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episode

Episode 103: Laughing in Pandemic Times — with Charles Demers

February 02, 2021

Host Am Johal catches up with author, activist, voice actor and Juno-nominated comedian Charlie Demers about his pandemic year, and how he reads this turbulent moment in politics. They talk about everything from the life of civil rights figure Jack O’Dell, to a strange year for stand-up comedy, to Charlie’s studies in theology.

In the episode, Charlie and Am think through some of the mechanisms of Trumpism — looking to Rob Ford as a prefiguration to Trump, and unpacking the political stratagems populist leaders use to stoke anger and division.

Charlie is also the author of a recently published novel, Primary Obsessions, an amateur sleuth story which takes up mental health themes. He speaks to Am about how his lived experience inspired and informed the book, as well as what led him to pursue studies at the Vancouver School of Theology.

Listen on: Soundcloud  |  Apple Podcasts  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Podyssey  |  YouTube

Resources

Charlie’s website
Primary Obsessions, novel by Charles Demers
Charlie’s Juno-nominated comedy album, Fatherland
“How OCD, CBT and a Therapist Inspired Charles Demers to Write a Mystery Novel” via The Tyee
The Issue of Mr. O’Dell, a short documentary about Jack O’Dell by Rami Katz

Charles Demers

My name is Charlie Demers — I’m a Juno-nominated comedian and I’m a BC Book Prize-nominated author, and my voice features prominently on your parents’ favourite public radio show & your child’s favourite Netflix cartoon (so long as your parents listen to CBC’s The Debaters and your kid watches either of the Emmy-winning programs Beat Bugs or The Last Kids on Earth). I’ve led an idiosyncratic life that has included, among other things, membership in a communist sect; opening, on various occasions, for Sarah Silverman, Marc Maron, Hannibal Buress, Bob Odenkirk & David Cross; organizing a union at a video arcade; making a cooking show pilot with my mother-in-law; writing jokes with Dave Foley of The Kids in the Hall; introducing Noam Chomsky at an anti-war rally of more than fifteen thousand people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach; sharing a bill talking about anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder along with Stanley Cup finalist Kelly Hrudey & his daughter; learning a Cantopop love song for my wedding banquet; and, most recently, going to seminary.


Below the Radar is a weekly podcast hosted by Am Johal. We talk environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community-building and urban issues with featured guests. Hosted on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, this podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement as a part of our Knowledge Democracy Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.

Below the Radar is a weekly podcast hosted by Am Johal. We talk environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community-building and urban issues with featured guests. Hosted on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, this podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement as a part of our Knowledge Democracy Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.