Wearing an orange hat and bright blue overalls, Jimmy the Janitor has brightened the lives of Canadians for 25 years with his colourful-but-clean comedy style.
Whether he’s telling jokes on stage, on television or as part of his syndicated radio show, he remains very popular.
Jimmy is coming to P.E.I. this month to do a series of shows. With this in mind, The Guardian asked the popular comedian (who preferred not to divulge his non-performing alter-ego) to take part in a Q&A. He agreed, sending his responses in his usual, colourful way, which we have left totally intact in order to capture his unique voice.
Question: Who is Jimmy the Janitor?
Well, gettin’ right formal and everything, I’m James Patrick MacDonald. My folks named me after St. Patrick’s Day. My sister Groundhog wasn’t quite so lucky!
Question: Where did he come from?
I was born in Newfoundland, grew up in Cape Breton back in a time when our biggest drug problem was finding a place to get a prescription filled on Sundays.
Question: What’s it about Jimmy the Janitor that’s so special?
Everybody’s special in their own way. Teachers help ya learn, firefighters save lives and I make people laugh. I’ve heard that when ya laugh yer brain releases chemicals that make ya feel good. That’s why they say laugher is the best medicine, eh? Now if yer going in the hospital fer an operation ‘er something, don’t bring a joke book and try to laugh yer way through it, ya might want ta go for the Valium!
Question: Who are the people that are most important to Jimmy?
The mostest important people to me are me family. There’s me mudder Agnes, me fadder Alex and nine brudders and sisters. Good Catholic family without a lot of rhythm!
Question: What things get Jimmy’s knickers in a twist?
Well...I’m thinking party politics! Like I’m “non particalled” eh, I don’t support any party, I vote for the person, eh! We have always had cows on our farm and every evening when the cows come home they always follow the same cow and always go to same stall! I think we have a lot of cows in Ottawa!
Question: How did Jimmy get to be a performer?
Well, it was 1987, me and me brudder Hector were drivin’ his old truck to Alberta so we could make enough to buy a jacked up Chevy Nova and drive it home wit the Alberta plates on to ‘er, but we ran out of money in Moncton. So we had to get jobs, eh. Hector got on wit Tim Horton’s and I got a janitors job at CKCW Radio. My first morning as I was vacuuming I accidently backed into a studio when the pronouncer was on air. He was right nice about it and asked me ta pull up a chair and talk about Cape Breton and stuff. Well each morning after that we’d have a little chat, I’d tell a funny story from home and then go back to work. That lead to me doing what they call a syndicated show, sounds like the Mafia, eh. Syndicated means they send my show out to 70 radio markets everyday in Canada.
Question: How many performances has Jimmy done?
Oh boy, we’d need a calculator for that one, Sally. This is the 25th year for stage shows and I do between 50 and 75 a year.
Question: What causes are important to Jimmy?
Liquor stores open seven days a week was a big one for me! Ok, but seriously folks, raising money for hospital equipment has been my cause over the years. Then about a year ago I did a fundraiser for the Mayerthorpe Alberta Emergency Services Society. We sold out the 400-seat hall in this small town and raised lots of money for new fire fightin’ equipment. I was so impressed with the volunteers that we’ve added more Fight Fire with Comedy shows across Canada over the last year.
Question: How did the Fight Fire with Comedy tour happen for P.E.I.?
A hard working Newfoundlander named Adam Baldwin, the chief cook and bottler washer at the Kinkora fire department sent us a request for a show. We had a look at P.E.I. and said if we’re coming for one, we could likely do three shows from west to east.
Question: Where/when are they taking place?
We’re stopping in Alberton at Westisle Composite High School on Jan. 18, with proceeds to the Alberton Fire Department; Kinkora Jan 19 at the Kanata Community Centre with proceeds to the Kinkora Fire Department. That’s sold out. We also have a down east show Jan. 26 near Souris, at the Eastern Kings Community Centre. Proceeds will go to the Eastern Kings Fire Department.
Question: Why is it an important cause?
When I promote the Fight Fire with Comedy shows I often say, “You come to our comedy show and we’ll come to your fire!” We need to make sure our fire departments have the gear they need to fight fires and this is one way of doing it.”
Question: How will the night unfold?
The show is good, clean fun which means no profanity. The show features observational humour on life, as I know it, with lots of stories from down home. It’s rated PG because it’s recommended for those 13-and-over. The shows run from 7:30-9:30 p.m. We have an intermission half way through and a meet and greet after the show where I get to sign stuff.
Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.