When Cathy Jones gets up on stage at The Comedy Cove on March 18, even she isn’t sure what will come flying out of her mouth.
“I’d like to make it a scene instead of just another stand-up (show),” says the longtime This Hour Has 22 Minutes icon. “But I don’t know — I’ll probably just end up going ‘how you doing — I’m from Newfoundland, it was so foggy I didn’t meet my own parents until I was 8-years-old!’”
The truth is, the upcoming three-night set of shows at the new Dartmouth comedy club located inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel could be comprised of everything from silly jokes to performance art to an improvised Q&A session. Even Jones hasn’t entirely made up her mind.
“I’m thinking I’d like to use these gigs as a kind of exercise in expression and integrating myself and seeing if I could actually make points of what I would like to talk about,” ponders Jones. “I’ve seen a lot of (comics) who are doing all the actions of funny but the words aren’t funny. What if I did a lot of funny actions but said really serious things? I don’t know — it’s all an experiment.”
For nearly three decades, Jones has been a fixture on Canadian television as one of the original cast members of 22 Minutes, one of CBC’s most successful comedy series ever since it debuted in 1993.
On the long-running satirical show, Jones has won over fans with such indelible characters as ranting senior Mrs. Enid and the golden-age correspondent Babe “I’m just goofin’ around!” Bennett. Her success has extended into cinema with roles in films like The Grand Seduction as well as on stage — where she created and starred in successful one-woman shows like 2003’s Me, Dad and the Hundred Boyfriends and more recently, Stranger to Hard Work.
As such, Jones is definitely not a stranger to Canadian audiences, even as her work as a stand-up comedian remains somewhat less known.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 18 and now I’m 65 and I’m still the same person,” says Jones, who admits even with all her experience, she still loves the stage — even as she struggles to settle on material for her stand-up shows.
“I have to do 10 minutes for a Just For Laughs recording at The Carleton and I have been doing everything but looking at my jokes,” admits Jones. “Some people are listening to tapes of themselves and I’m still thinking of new things — and you should never do new things!”
But those new things are just what have kept Jones fresh ever since she helped create the Newfoundland-based comedy troupe CODCO in the 1970s. The past year living under the conditions and restrictions imposed by a global pandemic have certainly brought forth a storm of potential comedy ideas, saying she has “a million pages of stuff I’ve written since this COVID thing” — but admittedly, those ideas are not all mainstream.
“I have such a different view of what’s going on than most people, the CBC, the government and the official line of what’s going on,” says Jones, adding that she really struggled with joining the 22 Minutes cast this year.
“I don’t want anyone to look at Cathy Jones and assume that she thinks that all of these things that 22 Minutes thinks or CBC thinks are true because I don’t want to bring any harm to anybody. So I would really like to be able to tell my truth.”
If that is any indication, audiences could be in store for a real surprise when Jones takes the stand-up comedy stage. She most certainly has questions about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines as well as how the mainstream media has dealt with issues surrounding the pandemic.
Now Jones just has to decide whether she’s ready to show that side of herself to a stand-up audience.
“When I go over there and do those gigs, I’m kind of on the fence about whether I’ll just Lenny Bruce it or just try and run a 45 or 50-minute set of my favourite fun jokes,” says Jones, but she is tempted to win over the crowd by targeting some pent-up pandemic-related questions we all may have.
“It’s not just me, everybody’s fed up with it — so let’s all just get together.”