Being from a place like San Diego, California, it wouldn’t be shocking for Taylor Williamson to say he doesn’t know much about hockey, but the 33-year old comedian has an interesting connection to the game.
“My cousin’s wife’s dad is Reggie Lemelin, from the Calgary Flames,” he said.
Lemelin, a goaltender, played over 500 games in the NHL for the Flames, and the Boston Bruins from 1978 to 1993.
“I’ve been on some holidays with that guy. He’s pretty cool. When I was in Calgary, I named-dropped him a lot, and people respected me, finally.”
Williamson also isn’t a stranger to arenas.
“As a kid in San Diego I would go to minor league hockey games all the time, the San Diego Gulls (AHL). Been to a million of those games, they were big in San Diego.”
Williamson was in town on Thursday to perform at Ecole Secondaire Catholique Theriault in front over 500 people for a fundraiser for the Timmins Rock Junior A Hockey Club.
He gained plenty of notoriety after being the runner-up on season 8 of ‘America’s Got Talent’ and Rock team president Ted Gooch reached out to Williamson to make the trek north.
Peterborough’s Michelle Shaughnessy and local comic Shane Gannon also performed to big laughs.
It turns out that the show was Williamson’s first performance anywhere in Ontario, and he flew in from Southern California just for this show.
“I’ve never been to Ontario. I’ve been to Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg,” he said after the show.
He took a red eye flight to Toronto, before hopping aboard what he called ‘the scariest plane ever’ to Timmins.
“There’s no direct flights from L.A.X. to Timmins. What’s up with that?”
Williamson spent a big part of his day at the Cedar Meadows resort, enjoying a lunch, going on a bit of a tour, and observing some of the local animals.
“Normally when I do shows like this, I’m kind of on my own during the day. I do the show, then I leave, and I don’t get a chance to explore. I was really grateful. It was really special to experience some of the culture up here. I don’t get to do that a lot.”
As for the crowd, Williamson called it ‘not interactive’ and ‘weird, but in a cool, fun way.’
“They’re very kind and polite. No real heckles. I met another Jewish person in Timmins, so that was exciting for me. I got to work with Michelle, she’s so funny, it was a fun day of my life.”
One member of the audience, sitting in the front row, struggled to not laugh throughout the entire show, and let out a highly audible snort just 10 minutes into Williamson’s set. Memories of the snort lingered for the rest of the show.
It’s been a long ride for Williamson to gain notoriety in the comedy game.
“I’m very lucky. I did comedy for ten years, and it really was a struggle. Then I got on America’s Got Talent, and it changed my life in many ways. Now, people want to buy tickets to come see me, for some reason.”
The fundraising aspect of the show wasn’t lost on him.
“I’m grateful to get to use my stupid jokes to help good things happen.”
“I mostly did my material, but its fun for me to mess with the crowd a little bit. I’m never mean, more silly stuff, talking to the crowd. The audiences, generally in every city, they laugh more at local humour and references. I think they appreciate it.”
Williamson did not have an opportunity to visit one of the city’s poutine hotspots.
“No one offered me poutine, I’m very upset,” he said, before asking what was in the dish.
“I don’t like gravy,” he said after being informed of the components.
“I feel like I would insult your culture,” he said with a laugh.
Although it was a quick visit, the warm hospitality and northern vibes of the city left a big impression on Williamson.
“I’d love to come back and explore, see some more of the wildlife. Its refreshing to me, honestly, I live in L.A. and its such a different lifestyle. Its a beautiful, special vibe up here,” adding how nice the Northern Ontario air is to breathe.