Being a comic from the Yukon, currently living in the “Big Smoke” in a bunk bed (the sacrifices of fame), I’ve been getting an amazing perspective on how much Toronto folk know about the Yukon.
The truth is many know very little about our marvellous territory.
This, although somewhat sad, is the equivalent to gold in the comedy world.
Typically it begins with the introduction.
“Please welcome from Yellowknife … George Maratos …”
Sometimes I correct them and tell them it’s actually the Yukon.
To which they reply, “What’s the dif?”
In my head I envision saying something clever about Ottawa and Montréal and poutine and the Leafs, but I haven’t yet.
It’s coming though.
Once they introduce me, it’s fun to look out at the crowd and see so many dumbfounded, curious faces looking back at me.
They are studying me intently.
Not the comedy stylings I am about to share for the next five minutes, but because they are surprised I can speak English correctly.
Think of the first time you saw an ape peel a banana at the zoo.
Well, I’m the banana-peeling ape.
After one set I was “chewing the fat” with some Toronto comics and one turns to me and says, “I didn’t know they had people in the Yukon.”
Expecting him to say more, I just kind of stared.
“People in the Yukon who …”
“People in the Yukon that …”
But no, he was just simply surprised there were people in the Yukon.
An awkward silence followed before we continued with our conversation.
Sometimes when I’m onstage, I’ll tell what seem like ludicrous stories about our fine territory.
“Did you know the Yukon doesn’t have Interac, yet?
“One in three Yukoners will wrestle a bear in their lifetime!
“Ironically, in the Land of the Midnight Sun, we have no summer.”
Expecting someone to call my bluff, I am always shocked to scan the audience and see dozens of tiny eyes transfixed on my every word, their jaws dropped.
“I told you they don’t have DVDs yet, up there, honey,” says one.
“No Internet or airport,” gasps another.
I’m telling you, although it is somewhat sad what these people will believe, it really is comedic gold.
Before my set ends, I do tell them the truth about the Yukon.
About how artistic, athletic and educated we are.
And that we do have doctors and lawyers and banks, and assuring them that we do not actually have polar bears as pets.
But I milk their gullibility for all I can.
Right now I’m working on a bit that involves me teaching Torontonians how to stave off a bear mauling.
I don’t want to give it all away, but it involves Jann Arden and line dancing, and how the music and movement can be hypnotic for the grizzly.
It’s a stretch, but some of these people are naive and deserve to be exploited.
I’ve even grown a beard and do most of my sets in a beautiful hand-knit Cowichan sweater.
“So everyone has to have a beard up there?” they ask.
Yes, yes they do, my friend.