Interview: Ian Bagg on hockey, standup, and more
Ian Bagg is considered by many of his peers to be a comedian's comedian. "Oh, that's nice," he responds, a bit surprised at the revelation. "I thought I was the comedian comics hated."
He has other passions apart from standup. Second to comedy is hockey. "I'm a big hockey fan," the Terrace, B.C., native states. "I love the NHL, but it doesn't matter if it's pro hockey, junior hockey, or just a bunch of old guys getting together to skate around."
For a while, Bagg dreamed of being a pro hockey player, but that didn't last very long. "I went to hockey camps, but never made it. I just kind of floated around and gave up when I was 18. I just knew I wasn't going to move up. I knew some great players growing up, and some guys went on to the NHL and played a couple of games in the pros, but if they couldn't make it, I knew I had no chance," he says.
Fortunately, he had a talent for humor. "Comedy worked out really well, and it's really what I always I wanted to do," he says. "I loved playing hockey, and I grew up in such a great hockey town, it was amazing. When guys retire from hockey they always say, 'I'm gonna miss the guys in the dressing room.' It's so much fun being on a team and hanging out, and I think that's where I got my comedy chops: from chirping at everyone from the bench and in the locker room and having a great time."
It was Detroit native and fellow hockey fan Dave Coulier who told us a very similar story a few weeks back. Oddly, Bragg and Coulier have never met, despite being two comedians living in L.A. who both like to play hockey. "You'd think that if there's anyone I would know [in town], it's a guy who does comedy and plays hockey," says Bagg. "But I've never run into him."
His busy schedule probably contributes to that. "I just got back from Australia," he says, "and
I recently did a pilot for A&E about my family not believing comedy is a career and wanting me to take over their seafood business. But that was just killed and we're just trying to come up with more ideas."
Bagg also found time about a month ago to return home and do a benefit for a former classmate who passed away from cancer. The event raised $35,000 for the woman's family. "[It was] sad, but a great time," he says. "I'm thinking about doing something more, because comedians have such an interesting career where we can raise money and take people's minds off of things. From me to a comedian that makes a lot of money like a Bill Cosby, we are the luckiest people in the world. We can make money from what we do, and even though we work hard, we've never really worked a day in our lives. I'd like to see comics give back more and raise money for where they grew up."
The trip Down Under gave him a chance to visit his mother's homeland, which he enjoyed immensely. "Australians are the most racist people, and they have no idea," he says. "They had a prime minister there [Julia Gillard] who was a redhead. They used to call her 'ranga,' which is short for 'orangutan.' Now, if they can be racist to a white person, and they're white, they're the most racist people in the world." All joking aside, he is fond of the Aussies. "They think they're quiet and that North Americans and Asians are loud," he says. "If you've ever been on a ski hill in North America with an Australian, you know they're the loudest. But I love them. Really good people."
While no subject is off-limits to Bagg onstage, he does shy away from politics, but for practical reasons. "I'm a landed immigrant. I can't vote, so I don't feel I have anything to say." Instead, he draws on his own life for inspiration. "I talk a little bit about being married and getting older. Just still trying to figure out what life's about."
IF YOU GO:
Rick Bronson's House of Comedy
Mall of America, 408 E. Broadway, Bloomington; 952-858-8558
7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets are $13-$20.
Call 952-858-8558 for info, or visit houseofcomedy.net.
Shows are 18+; 21+ later sets
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