AT THE CENTRE IN THE SQUARE IN KITCHENER
If the guidance counsellor couldn't give you advice on how to 'make it' as a professional complainer, steer your career questions to Jeremy Hotz, a Canadian comic who has carved a winning niche in the stand-up world whinging about pretty much everything. Paparazzi camera flashes are bad for his astigmatism. A trip to the mall results in nine irritations. Even waking up ticks him off.
"I can be annoyed getting up in the morning," Hotz said from his home in L.A., which he shares with Samson, a border collie. "Trying to squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube and it's a poor design. And the people who actually take time to roll up the toothpaste tube, that will annoy me. And then the pump thing that came out, which didn't last very long because you never knew if it was empty or not."
It's the side-splitting truth of Hotz's scorn for all of life's little perturbances -- perturbances we all know too well -- and the minty freshness of his material that has the comedian's fans coming back for more. Sometimes, a little too much more.
On a recent trip to Ottawa, Hotz encountered an admirer who had attended all three of his shows knowing each one would be original.
"He met me after in the autograph line and I thought, oh wow, there's fans and then there's craaaa-zy people," Hotz said.
Hotz, 44, is touring Canada with his stand-up show, What a Miserable Tour This Is.
That's right, miserable.
"All the other comics are like, 'Hey, it's good to be here,' " he said. "You'll never hear me say that. It always seems to be an annoyance. I don't get paid for sitting on the couch and watching TV. I have to do this. It is a bummer."
Hotz doesn't tour with a prepared script, rather builds his shows spontaneously from exasperations du jour.
"Whatever happens during that day I'll bring on stage," Hotz said. "I've got no qualms about doing that; I've done it for years and I'm very comfortable with it. They (the fans) all come to see that character and that guy. And as long as he's pissed off and miserable about something, believe me it works."
A Just For Laughs Festival veteran, Hotz got his start in 1990s as a writer on The Jon Stewart Show on MTV. (His bio claims he got into comedy after failing at everything else.) He has appeared The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and earned a Gemini for his role in CBC comedy series The Newsroom.
It took years to develop the hilarious, crusty persona, which Hotz said stems from his own personality. When the world gets downs on him, he gets insecure and regresses into a shell. And that curmudgeon in the shell is the one we see at the mike, the one his fans, especially Canadians, connect with.
"He lashes out from a very meek perspective, and if that isn't Canadian I don't know what is," Hotz said of his stage character. "The Canadian fascination with it (the act) is that it is a national feeling. That's the way Canadians are."
Perhaps the most-well known trait of Hotz's cantankerous act is holding a hand up at his face as he talks. It just "felt more comfortable" when he tried it for the first time years ago, he said.
"It's almost like you're not even sure if he's saying it, like it's a guy murmuring it in school and the teachers says, 'Who said that?' But he's got his hand in front of his face so she can't nail it," Hotz said. "Hey, at least they go, 'He's the guy that puts his hand in front of his face,' as opposed to, 'That's the guy with the big nose.' "
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