Pat Thornton has been a charter member of the Canadian comedy community for what feels like a hundred years, and over that stretch he’s done way more than just be a super funny stand-up.
He’s an original member and former head writer of Toronto sketch institution The Sketchersons, created the cult classic Hotbox, starred in tons of stuff like Satisfaction, Punched Up and the upcoming film Filth City, raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity via his insane 24 hour stand-up marathons, and is always willing to call out the city of Toronto on being too hot, too cold, or too anything.

We could probably write a very good book about what Pat means to the community, but we don’t have the time, resources or any contacts at major publishing houses. Instead, we sat down with him ahead of the premiere of his first ever stand-up special called Different Times, airing Saturday at 10ep on Comedy, and asked him to reflect on his comedy career.
What’s the first joke you remember writing?
I remember in grade one, I came up with a joke that I told everybody in my family. It was one of those “what do you get when you cross” jokes. It was like “what do you get when you cross a reporter and a police officer?” And then the punchline was just “someone who reports you to the police.” I thought it was the best.
What’s the first time you remember killing?
This was back in 2000, and I did…I was going to Humber at the time and we had to go to the Yuk Yuk’s amateur night all the time. I would sign up for the list and never get on. So then I’d just sit in the front row which, I realize how obnoxious that is now because I knew so many of the comics. But I’d sit in the front row and one time the host was like “somebody didn’t show up -- I know you guys are always signing up, do one of you guys want a spot?” And I was like, “sure.” And I got up and I killed. And then Mark Breslin came and shook my hand. They wrote an article for the Humber paper about it. I was like, the next thing in comedy. But then nothing good happened for me for another six or seven years. It takes a long time to get off the ground.


What’s the smallest crowd you’ve ever played for?
One thing I remember for sure is with my sketch troupe (Todd’s Lunch with Gary Rideout Jr. and Tal Zimerman), we did a show at the Prince George Fringe Festival for two people, which was less people than we had in our group. We did it for two people, which was the best, to travel to Northern B.C. for it.
But also I did a gig at a golf tournament where I thought I was speaking at the dinner, but what turned out was that they put me at a table at one of the holes. So I had to do stand-up sitting across a table from people for like four people at a time, just as the foursomes came through that hole. And it was brutal. It was totally brutal. That’s the weirdest gig I had for sure.
What’s the first time you felt like you ‘made it’?
In 2006 I got cast to be in a Comedy Network show called Punched Up that was improv-based. And what was wicked about it was that I was building gazebos for an events company when I got the call, at like the beginning of my shift. And I was like “can I just leave?”  But I realized I couldn’t because the show didn’t start for weeks and I still had to earn a living! I had been cast on a TV show and at the time I had l the worst paying job. It was such a casual, terrible job. And I did it man, I did it.


What’s the first time you met a comedy idol?
I got really lucky and got to sit in on a table read for a show that Bob Odenkirk wrote and I actually read for a character. The people in the cast were Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Jeff Garland, and Andy Richter. It was awesome. I barely met them because they were doing this presentation for NBC and I just got to be there and everybody was really in work mode. But it was unbelievable. They were like actual superheroes to me. And I got to read his jokes. It was amazing.
What’s the first live comic you saw that made you want to get into comedy?
When I first started going to stand-up in Toronto it was Sean Cullen that really broke my brain. He was doing things that nobody else was doing. And he was chasing his strangest ideas, which is like, “what do you think most people are scared to do?” And he’s definitely a huge influence on me.
Pat Thornton: Different Times airs Saturday at 10ep on Comedy. Don’t miss it!