“We will miss your jokes.
“You will be sorely missed.”
“You are such a fixture here at the Clova Cinema. You are truly a real part of Cloverdale culture.”
“It seems funny not seeing you here tonight. We will miss you.”
Those are just some of the tributes pouring in for Doris Burghardt, who’s retiring after 15 and a half years as the official greeter at the Clova Cinema in Cloverdale.
For a generation of local movie-goers, Doris has been at the centre of the Clova experience, keeping an eye on things out front before the show, her little dog Cupcake at her side. (Before that there was Sheena, a pooch who passed away in 2007, rest her soul.)
Once patrons were seated, Doris introduced the movie, usually with a joke for the 7 p.m. evening screening, which attracted a more mature crowd than the afternoon matinees, where her firm but gentle way with children made the movie-going experience enjoyable for all.
Her recent decision to step down isn’t because she’s finally run out of jokes, but rather for health reasons.
The Clova is a family-owned and operated single screen movie theatre, and they mean it. Employees are part of the “Clovamily” and customers have been known to wear their PJ’s to double features, bringing their own bowl and cup for discounts on popcorn and pop.
“Usually my mom came in every day,” Craig says.
The tradition of telling a joke before the show began by accident. One night they were dealing with an unexpected problem getting the movie started, so Doris was sent out with a joke to read – as a stalling tactic to buy more time.
It must have gone over well, because customers immediately began asking her to tell a joke every night, so they started stockpiling material for Doris.
“It’s not exactly a pro delivery but that’s the experience,” Craig smiles, confiding: “She always wants to read out lewd ones.”
Word of Doris’s retirement has spread fast among those who subscribe to the Clova’s friendly weekly email bulletin, but has yet to reach everyone who might wish to express their appreciation for her.
Fans and friends are invited to come down to the cinema at 5732 176 Street in Surrey and sign a comment book for Doris, whether they’re seeing a movie or not.
The comment book will be available at the box office until the end of January.
Meanwhile, Craig says he’s looking for a new Clova greeter. It’s a volunteer position but with some cool perks. (Free movies anyone?)
The ideal candidate must be willing to work odd, but short, hours. There are matinees on weekends, over Christmas and in the summer time, plus nightly introductions to the 7 p.m. screening.
Whoever it is should be a “people person” who’s good with kids, he adds.