Comedian and sketch magician Mike Lynch – along with Nan, Cecil O’Brien and Randy Lee – visit The Herald (home of ‘the cap’) to talk roots and gettin’ a rise
Mike Lynch is funny lookin’. Not in a he’s not handsome or in a rude way, but in a he just makes ya laugh, kinda way. It’s like waiting to be entertained, this writer explains as Lynch – dressed as himself – shrugs adorably before asking to borrow a lipstick to transform into ‘Nan.’
Putting a face on nan
How can one not laugh? Even as I ask with mock-offence, “What makes you think I have a ‘Nan’ worthy lipstick in my purse?” (I totally did), I chuckle at the sheer adorableness of Lynch, the man.
What does the mother of this 27-year-old before me – now dressed in old-bag drag and borrowed lipstick – think of it all? “Mom and Dad are very proud and supportive. They love the skits and they are warming up to the stand-up, though Mom isn’t always a big fan of the language, they look past it and they talk about me a little too much. I think they’re awesome,” Lynch begins.
There is, however, this one time… “I’m saying almost every curse word known out there, and I said dicky-bird in a video one time and Mom said, ‘I didn’t like that dicky-bird part!’
I was like, ‘Mudder, dicky-bird??!? you don’t like dicky-bird?’ She’ll probably be ticked I used it here now too,” he shares with an (almost) embarrassed laugh.
Mom also worried about Lynch’s Cecil O’Brien character, in the beginning, anyway. “Mom thought I was making fun of someone with something wrong with him, but she came around when I said, ‘No mom, he’s a sweet old man with a lisp.’”
Who knit ya Cecil?
We have to ask about O’Brien’s hat and heritage.
“He’s a cute little man who’s a blend of people I’ve met. I used to spend lots of time around the bay in Mount Arlington Heights (Long Harbour) and Cecil’s inspired by my pop and an older uncle of mine. And add a lisp and there’s Cecil. I don’t know how to do much bay stuff like I can’t gut a fish, but I keep Cecil simple and become an instant baymen.”
And the hat? That was a trip to Value Village. “I went in looking for the old-style trucker’s hat with the mesh that you see everyone around the bay wearing. I don’t even think they have hair, just a hat growing on their head, and I went in and saw the Herald hat and went, that’s the one.”
Nan was inspired by his mom and his grandmother.
“Everyone has a nan who feeds you to explode. Mom still, like when I tell her I’m not hungry she don’t believe me. She thinks I’m starvin’ myself just to f’ with her. No Mom, I promise, when I’m hungry, I’ll eat. And Nan, shovin’ it all in your face. My brother works in Long Harbour and he lived with Nan and Pop and he was crazy at how much she was feeding him. It never stopped.”
And as for Randy Lee, who happens to be one of Lynch’s favourite characters to do, he was born from growing up on Merrymeeting Road in St. John’s.
“Randy Lee acts tougher than what he is. He’s just being outrageous by threatening to flatten ya. I used to be a skateboarder growing up and fellas like Randy Lee used to try and flatten me all the time, and you’d laugh at it, or I can now.”
It’s funny how Randy Lee, who debuted (on FB’s The Outhouse page) as an interesting take on a very odd addition to OZFM’s Cruiser Team, is embraced by the very characters he emulates.
“I thought everyone who was like that would want to beat me up but they’re the ones who love Randy the most. I come across someone like him and I get, ‘man, that’s just like a buddy of mine.’ And I’m like, ‘naw, that’s you, man.”
While Lynch loves his characters, it’s stand-up that really gets him inspired.
“I feel more when I get something going with the audience doing stand-up. That’s the most rewarding. Being myself but incorporating a character or a voice, I love that.”
It’s a good thing, because Lynch has been able to make a living being funny.
“I was ready to have a job and have this as a hobby or a side thing but I can avoid a job for now because we’re selling out,” he says with a proud glow.
But his success isn’t a solo gig, he adds. “Justin Hawco, Brian Aylward and Colin Hollett are the best. They are why we are selling out,” he shares.
The b’ys teamed up for the Best Kind Comedy Tour last year and they are preparing for the next go ’round – with all new material – as we speak.
“This will be our yearly stand-up tour. Last year we went from CBS to Victoria (B.C.) and hit like 27 towns and it was awesome.”
On friend and colleague Aylward, Lynch gushes. “I don’t think he grasps how valuable he was and is to me. I was thinking of quitting (trades) school to do comedy and he said, ‘who cares, school’s for idiots,’ as a joke, I think, but I did it, and when I told him, ‘hey I quit’ he took me under his wing.”
From CODCO to Critch
Lynch says he feels blessed that Newfoundlanders are known for their unique sense of humour thanks to the legends who have gone before – everyone from CODCO to Critch.
“We’re selling out across the country. Fans are everywhere, and not just Newfoundlanders. I think everyone has at least one Newfoundland friend, so they get our style of humour.”
Is he funny in real life? Lynch says he’s not so ‘out there’ when he’s himself. However; “If I’m with the b’ys I have a laugh. I have the spirit of an old man. I love playing accordion and love watching NTV News to see what Toni and Sharon are at,” he says with a wink.
Speaking of NTV, Lynch recalls doing his first and only Cruiser Team video.
“Hawco had that idea for a while and I always had that skeet character in there somewhere and Hawco named him and brought him out and we did the Cruiser Team and gave away terrible prizes like a saved draw and we borrow Mom’s car and she wants it back and we keep threatening to flatten people to get the saved draw back – makes ya wanna Winner’s Circle, right?”
Is he recognized as he goes around ’ome these days? Yes and no.
“I’ve had people come up mostly downtown. I’ll get, ‘what are ya at man? You’re cool!’ But then around the corner there’s someone there to humble me. Someone’ll be like, ‘do you know who that is?’ and I’ll feel right good and then someone else will say, every time, ‘naw b’y.’ It’s like the director of my life is always cueing someone who don’t give a crap about me and going; ‘OK! Go!’ and I hear, ‘b’ys relax! He’s not Leonardo DiCaprio.’’’
While he now lives away, his favourite place is still right here at home.
Exploring the rock
“Newfoundland has a thing about it. It’s my best place to tour. You forget how much of your province you didn’t explore until you do comedy. Before I did stand-up I didn’t go past Clarenville. Anytime I’d go on vacation I wanted to go somewhere cool like Toronto but Woody Point or Trinity or Bonavista? Those places are really cool. I’m excited to see more. I still haven’t been to Fogo Island yet.”
Anything exciting he’d like to share about himself? He thinks long, and hard before this earth shattering announcement. “I have a cat.” It makes me laugh.
“Best kind! You’re easy,” he says.
Not that easy, I reply, and take my lipstick back.
For upcoming tour dates and tickets visit bestkindcomedytour.com or The Outhouse on facebook