Ron West

Ron WestInterviewed by Rachel Balko

Ron West has been a successful comedy writer for more than 30 years. His television writing credits include “Second City This Week” (2011-2012) and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (1999-2006). He was the head writer for the pilot of “The Second City’s 149 1/2 Edition” (1994), and has contributed to other syndicated TV shows. His musical comedy, The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet, was published by Samuel French in 2010. Ron has written, directed, and performed more shows for Second City than he can count, collaborating with performers such as Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Scott Adsit, Jane Lynch, and Rose Abdoo. Ron was a contributing writer on the book, The Second City Almanac of Improvisation, and currently teaches comedy writing and improvisation at the Second City Training Center in Hollywood, California. Ron was generous with both his time and his talent in answering these questions about his life as a writer via email.

How did you become a writer?

I looked the part, so one day someone said, “You are going to write this,” so I did. I don’t remember the exact date and time. [Read more…]

Charles Demers

CharlieDemersby Rob Peters

Born and raised in Vancouver, Charles Demers has published two books: The Prescription Errors, a novel, and Vancouver Special, a collection of essays, which was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. He regularly performs comedy at live venues across Canada and on CBC Radio One, where he has been described as “Truly one of the smartest comics out there.” He often appears on The Debaters and This is That. He’s written extensively for television, radio, stage, and the web, and he works as an adjunct professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia.

You’re often introduced as a writer, comedian, and political activist, usually in that order. Which of those labels do you most strongly identify with?

The cop-out-but-sort-of-true answer is: it depends on the situation. They’re overlapping categories to a certain extent, and I think I’m happiest, or most satisfied, when I get to engage all of them at once. One of the greatest moments of my professional life in the past several years was at a CBC Debaters taping in Saskatoon, where I was arguing for  Tommy Douglas. It scratched a lot of itches at once: I got to write something that I felt was smart and funny, I got to perform it for a super hot crowd, and I got to slather the whole thing in socialism. A while back we did a taping in Kelowna, and I argued that it was time to give Karl Marx another look, and I won the debate; normally we don’t care who wins or loses, it’s like wrestling, but to win for Karl Marx in the middle of one of the most conservative places in Canada, and to have made the audience laugh, felt very nice.

[Read more…]