Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/3/2010 (2645 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
DEAR Al Rae:
As artistic director of the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival, you've got lots on your plate.
After all, your annual joke-athon is less than two weeks away, and you probably have some opening monologues from last year you need to repolish.
But, please, give me a minute. Here's an idea you will thank me for a million times over.
Book Ann Coulter now! Before she escapes, before she forgets about Canada and before she sinks back into the slime of American cable news slugfests from whence she rose.
As we both know, Coulter is first and foremost a comedienne, a "fascist party doll" (to quote one of her admiring colleagues, U.S. comic Richard Belzer), a publicity-seeking provocateur, a blond Howard Stern, a slinky right-wing quip machine who will say anything for a cheap laugh.
"The University of Ottawa, average student IQ: 0," she wittily wrote in response to the protesters' objections to her appearance on their campus. To the university provost, who lectured her on civilized discourse, she said: "I take it I'm not supposed to say, "F-- you, Francois."
Her so-called books also operate on this sophisticated level. They're an endless string of factual distortions masquerading as one-liners. In comparison, Canadian right-winger Mark Steyn, an amusing fixture in Maclean's these days, reads like Socrates.
But she knows what she's doing. A few idealistic students raise their voices, and she pretends they're Stalinist storm troopers revoking her "freedom of speech."
Befitting a woman who appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2005 wearing less than most Playboy bunnies, Coulter loves the attention.
Why else would she file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission over the provost's hardly threatening letter?
Thank goodness her Calgary speech went off without gun violence Thursday night, though with a little more fanfare than her pre-Ottawa gig at the University of Western Ontario.
Her Alberta lapdog Ezra Levant was quoted in the papers saying he'd never heard of Calgarians shutting down an event they didn't like. "All we do is ignore someone."
Right. As in 1997 when Calgary sports honcho Larry Ryckman successfully barred, er, "ignored" satanic rocker Marilyn Manson from playing an arena show there. A few days later, Manson performed to a full house at the Walker Theatre here without noticeable damage to civic religiosity.
Regardless of my disdain for Coulter, Al, I know she would bring huge attention to your comedy fest. No offence, but Peter Kelaghan and Scott Thompson as your marquee acts? Been there, done that.
Several years ago, you did big numbers with A. Whitney Brown, the acerbic left-wing alumnus of Saturday Night Live. You booked him a second time, and the pinko layabout cancelled at the last minute.
Getting an arch-conservative like Coulter would boost the CBC's sclerotic reputation -- proof that the People's Network can break away from its politically correct sensibility.
I know you're thinking you couldn't afford her, but her fees aren't that bad, a reported $10,000 an appearance. Her three gigs north of the 49th seem to indicate that her shtick has worn thin at home and she needs fresh suckers.
"In truth, Coulter is rapidly becoming a parody of herself," journalist Michael Rowe wrote in the U.S. online paper the Huffington Post. "She's beginning to resemble the mythical spinster aunt no one under 25 wants to sit next to at family dinners -- the one who rants stridently about commies and faggots and Jews when she's drunk and hits on her young nieces' boyfriends."
But here she's still a novelty act. If you judge by the ink spilled in Canada over her Ottawa stunt, you'd think she had come north to persuade Prime Minister Stephen Harper to prorogue Parliament again.
Mind you, I suspect the buzz has had less to do with Coulter herself than with us loving to talk to ourselves about our differences from Americans.
In any case, Al, she'd be money in the comedy fest bank. And if she cancelled, you could sue her skinny ass all the way to the Comedians' Human Rights Commission.