John Wing - Just for Laughs hits Centennial Hall

Comedy tour showcases top comedic talent

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

John Wing and Tom Papa

One of the most recognizable faces in Canadian comedy, John Wing, has plenty of insight into life, comedy ... and graveyards.

The comedian, who got his start in the business close to 30 years ago, immediately loved stand-up.

“It was June 30, 1980 " my first amateur night at Yuk Yuk’s [in Toronto]. I did it again a week later and I was hooked,” Wing says.

The former English major from the University of Windsor was in Toronto for the summer and never returned to finish his degree.

Wing comes to London this Sunday to perform at Centennial Hall with the Lipton Just For Laughs Comedy Tour.

The Canadian comic, who was born in Sarnia (and will proudly tell you so), feels his Canadian identity affects his approach to comedy.

“Growing up in Canada you are exposed to American, Canadian and British comedians versus an American or British comedian who would be exposed to less diverse material,” he says.

Wing has been referred to as one of Canada’s greatest gifts to comedy. He puts one of his best memories as a comedian in context for university students.

“My first time on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson [is one of my best memories]. Imagine an oral exam, six minutes long, with 20 million people grading you, with your whole career on the line.”

Having been on The Tonight Show with both Carson and Jay Leno a total of six times, in addition to numerous other TV, radio and festival appearances, Wing is no stranger to high expectations.

“There’s always pressure to be a professional,” he says. “Stand-up comedy, like any other performing art, requires a very personal approach.”

What sets Wing apart, he says, is perspective.

“Me. My life. My perspective. It’s a very ‘me-centred’ performance,” he adds. “I talk about things where they relate to me.”

Still, Wing believes that comedic opportunities aren’t just found within but all around us, too.

“You can make anything funny,” he says. “If you walk down the street, something is funny. When stuff happens, it’s funny.”

Wing has on occasion brought his act back to London and Western.

“I’ve played at [Western’s] pubs many times " The Spoke in particular. Of course, that was back when university students knew how to listen,” he laughs.

“[Western is] a fine, fine institution of learning,” Wing adds. “And you can quote me on that.”

With Halloween over, Wing reveals one of his favourite pastimes.

“I’m a graveyard fanatic. I used to go around taking pictures of tombstones. I’d go to a graveyard and yell out ‘Anyone interesting buried here?’” he says. “I wouldn’t get much of a response.”

Wing has an idea of what his own epitaph might say when the time comes: “‘Here lies John Wing: loved and admired by a select few.’ Actually, it’ll be more like ‘John Wing: He died too soon. He was 101.’”

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette