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  • Dan Duguay

Variety is the spice of life!

Photo by David Bauer

Last spring, I was asked to be a part of a variety show being hosted by Tim Tamashiro. He called it "The WhatNot Variety Show". I have been on many variety shows in my life. As a "variety performer", anytime my colleagues and I were together for a festival, we would often be asked to be a part of a variety show or cabaret. I was happy to be a part of Tim's show and had a fun time. As two long-time entertainers, Tim and I had a great rapport and spent lots of time hamming it up with the audience.

A few weeks after the event, I asked Tim out for lunch. I wanted to talk to him about his intentions with the show, give him feedback and offer some ideas about future guest ideas. Being someone who straddles the music world and the variety world, I have many contacts to offer. I told him I thought Variety shows were the "Wave of the future". I said:

"In this day and age, people's attention spans are getting shorter and shorter". I've noticed with my children, they can hardly listen to a whole song, let alone listen to the same artist sing a bunch of songs. The Youtube generation wants variety, and they want things to change quickly. They gobble up information at an alarming rate".

Interestingly, I come from an age of variety shows. I have vivid memories of watching Sonny & Cher, Carol Burnett, Wayne & Shuster... In the "olden days", there used to be so many variety shows on TV. That seemed to all disappear in the 80's and 90's. I suppose replaced by reality talent shows.

I got an email from Tim in the fall. I thought he would be asking for some help getting acts for the show for the upcoming season. The email was in fact, him asking me if I'd be interested in taking over the show. He was having a hard time finding the time to organise it, and he thought I might be a good fit to take it over. I thought about it for about 2 seconds and responded with a YES!

Michael Green 1957-2015

The reason it was easy to decide, was that I'd made it a priority in my life to start producing more shows and events. After Calgary's culture guru, Michael Green, died in a car accident in February 2015, I decided I would try to fill a small part of the void brought on by his death and help create more culture in the city I call home. This opportunity was an obvious way for me to do that. My wish is to honour Michael Green by stepping out and producing this show.

I changed the name from WhatNot to WhoKnows, because who knows what's going to happen? Or who knows variety better than a variety entertainer?

My question to you is, how do you find variety in your work? Is it important to you? Do you find your attention span to be waning? My world is surrounded by variety, I'm always juggling a bunch of projects and trying to complete different goals. Perhaps you don't need that. Have you felt inspired to change things up? I'd like to hear your experiences.

On January 31st at 7:30 pm, I will be starting a new venture at the Ironwood Stage and Grill. If you're in Calgary, we'd love to see you there!

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