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Published on October 27th, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Exclusive: From the Desk of Steve Patterson

As mentioned in our wrap-up of the Canadian Comedy Awards, the talk of the afterparty was Steve Patterson’s open letter to the Canadian print media. It’s an equally hilarioius and scathing commentary on the lack of respect comedy gets in this country, and was a highlight of an awards show that – not surprisingly – didn’t get a lot of ink.

Steve has been kind enough to share the full text of his speech with Third-Beat.com, so it can be enjoyed by ignored comedians for years to come.

Dear Canadian mainstream newspapers,

It strikes me as curious that you rarely cover Canadian comedian stories or even acknowledge comedy as a “performing art” in this country.

Creating and performing top-notch comedy, either alone or as part of an ensemble, is acknowledged as one of the most difficult things in the world to do and Canada’s comedians are acknowledged among the best in the world at it. So much so that comedians have become one of our country’s most sought-after exports. Right behind our BIGGEST export, from BC, which receives even less press than us. But they’re not complaining because they use “papers” for something else entirely. But I digress.

Why don’t Canadian comedians get the same attention as musicians, actors or even authors (not that authors are performance artists. They physically move less than professional poker players)… and still you have a full “Book review” section every week.

Why would I want to read about a book that I have made the conscious decision not to read yet? Either that or there is an interview with a neophyte pop artist saying something ridiculous. I read an article in the paper today about a 24 year old musician who apparently created the songs on her new album by “not being afraid of who she was”…. What the hell does that mean? I’m not afraid of who she is either. Because I don’t know who she is. And with little nuggets of wisdom like that coming out of her ass I don’t want to know who she is either.

Anyway, here’s my proposal: Why don’t you have a comedy section within the “arts & entertainment” section so that it is actually an entertaining read. A funny article about a professional funny Canadian comedian that will make people laugh. It will put them in a good mood, which will make all the bad news in the rest of the paper easier to stomach. Hell, it might become the only entertaining part OF your paper since the current “comics” section is about as funny as watching Margaret Atwood eat a bag of Werther’s.

“For better or worse”? They might as well just run that using Arabic words and see if that makes it better or worse.

So in closing, if you write for the “arts” section of a mainstream Canadian paper then please, on behalf of all Canadian comedians, acknowledge the art of what we do and in return we will help with the art of what you do. Because 99% of people with a pulse prefer reading something funny to something self-serving and pretentious. And a funny conversation with a comedian would translate into a funny article and would make you look witty and charming by association.

Yours truly,

Steve Patterson

P.S. Actually, watching Margaret Atwood eat a bag of Werther’s would be pretty funny.

Steve is currently crossing the country on the Just For Laughs tour, which hopefully is getting him plenty of press.

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com