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Darrin Rose’s Comedy In Bloom

Darrin Rose’s Comedy In Bloom

Darrin Rose knows a lot of arcane facts on topics from the history of the periodic table to the Punisher’s arsenal of weapons. Unfortunately, the facts that end up in his standup comedy are often other people’s secrets.

“I forget sometimes that I’m telling stories from people’s actual lives,” says Rose, who performs at Innis Hall on Friday night. “I opened my tour in Oshawa, where probably a quarter of the crowd knew somebody who is in my act or was in my act. People knew the girl I dated in Grade 8 who got pregnant in Grade 9.”

The 36-year-old Oshawa native is experiencing a career breakthrough, touring Canada in the wake of his rising profile from both his wisecracks on MuchMusic’s Video on Trial and co-starring on CBC’s Mr. D.

His introverted youth in Oshawa, struggling to meet the manly expectations of his brother and father, is fodder for lots of coming-of-age comedy; onstage he recalls seeking revenge against his older brother by boxing his sibling (who now has a heart condition) every year at the birthday party of Rose’s niece:

“We spent probably the next 10 minutes each thinking we’re five seconds away from winning, ‘cause he thinks he’s gonna knock me out, and I think he’s gonna die.”

Seizing on the theme, Rose has dubbed his current Canadian dates the Chasing Manhood tour. It’s the culmination of a decade working in Canadian comedy clubs — duties he got a late start on, having only embarked on standup career at age 26. It began at a Yuk Yuk’s amateur night in Toronto, “which was harrowing.

“The lights are so much brighter than you think is possible and everyone else is completely dark, it’s like being in an interrogation room where you also have to be entertaining.

“It went, I thought at the time, well. I was disabused of this notion almost immediately after I got offstage, when the MC went up and just tore a strip off me for about seven minutes straight.”

Still, it beat his day job at the time: brand manager at Heinz Ketchup. “I grew up in Oshawa, it’s very blue collar and show business is not a pursuit that’s even possible in that environment.

“I didn’t have the idea that it was possible for a normal human being to do until I saw this documentary called Comedian, about Jerry Seinfeld.”

Now Rose is following in Seinfeld’s career in a couple of modest measures; he’s headlining his own shows performing theatres, not comedy clubs, and he’s got a sitcom role as bartender Bill on Mr. D, supporting Gerry Dee. Between that and the MuchMusic appearances, Rose says the shows bring in “a block of people who are under 30 and a block of people who are over 55.”

He’s still a compulsive fact-hoarder and reader, praising his recent reads, Charles Bukowksi’s Factotum “(and) The Hunger Games, which I feel has to be the greatest crossover movie of all time. It’s a romance story that takes place in a tournament to the death.”

He does try to bring all his passions to his standup persona; “what you want to gun for is that you’re the same guy offstage as onstage … I do want to be just a normal guy talking realistically about my actual life, as opposed to a Gilbert Gottfried.”

Relatability can be a valuable thing; in Comedian Seinfeld’s even-tempered stage demeanour is contrasted with the struggling, offputting comic Orny Adams. “I met him at Just for Laughs last year,” Rose says. “He still seems like a murderer and he’s no more self-aware.”

Toronto Star/April 2012