The Comedy Couch

 JOHN DUNSWORTH & PATRICK ROACH (aka Mr. Lahey & Randy from The Trailer Park Boys) - November 19, 2005.

GUY MACPHERSON: How are you?
JOHN DUNSWORTH: A hundred percent.

GM: Excellent.
JD: Don't forget, that's only 50 proof, boy.

GM: Where are you right now?
JD: We're halfway between Moncton and St. John.

GM: Are you doing a tour?
JD: We just finished four days and we're heading back
to Halifax.

GM: Are you going all across the country or just
coming out to BC?
JD: We just jump all over the place.

GM: Wherever someone will have you?
JD: Well, our agent tries to coordinate it so we don't
get too fucked over. Next week we're going to Guelph
and then to Grand Prairie and then out to BC. We try
not to go to BC and then come home again, if you know
what I mean.

GM: Yeah, that's probably wise. It's just you and
Randy?
JD: Yup.

GM: When did you develop this act?
JD: It's more or less, I would say, we're capitalizing
on the good feeling of people for Trailer Park Boys,
which is contemporary Canadiana. And so we go out and
we just expose ourselves to them, if you know what I
mean.

GM: (smirks) Not really.
JD: No?

GM: You expose yourself to them?
JD: Yeah. For example, we have a little schtick that
we do and a couple of contests, including a trivia
contest. But we open the floor up to questions from
the audience. And that actually is what makes each
show different is because we get different questions.
Now, sometimes they're all drunk and they're like,
"What kind of cheeseburgers do you like, Randy?" or
"Lahey, would ya fuck off?!" But a lot of the times we
get really interesting dialogue going. And people want
to know about one of the characters or one of the
episodes or what this meant. And there's a lot of
sharing, as well. Sometimes people from the audience
will actually share a really wonderful piece of
information how Trailer Park Boys changed their life
or saved their father's life, or something like that,
you know? Sometimes it's a pretty spiritual
experience, believe it or not.

GM: It's really quite the phenomenon, the show, isn't
it?
JD: It's taken on a life of its own.

GM: I can't think of another Canadian show that has
had that impact.
JD: I guess there's a little bit of a renaissance and
people in Canada are -- I could be totally wrong here,
but I think more than ever we're looking for icons. I
know myself, I am so proud of Stephen Lewis I can't
tell you. I always thought Jean Cretien was a big
thug, but when I think that he kind of single-handedly
kept us out of Iraq, I get a whole different feeling
for the guy. You know, I think Canada's pretty
special. For us to be able to break loose from the
kind of stereotypic American bullshit programming and
be allowed to do it and be encouraged to do it and
supported by Canadians, that's the phenomenon to me.

GM: Is your show in the States yet?
JD: It's played on BBC America. I don't know what the
present status is. Randy and I, neither of us are
kinda privy to distribution but we do know that it's
playing in Australia and England and Ireland and God
knows where else.

GM: Do you know the reaction it's getting over there?
JD: I understand that the climb to popularity is leaps
and bounds ahead of establishing a fan base in Canada.

GM: Really!
JD: Yeah. Because I'm told that it's played everyday
on one of the stations in England.

GM: Hmm. So soon you'll be playing pubs in England.
JD: It has been discussed. But Randy and I lately,
offers have been coming in from strange quarters. We
had an offer last week for a voice-over for cartoons
in England. And two weeks ago we had an offer for a
film being shot in Ireland. We wouldn't be playing
Randy and Lahey.

GM: So this has really changed your life, hasn't it?
You've been an actor for a long time.
JD: Yeah, 40 years.

GM: And obviously in nothing like this, that's had
this kind of impact.
JD: Absolutely not. I mean, the biggest rush I ever
had in terms of national audience, I did 15 episodes
on Between the Covers on CBC.

GM: Gee, I don't even know what that is.
JD: I'm a great fan of CBC radio. You've got CBC radio
1, 2, and 3. I love CBC 1, which is news programming a
lot and local news. But it has a lot of world coverage
and it's a little less biased than CNN.

GM: I'm a big fan of it, too, although they just
changed the format recently and now they're playing
pop music all day.
JD: It pisses me off that one asshole can get into CBC
and change the whole ethos of the organization.

GM: Is that what it was? One person?
JD: Yeah. But the thing is, some people get to be
henchmen. You'd think it would be a woman because
whenever they make big cuts to a corp they always put
a woman in so she can take the fall. But my problem
with this is that... CBC television to me is not as
valuable as CBC radio. Because the television is
mostly entertainment programs. And CBC radio, I think,
is a national treasure because it really does pull the
country... Well, you can get a real good national view
from CBC radio.

GM: Julian, Ricky and Bubbles were here two years ago.
So they go out as a group, then you and Randy go out
as a group?
JD: They don't do all that much. I would say that in
the last six months, we've done as much as they have
in the last six years. I mean, I don't know because
I'm not privy to everything they do. But sometimes
they go to ballgames and things like that just for
fun. But in terms of going to clubs and Yuk Yuk's, I
would say that we're setting the pace. And I think
they'll probably follow. I think what we're probably
going to do -- and again, I'm not sure on this -- we
might be doing a North American tour ensemble.

GM: All five of you?
JD: Maybe more than five of us. Because the film's
coming out next year. I don't know if they have
decided how they're going to promote it but I know
they always do something to promote things like this.
For us it's a big deal because we're going to be
opening right across North America.

GM: When they were here two years ago at the comedy
festival, the response was unbelievable. I don't know
if you heard about that or not.
JD: No.

GM: They played a theatre here, along with several
other comics, and the crowd just couldn't sit through
the other comics. They were all drunk and they wanted
to see Bubbles and all that kind of thing. But is it
like that everywhere you go?
JD: I'm not sure. I know that Bubbles is probably more
popular than John Lennon in Canada right now. I can't
explain it. You have to ask yourself about lucky stars
and about destiny and whatever and what kind of
hereditary seed was carried through to all of a sudden
blossom in this kind of philosophically profound but
seemingly helpless idiot. And why he becomes the star.
There's just no explanation. I mean, men and women
alike, young and old alike. Most people just want to
hug Bubbles and say, 'It'll be okay, buddy.' It blows
me away. So I have no illusions about Randy and
Lahey's popularity. We're popular because we're part
of the show. I think those three guys stand alone and
just smile and people would go nuts.

GM: Where do you live?
JD: I live across from Peggy's Cove on St. Margaret's
Bay. Right on the ocean.

GM: Is it crazy for you guys? You're in smaller towns
back east.
JD: No. No, the further west we go, the more
incredible the fan response.

GM: Oh. So back there they just go, 'Oh, it's you
guys.'
JD: You got it exactly. Just a simple, 'Fuck you,
Lahey.'

GM: Is there any confusion between you and the
character that you play?
JD: For me, yeah. Half the time I don't see any
distinction. I don't have the same kind of
proclivities that Jim Lahey has. I mean, I don't get
piss drunk and I don't like to diddle boys. And I am a
little bit of a megolomaniac but as I grow older I
think I'm more of a liberal power seeker. I like to
feel like I'm in control. Jim Lahey likes to feel like
he can control. I don't need to manipulate anybody
else in my life; I just like to feel like I'm captain
of my own ship.

GM: Do you feel like you lose a bit of your identity
wherever you go because people think Mr. Lahey.
JD: You would be amazed. I've always been a bit of a
narcissist. ... People come and say the nicest things
to you. And even when they say 'fuck off Lahey, you
fucking asshole', there's love in it. If I was in the
business for the fame, I've certainly accomplished my
goals. But I chose acting because I love to perform
and I love to adopt a different personality. I like to
change my personality. To be Jim Lahey, sadly, all I
really find myself doing is turning up the volume a
bit on John Dunsworth and acting a little bit more of
an asshole than I really am. It is a really weird
distinction when I'm out there because I do a radio
show on Wednesday morning. And it's John Dunsworth
using Jim Lahey's voice to express John Dunsworth's
views on politics. And I use Jim Lahey's notoriety to
campaign against video lottery terminals in Nova
Scotia. And there is a cross-over there and I do
capitalize one on the other. I haven't used my fame
and fortune yet to prey on vulnerable females, which
is one of my urges. And I don't drink or smoke dope
before I do a show or before I do a performance. So I
would have to say that there is a real definite
defining line between Lahey and Dunsworth.

GM: Is the radio show on a commercial station out
there?
JD: Yeah, it's on Q-104. We're talking about
syndicating it. Because it's very funny. I talk about
everything from George Bush to fecal flamboyancy.

GM: To what?
JD: Fecal flamboyancy.

GM: Okay.
JD: I have a flamboyant fecal fetish.

GM: Do I want to know about that?
JD: You have to understand the true meaning of shit to
have insight into the universe. Ever since Adam said
to Eve, 'Stand back, Eve, I don't know how big this
thing's going to get', there's been a lot of bullshit
in comunication. Most religions are based on pure
horseshit. If you're one of those guys or gals who
likes to have a look in the bowl after the ploppin's
over, then you'll want to go to my website,
jimlahey@poopovertroublewaters.ca. Follow the link to
piss on tradition. So it's that kind of stuff, you
know. Every week it changes. Last week I was a
politician. The week before I was selling eternal
salvation and trying to get people to invest in our
pump-up septic prophylactic slicing system. That kind
of stuff.

GM: Do you take calls?
JD: We used to. For the first couple months we took
calls but it was an hour and a half punctuated by
three minutes of commercials and it was just sort of
boring so I opted for a two-minute commentary every
week.

GM: How much time does filming the show take?
JD: We work three or four months a year. This year we
did six episodes over a period of about six weeks. And
we did the movie over a period of about six weeks.

GM: Is a lot of it improvised?
JD: A very small percentage is improvised. Like, under
ten percent. And usually that happens after we take
care of business, if there's time Mike Clattenburg,
the director, might say, "I got what I need. But let's
just go for it boys. Pull out the stops." And some of
that will make the movie perhaps, and some won't. But
we do at least two drafts of the scripts, then we
rehearse it with the text and sometimes on the spot
Clattenburg tweaks us and says, "That's not working."
It's really comfortable and wonderful when the person
who's the generator and the head writer can be there
and direct and make changes. Most of the time you're
doing American MoW's (movies of the week) or ever
Canadian scripts and it's sacrosanct. One of the
producer's wife or husband wrote the script and you
can't change one fucking word and it's pretty
restrictive.

GM: So that's the same in both the TV and movie
version?
JD: Yes, thankfully. Mike Clattenburg still holds the
propietory rights and directorial perogative, which
makes it, I think, pretty damn exciting.

GM: How long is this show going to run, do you think?
JD: We're in season six and I would say that we're
just peaking now. That's what I'd say. I think season
six is probably our best season yet. It's only six
episodes but it's really good stuff from my
experience.

GM: Six episodes isn't much. Why only six?
JD: Because we had to do the movie at the same time.
And when you're using the same cast and same crew and
a limited budget, I mean what can you do? We don't
have a huge... Trailer Park... I mean, I don't know
the difference but I would say that Corner Gas is a
bigger budget than Trailer Park.

GM: They have a pretty big budget, I think.
JD: We're chicken feed. That's why Randy and I tour
around -- to augment our salary. Randy quit his job as
a manager of a water company to do Trailer Park Boys.

GM: When did he quit? The website says he still is the
manager.
JD: Not anymore. Last year his company gave him an
ultimatum and said, "You have to make a choice."
Because Randy hadn't had a vacation for five years.
Every ounce of his vacation time was taken up in
shooting. And the AD's, the assistant directors, would
go to great pains to take advantage of all his
vacation time and book him in accordingly.

GM: You'd think a company would want somebody of that
stature working for them.
JD: Well, they changed their mind immediately when he
said, "I'm sorry boys, I'll see you later." They hired
him as an expert and they sent him all over the
country to do training. But this year he signed his
final papers and decided to just be a Trailer Park
Boy.

GM: He must feel pretty good about that.
JD: Well, there's a lot of costs. I'd have to let you
talk to him. I know he loves being part of the show,
that he feels a great camaraderie. And I know that he
really loves going across Canada. When we go out to
the west... I mean, we were just talking before you
phoned about... we have a couple days off there and
we're just going to go and we're just going to open
our eyes and take it all in. I was out in Vancouver a
couple of times when I was working with ACTRA, the
union that I used to be an officer in. I remember
going down to the waterfront there and they had this
beautiful boat club and I just wandered to the docks
and just felt like I was right at home. I'm an avid
boatsman here in Nova Scotia.

GM: Will it be harder for you two to just go out and
wander now with people stopping you all the time?
JD: No, if we don't want to be noticed, it's real
easy. You just put a hat on and Randy puts his shirt
on. And if I don't talk, people don't notice my voice,
and I just look like any old guy.

GM: Is the show making fun of that type of person or
glorifying it? Because you really attract the trailer
park kind of people.
JD: I don't think that's true. We have everything from
English and philosophy professors to Bay Street
lawyers to principals. A 94-year-old woman started a
fan club. We've got ten-year-old kids. A lot of them
are trailer park type people but the people that we're
portraying in the trailer park are not characters
drawn from trailer parks but characters drawn from
life. Everyone knows one of the guys in the park, or
two of them. Everyone knows a Ricky or a Bubbles or a
guy who runs around without his shirt on and his gut
hanging out. You can call us trailer trash if you
want, but we exist everywhere. And Trailer Park is not
a spoof and it's not a comic, sardonic look at the
foibles of losers; it's a cautionary tale. I think if
you look at Jim Lahey and how he gets piss-faced
drunk, I don't think people want to be like that. And
we're not making fun of drunks per se; we're using
alcoholism as a driving force for a guy who's
basically... I mean, how many people in this world, in
North America especially, are piss-faced drunk? I'd
say ten percent. So half of them love Jim Lahey and
half of them say that's ridiculous, nobody drinks like
that. I mean, I overdo it... You want to say hi to
Randy?

GM: Sure.
PATRICK ROACH: Hello?

GM: Hey there.
PR: Hey, buddy.

GM: So this was your first acting job, right?
PR: Yes, it was.

GM: And now here you are teamed up with a guy who's
been at it for 40 years. How intimidating is that?
PR: Not intimidating at all. I treat John Dunsworth as
my mentor.

GM: Is he? Does he give you little tips?
PR: He gives me tips all the time. We work through our
stuff to make it real good. And I'm the best assistant
to him in real life. Same way as I am on the Trailer
Park Boys.

GM: So he's the boss.
PR: He's the boss, but he keeps fucking up. He forgets
his hat in places and I find it for him. And he loses
his keys. He's like a cluster fuck, but I'm there to
assist him and bring him right back to life.

GM: He mentioned that you just quit your other job,
your day job.
PR: Yeah, I quit a year ago in July.

GM: How long were you doing that for?
PR: I was doing that since around '93.

GM: Was it a good feeling to leave? Most people go,
'I'd love to quit my job.'
PR: It was a little bit of mixed [feelings]. I mean, I
had a good job, steady income, company vehicle, you
know? You could pay your bills. To the acting world,
which is totally unpredictable. But I've got a good
education. I can make it as an actor or I can make it
as a business man. I'm having the time of my life
working with all my best friends and meeting all the
fans across Canada. It's pretty awesome. That supplies
the great feeling. You know you're going into
something that's really great.

GM: So for five years, or thereabouts, you did both.
PR: Yes, I did, yeah. I used all my vacation time to
film Trailer Park.

GM: So how was that when you were at work? You were a
salesman?
PR: I was the regional sales manager.

GM: So did people go, 'Hey! Randy is my salesman!'
PR: Yeah, they would. They'd say, 'Holy geez, you wear
a suit and tie?' I'd say, 'Well, I'm only an assistant
trailer park supervisor. I need to get another job to
make ends meet.'

GM: It must have helped you with your sales when
they'd go, 'Hey, we've got a star here.'
PR: Yeah, I got a few more sales because of it.

GM: You've got a couple kids, right?
PR: Yeah, I do. Yeah.

GM: How old are they?
PR: Rebecca's six and Cody's four.

GM: Can they get a full appreciation of what's
happening with you?
PR: No, they've never seen the show. They've never
been to the set. Too much swearing. It's not for kids
that young. They know that dad doesn't wear a shirt
and stuff, but they don't quite totally understand it.

GM: What age do you think you would start letting them
see it?
PR: Nineteen.

GM: Oh yeah?
PR: Yeah... No, I'm teasing. I don't know. I'd have to
see how good a head they have on their shoulders.
Nowadays we see kids all the time, and some of them
are quite young. But some young kids have a good head
on their shoulders. They deal with a lot of shit at
school these days: the drugs, everything, all the
pressures and whatnot. So I don't think the kids
really want to be like Ricky, Julian and Bubbles or
whatever, right? As long as they have a good head on
their shoulders, they should be fine.

GM: Before the series, were you as comfortable taking
your shirt off as you are now?
PR: No. Now I'm much more comfortable taking the shirt
off than before. Once everyone in Canada has seen you
with no shirt on, it's like, ah, what the hell.

GM: I would never take my shirt off in public.
PR: Once you get used to it, it's nothing.

GM: How much alike or different are each of you from
the characters?
PR: I'd say there are some similarities but I mean in
real life I'm not gay. In real life I wear clothes. In
real life I have a commerce degree and I'm smart. And
I'm not quite so patient, I don't think, in real life.
I'm very patient with Mr. Lahey and his drunkenness.
But there are other similiarities. Randy's a very
loyal person; so am I in real life. I'm trustworthy
and so is Randy. And maybe once in a while I'm greasy
like Randy.

GM: As your buddy there was saying, it really attracts
not just the small town drinking crowd; it attracts
the philosophy professors.
PR: Yeah, it attracts anyone from any walk of life.
Right? You can be a janitor, you can be in jail, you
can be a prince, maybe even a prime minister, who
knows? It's one of those things. We're very lucky to
be able to bring joy into people's homes across Canada
and in other parts of the world. So I mean we're just
the luckiest guys in the world.


 
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