‘Funny Fisherman’ frontlines fall-fair festivities

Jimmy Flynn performs musical-comedy set at the Vogue

It’s hard to believe someone like Jimmy Flynn, the “Funny Fisherman,” actually exists. While he is playing a character and his comedy sets are performances, he plays the ‘Newfie’ stereotype incarnate, and it took a few minutes for me to adjust to the act which was unfolding before me.

Last Wednesday, on Sept. 16, Mr. Flynn returned to Sackville after many years’ absence to deliver “Canada’s foremost musical comedy act.”

Kicking off the town’s fall-fair festivities, Mr. Flynn’s show – which saw him clad in his trademark yellow sou’wester, red-checkered plaid shirt and rubber boots – kept his crowd laughing heartily at most turns, or otherwise singing and clapping along to his fun, hokey odes and various covers.

“We wanted to kick [the fair] off with something big,” said Matt Pryde, Sackville’s manager of recreation Austin Landry Editor-in-Chief programs and events, who organized the event. The Town had been in touch with Mr. Flynn as far back as 2014 and “decided to make it happen for 2015,” said Mr. Pryde.

Mr. Flynn’s set at the Vogue theatre included acoustic guitars, a plush dog, and two lobster traps. All of these items were set against a huge banner plastered with his goofy face, which proudly sported a bottom lip pulled up nearly to his nose in a strikingly similar fashion to the way taut red suspenders held up his jeans.

The famed comedian has worldwide recognition, and has travelled with the Everly Brothers and Johnny Cash. In spite of this conceivably vast amount of clout, Mr. Flynn was described as “a great, down-to-Earth guy” by Mr. Pryde. “He worked with me to make the show a success despite my own inexperience in booking a major performer like him.”

Mr. Flynn’s typical joke involved a 30-second setup and a logic- or expectation-subverting punchline. And while most of his jokes landed INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS COMEDY Listening for the train whistle since 1872 Mount Allison University’s Independent Student Newspaper Sept. 24, 2015 Vol. 145, Iss. 3 News pg. 2 | Arts pg. 4 | Science pg. 8 | Sports pg. 9 | Opinions pg. 10 | Humour pg. 11 for first-nations culture around campus” is the primary mandate for her position. Richard also said the university must start to decolonize curriculums while looking for ways to do that respectfully. – I particularly enjoyed his digs at Mike Duffy and at Stephen Harper – I couldn’t help but cringe at his less-than-tasteful impersonation of a Chinese person which managed also to offend Japanese people, as well as a blonde joke. Are we really not through with those yet?

Further into his act, Flynn swapped out his sou’wester for a cowboy hat, and sang a respectful tribute to “close friend ‘Stompin’ Tom’ Connors.” This melancholy departure from his usual songs, like “All of My Friends Have Had Hip Replacements,” remained light in tone – here is a person who knows how to play to his audience. Mr. Flynn concluded his set by bringing his wife of 47 years onstage to sing a duet with him. Regardless of how one found the show on the whole, one can’t deny this team can carry a tune.

Wednesday’s audience was composed primarily of middle-aged Town of Sackville residents, mostly couples. Aside from its taking place in the middle of a school week, the show’s $25 cost of admission was a probable reason for the dearth of students in the audience. When put in the perspective of seeing a comedian of worldwide renown, the price is more than fair, but it’s just not what students are accustomed to paying for Sackville entertainment.

Attending this event was, in its own strange way, a novelty. To see locals brought together by this famed maritime comedian was like looking into a time capsule – not from too far back into the past, but just far enough to witness certain quips slide without much consequence. Observing attendees over the intermission, one got the sense that events like these are even important for the Town because of how effortlessly they foster a sense of camaraderie between citizens.

In any case, the Funny Fisherman knew his audience and maintained a great rapport with them throughout the evening. It is also to his credit that for someone approaching the threshold of 70 years of age, his set went nearly 20 minutes longer than advertised and he remained as sprightly as ever throughout – he’s a born performer. Indeed, the very first thing his website proclaims is: “There is only one rule at a Jimmy Flynn show – have a good time.”

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