111789 MacLean & MacLean/Lambert and James, Ottawa, ON

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I guess there is a time in every teen’s life where one of your friends comes over with a comedy album and you and your crew sit in a room together staring at the ceiling or the wall listening and laughing and finding one-liners that will get repeated amongst the group for years to come until they become one of those inside “things” that cements a group together.

Usually there’s a lot of swearing on these records.

Back in the ’80’s records by MacLean & MacLean made the rounds with album titles like Toilet Rock and Take The O Out Of Country.  They sang I’ve Got Pubic Hair to the tune of I’ve Been Everywhere, so you get the idea.  

It’s a rare comedian that can milk a serious living out of their job and the MacLean brothers did their best to take advantage of their luck, touring their juvenile humour through bars and campuses at every opportunity.  They came to Carleton University for a show in my first year, playing the Fenn Lounge just downstairs from the cafeteria on November 17th, 1989.  It certainly didn’t take much effort to get to the show – I could get there without even stepping outside thanks to Carleton’s infamous and extensive tunnel system.  Of course I was there. 

Funny, I don’t remember any of the jokes or the skits they performed*, but then isn’t that always that way with comedy?  I do recall noticing the headstock of Blair MacLean’s guitar looking pretty cool, all carved up and customized.  I think it was the first time I had seen a personalized guitar and I was mightily impressed.  But the show itself?  Not so much.  

I can assure you nothing they said at that show worked it’s way into any of the many odd non-sequiturs that bound my first-year floor-mates together, and I’m sure most of us were at the show.  It could be that as young progressive university students we were thinking above the fart joke, or maybe watching the comedians act so silly live in person changes things – it could be that we needed walls to collectively stare at to properly appreciate the comedy.

Or more likely my friends and I laughed our butts off the whole night and made short work of the beer lines at the makeshift bars set up on either side of the small stage and fully enjoyed our evening before moving on to the next of many entertainments offered to us on an active campus in a vibrant city the very next day.

It’s safe to say I had a lot of fun, as I was very prone to doing during my university years.

As a post-script, I suppose kids sitting together and sharing foul-mouthed comedy records might be a thing of the past.  Nowadays I’m guessing they are more likely to just forward videos to one another and discuss the merits of these video-bits via text, cementing their friendships by co-liking LOL’s on facebook remotely while they sit at home alone binge-watching highlights of the greatest comedy sketches of all time until they all blur together and elicit not even a hint of actual outward laughter but still receive a comment of “hilarious” that gets liked by a dozen friends on facebook who in turn also sit at home binge-watching their own customized world.

*I remember even less about the opening act, another comedy duo called Lambert and James.  In fact, the only reason I know I saw them is because their name is written in my ticket book.  Otherwise, I got nothin’.  Except for the following observation: nowadays comedy duos seem to lie somewhere between rare and extinct.

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