The lifespan of your average sock is six months to a year. Even if you stretch that out to two years, or longer, it’s doubtful you have any that last 31 years. That’s Ed the Sock’s age. But he’s no ordinary sock. He’s been a Canadian institution since 1987, a green-haired, cigar-chomping grouch of a puppet who has interviewed celebrities, been a VJ (remember those?), and hosted both a late-night talk show and one in prime time. Only in Canada!
Mr. The Sock predates another cigar-loving celebrity puppet, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. His early series featured hot tubs and dancers before The Man Show did. He was as innovative as any sock in the history of sockdom. And then, darn it, he went into exile, spending 10 years in the top drawer.
But he’s back, grouchier and smellier than ever. The Straight spoke to Ed on the phone from his home in Toronto. Sometimes it was unclear when it was our beloved puppet and when it was Steven Kerzner, the man with his arm up Ed’s butt, but they have similar viewpoints, so we’ll just say it was Ed.
“There’s no better time to return to the world, because the world has never needed me more than it does now,” he said. “I went away and look what you’ve done with the place! The world today is like the aftermath of a frat party in an ’80s teen comedy. It’s just chaos and anarchy. It’s not so much that people are more stupid today; it’s that people are willingly embracing their stupidity. Because ‘stupid’ isn’t about intellectual capacity; ‘stupid’ is about willingly operating beneath your intellectual capacity.”
Those are some fancy words for a puppet. “It’s my ethnicity, but I’m not defined by it,” said Ed, who looks remarkably good for his age. “Anger is timeless. But what people don’t realize is that I smile a lot; it just doesn’t really look like a smile. If I’ve aged at all, I’ve aged better. I’m kind of like the George Hamilton of puppets, without the inhuman tan.”
Ed the Sock is embarking on a western Canadian tour: 10 dates in 11 days, hitting Vancouver on Thursday. He’ll be spouting off on today’s sorry state of affairs and showing classic videos from MuchMusic encounters with celebs that haven’t been seen in years, while giving the behind-the-scenes accounts of what the viewers didn’t get to see.
These are “clips that we were able to air in prime time and afternoons on MuchMusic 10 years ago, but today you couldn’t put them on television because the world has become so constricted and people are so afraid to talk about anything”.
Ed’s curmudgeonly rants are more progressive than you might think, given the manner in which they’re delivered. “I like to think I’m not the old racist uncle or grandpa. I’m not the old intolerant one. But I’m somebody who speaks with the same vocal tones they do, the same wording, the same pacing. I’m just using that to say things that are a little more positive than things that reflect ignorance. So I’m like a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” he said. “Whether you’re on the right or on the left, I’ll be spilling your Kool-Aid. I like to call it therapeutic ridicule to open people’s minds.”
Ed the Sock’s War on Stupid tour plays the Biltmore Cabaret on Thursday (November 29).