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We Are Story Tellers

Today our Spotlight – Jimmy MacKinley. A little bit of a new one for us, we got to talk to Jimmy about The Canoe Project which is now available on Fibe TV1 right now. We talk creation of the show and what it takes to stand out these days in the crazy world we live in. Check it out now!

Welcome, Jimmy. For the new fans can you give us a brief intro to you and your work?

I’ve always wanted to be a performer. After mustering up the courage to audition, I booked my first role in a short NB film called Mailbox Romance way back in 2006, earning me the Best Actor Award at the Silver Wave Film Festival in Fredericton, NB. After getting a couple of smaller roles in films in NB and Nova Scotia I later discovered my love of performing Stand Up Comedy. After working for several years on my act and building invaluable relationships in the Atlantic Canadian comedy scene things started to get busier. I feel very lucky to have the opportunities that are presented to me today.

What got you started down the comedy path?

My childhood best friend Jesse lent me a VHS copy of Eddy Murphy Delirious and a Richard Pryor special. I never laughed so hard in my life (with my bedroom door locked of course). Both of my idols in comedy imitated their fathers in their sets. I knew I wanted to do the same. My jokes are primarily focused on my experiences growing up in Miramichi, NB. My first open mic was at Wilser’s Room in Fredericton NB. I was so nervous and shaky. From then I was hooked.

You have been at this for a few years now with some fun accolades under your belt. What have been some of your favorite places to perform?

Without a doubt, I love performing at comedy clubs like Yuk Yuks all over Canada. Best Audiences ever who are always looking to laugh, and the rooms are perfectly & ergonomically set up for comedy. However, my heart lies with smaller shows in rural communities in Atlantic Canada. For example, each year I’m lucky enough to do a charity show in a big barn at a farmhouse in Hartland, NB. They have a food truck, and the entire community comes out in support. Karaoke usually follows. I love telling jokes in the woods & small towns like I’m in an episode of Scooby-Doo!

The main reason we are here today is to chat about The Canoe Project. Can you tell us more about this project?

The series was written by my friend Mark Harnett. He created the concept about 5 years ago and is loosely based on the aftermath of his moving to a big city center after growing up in a community of fewer than 400 people in Northern Labrador. It is a comedy series satire with a serious undercurrent. It is a show about family and friendship. It is meant to entertain. Mark and I have been performing stand-up together for many years and I had a great time making this TV show with him in Newfoundland.

How did you become involved in the series?

Mark called me last summer. He told me he was pitching an idea to a few networks and broadcasters and said he had me in mind for a role. The role itself was tough to accept as the character is very different than mine but it was an opportunity to exercise my acting muscles once again.

What does it mean to debut this project on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Mark is an indigenous person who has unfortunately dealt with racism and stereotypical ideologies throughout his life. As an artist, comedy is his conduit to tell stories. With The Canoe Project, we are telling a story through a comedy satirical lens. We are attempting to bridge any little gaps we can through funny characters and the situations they get themselves into. Our show is meant to make people laugh with characters they will hopefully remember.

What do you think it takes to stand out with the saturation of new content and projects coming out daily?

In this field, there will never be a shortage of people trying to make a name for themselves or be on TV. But in any industry, get into it for the right reason. Even if you are starting an Internet Mattress Company on Tik Tok. Get into it because there is no Plan B. Giv’er!

Being true to your material and not caring what people think about you. Don’t listen to people who are always negative or who put you down to bring themselves up. Treat people with kindness and work hard and amazing things will happen. I promise.

Is there anyone out there in the comedy scene that you think people should be watching out for? Someone fresh and making moves.
  • Katherine Carins, from PEI

  • Maggie Estey, Moncton NB

  • Arif Hussain, SJ, NB

I have a couple of interesting questions I like to ask in interviews and coming from the comedy field it could be fun. First up, what is something on your go-to music playlist that people wouldn’t expect you to listen to? A guilty pleasure song so to speak.

Oh man, it is getting real now!! I often say I loathe Country Music but Garth Brooks – Friends in Low Places is no stranger to my list. Also Nickelback! I love them and Chad Kroeger is literally the nicest person I’ve ever met!

What is one question you think should be asked more in interviews that have not been asked enough?

A question about questions. I love this! Perhaps – “what do you think your purpose on this sphere is?” Or maybe favorite cereal (Captain Crunch for me)

What is one piece of advice you were given when you were starting out that struck home and you’ve never forgotten?

Make enough noise they cannot ignore you. And to go all in on things you’re good at. It takes so long to learn a new job and figure out how to refill the ink in the printer in the breakroom, so why not focus on things you are innately good at and try to make that a career? Whatever you do in life, give it 100%

Oh and one more thing – Get to the airport 9 hours early for a domestic flight because you never know! – My Dad

And finally, What motivates you to keep moving down this path and working on your craft?

I’m too clumsy to be a bartender. But really, there is no real Plan B. I like telling stories and I’ll do it in a Tim Hortons parking lot if I have to. People think you have to be famous to work in this industry. “Making it” is relative and I am happy.

Are there any final tidbits of wisdom to leave to fans new and old?

The stories I tell are true to me. Be true to yourself. It’s a much better look 😉

Today’s Spotlight – Jimmy MacKinley is at an end and I wanted to thank Jimmy for taking the time to chat

The Canoe Project is out now so make sure to check it out

Keep up with Jimmy right here

If you want your own Spotlight all you have to do is send us a message here

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