Addicted to Humour

Local Comic Morgan O’Shea on Style—and Substances

  • Montreal Comedian-By-Night Morgan O’Shea Photo by Julia Jones

“Can this wait until the last round of Jeopardy is over?,” asks MorganO’Shea, from the edge of the futon in his living room.

“Roosevelt!” he barks at the TV. Correct. He flashes a cheeky grin as he turns off the television and sips from a Colt 45 wrapped in a paper bag.

He’s dressed in hipster garb; tight-fitting jeans, a clean white t-shirt, and a red-and-black checkered flannel shirt. His light brown hair reaches down to his chin, and his beard is well groomed. He’s boyishly handsome and he’s got the confidence of a performer.

I introduced myself to O’Shea a few days earlier, at an open mic at The Works, a hole-in-the-wall Montreal comedy club. That night, he won over the audience with dirty jokes about eating pussy and a dating service for the suicidal. He was voted best of open mic by the audience—news to him, because he’d left right after his set.

It’s not that his head is inflated by his success though. O’Shea works full-time at an unglamorous job—the collections department of a call center in Montreal.

“I work the only job a kid whose mom is a crack addict can get… other than stripping,” says O’Shea. “It’s kind of a shady company, I call people and tell them they owe debts on something they got scammed into. It’s not very fulfilling, but it pays the bills.”

On the other hand, O’Shea doesn’t need to be fulfilled by his day job because he lives for the night. An average week will find him doing stand-up at least three times at open mic nights, bars, lofts, house parties and comedy clubs. “I guess I’m a little bit dirtier than most [comics]—I’ve got kind of a sick mind,” he says of his material. “I just tell jokes about whatever happens to me, whatever I say that makes me laugh, whatever makes my friends laugh.”

He lights a cigarette—his third so far—and lets it lazily hang from the corner of his mouth as the interview continues. He tells me casually how he and his brother were raised by their single father in an area of Calgary that Calgarians fondly refer to as the “ghetto.”

We are interrupted by three sharp raps at the door before it springs open.

“Yeah, yeah!,” I hear, as footsteps shuffle up the steps to O’Shea’s apartment, and empties tumble down them.

He’s wearing cargo pants and from one of many pockets he pulls out a Tupperware container filled with “goodies.” He expertly chops lines of cocaine and if I hadn’t wished we’d met at a coffee shop like he suggested, I certainly do now.

“Turn off the recorder,” says O’Shea. “My drug dealer’s here.”

A man even shaggier than Morgan flops onto the third of the three couches crammed into the living room.

He’s wearing cargo pants and from one of many pockets he pulls out a Tupperware container filled with “goodies.” He expertly chops lines of cocaine and if I hadn’t wished we’d met at a coffee shop like he suggested, I certainly do now.

I play it cool and innocently shake my head at the line laid out for me on the back of a pack of Macdonald cigarettes. On three hours of sleep, I feel no need to be any jitterier than I already am—much less among strangers.

This isn’t a rare occasion at the O’Shea household, and he’s built up some notoriety for his habits. At the show he performs tonight he will be introduced by the host as “the drugs of the comedians,” a statement meant both figuratively and literally.

I know the interview is over, because the door doesn’t stay shut for long. All his friends seem to be comics and the room fills with funny-men cracking jokes and cracking beers.

Everyone seems to be getting restless, which can partially be blamed on the cocaine, but I also sense a bit of nervousness for the show that starts in about an hour.

All of the guys in Morgan’s apartment are performing. They form kind of a de facto comedy crew here in Montreal, and it isn’t uncommon for four or five of them to perform a set at the same club. At the show tonight their laughter will be the loudest in the crowd.

Listen to the funnymen in show:

A Depraved Comedian

O’Shea organizes the “Shut Up and Laugh” open mic comedy nights at Burritoville every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

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