WHAT: The Truth About Daughters
WHERE: Our Lady of the Mountain Community Centre
WHEN: Friday, March 30
From football to politics to daughters, Nils Lings upbeat commentaries on life have been sending laugh waves across the country for nearly two decades.
Lings career began to take off in 1984 after writing a book about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who just happened to win the Grey Cup that year. As a result, Ling was interviewed many times on the radio, particularly in the Winnipeg area. A private station had the foresight to hire Ling as a sports commentator.
"Sports has always been like the toy department to me," says Ling. "I didnt take it very seriously and made a lot of jokes about it and people just seemed to respond to it really well."
Producers decided to put Lings political science background to work in political commentaries but quickly realized listeners were more interested in Lings outlook on his growing family.
"That was nearly 17 years ago, and Im still doing it on CBC radio. When the time came to write The Truth About Daughters, I had a lot of resources to draw from."
Ling is starring in his one man play about a fathers perspective on raising two daughters. His gentle good humour and pointed observations about the opposite sex are bringing diverse crowds to the theatre.
"Quite often at the end of the play Ill get this group of women coming up. You look at them and you can tell theyre all from the same gene pool. They look like those little stacking Russian dolls. And theyre usually dragging along this little elderly gentleman. Theyll say this is our dad. And hell stick out his hand and say Oh, I could tell you a few stories! Its one of my favourite parts about doing this. Its kind of like a dad-date thing."
Ling was the stay-at-home caregiver in the family, often writing from his home office. This situation is responsible for Lings unique insight and has allowed him to put into words what so many fathers probably wish they could: the love, the worry, the frustration and the lessons learned by bringing a new life into the world.
One such lesson is the importance of giving children a voice at an early age. Ling is the founder of a program called Teach a Kid to Fish. There are no rods or reels. Instead Ling has developed a simple method for kids to use their creativity and to feel comfortable speaking in front of their peers.
"One of the things I love about story telling is just the ability to make up my own stories. But I would hear my own kids say, I dont know how to do that. And I began talking to my own kids about making up stories and I thought, maybe I have something here. So when Id be asked to perform in classrooms Id go in and do a story, but then Id say You know what, now I want you to tell me a story. I give them the background elements that they need. I then lead them through a progressive story where the first child tells a bit of the story and then the next kid picks it up and so on. And what I find with every school I go into is this wonderful, original story written by children. And its just because youve given them the tools they need and permission to use their imagination Were living in an age where were allowing the rest of the world to entertain our children."
The lives of Lings two daughters are now the source and inspiration of entertainment. From an early age, the girls knew their lives would be on show.
"Theyve never known any different. All theyve ever known is they have a dad who works in radio and embarrasses them. Theyve grown endeared to that. Theyve also invented ways over the years to mitigate the effects of me going on the radio or telling stories about them. The agreement weve always had is that I only talk about one daughter, so they each have plausible deniability. They can each come back with oh, he was talking about my sister."