid their hard earned money to laugh and have a good night. This is not something I take lightly so I want the gigs to go well.

When was the last time you were really nervous?

I know that nerves are not my friend so I do try and fight them. But equally you don’t want to appear too cocky on stage either because that can be a turn off for audiences. Last time I felt properly nervous was on 10th March performing for 3,600 people at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. It was a charity gig I had organized for a women’s charity named Eaves. The show was celebrating the third annual GQ comedy issue, which I had worked on. It was 11 of the best comedians in the world… and me. The most people I had performed to prior to that was 800. So that is a hell of a leap and I was, to be honest, shitting myself. But equally I had been nervous my entire career that an opportunity like this might never happen which is a far worse feeling. My dream had always been to play that room. The same room I have seen Chris Rock, Frank Skinner, Louis CK. I never thought I would get the chance to play that room and I did. So that’s what I told myself as I stood behind that curtain about to face 3,600 people. I sought advice from a British comic named Romesh Ranganathan who is one of the best comics and he had done the same venue for a TV gig a few months before. He said when you walk out and do one joke and get the laugh, it just becomes like any other gig and the nerves subside. And that was exactly what happened. It was just what I needed to hear and it helped me immensely.

What’s next for you?

More of the same I hope. I am loving life here in New Brunswick. As I say, I honestly believe it to be the most beautiful place in the world. I hope I never stop appreciating how lucky we are to live here. I guess what is next is to spread the word the word about this wonderful comedy scene in New Brunswick. Get the word out. Because a lot of the stand ups I have mentioned are planning moves to Toronto so they can get more work. That is a real shame. We should be celebrating their work here so that Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Sussex don’t lose all their comedy talent to bloody Toronto. So that’s my main mission really: to keep these talented people here by ensuring everyone here knows that this scene is happening. And get people out of their armchairs, away from watching reality shows and into venues like The Somerset, The 3 Mile, The Saint John Theatre Company, Wilser’s Room, Dunham’s Run and others to see live stand up. After all, even though we live in the greatest place in the world, we could all use a good laugh sometimes right?

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Awesome. Thanks James. This was a really great time. I loved chatting with you about your move to Saint John. Thanks again.

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James will be performing throughout the summer at Dunham’s Run Winery (see his Facebook page for Details) and is doing his critically acclaimed solo show at the Imperial Theatre on 9th October. Tickets here

You can check out additional dates on his website.

Follow him on twitter:


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**All photos submitted save for the sweet selfie <3

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