When he was unceremoniously dumped from a long-standing CBC TV gig, Shaun Majumder had a skill he could fall back on. His years on the standup circuit allowed him to hit the road with a new 90-minute multimedia comedy experience.
Unlike a certain octogenarian hockey commentator, Majumder wasn’t cut from his 17-year run on This Hour Has 22 Minutes because of anything he said on-air; apparently, it was due to “a creative difference with the executive producer”. Still, his comedic mind sees the parallels.
“I got Don Cherry’d, bro!” Majumder says with a laugh. “I’m gonna start saying that. I think that’s a fun term. I just made that up!”
His current Hate tour was inspired by a controversial sketch he did called “Beige Power”, a takeoff on white power, on the otherwise uncontroversial 22 Minutes.
“The fucking Nazis went crazy,” Majumder says on the phone from an Edmonton tour stop. “It triggered all these white supremacists who believe that this wasn’t just a sketch but a propaganda video, a call to arms for all brown people to come out and start fucking white people. I got all these hate tweets. It blew up and there were death threats. I had [former Ku Klux Klan leader] David Duke tweeting at me directly.”
On-stage, the Newfoundlander, now living in L.A., takes a look at the general concept of hate in society and buttresses his jokes with video, while breaking down tweets shown on a big screen.
It’s not, perhaps, what many TV viewers expect when they go to see a beloved former cast member of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation institution.
“A lot of them now think they’re coming to see CBC Shaun Majumder,” he says. “I actually have to set the table immediately before I start to let everybody know if they came out for Rick Mercer they’re up shit’s creek, because it’s not happening. It’s me doing raw standup comedy, talking about shit that makes people feel uncomfortable sometimes.”
He starts off with a Skype interview with himself getting to the bottom of his dismissal from weekly television, which leads now, naturally, to discussing Cherry.
“The day after Don Cherry got fired, I was like, ‘I gotta talk about this shit,’ ” he says. “I sat down at my computer and started writing: what am I gonna do, how am I gonna approach this, am I going to take a side?”
Some standups wouldn’t be able to go from idea to performance so quickly, but Majumder’s years on 22 Minutes no doubt aid him in turning current events into jokes. He’s also too positive a person to let his dismissal fester.
“In the end, I’m very, very thankful for my time on 22 Minutes and I’m not angry or bitter,” he says. “It was great, and now I’m free and I’m hustling and back to doing the things that I love doing as well: I’m writing a ton, and doing this tour has been so great. I’m just loving being that kind of raw artist who has to get back to basics.”
Shaun Majumder’s Hate tour plays the Massey Theatre in New Westminster on Saturday (November 23).