Gavin Crawford

The Artist Who Interviews

(December 2008)
Artist who interviews

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An Interview with Comedian Gavin Crawford

Gavin Crawford

Your work is pure genius, describe how it all began in acting.
Well Genius is a bit strong Marc but thanks. When I was ten I saw an ad for auditions for THE MUSIC MAN in the local paper and for some reason I made my mom drive me down to the arts centre. I got the part of Winthrop, the lispy kid, and after that I was sort of hooked. I did a lot of drama and stuff in High school and then went off to UBC to study acting. I never really did any formal comedy stuff until after graduating from theatre school. I got tired of auditioning to be in other peoples plays so I started writing these little character monologues and then went and did them in amateur stand up clubs because that was really the only place you could just go sign up and get five minutes of stage time. People seemed to like them and it sort of took off from there.

The levels of creativity and energy in your roles are inspiring. Can this creative energy be taught or is this entirely something natural that comes from within?
I think a person can be taught to shape their ideas and present them in a way people can relate to. Everyone in the world has a story to tell and you can definitely shape the way that story gets told. I don't think you can teach the story - that comes from life, experience and personality. No one looks at the world exactly the same way and the fun thing about creating stuff is showing the others how you see things and then finding out that (or if) they can relate on whatever level.

Your impersonations are able to capture even the subtle nuances of the character, yet with comical distortions, (such as Bob Ross and Natasha, to name a couple of my favorites). How much time and preparation does it take to get this effect just right?
Sometimes it's very quick and sometimes it's a longer process. I don't generally set out to do an impression of someone specific. For example with Natasha Stillwell, I was watching a lot of daily planet for a while and I just found myself parroting her cadence while I was walking around the house. I would just notice myself saying "look at that toaster its fanatsticeriffic!" just to amuse my partner Kyle. Bob Ross was actually written for me by my friend Jenn Whalen, who is currently head writer of 22 minutes. I never really looked at the real Bob Ross I just sort of went for that soft voice flavour that he seems to have.

Mark Jackson, is hilarious, a perfect caricature of awkwardness of adolescence, how did this character evolve? Is it based on, or influenced by, anyone in particular?
Mark Jackson started off on THE GAVIN CRAWFORD SHOW. I had written this monologue about a loser who's mom is making him run for class president. He knew he wouldn't win but he was just one of those kids that feels compelled to do what adults tell him to. Then we found this terrible wig in the back of someone's closet and I asked my dad (a dentist) to make me some fake braces. The odd thing was that when we first sent the scripts to comedy network the only real note we got back was 'cut this Mark Jackson thing - it has no jokes.' Of course we shot it anyway because I was sure if they could just see what I was seeing they would understand, which they did and it has become one of the most popular characters I have done. What I like best about Mark is that he is a nerd but at the same time he's not super smart so it kind of goes against the stereotype. At his core he's just a kid who tries really hard even though he knows it probably isn't gonna pan out well. That's something that comes from deep inside of me, this weird need to try your hardest even though you know you'll probably suck at something. I have always loved Charlie Brown for that reason and really, Mark is just my interpretation of that.

Gavin Crawford

People see on TV a Gavin Crawford who is a dynamic comedian and an extrovert in many of your roles; is the real Gavin just as extroverted or is there an introverted side?
Um. . . No. There is a hefty Mark Jackson side to me. I am very shy when I first meet people and often quite awkward. I can put on the extrovert when I am performing but off stage I am pretty shy. Not really quiet, as my friends will attest. But definitely shy. No one in my family understands how I can be in this business as they are all just as shy as I am.

What are a few of the differences between the public Gavin and the personal Gavin?
Personal Gavin wears less clothes, and sings a lot.

Gavin Crawford

What are your sources of inspiration both in life and in acting?
My Parents are huge inspirations for me, I have very cool parents who are kind, supportive, smart , and hardworking. They set really good examples for me to follow. Also Jim Henson. The joy he brought to the world and the level of his imagination are truly incredible. There is a playwright in Toronto named Sky Gilbert who I work with off and on and really admire. He is always years ahead of everyone politically and he never shies away from saying the unpalatable things about our culture (and specifically gay culture) even when he knows he'll get a lot of flack for it. I watch a lot of British television so shows like the Office, Af fab, and French and Saunders keep me striving to up my game.

With your work on "This Hour has 22 Minutes," it's safe to assume that you've met many Canadian political figures. Who seemed like the most interesting politician? (May I ask) who was the most indignant?
I don't really get to talk to any of them too long, and I'm usually covered in zits so that makes it a bit hard to get real deep into things. I found it interesting how Stephen Harper kind of got very protective of Mark Jackson the first time I spoke to him, he kept putting his arm around me like 'hey, you'll be okay'. Stephane Dion is much smarter in person than he ever comes across on television, in person you think, 'wow - you really know what you want to do with the country'. Yet on TV you just tend to think, 'man You can not speak English at ALL!' As for the most Indignant, I would say that honour goes to the one and only Ralph Klein. He was pretty much just a big jerk to me, but I don't think that will be news to anyone.

Gavin Crawford

If you could meet with any celebrity past or present, who would it be? Why?
Julie Andrews, because I adore her and I hear she curses a lot. I just love hearing swears in a British accent. Also Jim Henson - But Kermit would do.

Describe a cause, or an issue, that you are deeply passionate about.
The separation of church and State.

You've already done so much in your career. At this point, what would be a truly great accomplishment for you?
Quitting smoking. It's a lot harder than getting on TV.

What is true success?

(Since I'm in the presence of a great creative mind). If you could invent any gadget or machine, for any reason, what would it be? Why?
Ha ha, thanks for the pressure. I would invent a pill that gives you all the taste of a great meal released slowly over a period of time so I didn't have to use my hands or chew. I like to do more than one thing at a time so if I could be tasting a five course dinner as I was writing, or rehearsing something I'd be happy. Also it shouldn't turn you into a blueberry during the dessert portion.

If you were to give advice to people starting out as comic actors, what would you tell them?
"Ellen said it best in Finding NEMO "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens" ... What are some of your favorite things?
Mirrors, the internet, and a really good accent.

Thank you Gavin


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