Entertainment
courtesy F-X

JON LAJOIE

YouTube sensation leaves the basement for mainstream comedy

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Jon Lajoie kills people. At least, that's the impression you might get if you saw the title of his latest Canadian tour, which includes a stop at the MacEwan Ballroom on Nov. 24.

The "I Kill People" tour takes its name from Lajoie's hit music parody of the same name. The video, which as of publication time has accumulated over 23 million views on YouTube, is just one of many in a long line of successful online music parodies and sketches created by Lajoie.

Lajoie first gained popularity in late 2007 and early 2008 with viral YouTube videos like "Show Me Your Genitals," "High as Fuck," and "Everyday Normal Guy." But the Montreal comedian, who graduated from the theatre program at Montreal's Dawson College, has been able to succeed where others have failed -- he has turned a YouTube following into a viable career in comedy. In addition to his online videos and comedy tours, Lajoie is currently a part of the cast on FX Networks Canada's The League, a semi-scripted comedy show about fantasy football that just wrapped filming for its third season.

Judging from Lajoie's videos and his performance as the loveable stoner Taco on The League, it may seem like comedy and Lajoie go hand-in-hand, but Lajoie explains that this wasn't always the case.

"I didn't really know that I could do comedy," says Lajoie. "I was doing some acting in Montreal. I was in a band for a while and then the band broke up . . . I had a lot of time on my hands."

Using his new-found freedom, Lajoie began creating comedy sketches and songs and posting them on YouTube. His first video, "High as Fuck," a song about being, well, high as fuck, quickly garnered mass online attention. Lajoie says that realizing that people were watching his videos provided him with the impetus to keep "working at it."

Though Lajoie might not have believed he had any future as a comedian, he was interested in comedy from a young age. He cites Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall as one of his biggest influences.

"They introduced me to comedy, really, and they kind of shaped my sense of humour as a kid -- you know, their dark, absurdist, kind-of-crazy sense of humour."

Both The Kids in the Hall and Lajoie subscribe to the belief that either everything is okay to make fun of, or nothing is.

"It's all about how you do it. There's a way of making a joke about anything."

Lajoie is certainly not worried about being offensive, shown by songs like "Michael Jackson is Dead," which accuses the mainstream media of hypocrisy in decrying the late pop star for his eccentricity and then proceeding to praise him as a genius after his death. While this is completely true, few would be bold enough to make a song about it.

"I don't try to get too preachy, but sometimes . . . I'll have something to say and I'll put it in a song," explains Lajoie.

Talking about how the experience of creating differs from a live show, Lajoie says that it's quite a different delivery style but that the same essence is still there.

"What I like about a live show is that it's still me unfiltered . . . I write the show alone, and it's all kind of me."

Lajoie also says he likes having a crowd in front of him because that way, if he doesn't hit the mark with a joke, it gets thrown back in his face right away. This, he explains, "isn't all that different from the internet, but on the internet you assume that it's just bitter people sitting in their mom's basement commenting on your video. In a live show, if a joke doesn't go well, it's like, 'these are my fans. If these guys don't like the joke, I don't know who will.'"

With Lajoie's YouTube videos consistently passing the one-million-view mark, coupled with positive reviews of The League, it's safe to say that Lajoie doesn't need to worry about his style of comedy not hitting the mark with fans. That being said, Lajoie shows no signs of slowing down.

"I'm just gonna try to write some more stuff and shoot some more sketches . . . the goal is to get the TV thing going, so I am spending a lot of time on that. Hopefully we'll have more news about that in 2012."

In making the jump from Montreal college kid to touring comedian, Lajoie has proven to be one of the country's most successful sketch performers of the YouTube age -- and one rising talent for Canada to watch.

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