Comedian and actor, Eric Johnston, has had one hell of a run - and he has zero intentions of stopping anytime soon. In fact, Eric is taping a stand-up special in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario on May 12th titled "No Bull". I recently was lucky enough to catch up with him to chat about his journey, thoughts on today's comedy scene and the exciting special.
Check it out below:
What and when was the exact moment that you knew you wanted to pursue a career in stand-up?
I have been an entertainer my entire life. My father was a Canadian Professional wrestler (Bullwhip Johnson) and watching him perform nightly made me realize at a young age that I wanted to entertain some way, some how! At age 6 I started with dance and musical theatre and transitioned into theatre acting and film and television shortly after. Technically my first stand up comedy set was when I was 7 years old. I performed impressions at the St. Francis Xavier Elementary School talent show and came in second place! 13 years later in 2010 I was in Vancouver attending the Vancouver Film School for Acting for Film and Television. Some class mates of mine told me they were going to check out an open mic comedy night around the corner from our school and I jumped at the opportunity to go. While watching the show I was sitting in the back of the room and my leg was shaking. I was watching the comics perform on the stage and I knew that this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I signed up to perform the next week and I haven’t stopped since. 8 years, thousands of sets, thousands of audience members and thousands of kilometres travelled and I’ve loved every minute of it.
How do you feel about the state of comedy in today’s day and age?
Comedy is experiencing a boom in popularity with the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Youtube but at the same time it’s experiencing a boom in controversy. The definition of funny and what’s acceptable to say is changing daily. Comics are getting in trouble for jokes and their actions both on and off stage. Thankfully and fortunately I have been virtually unaffected by these changes. I’ve always worked “clean” on stage. “Clean” doesn’t mean I’m a “Christian” comic or anything like that. I still swear on stage (pretty often actually) but I’ve always stayed away from anything too controversial like sex, drugs or anything like that which is considered working “blue” or “nasty”. I’m a story teller. I just tell stories about my life. My friends, my family, my relationships, my neighbourhood, MY story. No one watching can say that I was saying anything not truthful or attacking any group because it’s MY story. I can attack myself, I’m allowed!
Why should people come out to “No Bull”?
People should come out to “No Bull” because it’s an accumulation of over 20 years of hard work. I’ve traveled close to 100,000 kilometres practicing my craft (8,000 in 2018 so far!) I’ve worked for countless hours both on and off stage creating this hour of material I’ll be performing at the Zoetic. This Taping is more of a celebration than anything. I want to celebrate in my home town with all my friends, family and fans! I am proof that if you set your mind to something and work hard you can make anything happen. With comedy there is no finish line. Just little victories, but you never stop running. I don’t know where this special will go. It could end up on Netflix (here’s hoping) but for me it’s a little moment in time that I can capture and share with you all. And that’s NO BULL!
If you're in the GTA, you're not going to want to miss this show so be sure to grab tickets here before it's too late!
By this time, you've probably seen quite a few IPF trailers floating around (IPF will be funding projects based on how many trailer views they acquire, social media attention, etc.), and one of the projects looking for funding is eOne TV group and 383 Pictures' "The Six". I recently had the opportunity to chat with director Steven Hoffner. Check out our Q&A below:
What inspired you to explore Toronto’s pop culture scene?
I think the inspiration really came from two things. For starters, I think Toronto has evolved from being a cool city in Canada to a real international brand. It's cool to live here. You see it in all aspects of the city, whether it be music, fashion, or sports. Toronto is a cultural melting pot that the youth have come to love and embrace, and I thought it would be really cool to tell these stories and not hide from our city's authenticity.
Secondly, this has never been done before. You see other major cities in North America like New York, LA, Miami, Boston, who all have settings that use the city not only as a place, but also a character. Yes, we have seen shows shot here before (sometimes masked as other cities or sometimes just used as a setting), but I have never seen anything where Toronto is just authentic Toronto. I feel we haven't done this before because we were too self-conscious or maybe we didn't think we were cool enough. But pop cultural icons like Drake and The Weeknd have changed all that. Their territory is music and we want to inspire and entertain our audience through motion picture.
“The Six” is described as “Degrassi on steroids” - care to elaborate?
Haha, well I suppose that's used just to demonstrate a point, but it's true. This is going to be a very raw series. Very honest. Very real. This isn't a PG show. I'm tired of seeing representations of Canada and Toronto as maple syrup drinking, beaver loving hillbillies. Our city isn't like that. I want to toughen the image of Toronto a bit through this scripted series, and demonstrate the sometimes difficult realities first and second generation Canadians face here. All that being said, the series will be an unapologetic 360 look at life in the city; from the musical hip hop movements of Jane and Finch; to the fashion parties of Queen West, we want to show these as authentic things in themselves. And that's something you probably won't see on Degrassi haha.
Why should people watch this series?
First and foremost, we need to receive a green light to film the series. The eOne TV group have done a great job since I partnered with them to get this project off the ground, and our latest round of application funding we hope will complete our budget so we can officially go into production in Fall of 2018. The more views we get on our trailer, the more likely our chances of achieving our goal of getting our digital series made. I wanted to turn heads with the trailer, and I think we have done just that. So please watch and support!!!
I think people should watch this series because the characters are just real and universal. It doesn't matter where you're from, I think you will enjoy this story. With the likes of our CSA nominated lead screenwriter Marsha Greene on board (Mary Kill People, 10 Days in the Valley) Trillium award winning writer Ryad Razaki, and story contributors Jay Baron and Winston Luc (my ears to the street), this is going to be as authentic as it gets. The coming of age story has been done before -- but not in this city and not like this.
Toronto is such a special place, and given the world we live in now, where cultural and racial differences are becoming a breaking point for our neighbors south of us, I think audiences will gravitate toward these diverse characters and story. This is a social experiment found in only a few places on Earth, and I want audiences to watch and be inspired by the world in one city.
I love avocado toast (and Brittany Johnson), so I was down to do a feature on the IPF project that she produced with the same name.
Avocado Toast, created by Heidi Lynch and Perrie Voss, is a heartfelt, comedic series that examines how fully-grown women process their messy lives; sometimes with charm and grace, but often without. Molly doesn’t want to talk about being bisexual. Elle doesn’t want to talk about her parent’s divorce. Together, these 30 year olds fumble their way through finally growing up.
Over the course of Season One, with 7 (five-to-eight minute) Episodes, we watch our classic gal-pal duo ( think a female Please Like Me, Fleabag, ) stagger their way through two, very different life-altering experiences side-by-side. While most people experience parental divorce and discover their sexuality at a younger age, reaching thirty does not mean these two firecrackers are dealing with it with any more aplomb than a couple of angst-ridden teenagers."
This series is extremely creative and very refreshing. I think it'll be a success as we live in a more open-minded society where we are able to talk about these things. It is reality and always has been, we just never heard about it before. It's as if we forget about the thirtysomethings in life unless they're wives or moms.
Anywho, the Independent Production Fund (IPF) is giving funding/financial support for new Canadian series based off of the number of views and social media attention that the trailers receive (that would explain why my FB feed has been loaded with new trailers from the Toronto acting community these past couple of weeks) and Avocado Toast is taking part in this.
Take a look at the trailer below:
This week just keeps getting better.
I had the chance to interview yet another one of my idols, Tanya Kim. She was formerly an entertainment host on Rogers as well as served as the co-anchor on ETALK, and has a heart of gold as she serves as an ambassador for the OSPCA. I've looked up to Tanya for as long as I can remember, so I was pretty pumped when I found out she was available to do an interview.
Check out our Q&A below:
How do you stay grounded in such a crazy and demanding industry?
It can be challenging at times to stay grounded while working in this industry, but having a good support system of people who not only have your back but also aren’t afraid to call you out on your “stuff” definitely helps. Surround yourself with all around good positive people... And furry best friends too (if you can)! Don’t know what I’d do without my Miss Mabel!
What is your personal definition of success?
My personal definition of “success” is being able to do what you love to do and be happy doing it, and being able to live in the moment feeling grateful for each one.
Do you have a system of sorts to assist you in achieving your goals?
I don’t have a system of sorts per se but I do find that journalling and putting pen to paper really help to organize my thoughts, plans, and goals. I’m also a big believer in the Vision Board... Everyone should create their own at least once in life!
Alright, I'm having a bit of a fan-girl moment on this snowy Monday.
I am ecstatic to share my interview with Sangita Patel - ET Canada personality, host of HGTV's Home To Win, pure #momgoals, and a fitspiration to a lot of people thanks to her #FitnessTuesday posts on Insta. She is one of my on-air idols and it means so much to me that she took the time out of her busy schedule to connect. It's great to have the opportunity to get know the person that you look up to by asking them about their core beliefs and values.
Check out our Q&A below:
Has the way that you look at yourself and life overall changed from when you started your career?
I guess so. Good question. I’m still the same person but now I have new opportunities to use my voice. Having a platform like ET Canada I am able to inspire and motivate people by sharing stories, whether they be from the show or from my personal life, that hopefully helps others. It’s a great feeling knowing that I can make a person laugh, or share something new with them.
What is your personal definition of success?
My definition of success is when I can inspire someone and impact change in their life. Also, success to me is being a mom that raises two girls who believe in themselves. And another one is to make a person smile.
Do you have a system that you use to achieve your goals?
Never ever give up. Things don’t always go the way you want them to, but I call that a plot twist. Find the positive in every situation and make it work to your benefit.