AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Marc Trinidad, and don’t ask me why it’s not Marc Tobago.
I’m a standup comedian and my Canadian comedy mentor Kenny Robinson christened me as Marc Trinidad.
Changing anything said by the legend who gave birth to black Canadian comedy 40 years ago is like changing a Kitchener melody. You can. But why would you?
I was born in Belmont, but spent my foundational years in Carenage. Creating as much havoc for my parents as their strained nerves could handle.
I haven’t stopped annoying my parents (but) I have a new empathy for them. I surely wasn’t the easiest of their four children and I have my own brood of four now.
My wife is Dene. Our kids, Marque Savannah, 24, Maryse-Soleil, 17, Melanie Schye, 16, and Myles Stoane, 12, are all artists.
Dene and I are happily married 27 years later. Cue Disney music.
This unrelenting Fatima boy stalked my wife – proud, black, strong and stunningly beautiful – like the great Masai tribesmen. She was unable to defend herself. She could run but I’d get my prey.
Hey, this sounds stalker-like now but it was romantic in the 80s. I’m not Danielle Steele, okay?
We traded laden mango trees, Sunday cricket and sandy beaches for maple syrup, hockey rinks and a guy called Drake in a frozen tundra called Canada.
I don’t think (my kids) have forgiven me for that. I’m fortunate my demon seeds still have their grandparents to witness my hair greying and falling out.
It’s hard to remember Holy Name Prep because of being sent to the office for the discipline of the 70s, a time of Blaxploitation and Hong Kong kung fu movies.
Yes, I’m alluding to corporal punishment via leather straps soaked in brine. The nuns looked like Shaolin monks from the 36th chamber.
I was happy to pass my Common Entrance for my next station of penance, Fatima College.
My older brother went there too but after me, they retired the family name from the books. Too many trips to Dean Sindurji’s and Principal Pantin’s office. I honestly think that’s why my younger brother went to Trinity College.
Meh, maybe it’s a conspiracy theory and the earth is flat. If I fall off an edge, I’ll let you know.
The two main results of (religious school) discipline were, one, I would never strike my kids.
And two, I don’t subscribe to a god or gods theory.
Standup comedians tend to be contrarian and anti-authority. These are things that a follower cannot understand or spend time (contemplating). Part of my problem with religion is that I like to ponder.
Religion wanted to provide the answers without showing the working. I prefer science and history to provide answers to my questions.
I don’t debate. I do ponder though, in my podcast, Marc Trinidad, I Don’t Know S--t.
My kids are encouraged to question everything, including my opinions and choices. They inherited my, DNA but not my phobias.
They’ve got their own chapters to fill. All I wish is to provide the shelf to store it on. And maybe the fountain pen to write with.
Because let’s face it, writing is just sexier than typing. Why calligraphy artists aren’t on the top list of world’s sexiest people is beyond me.
I can’t say what my ideal weekend off would be because my entire life is a weekend off.
I am a drug dealer. My drug is dopamine. All I do is travel the world and make people feel good. Why would I want time off from that?
I’ve got over 1,000 books. But the only novel on my shelf is Lord of the Rings.
The cultural significance and history behind soca and calypso music may have contributed to (my approach) when I write my jokes.
It also makes me feel warm while driving in minus-40-degree whiteout snowstorm conditions.
I used to breakdance. Does that count as dancing any more?
Probably not. It may trigger spasms in some people.
The best movie I ever saw was Lord of the Rings.
My favourite director is a traffic light.
I started judo in Holy Name Prep, then did karate and kung fu before ending in aikido.
I’m a casual fan of other sports but I’ve been hooked on cage-fighting since the Ultimate Fighting Championship started 25 years ago.
I came to comedy mainly because I’ve been an a-- all my life.
My mom worked for the KFC franchise owners in Trinidad and they needed someone to take over the portrayal of the KFC costumed (mascot) Kentucky JoJo.
My mom spoke the words that launched me into the world of entertainment. “What about Marc? He’s a natural a--.”
JoJo travelled the country doing KFC giveaways. Anything free is popular.
Except maybe vaccines, for some idiots.
[Playwright) Godfrey Sealy discovered I was the man behind the notorious bird mask and invited me to audition. Having the flightless, voiceless, chicken-laden bird in my background proved quite handy in comedy plays.
I utilised huge body movements to attract (audience) attention. Which caught (actor/producer) Raymond Choo Kong’s eye. And that’s how I met local actor Clifford Learmond.
In ’91 or '92, my good friend Scott Dopson and I won a $500 lip-sync competition by DJ Rene at the Anchorage nightclub with a comedic ditty of popular songs edited together to create a new storyline.
We called ourselves Two Drinks Minimum. Because it took two drinks minimum for us to experience liquid-induced courage.
When Scott left the country, Cliff (an In Living Colour fan, like me) became the new man in the two-man. We appeared all over: Ragoo’s, Cafe des Artistes, Club Coconuts, Moon over Bourbon Street and even hosted during the National Expo.
I was watching Def Comedy Jam one night and thought, “I could do that better than that guy.’”
I think it may have been the Carib talking. But I was listening. And it was convincing. Carib had an influence in my life. I even married a Carib pin-up girl.
I think I may owe Carib some money now. Or they owe me for advertising. Something will be worked out.
There were no comedy clubs in the Caribbean. So what do I do? Get off the island.
In Toronto, my local comedy club name – Yuk Yuks – should have concerned me, but I didn’t see the double entendre in the name yet.
One Amateur Monday Night, another amateur comic, Satoori Shakur told me of the mythical Obi Wan Kenobi Jedi Master who teaches young padewans how to wield the microphone lightsabre.
Kenny Robinson, the godfather of black comedy in Canada, liked the jokes I wrote and invited me to perform on The Nubian Night at Yuk Yuks, a show created to highlight comics of a more pigmentally-prolific nature.
It was a black show, okay? The Wakanda of comedy. Our promised land. An oasis in the desert of entertainment that saved our people from the barren lands.
More than 26 years later, Nubian Night is still spoken of in revered tones.
Green as I was, Kenny threw me onto his stage and nurtured me into a 25-plus year career that had me flying across Canada, Europe, the US and the Caribbean.
I’ve performed with and for celebrities. I’ve done basements, brothels, backyard bars and theatres. I’ve been paid thousands and been paid chicken wings.
And at no time have I ever thought I’d like to change a thing. I’m a dopamine drug dealer. And I’m not stopping.
After a show in London, Ontario, a couple told me they walked into the comedy club to get an emotional boost.
They were at the Hospital for Sick Children because their child was terminally ill. For the 45 minutes I was onstage, they said, laughing to tears, they literally forgot why they were in London.
That’s the best thing about my job and the worst. Because I gave them some necessary joy. But it was in London, Ontario.
I sleep well. If restless, I utilise THC.
I miss the “drop by” nature of Trinidadian life.
Dropping by someone’s house is not easy in Canada. You can drive for 15 hours and still be in the same province!
Memories of Trinidad are the most that I have.
And those are fading. But the foundation is there.
A Trini is the Angostura Bitters in a rum-and-coconut water. The perfect complement.
To me, Trinidad and Tobago is Home. And
the place to find Trinis.
Read the full version of this feature on Saturday at www.BCPires.com