Stuart McLean tickles the funnybone

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CBC humourist Stuart McLean certainly has a knack for focusing on the relatable minutiae of everyday life and turning it into a national laugh fest.

McLean, one of Canada’s most beloved storytellers and best-selling author, shot to national prominence through his CBC radio show The Vinyl CafĂ©. Today about one million listeners tune in every week to hear stories about Dave, the owner of a small, second-hand record store, his wife Morley, their two children Sam and Stephanie and their neighbours.

Dave is an affable small town dude from Big Narrows, Cape Breton who keeps in touch with his roots. Like his alter ego, McLean maintains a pulse on small town Canadians taking The Vinyl Café on the road to theatres across Canada.

Now on a 20-stop western tour in support of his new book Revenge of the Vinyl CafĂ©, McLean will drop by St. Albert’s Arden Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Adapting a traditional format of music and storytelling, Stuart will read from his best-of collection of 18 tall tales from the past three years.

“They are all pure imagination. They are little bits and pieces of my life and the way I see the world,” said McLean in his distinctive deadpan voice.

The stories include many fan favourites such as Hello Monster, relating the day Dave clumsily drops his neighbour’s keys down a sewer grate. He is forced to climb into the sewer to retrieve them but can’t get out.

Summer of Summer Stars lets people peek into an adventure-fuelled night when Sam and his best friend Murphy see a shooting star. Convinced it’s a flying saucer, the boys try to get to the bottom of a mystery.

And then there’s the ever delightful Fish Head, a warm tale that jumps back to Dave’s boyhood years when he captures a King Cod while fishing with Dad.

“It’s about boyhood wonder and pride,” McLean said.

In honour of Revenge of The Vinyl Café, Ottawa band The PepTides were commissioned to write a potential theme song.

“They got so swept up by the whole thing they’ve written a song for each chapter,” states McLean.

The songs have been posted at www.cbc.ca/vinylcafe/home.php. Listeners are encouraged to listen to the songs, read the lyrics and vote for their favourite song. To vote, send an email to vinylcafe@vinylcafe.com. Entries need to be in by Thursday, Nov. 1. Stuart will announce the winning song on the Dec. 15-16 weekend.

As a documentary CBC broadcaster, McLean was instrumental in creating The Vinyl Café as a summer replacement show in 1994.

“I was just challenging myself. Having been a serious journalist and working in non-fiction, looking at fiction was a challenge,” McLean explains.

By 1997, the show was broadcast every Sunday and his books of stories have won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal three times.

Also appearing with McLean at the Arden are three celebrated Canadian musicians: Mohan Veena guru Harry Manx, pianist John Sheard and bassist Dennis Pendrith.

Preview

Stuart McLean & the Vinyl Café
Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Arden Theatre
$50/adults; $30/students. Call 780-459-1542 or online at www.ticketmaster.ca

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About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.