Jay Baruchel is that rarest of breeds, a Montreal boy made good who flatly refuses to leave our fair city. Despite being a major movie star, with dozens of starring roles under his belt, Baruchel has turned his back on LA and remains a proud resident of the neighborhood of NDG, where he grew up. He bleeds the bleu, blanc et rouge of our beloved Habs, and like Arcade Fire, he belongs to this city and we are very proud, and protective, of our favourite son. 

Currently starring as himself in this summer’s blockbuster This Is the End, Baruchel has been nominated for a Genie for Best Actor for the 2009 film The Trotsky, and was nominated for Canadian Screen Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay for his 2012 hockey comedy Goon

Taking a break from film to host one of Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival’s showcase Galas this Thursday evening, Baruchel and I, who had never met but knew each other over twitter, sat down for a chat at Montreal’s Hyatt hotel this week. The hilarity that ensued was epic, and this quickly became one of my all time favourite interviews. Read on…


Ethan Cox: So I actually crowd-sourced this interview, all of my questions were submitted by twitter and Facebook. But they’re good, so don’t worry!

Jay Baruchel: Amazing! I saw that this morning, I’m very, very interested. Evan Dubinsky [co-owner of concert promotion company Blue Skies Turn Black and noted twitter afficionado] is going to have a field day with this!

You should see the whole thread, because some of them are hilarious. Anyway, I won’t give too much away. 

First question: We know that you’re a good actor, but inquiring minds want to know, are you funny?

[laughter] Awww fuck! [more laughter] I mean, I take issue with the first part! I’ll say this, I find myself hilarious. But, you know, the human experience is a diverse, open system of, umm, well, yeah, fucked if I know! I think I’m very funny. I always make my mother laugh, and as long as the girl that I’m hitting on giggles, that’s all that really matters. The answer is I think I’m funny.

In The Trotsky, your character unionized his school and led a strike, a few years later we had the real deal here in Quebec, so a few people wanted to know what your thoughts were on the student strike?

I found myself ultimately disenfranchised by both sides, if there was a debate, and there are obviously many sides to that whole thing. At its best, it was everything I was railing against in The Trotsky. At its best it was a reaction to apathy. And it’s nice to see kids giving a shit about something, anything. Out in the streets. And that was kind of Jacob’s [Director Tierney] whole thing with The Trotsky: whatever your viewpoint, he always thought conservative kids could dig this movie just as much, because it’s not about the content of the viewpoint, it’s about the action. And so it’s hard not to be inspired when you see a bunch of kids take the streets. It was a testament to what’s best about Montreal. We keep everything very close to the surface in this city, and whatever’s happening in this city, you feel it. 

At the same time though, when I see how much it costs to go to school in the rest of North America, and how much more affordable it is here, I was blown away. One hundred percent it could be more affordable though, and especially when there’s all this money for Plan Nord and all this nonsense. So there is money. Ultimately the issue wasn’t about money at all, it was about respect for the student populace, in which case I’m with them.

And that’s my long, convoluted answer to a little twitter thing!

This one comes from Chris Curtis, who you might know, from the Montreal Gazette. He wanted me to ask you: who do you think you are? 

Yeah, I saw that! And ask it with gusto, right?

Yeah, I don’t know if I got the gusto right…

[laughing] No, you did, you did. Ummm… Who do I think I am? That’s a very, very good question. Robin’s son, I guess… [laughs] or NDG pothead number seven!

This next question came up more than anything else: are you single?

Ah fuck! [laughs]

You have a lot of admirers, what can I tell you?

Well that’s very nice, I suppose. I.. um.. single is not a word I could use.

Okay, fair enough! Now to follow up on the political angle…

That last question must have killed you to ask! That is not what you’re interested in in the least!

[laughing] Man, I’m here to have fun! I’m covering Just for Laughs, this is my vacation from the normal stuff I do! 

[laughing] Fair enough, fair enough! 

But I still have to ask a few political questions, given my audience, so following up on the political angle, you obviously take a lot of pride in being a Montrealer, in being from NDG, you must be as upset as the rest of us about corruption, who’re you voting for in November?

Oh fuck! [laughs] If there’s one thing municipal politics in this city has proven to me time and again, it’s that it means nothing. It is utterly irrelevant. Our municipal politics in Montreal is like national politics in the states to me. Insert whichever fucking schmuck in a suit and tie, because ultimately the glad-handing and the pre-existing business arrangements and contracts dictate everything. I hope… whoever isn’t being fed by mobsters, if there is such a thing! 

What about Projet Montreal? The outsider party?

Yeah, I suppose. Truthfully I get real disenfranchised and I make an effort to shut it all out. I go back and forth. I can’t help but give a shit, but then I ultimately end up subscribing to my mother’s viewpoint, which is why she stopped watching the news about twenty-five years ago, she said “I stopped because I got tired of getting angry about things I had absolutely no power or control over.” And of course, when you’re a mother with kids, there’s a degree of forfeiting involved.

It’s super easy to get disenfranchised. Foolishly, I was excited about Michael Applebaum as the great Anglo fucking hope, y’know…

Hashtag AngloJewMayor?

Exactly, hashtag AngloJewMayor. I was a huge fan. I know Dan Delmar [local radio personality who started the AngloJewMayor hashtag] was real excited…

I tell you what, how about this, I’ll let you tell me the best person to vote for!

[laughs] Well you know me, I’ve always got an opinion, so it’s Projet, for sure! But really, I’ll tell you who the best guy to vote for is, and this is my next question, are you willing to save the city and run for mayor? [laughter] Because at least two people wanted to know that! 

[laughing so hard he almost falls off his chair]

I think actually you would be the best guy, so will you present yourself? Will you allow us to vote for you?

Huh. Yeah, maybe. Why the fuck not? 

I’ll be your campaign manager…

Alright! Well you know what, I had kinda wanted to take Lionel [Perez]’s job, borough mayor of NDG. That was a legitimate dream of mine at some point, so yeah, maybe we’ll figure this out bud! 

Well, call me, we’ll make it happen!

Alright, now I have three real quick ones:

If you could throw a pie at any politician, who would it be? 

Ooooh, in the world? The leader of the [Greek neo-fascist] Golden Dawn party…

I know you’re a big Habs fan, so who’s better, Galchenyuk or Gallagher?


Last question, what’s the last book you read?

I am in the process of reading Children of Dune. 


You can follow Jay on twitter @BaruchelNDG, and Ethan, who will be live-tweeting Baruchel’s Gala, @EthanCoxMTL. Jay is hosting the Just For Laughs Gala on Thursday, the 25th of July at 7PM at Place-Des-Arts Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, with Hannibal Buress, Amy Schumer, Bo Burnham, Elon Gold, Graham Chittenden, David Pryde and Moshe Kasher. Tickets are $40.71-$71.76 and available from Admission, the Just For Laughs box office and online at hahaha.com.