Chatting with Comedian Paul Bates

A veteran of Toronto comedy stages, Paul Bates got his start at The Second City, where he wrote and performed in six revues. Other stage credits include SlapShot Live, It’s A Wonderful Toronto, An Inconvenient Musical; and SARSical, for which he received a Dora Award nomination. His live show HOOKUP played to sold out houses at Bad Dog Theatre for five years.

On television Paul played Jeff on Dan For Mayor (CTV), and has also appeared in Workin’ Moms (CBC), Kim’s Convenience (CBC), Baroness Von Sketch Show (CBC), Ransom (CBS), The Stanley Dynamic (YTV), The Ron James Show (CBC), Odd Squad (PBS), Against The Wall (Lifetime), and Puppets Who Kill (CTV). Film credits include The Comey Rule (Showtime), The Tuxedo, Welcome to Mooseport, and Camille. Voice credits include Max & Ruby, Elinor Wonders Why and Monster Pack.

As a writer Paul has worked for The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos (CBC), Gaming Show (In My Parents’ Garage) (YTV), InSecurity (CBC) and The Second City Project (Global), and has written specials for William Shatner and Martin Short. Paul has won numerous Canadian Comedy Awards, and received NOW Magazine’s 2013 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Male Improviser.

Paul Bates

How would you describe your comedy style?

I think I sound smart but the comedy I like is mostly very stupid.

Who are some of your influences?

David Letterman, Norm MacDonald, Wayne & Shuster, SCTV, The Frantics

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

It has to be John Candy.

Who is your favourite comedian now?

Probably Jim Gaffigan.

What is your pre-show ritual?

A cold, refreshing Steamwhistle and a quick tour through every insecurity in my being.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

Massey Hall. I did some sketches there for a festival. It’s just not a place you expect to be on stage at. I’ve seen Elvis Costello and Lenny Kravitz there; how do I get to be on that stage? It’s one of those theatres where I made sure I took the time to remember exactly how the auditorium looked from that stage.

What is your favourite bit your have written and why were you proud of it?

At Second City I did a bit called Letters. It was one of my few solo pieces and it involved me writing an angry letter to any recipients the audience asked for. It was mostly improvised and even though improv is something I do a lot, this one terrified me every single time I was about to do it. But once I was out there performing it, I never felt better.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

Live and in person.

Tell us a joke about your city.

A man goes to the doctor in Downtown Toronto. He says, “This city is soulless and cold. No one is friendly. Everyone is pretentious. It fills me with despair. I am so depressed.” The doctor says, “Well, why don’t you go see the great clown Pagliacci? I’m seeing him tonight at a theatre uptown. You should join me.” The man says, “Oh no, sorry, I don’t go north of Bloor.”

Do you have anything to promote right now?

Season 2 of my funny history podcast has just begun. It’s called The Dubious Book of Famous Deeds, and it is based entirely on a 19th-century compendium of inaccurate, overwritten stories (that I found in an alleyway) called The Pictorial Treasury of Famous Men and Famous Deeds. Each episode I read a chapter to a guest and together we mostly make fun of it, but we also learn history along the way!

Where can we follow you?

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

Carson Pinch! I’m directing his show “Carson and Taylor Promise to do a Bunch of Flips” this summer at the Toronto Fringe Festival. He is not an acrobat.