Just For Laughs comic Mike Wilmot on Cosby, Ghomeshi
“I’m sure everyone will have a poke,” he said Wednesday. “I’m probably going to have a poke.”
Wilmot explained he’s always had a (funny) bone to pick with “anyone who has this overdone moral compass.”
He added: “I’ve always had a feeling that anyone that stands on this moral ground all the time and really hits heavy on it, they’re hiding stuff.”
The 52-year-old veteran of the stand-up scene recalled being interviewed by radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who is currently awaiting trial for sexual assault and choking.
“I remember him going on and on about how I’m dirty and sort of pushing boundaries,” said Wilmot. “What the hell? I knew he was a snake.”
Although he considers Cosby fair game, Wilmot also considers himself a fan.
“When I was a kid, I listened to his first few albums and I thought they were remarkable,” he recalled. “He was a fantastic storyteller.”
Wilmot is at Just For Laughs for 13 performances of The Nasty Show with Mike Ward, Gilbert Gottfried, Jimmy Carr, Artie Lange and Luenel.
A veteran of JFL who has performed all over the world, Wilmot described the annual fest as the best. “It’s the festival. Has been for years,” he said, adding he’s fond of Montreal audiences. “They come ready.”
Wilmot added that being part of JFL is like being at a convention. “All my comedian friends are here from all over the world and we hang out. It’s wonderful,” he said.
Aware that many people will attend more than one Nasty Show, Wilmot said he will have plenty of new material every night.
“You’re either hoping that they have horrid memories or you try out some new stuff,” he explained. “Luckily I’ve got a pretty sick mind.”
Asked if he is constantly searching for new targets, Wilmot replied: “Well, looking for material and having a disorder — there’s a real fine line there. I’ve been crossing that for years. I’m just lucky to have a disorder that pays.”
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Wilmot told Global News he’s not put off by people in the audience capturing portions of his act on their camera phones.
“I couldn’t care less, really,” he said. “I like the fact that we’re keeping an eye on each other. If I have to pay for it with them YouTubing me trying out new stuff and looking horrible then that’s fine, I guess, if we can catch cops beating up innocent people on the same apparatus.
“You give, you take.”
While he doesn’t think comedy audiences are as politically correct as they were in the ’90s, Wilmot said social media has made people believe their opinions count.
“That’s the biggest problem right now. The more people who think their opinions matter, the less opinions in general matter,” he opined. “I think that’s healthy. We’re all going to eventually have to use our own minds and not take the opinions of others.”
Wilmot said at least once or twice a month he says something on stage that he regrets, but he doesn’t believe anything is off limits as long as it’s funny.
“I’m not up there shocking people. I’m not just going to blurt out something that’s designed to make people uneasy. I’m going to try to find an angle,” he explained. “I don’t know if humour forgives whatever you’re talking about but you pinpoint the absurdity of certain things with a joke to the point where people make a funny noise that comes out of their heads because they have no more words.
“I still haven’t figured it out. I’ve been at it for years and I still haven’t got a clue. But there’s a moment when there’s nothing you can say so you just laugh.”
Wilmot’s act includes decidedly TMI about his wife.
“First off, every penny I’ve ever made in the last 29 years has gone to her so she’s OK with it,” he explained. “As long as she can hit casinos, as long as she can have her car…”
Wilmot compared jokes about his wife to the ones Phyllis Diller told about her fictional husband Fang.
“It’s not all her. It’s an amalgam. My wife just represents everybody’s wife, everybody’s partner in life,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be female. If you live with someone for over a quarter of a century it’s no longer male or female, it’s just the other half of you always pissing you off.”
While Toronto is technically home for the couple, Wilmot said he generally doesn’t stay in any one place for longer than three months. When he is home, he prefers to spend time away from the city.
“I do some work but I tend to get up in the woods. Because Canadian show business, as cute as it is, you might as well go in the woods,” he said. “You might as well tell jokes to squirrels.”
Speaking of nuts, Wilmot is happy to share something he has learned from nearly a year of focusing on fitness.
“For all the men in their 50s out there worried about your ball sack, get on the treadmill and it comes back home,” he said. “I’ve been running and working out. It’s coming up.
“It’s not taut by any means. It’s not a turtle’s back. But it is up there.”
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