I’m generally not one to gauge the success of my summer by small degrees, but there are certain small, simple moments that make life grand.
Allow me to paint you a picture.
There is a nary a breeze in the parking lot of the Travelodge hotel.
Perched right on the edge of town, it hails to incoming Saskatoonian visitors with promises of a well-deserved journey’s rest – complete with “Adult Films AND A 250-foot waterslide!”
The sun is shining upon this semi-barren landscape with rays gleaming off of cars sparsely scattered into the parking spaces. The brightness mirrors the intensity of the heat, made apparent by the three shirtless stand-up comedians, currently applying cool beer bottles to their foreheads.
These are the producers and hosts of the Great Plains Comedy Festival. We are one week into the festival.
With multiple stand-up shows almost every night and the inevitable sleepless atmosphere that follows, it was time for a little “group relax”; a time where all of us aren’t worrying about set lists, joke reception and levels of audience hostility; a time where we could just hang out and be the true Canadians we were.
For what is more Canadian than being unable to avoid the call of drinking outdoors? I ain’t no scientist, but I’ll bet it’s a genetic imperative.
Not to be daunted by the lack of an actual backyard, our hosts decided to have the shindig right in the back of the hotel where the out-of-town comics were staying.
The recipe for parking-lot party success also included beer, stashed in pilfered ice-filled buckets, one hot plate plugged into a block heater outlet, fresh sashimi-grade fish and one prairie spice master.
Even our American stand-up pals had to agree that the threat of an open liquor ticket fades quickly away when an extremely congenial Dez Reed, the founder and executive producer of the festival, passes you a perfectly cooked and garnished tuna steak.
If that didn’t get your seafood cravings going, then there’s comic and producer York Underwood, with a sampler of huge mussels, fresh spring salmon and giant buttery chunks of lobster meat.
This was a particularly high-class, white-trash tailgate party as the menu shows, but kept sufficiently within regulation farmer-tan standards as Dez presented me with the generous gift of a case of Great Western Pilsner and a genuine Saskatchewan Roughriders flag.
I needed a new curtain for my bedroom window, anyway.
Seriously now, think of some easy slices of genuine Canadiana. Sure, you’ve got your beavers, Mounties and King of Kensington DVD sets …
But as I watch the third amigo of this tailgate extravaganza toss back a Pilsner before taking off to his movie premiere in Biggar, I really have a hard time imagining anything that screamed Canada louder than this scene right now.
In the back lot of the Travelodge, at the 8th Annual Great Plains Comedy Festival, in 30-plus desert heat, I regained my Canadian identity.
And ate the best tuna steak of my life.
Happy Summer one and all!