Comedian Jeff McEnery had us at: “Yo Mama is like a pack of Timbits: for $2, I can share her with the rest of my hockey team.” The standup comic makes being funny look oh-so easy, even though it’s hands down one of the most challenging careers in showbiz. We caught up with the Ontario funnyman, who’s just back from the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, to find out if we too can learn to be ridiculously hilarious, what he thinks is his best joke, and all about how he got his start in the industry.
Tell us a bit about you. What should people know?
I’m a comic and actor from the small town of Acton, Ontario. I’ve won Yuk Yuk’s $25,000 Great Canadian Laugh Off, a Canadian Comedy Award and was Reserved Grand Champion Sheep Shower at SheepFocus ‘98.
What are 3 tips to being hilarious that anyone can use?
Watch Richard Pryor: Live in Concert; lowering your self-esteem really helps; dress up in a mascot costume and hurt yourself. There’s nothing funnier than an injured mascot.
What projects on your resume are you most proud of and why?
I just got back from Just for Laughs, which is like spring break for comics. Performing at JFL was amazing because watching it is what got me hooked on comedy in the first place. Same goes for my Comedy Now! special. I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out, which is good because they play the crap out of those things. It’ll probably be airing on some channel 25 years from now. Graduating from the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and TV program was special too because the workload was unbelievable.
What’s the key to killing it on YouTube?
I have a Yo Mama joke on YouTube that’s got over three hundred thousand views and none of my other damn videos have anywhere near that amount, so write a Yo Mama joke, I guess.
How do you deal with a tough crowd when doing standup? Any tricks?
Just don’t back down. If you let the crowd know that you’re scared, they’ll chew you up and spit you out. It happens to every comic though, and it sucks every time.
What’s one of the best jokes you’ve come up with on the fly?
It probably happened offstage. A guy came up to me and fellow comic Ivan Decker after a show in Vernon, British Columbia and told me that he was my biggest fan and that he had seen all of my stuff on TV. I’m not sure how though because he had a googly eye. And a Monster Energy tattoo. After he left, Ivan said, “Just once, I bet you’d like it if a hot girl told you she was your biggest fan.” “A hot girl? I’ll settle for just a normal looking man, Ivan. ” I replied.
What’s the best comedic advice you’ve ever received?
It was more life advice than career advice. I’m not exactly a social butterfly, so I can remember standing off in the corner at an open-mic one time and Mike Wilmot spotted me. Mike’s one of the greatest comics ever and has always been wonderful to me, so when he saw me staring at the floor and not talking to anybody he wrapped his arm around me and said, “You’re way too funny to walk around like you do, kid.” That meant a lot to me. Thanks, Uncle Mike.
What projects do you have on the horizon that you’re most excited for?
I’m doing a Christmas party for some heavy equipment operators in Victoria that promises to be a career-changer – haha. I’m working on getting my green card right now. I was really lucky to win some awards early on, do all the festivals and become a headliner pretty quickly, so I feel like I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do here at home and that it’s time to make a run for it down in the States. I’ve always wanted to be famous and to live in Hollywood, California. Swimming pools and movie stars, baby.