Comedian Jeremy Hotz talks Canadian cold, American comedy climate and overcoming anxiety before his Dangerously
Handsome Tour hits St. John’s
Known far and wide as ‘The Most Miserable’ Comedian working today, Jeremy Hotz has become a fan favourite thanks to his cutting, observational humour and patented gestures.
With a career spanning two decades that includes major television and festival appearances as well as acting credits, Hotz has been there, done that and has a full wardrobe of comedy wares.
Ahead of his Dangerously Handsome Tour date at Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s on March 11th, Hotz caught up with The Herald to talk Canadian winters, American audiences and overcoming anxiety thanks in part to his constant companion Shackleton the Wonderdog.
I never envy your Canadian touring schedule, that always seems to see you travelling the Great White North during the coldest and snowiest parts of winter. Is that self imposed?
There’s two reasons. First of all that’s when you’ve got to laugh, cause it’s s**t. The other reason is it puts me in the right kind of mood to perform. I do better when I’m perturbed before the performance in some way. Everybody knows that. People kind of avoid me about 15 minutes before I’ve got to go on. Not a good idea to come up and talk to me in that time.
Do you keep tabs on Canada? There’s certainly been some newsworthy things since your last visit, the legalization of pot for one.
The weed thing makes me laugh out loud, the way they made it such a big thing. I live in California, where it’s legal anyway. I look at it this way, when they announced it I thought, now my theatre performances are going to smell like weed, just like they did before. No difference. I don’t know why everyone was making a big deal of that.
You’ve been living in the U.S. and California for decades. What’s it like getting up here to the country you called home for a good chunk of your life? How are these Canadian audiences?
Going back and playing to the audiences you’ve started with, you’ve grown up with those same people. I much prefer performing for Canada because you don’t have to do a tag, they get it. You can just do the thing, they get the thing, they get the concept, move on. That’s Canada. Whereas America is like what you mean, huh?
Being an American, you certainly have seen so much in the terms of news, politically, socially. There’s a lot to riff on and even more to be miserable about, and you’re seeing that quite a bit in comedy routines. Does that land on your radar?
There is, but it’s about how it affects me personally. The whole global thing, yeah the world is responsible, but it isn’t fair to me and that’s what I concentrate on. A little bit I’ll mention the Trump thing, but to harp on that? I feel bad for these comics, because when this is over what the f**k are you going to talk about? See what’s going to happen here?
Do you think younger comics may fall into the trap of relying too much on current events? Things like Trump, MAGA, etc?
It could be or they just don’t know any better yet, they’re learning. So yeah, you’re going to get some of that. Comedy is different and it follows the way and the state that the country is feeling in the moment. When it changes you better too.
Talking about that country comedy climate, have you seen a shift? Are audiences more sensitive now?
Yep, sure, absolutely. People leave shows for no reason. People go in with their guard up thinking something is going to happen, it does happen. People listen to a joke and the first thing that comes to their head is ‘what does he mean by that?’ That’s ok, then they leave. There’s that pause there and it never used to be that before. Why do people have to get together and decide whether as a group they’re going to laugh at something? If it’s funny it’s funny. F**k off. That’s all I’m saying about that. If you want a planet full of robots you’re heading there anyway.
You’ve been fairly vocal and transparent about your battles with mental health and anxiety. In recent years you’ve made your service dog Shackleton a part of your act. Do you find the stage to be a safe space for you in terms of what makes you anxious?
There’s issues there too and nobody really knows why. This generalized anxiety thing just seems to go away when I’m out there. That’s the luckiest thing in the world or otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do this anymore. I have days where I can’t get up. I’m not just anxious, I have this other bulls**t thing. I have this dog and now he’s in the act too and he comes out and everybody knows who he is.
I didn’t do this consciously. I talk about things that go on in my life and this is one of the things that happens to me. I brought it out on stage and everyone is coming up to me saying I have this and I have that. Well, I guess I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing it because it happens to me and it affects me and I’m trying to find the humour in it. I think that’s what’s going on here. It is mental illness. I know I’m crazy on certain levels because of this thing and I don’t hate myself because of it. That’s important.
What would Jeremy Hotz today tell a teenage 20-year-old you? Any wisdom to impart?
No matter what anybody says about you’re not going to do this or do that, you’ve got to go out and just keep doing what you believe in. You make your own decisions in this world, don’t listen to anybody else. Anybody.
For tickets and more on Jeremy Hotz visit holyhearttheatre.com and jeremyhotz.com