Finding humour in the jobs from Hell 

Who: TJ Dawe

What: The Slip-Knot

Where: MY Place

When: Friday, Feb. 7

Whistler, despite its glitzy and glamorous exterior, is probably the perfect place to put on a play about jobs from hell. Underneath that thick mountain make-up is a town brimming with burnt out 9 to 5ers. There’s the weekenders here to cure their cubicle claustrophobia. There’s the locals who’ve chucked in cheesy jobs for a sexy snow-capped ski life, and then there’s the true knights who keep this town running – the hidden workers, doing everything from shovelling snow to cleaning toilets, all while the rest of us sleep. Oh yes, this town is full of the brave and the battered.

TJ Dawe understands. He’s been there too. The Vancouver based write/performer was once a parcel-tracker for Canada Post. He was also a trucker for a trash collection company and he stocked shelves for a drug mart.

The Slip-Knot title harks back to those hellish years with a one-man show weaving its way between three parallel stories. With a bare stage, multi-coloured lights and a barrage of word play, Dawe darts between his dead-end jobs.

"Some people think I’m doing three different characters in the show but I’m not, it’s just me at different ages," said Dawe. He goes from a 20-year-old to a 23-year-old and then a late 20s T.J throughout the 80 minute set.

Dawe has been touring with The Slip-Knot for about a year and a half.

"I will continue to tour too," he added. "It’s the funniest, the fastest and still the most challenging piece for me. I’ve done it over 100 times but the really intricate word play makes me feel like I’m walking a tightrope every time. I always worry the next show is going to be the day I jumble it all up and lose my place."

Dawe hopes to take The Slip-Knot to the Adelaide and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in 2004.

Dawe’s performance is not quite spoken word and not quite stand-up comedy. It’s fast-talking theatrical story-telling.

"I’m not a stand-up comic because for a start the audience is sober. They’re all sitting facing the stage and they are there to see a show, not for someone’s birthday or after-work drinks. Every line isn’t a punch line either, it’s more of a story, although I do riff like a stand-up comic occasionally. Ultimately though, my show leads to a dramatic ending, not a comical one," he said.

So even Dawe finds it hard to pinpoint his performance, leaving critics to draw the usual comparisons. Monologue masters Spalding Gray and George Carlin are often cited but Dawe’s comic timing and topics set him apart.

"It’s flattering as I was inspired by those guys. I derive humour from mostly my own experiences but they are stories everyone can relate to and that’s the biggest thing people say to me after the show. They totally get where I’m coming from," said Dawe.

Tickets to The Slip-Knot, sponsored by Esquires Coffee House, are $20 for adults, $12 for students and seniors.


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