As a young kid growing up in Edmonton in the 1990’s, I watched a lot of MuchMusic.
For those of you under 25, MuchMusic was Canada’s MTV. Their on-camera personalities were called VJs (video jockeys) and perhaps the most recognizable one was a pissed-off sock named Ed.
Every year around Christmas, I’d carefully sneak down to the basement and stay up all night watching Ed’s hours-long annual special, Fromage. He would rip apart the year’s music videos shot-by-shot and offer somewhat constructive criticism to the artists.
This was my first experience with music reviewing as a kid and it stuck with me. Retrospectively, Ed’s blunt reviews of these videos probably played a big part in turning me away from pop music in the following years.
When I heard that he was once again active and coming to Edmonton, it was an opportunity I could hardly miss.
Ed’s TV career started with guest spots on Canadian talk shows way back in 1986, before I – or likely you – were even born. His creator Steven Kerzner didn’t realize at the time that he was beginning a career as a ventriliquist that would span over 30 years.
By 1994, he became a MuchMusic VJ and eventually even got his own late-night talk show on CityTV called Ed’s Night Party, in which he performed raunchy monologues and interviews with pornstars and strippers from his hot tub. This show lasted until 2008 when CityTV was acquired by Rogers Media.
Nowadays, Ed and Steve are travelling across Canada for what they call the War on Stupid Tour. They’ve decided that North Americans are too complacent, too uninformed, and too sensitive, thanks to today’s overly cautious corporately-owned media.
“We need to save everyone from a world that’s trying to stop people from thinking,” said Ed. He spent the night discussing contentious topics like immigration, gender fluidity, and ableism – all with a comic attitude of course.
He also took the opportunity to complain about the state of hotels across Canada. In particular, he described a room in the Chieftain Hotel in Squamish, BC which contained a couch that had become “crunchy” due to the remnant semen clearly encrusted on it’s cushions.
During a brief Q and A session after show, Kerzner revealed that the worst interview Ed ever did was with pop star Ashlee Simpson because “she was so stupid… and high.” He also mentioned that he’s still friends with other MuchMusic VJs George Stroumboulopoulos and Rick “The Temp” Campanelli.
Kerzner also made a point of having local Edmonton comedians open for him at the event. Malak Alasal and Sterling Scott each performed for roughly 20 minutes – both discussing growing up in Edmonton and the less desirable aspects of fatherhood.
After the show, Ed and his creator stuck around for photos and autographs, chatting with a crowd that were all old enough to remember his talk show and VJ days.
I asked Kerzner for an interview, to which he replied, “Let’s do Ed. He’s more entertaining.” 20 years ago I never would have imagined I’d interview this short-tempered piece of apparel, but here we are.