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SEX!!! OLYMPICS!!!! SEX!!!!! OLYMPICS!!!!
Let’s go against the only writing rule I follow and start with a cliché: It seems like the only things people are talking about these days are the Olympics. That’s why I’m not. But I know it sells so I had to use it to get your attention. Now that I have your attention, let me tell you something. You know what else sells: (yes, another cliché...wait for it) sex.
But I’m not selling sex. Let me make that clear. I’m actually selling my friend Taz VanRassel. Do you know him? Of course you do. You just don’t know him by name. Or more accurately, he doesn’t know you by name. He’s that lanky, dapperly dressed guy around town with the enormous features. Despite not personally knowing who he was, years ago, I knew who he was. I distinctly remember him serving me coffee at Sen5es (now long gone.) He has a strong presence. And that’s because he’s a true performer.
You’ve probably seen him. He’s one of the founders of The Sunday Service, this city’s most entertaining and compelling improv show. Or maybe you’ve seen him at Vancouver Theatresports League or co-hosting Talent Time. Or one of the other comedy shows’ he’s put on, like Arrogance, which was co-hosted with Stop Podcasting Yourself’s Dave Shumka. Or his current one, Hilari-Yes! , which he does with the charmingly droll Pat Kelly.
You’ve seen him. You’ve probably even said hi. And chances are, he probably gave you a weird look. That’s because he’s a jerk. But not a genuine one. And that’s why I adore him.
Before I go on, it should be noted that Taz and I used to date. Luckily we’re the kind of couple who were able to maintain a relationship after we broke up. He’s a guy you want around because he has such a big heart.
But anyone who knows me knows that big hearts alone don’t go very far in my love life. It’s something I’m still figuring out in therapy. And that’s why I was drawn to Taz. He’s a well-intentioned jerk, so it’s not like he’s going to put me in countless sessions of EMDR therapy to deal with big T traumas as a result of four years of abuse (not that that happened to me or anything.)
I recently sat down with Taz to talk about what’s behind his lovable jerk act. And shamelessly promote his show.
Me: A lot of the jerks I’ve dated have similar upbringings. They were all bullied in school, didn’t go anywhere near a girl until they were at least in their late teens, early twenties – do you relate?
Taz VanRassel: That’s true for me.
Me: So were you a jerk beforehand or after you stopped being a loser in high school?
TVR: I was shy beforehand.
Me: Also, bullied in school? That’s a common thread with jerks.
TVR: Yes, this is also very common for comedians. Late bloomers and bullied in school. But it’s not a jerk thing. You have to have an air to be in comedy or else the audience won’t believe that you should be up there.
Me: And you know this very well. What does it take to be a jerk?
TVR: I’m just curt and I say things without thinking of the consequences. I’ve made people cry but without meaning to. I’m not mean spirited. I tend to say things that are truthful and hurt people’s feelings.
Me: What’s the worst things you’ve said to me?
TVR: You take it pretty well. You don’t tend to get offended.
Me: So does that defeat the purpose of being a jerk?
TVR: Let me get this straight. I’m not trying to be a jerk on purpose. I make sensitive people cry. It just happens. I’m not trying to be mean. And I’m usually surprised. When it happens I’m like, “Oh what? I said an offhand remark about not liking corduroy and that’s what your vest is made of. I’m sorry.” The first time I met you, didn’t I say I wasn’t a fan of blogs or podcasts? And then I later found out that that’s what you do.
Me: I just assume no one knows what I do. What makes you cry, you big meanie? Words or actions?
TVR: Well, I was watching Uptown Girls recently. It made me tear up a bit. Dakota Fanning was so small. And Brittany Murphy is dead. And I was alone in a motel room. I’m not coming across as being a jerk at all. Let’s talk about our whirlwind romance. That was probably a dream come true for you. On again, off again for three months –
Me: Try six.
TVR: - Indifferent, uncertain. Taking all your food.
Me: If I had to summarize you in three words it would be hungry, broke and energetic. And by energetic, I mean wanton. What about me?
TVR: Are we doing bad words or good words? I don’t know. Honest, overly critical and dopey.
Me: Dopey? Like the dwarf?
TVR: No, I mean emotional. I think the meanest thing I ever said to you was not knowing or remembering things, like your middle name.
Me: Because you don’t listen. You don’t care.
TVR: I only remember things I want to hear. Then I go about my business.
Me: You’re self-absorbed.
TVR: Yeah, I’m in comedy.
Me: Haven’t you ever read “How to win friends and influence people?” I haven’t but I think the only thing you need to know about that book is that to succeed in life you have to listen. Because people love to talk, especially about themselves.
TVR: I let people talk about themselves. I just don’t take it in.
Me: Well, whatever you do, it works. You certainly don’t have a problem with the ladies. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Girls like jerks. They have this reputation but then only you and maybe their mom know their soft side.
TVR: Let me let you in on a secret: That’s not a secret. Most guys know that.
Me: So do you play that up for the ladies?
TVR: I don’t try to. It’ll take me three times meeting someone before I know their name.
Me: You’re really bad at that. Fucking jerk.
TVR: And… you’re welcome.
Taz VanRassel is hosting HILARI-YES! Feb 23rd 8pm @the Biltmore Cabaret.
You can contact Elianna at [email protected]. Be sure to visit her website, www.eliannalev.com, where you can follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, Blogspot, and listen to her podcast, the People's Program Project, on iTunes.