WhyWeWork BrianVee
WhyWeWork BrianVee

Episode 118 · 1 year ago

#118​ Sandy Gillis Comedian Jimmy the Janitor BrianVee WhyWeWork

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sandy Gillis aka Jimmy the Janitor is a comedian and actor. Sandy has numerous albums and can be heard across Canadian radio with his clean but relevant humour.

Website
https://www.jimmythejanitor.com/about.html

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Jimmy-the-Janitor-12605681577/https://www.facebook.com/jimmy.janitor.9

Twitter
https://twitter.com/jimmythejanitor?lang=en

Address
Jimmy the Janitor Comedy
PO Box 992
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7M4

Phone
Tel 1-902-892-9292

E-mail
comedy@jimmythejanitor.com

...welcome to why we work with your host, Brian V. As he speaks to people like you from all over the world as we together dive deeper into our motivations, struggles, joys, seemingly missteps, hopes, warnings and advice which will be an encouragement to us all to get up, get going and keep on working. Working is tough, but working is good. Now here's your host to why we work. Brian V. I'm Brian B. And this is why we work today. I have the great pleasure speaking with Sandy Gillis. Sandy is an actor and comedian. You may know him as Jimmy the janitor today. I want to find out from Sandy. What does the future hold for comedy? Join me in my conversation today with Sandy Gillis. I'm Brian V. And this is why we work today. I have the great pleasure speaking with Sandy Gillis. Good day. Fine, sir. How does she go home, boy, It's going well here. You know, I'm on the other side here, but thank you, kind sir, for coming on here. I was pleasantly surprised to know that you're willing to do this. Would you do me a favor and tell us the industry you're in and what you're up to nowadays. My industry, I've I basically called it broadcast comedy. That's the way it's been for fifty two years, but primarily, uh, comedy now. And, uh, you know, we can sort of get into where they separated and how they worked together for a long time. I would love to, and I'd like to go back, and but I was just getting ready for this. And I'm trying to figure out comedians in general. I don't know if I'm funny, but I think I see things that are funny. And I heard my dear wife today say something that she went shopping and we got something in a box that you almost trip over. And I think she said, Bubble Bath and I was getting ready, and this is still wet to prove the point and and I looked in the shower and my dear wife got a and I have no idea. But when you see things, I have no idea what any of the words are bobble in. There's some I don't know if it's German on it, and then all I see is vegan or vegan. I guess it would be proper. Yeah. Is this how a comedian finds things that are funny when you have no idea? I only like I said, my dear wife said she bought something and I'm sure she bought it. And it's certainly not for me, but you just go through life and you find things. I looked both sides, and not only that, they put a sticker on the back. It's my dear wife's Korean, so I can't read that. I have no idea what the ingredients are, and it says vegan. And this is soap. This is vegan soap, and this is a stretch for trying to sell a product, but they get one word on there, and it's been bought. Not that we're vegans. Nothing wrong with vegans. But is this Is this how you find comedy? I find it everywhere. I find it on airplanes and supermarkets. You know, I would find that funny. Um, you know, I do some vegan bits in my show. Um, not that something comes to mind right now, but, you know, I do shows across Canada and different regions will react when I'm on the prairies and I'm in cattle country. You know a funny vegan joke that is not aimed at glamorizing veganism, you know, would go over. Not that it's a put down, but it would be comparing. You know what somebody had for dinner with me, and, you know, I have this and it comedy comes every day. I have, uh, my phone's over there, plugged in, but it has a recording feature like every, uh, iPhone. And I've gone through five dicta phones, and that's probably my tenth iPhone in in my five decades. And I'm always recording lines always and and I have, uh, multi dozen sketches on the go at any one time. So in the morning, I take the Dictaphone. I listened to it. I find the sketch that I'm working on that has the vegan soap.

It's the line I take off. I'll put it in the vegan soap line, close it up, and then I continue working on sketches that are a little bit further along. But eventually I'm going to get to the vegan sketch, and when I get there, there's going to be all kinds of lines may not use them all, and they, you know, they may not all fit but that's how you build it. And, you know, I I wrote fifty sketches in the first three months of the lockdown. Like from March, I was home off the road on this on March March. The eighth is my last show. So, uh, we're doing I'm doing an anniversary run through on that show this weekend. I'm going to take the set list and see how much I remember of that to our show because I have not done it for two two for twelve months. And anyway, I've written fifty new pieces that go into rehearsal this summer, and I'll be rehearsing bits every day putting the show together and hopefully, by the fall, I'll be able to do a show somewhere. Um, we usually book our own buildings and tour that way so you don't ramp up quickly when you have to rent a theater or rent a community center and higher all the sound and light and everything else. But, you know, I'll be up and running back on the road. Fifty shows a year, probably by November, hopefully, fingers crossed. It's and that's the thing about building a skid or building some pieces, and some sets is I look at this and it's not the vegan. It's It's like the marketing campaign that I can't imagine what language this is, whatever it is and then sounds like vegan. Then that's the front. There's the cover. This okay? And this is what's gonna sell. And apparently it works here. And a coupon we have in Korea. I think they went public over in the States not long ago. Coupon will sell you anything. Can you bring us back, sir? Can you bring us back into maybe as a teenager, preteen. What would have been your very first job making a buck? Maybe even making a laugh. But it may not be related to comedy. Well, I've been working forever. My first job was as a remote control. We had two channels at our house. What a remote control. Get up, Faith. Sandy, change the channel. So you go from C T. V to CBC. And that was it. So I That was my first job. Remote control. And then I was paper boy. How old are you? How old were you when you got your paper route route? As some people may say, paper root root root the paper route. I was probably ten or eleven. It was the Star Weekly and it was every Saturday and I had a five mile walk. I mean, I lived in the county, which is not, you know, the best place to have a paper route. And I would I would be dropped off at one o'clock and I would get home around five. Thirty. I would have walked all afternoon dropping papers on this five mile route, and I would make a dollar twenty five you mentioned was like you were in in in the northern tip of Sydney. And I spent a few years out on the Maira actually living with my dad on a warm afternoon. And when I moved back to sack full, I used to say, because I play, I started playing soccer in middle school and I would say soccer and they're like, What are you What are you saying? I mean, we're gonna play soccer, right? And I picked up a little bit of point going to face some soccer, so at the root, so as you got a little bit older and you're working, maybe in middle school and high school Is there any standout jobs that you did? Maybe even still unrelated. Everything was unrelated. Um, I went from paper route to selling Christmas trees to, uh, shoveling between the tracks down at the railway station for CNN, um, and then packing groceries and then part time DJ on the radio when I was eighteen. Mhm. Did you growing up for those first few things? Was the motivation yourself Or just like your dad tell me to get up and change the TV channel? Was that your motivation or did you? Were you trying...

...to find yourself as well? No. I knew where I was. I didn't have to find myself at all, but I was the oldest of ten Children. So that's where I was. And my dad worked seven days a week. He worked at CNN, and then he had a host sailfish distributing business two days a week, and I just grew up. I mean, part of my job was working in the summers on fish trucks and carrying, you know, fresh fish in boxes and frozen fish into the co ops and the stores and that. And that's what we what I did in the summer um, in between the other jobs. And so I grew up. I was going to get, uh, yeah, I was going to get any money from mom and Dad. They were already taxed. And so I was just out there working all the time. What? Did the deejaying job at eighteen. Kind of open your eyes to more of an entertainment side, or is it just a gig that was huge? That was, That changed my life. I was a big fan, you know, Long hair, Beatles stones. This was the mid sixties, and by sixty eight, I was eighteen and they advertised on the radio that they would welcome a fifteen minutes high school, uh, presentation High school, send in your, you know, your delegate who will play tunes on the radio on a Friday night at eight o'clock. For fifteen minutes, I called and they picked me. And so I went in on Friday morning, tape the show, and the guy who taped me said, You know, you should think about doing this, And I had been practicing in my living room since I was sixteen, with an old reel to reel recorder and the old hi fi where I put the Beatle albums on line them up to be three of them and hit the start button, and I would talk until it dropped. The thing went over, the stylist hit the record, and then I would talk it in. I would hit the post, as it was called. That was what you did back in the DJ world of the sixties. You you talked in, you hit the post, you didn't walk on it. You didn't miss it. You hit it and I hit every post. I mean, I did those tunes a million times. And so when I got to the radio station, I already had the banter down from listening to the other announcer, the real announcers on the various stations. And so I was ready. Did you call? They said to nominate someone. Or was this you had to get into at the right moment when you were calling or is it just called? Make that appointment? Yeah. Yeah, I think, um, I think it was a general broadcast, you know, represent your school or school nominate somebody and I just nominated myself on the phone very quickly. Five, three, nine, fifty nine hundred was the radio station. That's what I was thinking. Like, how many times you had to call the number like No, hang up. We won't have to want to do that. Not everybody wanted to do that. You had to be a little, you know, you had had to be a little crazy to want to do that and set yourself up for, you know, humiliation. And so, as it turned out, you know, the guy said you should do this. And he said, If you ever want to come in and use the production studio, that's the other studio. Uh, and practice. You know, I'm here in the evenings doing the show. You can go in and you know, I'll work with you. I said I'm with you. And I was there from I guess that was November, All the way through till somewhere in the spring. Okay. Uh, jeez. No, I I can't remember how long it was Anyway. One one Saturday night. I'm there Saturday night work in my six to midnight in the production studio. He walked in and said, Okay, Sandy, you're on. What? On there? He gonna end of the chair? Put me in the chair in the Master Control. And I was on the radio at that point. And then they gave me that show the...

...following week, and that was my own show. And then I started doing Sunday nights and then did other all kinds of other shows. How long? How long before you got comfortable doing it? From that moment of being given the opportunity, then your own show? How long did it take, or were you already comfortable? I don't know if I was really, you know that comfortable. But I knew what to do. You know, I had the whole process. Downtime, temperature, weather, hit the post back cell. You know, you know, just look up a little bit about the artist. It was We didn't have Google back then, so it was a lot more work, but yeah, you know, I have I have tapes of the sixteen year old in the living room, uh, saved digitally. I have the the pull your voice, eighteen year old thinking that you had to sound like a rock chock all the time. And so I have all that stuff and it just lead to more work. Um, as you know, turn was great, Great at school like I was, you know, I was pretty outgoing as a kid. Then I hit about thirteen, and I became a little quieter and Shire and, um, you know, I was a bit of a nerd, really? Like, you know, like I I was a Boy Scout and, you know, and then I became a rover, which is the senior group. And, you know, we go and do good things and have that, you know, Rover Jackets. We didn't have a leather, you know, biker jacket. I had, you know, doing good for the community jacket. Kind of nerdy, right? That all that all changed when I went on the radio and air started going down longer. And there were only two people in our high school in Riverview Rural High School in Cox C. Cape Brett who are allowed to have long hair. Everybody else had to have their hair shaved up to here. And Eddie Ivan E, who played in a rock band in Sydney as the drummer, got the past me because we worked in rock and roll and that was part of our business. And we did make that pitch to the principal. And she allowed us to have long hair. Wow. There they come. The guys. Uh huh. So you walk down the hall. You know, the next morning you were the guy they listened to from six till nine playing the tunes, right? And, you know, you feel pretty good. So the confidence grew and it was a little bit of a high to be in high school and on the radio, and I was all the way through, and then, uh, I did take a communications course at Xavier College in Sydney, but I was already on the radio, and I already knew a lot of it. And so I kept working. And then eventually, uh, I got a job at, uh, c J O N in ST John's Land. You were practicing everything you were practicing, playing the records at sixteen. You didn't get the position until eighteen. So were you thinking about a career in communications at sixteen or something in particular? You weren't really sure where kind of this idea of music and being on radio and all that will take you Or is it just something you had an interest in? No, I at sixteen. I was going to join the RCMP. That's what all my buddies were going to do, and most of them did. And I went on a journey across Canada with my cousin from Boston, met in Montreal and we went across Canada for a month. Uh, and and And we had an uncle at the other end who took us around British Columbia all the way out. He was eighteen. He talked about becoming a radio announcer and I was going to join the RCMP and he was interviewing people in the bar car, you know, just in the lounge car talking. He had the gift of gab. I had no interest. But then as we came back and he was still doing this, I thought, you know, I'd be pretty cool to be playing those rock tunes on the radio. So when I got home that September, I set up the card table in front of the WiFi hi fi and started playing the Beatle albums and taping them on this big old reel to reel. And,...

...you know, I had a house full of kids, so I had to work around that it was funny my sister on Facebook the other day. I was commenting somebody about practicing in my living room. They were talking about when they started in radio and she saw this. She said, Oh, yeah, we were all told, Sandy's practicing in the living room. They never got to be guests on your show. I don't think I did the best thing. I was pretty much coming up on introducing the tube that playing that rock and roll. And so yeah, so by twenty I had a couple of part time years in, and the manager at that station was being promoted to a bigger operation in Newfoundland, and he offered me the evening, offered me an evening rock show and twice weekly Bandstand television show style. And so I happily went to Newfoundland and took everything I learned in Sydney, everything from every other announcer on the planet that I could package into my show and launched the very first rock show in Newfoundland in nineteen seventy When I get off the boat and I was driving in from our Gensia, Newfoundland, I turned on the radio at six fifteen, and I heard this announcer in my time slot saying, Well, hello there. Time for a selection from Frank Sinatra rolling the tune. I'm thinking, Oh, my God, we're going to make a big change here. And I had already discussed that we were going to do a rock show there. Now, rock back in the day is not, you know, your classic rock. It was all the top forty stuff. It was, you know, all the all the British invasion and anything that was happening. I mean, I was on the radio when we were playing Beatles songs out of the box like they were still making them when I started. And, you know, even when I got to Newfoundland that, you know, we were still playing things like the long and winding road and let it be brand new tunes and and then we went through, You know, you know, the McCarten Meteors and the George Harrison years. And but, um, coming over and listening to that guy must have been interesting, even knowing I might be taking your position or we're going to do a whole new I was taking his position and he didn't mind like he was a swing announcer. He worked weekends and filled in and they were looking, you know, they were looking for someone to do something in that show. And, uh, my manager went over in June and asked me to go then But I had a girlfriend that summer, Uh, and I didn't want to go and leave the summer behind, so I told him I come in September. So that was fine because he had a chance to set up for me, and and so it worked really well, like we had. We had the radio stations all over Newfoundland like I was a network. We had the television station, which was all over Newfoundland. We had a newspaper, so I get there and, you know, they have be in the newspaper all the time. So a lot of promotion to promote this, you know, long haired rock and roll disc jockey on the east coast of Canada. And so it was was really great. It was a fun time. Newfoundlanders are the nicest people in the world. I mean, I'm a caper just about sex. Um, I interviewed Trent McLennan's the other day and I said, You know what? I've never met a Newfoundland er that I haven't liked and and it sounds, cliche is, but it's true. Yeah, it is. Uh, it was a treat. And so I stayed for two years and had an offer to go to Monckton, New Brunswick and do the morning Joe and I was doing the Rock Show, and the Morning show is where you know, supposedly the money is and the biggest audiences. And so I went in there and did that for Let's See seventy two to seventy five and sounds like a long time ago. But it...

...was, um, and developed characters. And, uh, I did. I did. I talk to myself. Did funny lines. As you say this I'm thinking, I'm thinking of Howard Stern when, especially even earlier when you mentioned growing long hair. Did you watch that movie? And could you see? I think you were more on the clean comedy side, so minus that away from his stand up comedy or his you find some similarities because he seemed to in the movie anyway, start to come out to his own when he started developing these characters, which made his show that much more lively. And the characters really helped me because I started doing funny commercials for the radio station. I had funny bits with all these different characters on the morning show. The show was clean, But when I saw Howard's movie, uh, that's the one that's like twenty years old Now I think thirty might be thirty or more now relate to moving to those stations and having managers that, you know, told you what to do. And, um, I was I think I was a little luckier than Howard in that regard. I had a I had a pretty, uh, smooth ride. Um, but anyway ended up in Mountain doing morning show and started a broadcasting school because I needed a new car and and so I had forty students twice a week in the evening from seven to nine, and I hired I hired all the head of the directors of the departments in the radio station to teach the courses so I would have a copyrighting class, uh, you know, two, three times sales brought the program director my boss in, brought the sales manager in and had all these people working for me teaching my kids and I would teach them the on air technique and so that worked really well. I ran that for two or three years, and then the owner of the company came to me and in the winter of nineteen seventy five and said, You know, broadcasting school is going really well. I said, Yeah, and he said, Your dance business is going really well. I had all the dances, a DJ servant promoted by the nation. So I had a lot of lot going on. He said, Would you like to make money for me? And he was smiling and I said, Yeah, and so he gave me this first little radio station to run in Sussex, New Brunswick. It was brand new sticks of us long hair, but it worked out really well. The station went well. I brought two or three of my students hired a senior sales guy, and it just went from there, and I just moved through the company and took on bigger stations. And then I became a partner and, you know, I became an owner in the operation. Did you buy your car? What car did you buy with Gillis University Broadcasting School? It was Eastern Broadcasting School, and it was a Ford Granada Red candy, apple red. But I only had it for a short time. Um uh huh. A sales manager at that dealership, you know? Said I'm looking for a promotion, uh, to to get our dealership more profile. And I said, I have an idea. So you can. It's called secretary of the day. And I said every day I will have a secretary of the day from nominations and that secretary of the day will receive a corsage from a flower shop. I will pick her up and her guest at eleven. Forty five and take her to lunch and and in return for all that promotion in the morning show, because we'll talk about it three or four times every day. Um, you give me a malignancy and change it up every six months, and I will put the gas in it and you put your insurance on it. So I had a car which was a big marquis, big, big, big...

...honkin Ford, Mercury Marquis, and I got to meet a different secretary every day. This is back when they were called secretaries. And uh huh, And then one times they brought the boss, which was really interesting as well, because I got to know something about that construction company. York. She'd bring the mayor, or I mean, I had I did this for seventy late, seventy three, seventy four, then did Sussex and seventy five and did in Camel to Knin seventy seven. It worked out really well on a lot of levels because I got a lot to meet. A lot of young ladies. I had a free car. I was a bachelor. So I got fed every day, and I met a lot of business people and learned a lot. And so it just helps me all way around with your partnership and ownership with the broadcasting company. What was the role that you played through that period of your life? Mhm. The first station. I was general manager, second station, general manager, third and fourth. Uh, I became a partner and became vice president, um, and general manager. And then I picked up two more, So I had four stations. I was VP, GM and and a partner operating partner. Were you completely hands off with with the microphone and being an on air personality? I was off the air for a I was. I started on the air in seventy eight sixty eight and I was off the air by seventy eight. And in Campbelltown was the last time I did a shift on a regular basis. Did the morning show There was the manager was most everything, you know, like Director of things. And but I got to Monkton, which is a bigger market, And I was just running the stations and off the air and so that that was, you know, stepping away from the fund stuff, Really. But, you know, the money was in the running and, you know, and the challenge was to, you know, boost the ratings and win the market and all that stuff. And so it was until nineteen eighty seven, which would have been nine years after that, that I created my comedy character to give me that Jimmy the janitor, giving me that opportunity to be creative again, you know, at least on the air for those nine years. Where was that eating at you like the desire to be more expressive? Or was it that was just the time. Like I did all the creative stuff in those nine years was developing talent, Um, creating promotions, creating sales packages for our company. Um, you know, doing a lot of creative stuff there, because I, you know, I leaned in that direction. I was the creative outgoing, um, manager in our group. Like we had other partners, uh, in the company. And I was the youngest by ten years, and I was the one sort of looking two create things for other stations in our chain. Um, a lot of sales packages that were creative. Um, a lot of rating contests that were creative, so that let me do some of those things. And then I still slipped into the booth in, you know, our stations in mountain and did voices, you know, like, they call me from production and say, you know, they wrote this, you know, old man character. They wrote this Irish guy and hoping you'd come up and do it. And I said, Oh, yeah, I'll be running upstairs chance to sit down and do a character. Right? So when did you decide to go to the stage with Jimmy the janitor and being a stand up comedian? Uh huh. Well, I created character purely for radio and we were having a...

...competitor commit against us in the Monckton market. Had a great morning man. But he wasn't that funny. And I said, Well, I can add to that. I can add a funny character. So I started doing this, uh, well, thinking on it first. What? What's it going to be? What's the accents? Why is he here? He's going to pop in. Well, let's make him the janitor of the station. And he can come in and talk to the morning man for a minute. Couple times. What do we call? Look home, Jerry, Jimmy the Jack. And so on January fifteenth, nineteen eighty seven, Jimmy backed into the control room with the vacuum clean Iran. And the morning man said, Whoa, whoa, whoa, Sorry, buddy. I'm on the air hearing that was the beginning. And, uh, you know, you said, who are you and Jimmy and, uh, paper and and and, uh, because I'm where you tried on a running the money and at a gas. I'm here a month, and they have working here in the hallway. And, uh, so, uh, I sat down and did a You know, uh, you know, a joke. that we had, you know, rehearsed. And, uh, he said you should come back tomorrow. So had started it, and I did. I did a bit every morning, and then we I was doing it live. And that meant I had to be there at seven. Thirty, which was, uh, and be up for this. So we started taping it and then within, uh, within a year, we were on our nine stations every day and that that went a little further. There's probably fifteen stations within the year and a half. Others other non non brand stations, friends by and we ran for ten years. Exactly. Started on the fifteenth of January, Uh, eighty seven. Took it off in the fifteenth, January ninety seven and then gave it a break. And we sold. We sold the company, actually, in nineteen ninety five, um, we had an offer from Ted Rogers to buy our company. Not a bad, bad person to want to buy your company. Yeah, So we sold, and, uh, Jimmy continued on the station's still ninety seven, and I was out. At that point, there was my chance to get out. I had been doing comedy this was ninety five when we sold. I started doing comedy in eighty seven on the radio conventions in eighty eight, and by ninety five, I had a lot of work, but I couldn't leave town. You know, I would go to Halifax and do a convention, get in the car at ten. Thirty, drive back home, sleeping four hours being the station and be in the station. So after we sold, I could go anywhere And for those two years that it was sold with a clips of you. Are you still doing some performances? If I got reporting and I come into the station, I build my house behind the radio station in the woods behind the station. So I finally lived about a minute from the door, and it was a lovely area. And, uh, so I come over once a week and take Jimmy, um, with a producer, Uh, and then he would ship them out to all stations. So? So after that, I just did the convention work around the country. I could be, you know, I could be in Saskatoon, or I could be. And I had agencies selling me and, uh but I really got tired of the one off thing, you know, like flying here for one night and then flying all the way back or maybe getting to in Ontario. And so how was that, though? As you initially got into conventions being on stage like that versus behind the microphone or recording as such, How was that for you initially getting up there in front of people? Oh, initially, it was a little scary. You know, I can remember being outside the ballroom, a hotel, Bozize, urine Monckton, sort of pacing up and down, knowing I've got to do forty minutes in front of, you know, the dental association of your Brunswick. And, you know, there may be ninety people here or the truckers Association, and there's fifty men who aren't the best...

...audience. So, you know, it's gonna be tough. Um, you know, I I did a show for twenty one female managers of Sears one night, twenty one, and I put them in a horseshoe. We had set up a horseshoe and I just stood right in the middle and it was on the best shows ever. Because women are incredible laughers, they just they just go right at it. Men. They need women to get them going with their laughter. Their you know, a little. You know, some of them will laugh, but some of them will sit there on Yeah. So, um, I felt for a while, you know, conventions were the best audience. I never did. I never did clubs or pubs ever. I always had radio to pay the bills. So I didn't have to go and, you know, work for a hundred and twenty five bucks at a comedy club and be one of ten people on that night. Um, so I I did the conferences and conventions and, uh, the early millennium. And then to I we had a cable TV show in New Brunswick with Jimmy as one of the characters. And then we formed traveling group of six of us, and we toured the province and did sketches, and Jimmy was a featured guest. Plus, Sandy would be a different sketches. And then, um, I met this beautiful gal from Prince Edward Island and I was the man. I was the chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Monckton has volunteered, and she was the chair of the Charlottetown Chamber. We met in London, Ontario, and at the national convention. And anyway, uh, thank goodness the bridge was built between New Brunswick P I I made a lot of trips over here and then moved here. The national? Yeah. We started the national radio show for Jimmy from Prince Edward Island. Um uh, get married here in two thousand five. And, uh, in two thousand six, we started stations and we had ninety stations across the country from two thousand six to this past June. We ended the series in June of twenty twenty. So what? What that is is, you know, you're a Canadian country star and you have a hit record, and you can go anywhere and they'll know who you are. You know, uh, Brett Kissel, you know, from Alberta. Uh, you know, he's a name known across the country. Well, I figure out how we're gonna get Jimmy's name known, and the radio was the thing. And so we made it available free. It was sixty seconds every morning. It was all self contained. It had applause open with Jimmy. Janitor live had the bit applause close with a little liner at the end, you know, for Jimmy the janitor, You know, CDs and cassettes or whatever, or to book Jimmy the janitor. You know, there was a little eight second clip at the back. That's how we sort of got our money's worth out of it. And so in two thousand and six about, I don't know, four or five months after we launched the show, I'm flying into medicine hat. I have no idea how well we're doing in the country. I just know we're on all these stations and we're getting you know, we're getting some requests for product and I get off this little airplane. I'm walking in with the Air Canada hostess and just entered the baggage area. And I said, You know, do you have a soft cedar theater in medicine hat? And she said, I don't know. I'm not from here And a guy stepped up from right there and he said, You're looking for a theater And I said, Yeah, like a soft cedar theater. I said, Yeah, he said, What do you need that for? And I said, Well, I I do comedy as a character named Jimmy the Janitor, and he said, You're Jimmy the janitor. This is medicine hat. In the first two minutes I'm there and the airplane, this is this worked This worked. So I get in the cab and I'm heading to the Medicine Hat Lodge where I'm performing...

...for the oil company. And I said, I'm gonna try this again. So the cabbies going along and he's a good old boy from, you know, from Alberta, I can tell. And I said, Excuse me, he said, Have you ever heard of this character named Jimmy the janitor on the radio? He said, Oh, yeah, we listen. Every day we sit around the radio in the cab shack. You're on at seven. Twenty, I said, Yeah, so about six eight months later, we sold seven hundred seats in the Esplanade Theater in medicine Hat. And, you know, I put a couple other shows with it, you know, purely on spec. But I would do a deal with the station. So my station in medicine hat was chat F M C H A T. They were a country station big signal. And probably with that show, I would have done maybe cameras or some other station tied into another. Another radio station in the market they would promote for a piece of the action, just happy to promoting their character in concert because Jimmy had become, um, part of their morning team. You know, he was not, You know, it's, you know, Bob, Mary and Jimmy in the morning at Chat FM, and so it worked out really well. And we started renting buildings because I rented that that first theater, the experiment. And it was four thousand bucks to rent the theater and hire the staff. It was it was a union theater, and you had to have, you know, four of this and two of that out front. And but, you know, we had seven hundred steam set thirty five dollars, So we paid. We paid it easily, but that's what the business is Now. The business is renting buildings and still do. We still do shows in collaboration with an association. As an example. If they have their own building, um, we will go in and do a fundraiser for them. You know, the Agricultural Society of Split Lip Saskatchewan are looking to do their three hundred seat dinner. The annual and Jimmy will go in there. Uh, and we'll do a percentage. Um, and they have the building. They do the dinner, I do a two hour show and, ah, it's a great partnership. And, you know, they make money and I make money. And and we all have a laugh you mentioned earlier. So you have a sketch with Sandy and you have a sketch for Jimmy is there? Do you Do you have your own stand up sketch itself? Minus Jimmy the janitor? Do you Do you go other types? No, Jimmy. Like when we did those road shows, you know, the sketch comedy shows for four or five years. I did a lot of characters, but But with with this last, uh, all the stand up years of all binge have all been gypped. Sandy's not plenty at all. Well, you're an actor, that that's what it is, Sandy. The ACA. Yeah, right. Daring and grace you were on. What do you especially with what? This Some things that are going on lately over the last several years. What do you think the future holds for comedy? And I think you have an interesting perspective because, as we mentioned, it's more clean comedy, and I think there's you know, it's it's almost as safer yet good place to be. But what's your perspective and what's the future hold for comedy? I think I think it's good. Um, I encourage people who are starting out in comedy to go clean comedy. It's a lot easier to go blue and to use all the four letter words a lot easier. You get punch lines on a four letter word, and your young demographic may laugh at that. But the harder job is to be clean and funny.

That's a much tougher job when you set out with your comedy, maybe, as within the radio. You know, with your your sketches there was that just part of who you were anyway, Or did you make a conscious decision? I'm not going to go blue. Yeah, uh, it is me. Like I I think I heard my father used one four letter word one time in my life, and it was an interaction between two fish trucks where he didn't think I could hear what he was saying to the other guy. I still remember. It's the only time he ever said a bad word, and my mother was the same So I grew up not doing that. I don't do it today. I mean, I have my favorite four letter words, but you don't hear them because it was something that I learned very early in radio Is that you Just watch what you say in front of a microphone all the time. You never know whether it's going to accidentally be honest. And you know, when you hit the off button and then you turn around and you do, uh, you know, whatever it can happen. And it's happened to my staff many times. I had one guy, one of my favorite people. Um, you know, in the business, did the F word twice on the radio on tape in one week at the mountain station. Used to tape his sportscast because he was in early in the morning. He taped the, you know, the noon, and he'd start off and you go mhm. And then he'd start again. But he would forget to roll the tape back. And it happened twice in one week, you know, you know, and you know, we knew he didn't had a had a I was I had a bilingual station in Campbelltown and I couldn't speak French, so I had to try to monitor the two hours of French that we had on the radio station through assistance, Who could speak French, My office manager and my French announcer. You know, just let me know what you're doing here. And so this guy one night at six o'clock when we ran the French news started, uh, he started off the newscast. You know, bourgeois Welcome to do it, Mel. I asked it so he went from French into, uh, you know, the F word in English and then started again. But that all rolled, you know? So it was those little things that you have to watch for, you know, we had to watch for I mean, if you Howard Stern, that's the whole show. You know, it's but you know, when you're on satellite radio, you can do what you want. People have a choice of paying for Howard Stern or not. Back in my day, we were providing a service licensed to provide this entertainment this news. And, uh so the character when we created Jimmy was created for radio. When we transferred to stage, you just took the same image and plunked it on the stage. So it's the same happy, friendly, non blue character. Um, you know, it's not all you know. It's not all Bible study, you know, religious jokes. There's a lot of stuff in there that goes right up to the line. But there's never any four letter words like I'll do some stuff on. I'll do a Viagra set, you know, like and you know, there's some cute things in there, and and after the show, you'll get a you know, an eighty five year old woman come up to you at the end and says, You know, dear, I just love your comedy. You know? There's no bad words in there, and, uh and I'm thinking, I just did a Viagra set and I did this and this. But you know, as long as you don't, you're the F bomb. Um, you know, I can remember. I won't mention who it was, but, um, you know, I did a show, What up? Particular conference. And then, uh, one of these, one of the guys he thought it was on television comedy show came in and did it the following...

...year. And so then they called me for the next year because I don't do things back to back. You know, I skip a year, and the complaint was when such and such was here last year. We see him on TV. He was so funny. But then he just f bombed his way through the whole set, and they were all disappointed. It wasn't the same guy that they were accustomed to scene. So that's a big thing. I have a I have a great producer, Uh, who's been with me for well since two thousand and six produced all the radio shows, and in recent years he formed his own blue comedy band. You know, there were two guys back in the day from Cape Breton. I think they were called McDonald and McDonald or MacLean and MacLean. MacLean. My mom had the record. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Well, my mom had the record. Yeah, and so they were pretty blue. Yeah, you know, and there's there's a song. It's like it's a hundred below. I don't give it off to the rodeo. There's something wrong that I think I remember. That's the rodeo song. I know that one and and I think that my producer, uh, he created this character and a whole band like There's seven of them and all they do are these blue songs, and they don't come on at the club until one o'clock in the morning. And he is the nicest, kindest, most normal Christian guy. His mother's a saint, like she can never come and see his show. And that's what I say to him. I said, You know, you can never play any of the stuff for your mother. Yeah, you know, maybe you, you know, leave the band behind at some point, record some songs, funny songs that you can play for your mother. Um And anyway, it's an ongoing joke. What is the blue? What is the Blue Book? I've never heard until you said it. What does? Where does that come from? What is the point of ST Blue? Yeah, I've never heard it. I think it's old over from the old days. You know, where comedy was clean or it was blue and blue indicated that there were bad words, uh, in the show. So this is how I grew up? Yeah, understanding. It seems like when you when I thinking I'm thinking of, like an evil carnival or a stuntman or something, You're next. One has to be bigger than what it was. So when you're dropping, like as you said, people were using blue language is it the humor, the jokes? The laughter has to fall on that punch line with that, and so it just kind of just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And as you said about the one person where the fans were not as pleased because they weren't, it wasn't the same person. But all of his jokes had that that need for the punch line on that. That word. I think it's unnecessary because you're building up and you're getting away from the humor and something that's funny is funny because it's funny, not because you express it. It can highlight some things with some expression, but it shouldn't be the sole reason why something is funny. In my view, I was influenced by a couple of people. Um, well, I was influenced by Huey and Alan from Cape right. I don't know if you've ever heard of them, but they were two guys that were extremely successful back in the fifties and sixties into the early seventies, too. Characters sort of country characters, and they told stories which are really jokes back and forth. And they influenced me because everything was clean. Uh, and everything was funny, like they were really funny. And then I had a chance to work with Dave Broadfoot, uh, from the Royal Canadian Air Force. Dave was, you know, he's probably one of the most honored comedians in the country and the late day Broadfoot now, but that show was funny. I forgot about that show until just now. That was a funny show. But then Dave did a stand up where he incorporated characters from the show that he played. And he did stand up in between the character so he would play an RCMP officer, Sergeant Renfrew, who...

...he played on the show. And so he would come out with a second half, maybe dressed as sergeant, rent through, and then sort of peel the outfit off when he finished a bit. But everything Dave did was clean. And so we did a show. I picked him up at the airport, heading to Katie University. Never met him before, and we hung out for two days and there's a couple other guys on the show. There was four people booked for this show, and so Dave and I hung out and you know, I love to watch him work. He was great. Um, as it happened, one of the guys who was booked for the show was known for his blue humor, and he was. I was closing the first half of the show. Dave was closing the show second half, and so all went well until Dave decided to change the order and put the blue comedian after him. So he opened the second half and the big applause. Papa Papa Papa than the guy who was known to do some blue, Uh, didn't go over very well. And Dave was very smart. He knew to get in and get out. Uh, before the followed, because I was out in the lobby during this last set because Dave and I wrote there were going to meet everybody, as we do shake hands and boom boom people coming out of the door, leaving the show and this big theater Acadia because of the content. And so I go back to every comedian, you know what I'm trying to give them a little advice. If you can be funny and keep it clean, you can work so many places, you know, and you can play it for your mother. And so that was always big for me. Speaking of advice, do you have advice for people who are getting into work any line of work, because this podcast, why we work is for anyone. But I've gained a greater appreciation for comedians because I think you're one of the hardest working fellows out there in doing what you do and continuing to do it. And, you know, while the money is nice to have your doing it to make people feel better. And while some people may designate them as or yourself as essential or non essentials, it comedians are essential, right? And it's more that I'm realizing this now. Do you have advice for people getting into work thinking of yourself as a paper route guy at the age of twelve? Or some of the jobs you kind of did along the way are getting more into your director role or in comedy, switching some things now and then. Do you have some advice for people who are just getting into work or changing for the first time. Well, I always I always said the harder you work, the lucky you you get. I mean, everything that happened to me happened because I worked hard. Um, I wouldn't have I wouldn't have gotten a radio shot unless I worked on the card table with the real the real machine, honing the skill that I was learning from the radio, I wouldn't have had that guy say, You know what? You do this, you know, you should try this. You should look at this as a career. Well, I'd already been looking at it before I got that opportunity. And if I had to phone the number, you know, and got myself in for the high school fifteen minutes, you know, everything was you know, the work. You know, I wouldn't have gotten a radio station job managing unless I had two other businesses going at the same time. It was the major shareholders said this guy can make money. Should be making more of it for me. And, you know, we both made money. And so it is hard work. Do it. Well, hard work I'm the systems guide. Everything...

...has a system. There's a system. That's what I was thinking as you mentioned. How well you're doing with Jimmy the janitor across Canada in all of those stations because you figured out the system. Nobody else. Nobody else is doing what I do. There's nobody doing that. Um, like you can get some comedians who will do a tour and they'll get some tour company to book theaters for them. And they pay that tour company, you know, they buy all the advertising. And, you know, I've seen some really great comedians lose money Tory in Canada, because either they're not known as well as they think they are. I took I took it small town, small cities and figured that you know what I'd rather be really well known in medicine hat than known at all in Calgary, because I can put seven hundred people in that theater in medicine, hat every three years and do fifty shows a year, and then another fifty shows and then the third fifty shows. And then I start again. So we have a lot of markets, a lot of great little venues, two hundred seven hundred seats. Um, nobody knows me in Calgary because I've never gotten on a radio station in Calgary, but it wasn't what I was after. Like Sam Walton put all his supermarkets when he started off in Little Towns is five and dime Walton stores put them in small towns, and they were the place to go. I mean, there's still the place to go in this small city I live in, and so you, you've got to pick your market, figure out how you're going to become known in the market and then take the shot, take the chance at renting the building. And I've never lost any money on renting buildings. You are systems guy. I mean to think, I guess there's other people to do this, and I haven't done this or thought of it. But you're saying every three years you can go to some certain place, some small town and again and again every three years. This isn't thinking well. I'm going to blow the whole place by storm, take all the money and run. You got a long term plan and it's quite successful. And then every month a piece comes out of the show and a new piece goes in so that in three years there's a new show arriving at that location. And it's been well tested because it's been like the new piece has been in for three years. Then this new piece and new piece. By the time I get there, the whole show is new again. And then you just go back and you have people who are happy. Happy to see you after three years, you know? You know, I feel sorry for people. I know people who have no national exposure at all. And they operate in the same province or the same two provinces. And how long can you do that? Same material, whatever they're doing, you know? Yeah. And you know, they're gonna just can't go back as often. So do you have a goal? Do you have a goal for Jimmy? The janitor is there. Is there something that you're hoping to achieve or do or I mean, the system. If the system works, don't Don't mess with it, right. If you're Tom Brady, just keep going. Right. But do you have something that you you hope to accomplish? Well, I think that, uh, setting the character up, Uh, and becoming known in the country was the goal. That was the goal we had in two thousand and six when we took the show and offered it to stations all across the country. And, you know, we had ninety markets pick us up. So, you know, we would be on in Yellowknife for Sydney or, you know, British Columbia, small, small towns. And lot of the big stations weren't looking for any more talk. You know, they didn't want another minutes of talk in the morning. They were all music. So we had to find those those community stations. Um and, you know,...

...we're Well, we're in Edmonton. We have a big country station there, and a lot of country stations picked us up. And that opened the door to the character. Everybody to listen to that station. New Jimmy. And so when we went to that station and said, Okay, we're going to do the such and such theater here. The commercials. We supply all the commercials. Jimmy does all the on air, uh, and station just runs. It sends their morning man out. Dempsey puts their band in front of the theater and you know, they get a check from us and and they're happy is I'll get out because they also get to sell Jimmy and make money on the show. So when they sponsor it, that money goes to them. So they win a couple of ways, knowing that the goal has been set. Is there anything about Jimmy or comedy or you that people may not understand? And, you know, maybe they haven't heard Jimmy and or people are not in tune with comedy. Well, there's a zillion of people who have never heard of Jimmy. Um, is there anything you would like people to understand so they can have a better appreciation of the work that you do well, if you get a chance to come to the show, Um, it's funny. It's a funny show because it is well tested. You know, it's it's been tested for years before it gets to you, and then it keeps changing a little bit at a time until you see it completely new again. Um, so the show is clean. Um, it's funny. And, you know, we could be at a theater near you somewhere in Canada. Uh, you know, between this fall. And when I hit eighty two, that's what I told my wife. I said, I'm going to work until I'm eighty. Too many years to go there. Dave Broadfoot worked till he was eighty two. And Don Harron, who is the other guy I would meet up with every summer? Uh, Charlie focused, um, Don worked. It was eighty seven. Yeah, and they both did clean shows. So Jimmy's sort of following in their big footsteps and trying to keep it clean and and keep it going for a long time. The older Jimmy gets always he could probably be funny or two, the older that he gets. Well, I think the audience is going to get old with me. So you know, the comedy might It might change a little. And you know, who knows? The last couple of years we could be in senior centers only and get wheeled in. I only have a couple of questions for you. Is is there some adversity that you have faced and that has kind of affected your work one way or another. But you use that adversity to encourage other people in the university they face in their work. I've been extremely lucky. The only adversity I had, if you want to call it that, was that, um I had to work hard as a young kid. You know, it wasn't something that I, um really mind it. It was the way I grew up. I mean, I was the oldest kid. My father worked all the time just to keep our family of ten going. And so that was the adversity. That was my little work. University, Uh, that taught me hard work gets you somewhere, you know. And my dad built up a big business that, you know, is is now serving the Maritimes as a wholesaler. You know, you go to Solbes, you find our stuff, you know? So the business evolved and, you know, my brother runs it now, and so that's the only I wouldn't even call it adversity. But when you when you grow up in a large family, you do learn to work hard, and that hard work pays off. You think there's people out there and I'm just thinking of it as you say it. We sometimes define adversity incorrectly, so people are thinking of all the work they have to do. This is what I have to do. I grew up with this big, and some people label that as adversity. But really, you've got the ability to work...

...or you had that ability or you you can be grateful for what you had rather than that was adversity. Do you think people maybe mislabeled adversity? Sometimes not. Some people don't have it, but sometimes we kind of throw it up there and look how tough it is. I have to go to work and do this particular job or do this thing. But in reality it is a job, and it is something that can help you support your family. Well, it's never been a job for me, you know. I mean, I really liked what I did at the time. Even if I was packing groceries, it was a job that allow me to buy a motorcycle to get to work. Um, you know, the paychecks from CNN for shoveling snow were incredible, you know, because they paid large money to a little kid to clean out the switches. Um, and then radio. Well, that's when the joy began, because I stumbled into that and you know, I mean, there has been a lot of stress in the business, you know, in the management side. And but I wouldn't wouldn't trade it. It was great. It lead to, you know, the next level, which is doing comedy and making people laugh. People now applaud at the end of my job. When does that happen? To most people? I'm a teacher here in South Korea. That's never happened to me unless they're happy I was done. I was in a hotel in a small French community. One day I had done a show, Uh, our our station covered this area and I was staying at this hotel, and the young lady who just bought the place came over and sat down with me the next day at breakfast and said, You know, how did the show go? I couldn't go out to work, and I said it was great. You know, people applaud at the end of your job, you know? And she said, Oh, I wish that happened here And I said, What you need to do is put a little sign up by the exit door, just opposite the desk that says you enjoyed your stay give us a round of applause. I'd love to see what happened. Where they be going. It was great. Get your applause. So you know, those science can go up anywhere. If you enjoyed your service here in Mom's bakery, give us a hand. People will do it. I would do it in an instant Outside the taxi cab. If you enjoyed your ride, give me a hand. Yeah. How can people get in touch with you? How can they hear Jimmy the janitor? Jimmy, the janitor dot com is our website, and you can see Jimmy on. That's Jimmy. We call it the YouTube. You see him on the YouTube I you put down in front of everybody. Oh, my God. You got the YouTube. Have you? Have you got the Facebook too? Do you get any Kate Brighteners Hebei? I don't talk like that Point. They they do. You get any, like, little pushback like, take it easy. Bye. People say, you know, do you do a lot of shows in Cape, right? And, uh, I said no. You know what's so funny about that? Felt? Uh huh. So you know what? The further west you go, the funny you can be, uh, you know, and people at a certain point going across the prairies, start thinking you're a Newfoundland. They lose track of the accent, the accent that I have. They think it's a Newfoundland accent is actually a cape. Right accent. And I had to learn it, actually, because I didn't have it. I didn't have that. You know, I didn't have the Jimmy accent on to me at all, because I lost it. Well, I went into radio and they said, you know, you couldn't do any of that. So, um, so now, uh, in Jimmy's most recent decades, we proudly announced that Jenny was born in Newfoundland, raised in Cape Bretton. He was married and has a girlfriend. Now, all the elements you need for every joke. So he's a Neuf. The caper. He's got an X, and now he's got the girlfriend. Trixie. So perfect that the girlfriend we're making out. Yeah, I have. My aunt had her seventieth birthday a couple weeks ago, and my uncle, she's living Ontario. But my...

...uncle in Cape Britain, rather than people are just, you know, I wanted there giving a video celebratory sort of happy birthday thing. He brings his camera, he goes out to his burn, starts talking to the horses, comes out with no pants on. I just want to just wish you a happy birthday just to be different than everyone else. Sandy. One final quote question for you, sir. And that is why do you work? Uh, I love it. I mean, uh, could have retired a long time ago. Stayed home. But I love doing comedy. I love writing comedy. And the only thing I don't like is the rehearsing. I hate rehearse stick. You know, I mean, I love to write. I love to deliver, but this part in the middle is agony. That's the only part of the business. So I have to really set it in stone and say, Okay, we're going into rehearsal. Jimmy and I on Monday. The whatever. And here's here are all the sketches we're gonna do. We're gonna do three of these a day, and then we're going to have a repeat the next morning and then do three more and repeat three more and and then and then once you have the show, you gotta keep it up. You know, if It's a new show, especially you got to keep doing it every week before you, you know, get to your first tour. And so the big thing is keeping up the comedy. But I I love performing, so that's why I do it. I love that applause at the end of the job. Mhm. Sandy Gillis, Jimmy the janitor. Thank you, kind sir, for your time. And I appreciate the work well. It's my pleasure indeed. Thank you for listening to this episode of why we work with Brian Wien. Be sure to subscribe, Follow and share with others so they too can be encouraged in their work. I hope that you have yourself a productive yet joyful day in your work.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (123)