Runner Up: Shaun Majumder
Other Answers: “All of them!”, “Leo Crockwell. Not everybody can escape from as many RCMP officers as he did without getting caught.”, “the Trepassey Junior High guys”, “my wife”, “wus ‘is face”, “My neighbour” • “Jake at harley davisdson”
“My house is next to a dirt road. During the big storm last week, we had fifty skidoos flying past the house.”
Meet John Sheehan, an actor and comedian, often recognized as representative of The Bay in a series of commercials for Capital Mitsubishi. Sheehan was a logical choice for the gig, since he’s has been slaying audiences as a standup with his observations and tales of life in Newfoundland since 2007. But being selected as the Bay’s representative came as a pleasant surprise to the comedian and actor.
“I don’t think I believed it when my agent called and told me about it,” Sheehan says.
The popular ad campaign is driven by the eternal yin/yang struggle between Bay (represented by Sheehan) and Town (represented actor, Brad Hodder). That the two shared a background in sketch comedy (Rising Tide’s Revue, Not The Real Noose) resulted in the loose, improvised tone in the commercials.
“They gave up, an hour into it, trying to get myself and Brad to stick to the script,” Sheehan says. “With my comic background and with his sketch and improv background, there was a lot of ad-libbing.”
Hailing from Harbour Grace, the actor-comedian fondly recalls a few essential Bay experiences that doubtlessly informed his sense of humour. Among them are regular shed parties and the time-honoured tradition of parking your truck in the woods before trotting down to the nearest bar and tying one on.
But there’s more to his stand-up than a few quips about his home turf, which the comic says is the key to his success outside of Newfoundland.
“The challenge when we leave the province is that a lot of the humour is outside of everyone else’s realm. They just don’t get it,” Sheehan says. “Whenever I leave the province, I drop 95 per cent of the material I use here. When I’m outside of Newfoundland, it’s a different show.”
As for inspiration, John Sheehan mentions Jerry Seinfeld, not just for his trademark observational style, but also his business savvy. He also praises Irish comedian-actor Tommy Tiernan, whose manic, high-energy storytelling is downright inspiring. Finally, Norm MacDonald, whose shaggy dog, conversational style of stand-up is closest to Sheehan’s own.
Having spent 15 years as an actor before “having the guts” to step into the world of standup, Sheehan’s not one to forget the aspiring comics from Town or Bay. When it comes to standup, Sheehan offers this simple advice: “Just listen. Comedy’s all around you.”