Comedian Mike Wilmot has one of those faces that can't help but make you smile. Many Canadians will know Wilmot best from his appearance on CTV's Corner Gas as Brent's big city cousin, Carl. Wilmot has also popped up on such cult comedy favorites as The Jon Dore Television Program, and the criminally underrated Dave Foley/David Steinberg movie, The Wrong Guy.
He also has the distinguished honor of winning two Canadian Comedy Awards, one for his stand-up and a second for his performance in the indie film, It's All Gone Pete Tong, another cult classic.
This July, Wilmot will take the stage with fellow comedians Artie Lange, Gilbert Godfried, Jimmy Carr, Luenelle and host Mike Ward for The Nasty Show, running July 16 - 25 at Metropolis in Montreal. Living up to its name, The Nasty Show features a dark and filthy array of topics.
No subject is considered taboo. Anything and everything are up for discussion.
Tony Hinds: Do you remember your first time at the festival back in the day?
Mike Wilmot: It was 1994. That was my first Nasty Show. Although, not my first trip to the festival. I don't know how many of these Nasty Shows I've done. They all just kind of melt together as one long f***. I used to come into town like a lot of young comics at the time just to be around it. I wasn't actually part of the festival. I was just trying to get like a ten minute spot at a club during the Just For Laughs festival. Lord knows when that was. But my first official t-shirt was '94.
TH: How has the festival evolved since then?
MW: Well, back then it was a lot smaller and a lot more intense. At that time, there were only two nights of Nasty Shows. Only three shows over two nights and I remember them saying, "Gee, maybe we could add a fourth!" And now, there's forty-seven of them. And I believe we own all of the theaters on that street. It's a monster. Just the Nasty Show itself has become a monster.
TH: When we talk about the Nasty Show, what really jumps to mind is the mounting hyper-sensitivity of our society... what some people are calling the P.C.-ification of contemporary art culture.
MW: Aw, you know what it is? It's all bulls***. Everyone thinks they have a valid opinion because of social media. It's just a joke! It's not real. Like everything now, it's just a front. Everybody thinks their opinion about everything matters just because they can print it up and put it up on the computer. If anything, I feel like it has diminished the weight of correctness. You know what I mean?
TH: Yeah, definitely.
MW: It's just become like dander. Like this slight annoyance. You know? F*** 'em. Television is dying and cable is coming into itself. I think this is a great time to be filthy.
TH: Podcasting is another great avenue for comedians and that's totally uncensored.
MW: Yes, it's fantastic. And I think that the world is waking up to the fact that anyone who has a clean and moral agenda is usually some kind of rapist f***er!
TH: It's also funny to think of you on The Nasty Show, since so many Canadians will be familiar with you as Brent's cousin Carl on Corner Gas. For non-Canadian readers, Corner Gas is a sitcom not particularly known for its nastiness.
MW: You know, that came about because of the Just for Laughs Tour years ago. Everyone thought (comedian Brent Butt) and I were cousins or brothers. So when Brent was writing the pilot, he said to me: "If this ever becomes a show, I'll have you on as my cousin." A year later, I'm his cousin Carl.
TH: I love it! It's one of the most memorable episodes, and it's memorable because of your character and your performance. I just love that Carl is the polar opposite of Brent.
MW: Yeah, it was a great deal of fun. And Brent is just one of the best comics out there. And he is the opposite of me! That's why I like those cute, nerdy, clean fellows because I'm not! I'm a fan of things I can't do. I'm buddies with Derek Edwards and Rich Hall over in England, he's like a tall skinny guy whose bright and knows how to write. He's the opposite of me! Great comedy is great comedy. There's so many difference styles, but it's all still great. Like I'm a fan of Eugene Mirman. Actually, when I told Eugene I was a fan, he kind of walked back a few steps. Like, why would this loud-mouth, dirty guy be a fan of me? Again, he's nothing like me.
TH: Totally. Funny is funny. There's no denying it.
MW: It's true! That's like an old-timey saying, but it's true to this day.
TH: Yeah, funny is a like a gut punch. It's involuntary.
MW: It's like all of a sudden you realize how absurd things are. When you're truly in touch with the universe and nothing can be spoken. Just a laugh comes out of your head. Laughing is great. It's way better than sneezing.
TH: *Laughs* So have you decided which subjects you'll be tackling on-stage?
MW: I'm still working on what the hell I'm gonna talk about. There's a guy who recently got busted for selling counterfeit ground arctic seal penis. I might touch on that.
MW: What's great about this show is that there are so many of them. After a while, we start competing, getting better and better and tighter and tighter. So who knows? It turns into its own thing. And it evolves into this one and only show. Bobby Slayton used always be like the conductor. I'm hoping Mike Ward is the same way. It becomes its own monster.
TH: And it's such a diverse set! I mean, everyone certainly fits the bill for the Nasty part of the show. But everyone is unique in their own styles.
MW: It's nice to know there is such a variety of irreverence. Like Jimmy (Carr), he's sick. He's just sick. I've known him for years. He's got a very unique angle, actually most people don't know this but, he has no genitalia. Born without any! He's smooth! But he can do anything. He can play for girls, he can play for guys.
TH: *Laughs* Yeah, Jimmy Carr is hilarious and really, really smart. He works so much overseas, so he maybe doesn't have the same name-recognition in North America.
MW: Jimmy has been over here a few times. He's done The Tonight Show, if that still counts.
MW: I've known Jimmy since he started. He used to be in a place called the Comedy Calf years ago with Daniel Kitson. Jimmy was a hard working, funny writer from the get-go.
TH: When you think about the Nasty Show over the years, is there one performer who sticks out as a favorite of yours?
MW: The late, great Otto and George. I remember working with those two... we toured the country together. This was the one and only time they tried to tour the Nasty Show. Those are some very fond memories and some very awkward moments and interactions between audiences, and a man and a puppet.
TH: Otto Petersen really is a guy who, especially since he passed away, doesn't get his name mentioned enough when people are listing great comedians. But he was a master!
MW: Yeah, of black magic! Of the dark world. No one was as blue and unforgiving as Otto because it wasn't him saying it. It was that f***ing puppet (George) that kept getting attacked by people! You can't talk to a puppet for too long before going crazy. You know? Like that ball, Wilson in that terrible Tom Hanks movie, (Cast Away)? They should find that Wilson ball and talk to him. They'll find out the best thing that ever happened to him was when he split up with Tom Hanks.
Big thanks to the great Mike Wilmot and everyone from Just For Laughs for the chat! Check out The Nasty Show, July 16–25 in Montreal.
Tony Hinds is a Canadian writer who studied film at the University of Winnipeg. In addition to ShowbizMonkeys.com, Tony has reviewed films for Step On Magazine and The Uniter. You can find Tony on Twitter.