Canadian comedy queen Mary Walsh is finally set to perform at Surrey Arts Centre, following a COVID-caused delay of eight months.
The Newfoundlander’s February tour of Western Canada was shelved until this month, with a show long ago rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29 on the Main Stage at Bear Creek Park, with other B.C. stops in Kelowna and Duncan.
“I did an Ontario tour in July and then Newfoundland in August, but before then I hadn’t toured because of COVID,” Walsh explained in a phone call from her home in St. John’s. “The dates this month were delayed and contracted pre-COVID, right. Theatres were closed, and I could have come but people wouldn’t have had any place to sit down.”
An Order of Canada-winning actor, comedian, writer and social activist, Walsh is probably best known for her work on the TV shows CODCO and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
“It’s comedy,” Walsh explained, “and I do some reminiscing – a bit of CODCO stuff in there and also some This Hour along with some new things I’m doing, The Missus Downstairs and Dad and the Fridge Box, little snippets of that stuff, and hopefully I talk about it all in a comedic way. And there’s some political comedy and also Miss Eulalia – she’ll be there.”
On This Hour, Walsh busted guts with her character Marg Delahunty, who ambushed politicians with satirical interviews on a national TV show that lampooned the nightly news.
Her current tour includes some film clips and also a preview of Walsh’s new novel, called But I Don’t Want To Come Home Year 1966, which will follow her 2017 debut book, Crying for the Moon, the story of Maureen, a teenage girl navigating a tough life in late-1960s St. John’s.
“That (book) was 10 years ago — at least that’s when I started to write it,” Walsh noted. “A decade ago is when I said to myself, ‘I want to do this, I have to do it now, or when am I going to do it?’ So I got a deal with HarperCollins and still I was dragging my feet. And then they made a mistake and said that it was coming out in their fall catalogue, so suddenly I had to work really hard to finish the thing, now that there was this hard deadline.”
Outside the world of film, TV and theatre, Walsh is an outspoken advocate for mental health and addiction awareness.
At a TEDX event in Toronto four years ago, she talked about how old age isn’t “past our prime,” it is our prime. Walsh argues that it’s time to re-define our third act in life — that “elder-hood” is the best moment of our life, when we get a chance to really know ourselves, and have the freedom to follow our heart’s desires.
At age 70, Walsh is apparently still keen to tour across Canada, with some reservations about the experience.
“Touring is always difficult, isn’t it?” she asked rhetorically. “And still with COVID being somewhat rampant upon the land, it is nerve-wracking in a way because there are no longer masking or social-distancing rules. So because our country is so large, I have to fly a lot of places, right, and flying is dreadful in and of itself, even before COVID. So that’s dreadful but actually doing the live performance is a great gift and wonderful. It’s just the getting to it that isn’t so much fun.”