End of Summer

Well, that was a wet, weird and fast summer! I can’t believe it’s been over two months since I’ve sent in a column. So this will be a bit of a catch-up more than anything.

I spent most of the summer at cottages (mooching at other peoples, natch), camping and hanging out with the kids. And while I didn’t take an all-out break from comedy, I only did a handful of shows, which is no harm, but it’s taken me a few nights of working out the rust to get back up to speed.

Toronto had the wettest summer on record, though really nothing compared to the many English summers I lived through. And being a glass-half-full kinda gal, am looking forward to our water bill for the first time ever. In yer face sprinkler!

I’m lucky enough to have a sister with a beautiful, brand new cottage plus parents who have a lovely place just an hour from our house, so was away a lot. It’s really great to reconnect with the family and spend some time outdoors. My mother is very ill, however, so though I was glad she was able to spend a fair bit of time with us at the cottage, there was a bittersweet aspect to the whole season.

I went camping twice, too. I’ve only been once before, last summer, so am still a bit confounded by all the crap I have to bring for a three day trip. The first trip this year was to a Provincial Park about two hours north of Toronto. Shane stayed home, so it was just me, the kids, the puppy and a couple of girlfriends and their kids. Both of my friends have campers (one is even older and dodgier than the Chunky Monkey, but at least has beds and a roof). I only have a tent, and of course, managed to forget the friggin’ tent poles. I was so pissed off , I nearly hopped back into the van to make the 4 hour round-trip to pick them up. In the end, though, we McGuyver-ed a semblance of a structure using a bush, a tree, the 30 or so 8-inch ropes that mysteriously came with the tent (I have no idea what their actual purpose is), two butterfly clips and a bungee cord. Of course, it poured that first night. We managed to stay dry, but all of our stuff was soaked. And it didn’t help my spirits when other, random campers would walk by our site and either laugh, take photos or both. Smug bastards. But, in the end it was a really fun few days. I even learned how to play Euchre, though we only had Pirate cards, so the suits were gold coins, parrots, skulls and ships. I have no idea what I’m going to do if anyone wants me to play with actual hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. For the second trip, I brought both my husband and the tent poles and had a drama-free few days, which was nice.

I bought season’s passes to Canada’s Wonderland, and (predictably) only went once. We plan to go one weekend this fall, when, hopefully there won’t be 90 minute queues for 90 second rides. I’ll be leaving the puppy at home next time. Last time brought her to the Wonderland “kennels”, which were really stainless steel gulag-esque boxes where she was terrified for the four hours she was there. Not sure she’s forgiven me yet. My daughter is keen to get on their new roller coaster, the Behemoth, and I wish her luck. Shane tried parachuting for the first time this summer (a Christmas gift from me, I’m an awesome wife), so may have the guts to join her, but I doubt it. I think he’d rather jump out of a plane again.

Even though I haven’t performed a whole lot this summer, I’ve kept up on the gossip, and am stunned at the weirdness that has befallen our little comedy world. A male comic punching a female comic; a woman audience member punching a performer onstage, then threatening said performer with a broken pint glass and eventually getting clocked by another comic and knocked to the ground. Comics getting horrid hate mail. And this all in the southern Ontario area. Could it be all the rain? If only.

I did participate in Guy Earle’s fundraiser in June. 40 comics doing one minute each in an effort to raise funds for Guy’s legal defence fighting charges at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. I’m sure you’ve all heard about it. I only know what happened to Guy through media coverage and talking to the man himself. I took part because I strongly believe that a comic in a club should be able to say what he wants from the stage, safe from any legal or governmental ramifications. Whether is funny, relevant, insulting or idiotic is not the point. The night itself was really well run, shocking actually – I thought it would probably be a mess, and had a great time. I even got a t-shirt with my name on the back (O’Neill spelt wrong, however). I can’t wear it anywhere, because on the front it says “It’s not illegal to be an asshole”. Part of me would love to wear it for the school run. Oh, the scandal!

So that’s my summer in nutshell. The fall is looking busy, both for the family and for me. I’ve booked in to do two weeks at Absolute Comedy in November; one in Toronto, one in Ottawa. I’ll be MC’ing both weeks, which I’m really looking forward to. Next thing is to try to get some tour dates booked and send in my stuff for the Festivals. Big learning curve ahead, but I’m ready.

Air smooches and awkward hugs,


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