Reuniting the best of the best comedy has to offer: in conversation with Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones starts out by admitting she’s something of a rebel. It’s been good to her for the most part, however… “Rebels don’t get anything done actually,” she opens with a laugh.
Well, Jones has certainly had quite a career for someone who never gets anything done. From films like The Grand Seduction to her amazing stint on This Hour Has 22 Minutes – which seems destined to become one of the longest-running shows in the history of the CBC – Jones has kept herself busy since the crew of CODCO went their separate ways.
Those were the days. What began as a theatrical revue in ‘73 with Jones, Mary Walsh, the late Tommy Sexton, Greg Malone and Andy Jones, CODCO drew on this province’s cultural history of easy-going laugh at ourselves first style of humour and took it to a national audience from 1988 to 1993.
Now, more than half of the CODCO bunch are reuniting for one night at Holy Heart Theatre on Sunday, September 22.
“It’s myself and Greg and Andy with our special guests and we will show a few clips from when we were together and talk about them with the audience, and I think it will be great,” she says with an excited whoosh of air.
Have the trio gotten together much? There was a gathering in Halifax last year, she shares, and that was quite successful.
“It was this incredible evening of us talking to the audience and showing some clips from the past. And we’ll have some fun together in the process, too.”
Sometimes she has a difficult time wrapping her head around the fact that they’re still ‘a thing.’ Still, on another level, she totally gets the fascination.
“We were originals and I think because of the energy of our creativity and the alchemy of our satirical vision coming together as they did in CODCO, I think we were a kind of forerunners in the whole cultural revolution in Newfoundland. We predicted in certain shows that one day we would be having people kiss the cod and we would get hospitality vouchers for being ‘friendly Newfoundlanders. And it has come to pass. I think we’re kind of iconic in terms of the kind of Newfoundland comedy that continues today.”
Whenever she gets the opportunity to work with someone from ‘the old days’ she seizes the opportunity.
“Mary and I are doing the two old ladies for the CBC website. And it’s amazing working with her. People really love it and I adore it.”
And Tommy? Gone, but never forgotten, she says. “Tommy is gone but Tommy would always beat the drum for all of us coming together. And even though it’s been like we’re centuries apart in many ways it feels to me that there’s always been an element of connection as well,” she says.
Collaborating with peers from the past still excites the creative center of her brain, she shares, but there’s also a sense of sadness at times too.
“We have a treasure trove of brilliant satire and hilarious weird comedy and there’s been people who always say, why can’t you get that stuff back out there? Part of the answer to that question lies in the pain of when you have a beautiful thing and it changes and it’s not the same. But the thing is, whenever you get any combination of us together we come on stage and combine all of our gifts and it’s like a super-group.”
The thing about a super-group, though is that sometimes there’s fireworks off stage too.
“Things can get commercial. But you try to stay away from that and just celebrate being an artist. So Andy and Greg and I will be a little like a caged Elvis springing free,” she shares exuberantly.
And, Jones does love the stage. An artist’s life is an artist life, be that on television or elsewhere. However, stage is special.
“I love being able to walk on stage with other Newfoundlanders. One of the great moments of art is when you see a Newfoundland thing. And to work with Andy? He’s my brother, and we don’t get enough chances to work together. We’re definitely very unique individuals with a lot of respect for each other. He directed my one woman show years ago and it was one of the most fabulous experiences of my life having his unwavering attention and his beautiful direction and heartfelt support.”
Andy is a brilliant creator, she says. And Greg is incredibly talented and funny.
“Ours was a kind of a charmed existence back when we worked on CODCO. So now, hanging out is as important as anything. I would love to collaborate with Andy and collaborate with Greg and just see what happens.”
And that’s exactly what audiences will see when these three get together at Holy Heart. Besides her comrades in comedy, what’s been the highlight of her career? The fact that people tell her they love her.
“That’s what people say to me when they see me, they say ‘love you. Oh my God! My brother loves you, my father loves you. My grandfather loved CODCO,or my great great great grandfather wants to marry you. I love that!
Tickets are available now at the Holy Heart Theatre box office and online!