Before she begins taping her 24th season on the satirical news program, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Cathy Jones is first taking to the road in her one-woman show, Stranger to Hard Work. The tour includes a stop in Vancouver as the opener to the Firehall Arts Centre season.
“I’m working on my contract right now,” says Jones with a laugh, who acknowledges she will be missing a number of tapings of the popular CBC television show as she tours the country.
While Jones may claim to be a stranger to hard work, she is no stranger to the one-woman format. Her third such show, Jones looks forward to the opportunity to be back on stage.
“I do love the stage and the contact with the audience,” she says. “There is an immediate response that you don’t get with television”.
Those thinking Stranger to Hard Work will be a typical stand-up comedy show though, are in for a surprise.
“I don’t love the stand-up format,” she confesses. “I’ve done [comedy festivals], but I always feel restricted in a stand-up venue. When I have the jokes to tell I love to do them in show and not standing behind a mic in the middle of a stage.”
Instead of the usual comedy routine, Jones gets personal in Stranger to Hard Work, giving her unique perspective on a range of topics that includes everything from food to money, to the troublesome people in her life, and the benefits of laughter.
“I’ve always had comedy in me,” says Jones. “I think of myself as a very creative person and I like lots of freedom to roam, which feels much more natural.”
As for the choice of title, Jones admits that her play on the phrase “no stranger to hard work” sums up her work ethic, which admittedly seems at odds with her many accomplishments.
“I’m making fun of myself,” she says. “I haven’t really pushed myself over the years, and I talk about that in the show.”
Jones got her start at age of 17 as part of the Newfoundland sketch comedy troupe CODCO, which went on to become a weekly series for CBC television. She then went on to create This Hours has 22 Minutes in 1992 with Rick Mercer and former CODCO co-stars Mary Walsh and Greg Thomey. Jones has won an impressive 18 Gemini Awards and three Canadian comedy awards for her work on both shows.
Before we conclude our interview, Jones indulges us with answers to our own abbreviated version of the Proust Questionnaire:
1. What is your favorite word? Ersatz.
2. What is your least favourite word? Crap
3. What is your idea of happiness? Being alone at my cabin on a sunny day with my dog watching weather roll across the sky.
4. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A healer.
5. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20-year old self? Relax.
Cathy Jones performs in Stranger to Hard Work at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova, Vancouver) from September 28 to October 8. Visit https://firehallartscentre.ca for tickets and information.