Who’s a genius?

Chilly Gonzales in Toronto, May 9 2008. St Lawrence Forum (Jane Mallett theatre). Were you there? Everyone wants to know.

We were there. We were the ones hollering “Who’s a genius?” as Sr. Gonzalez climbed up the chair backs to the top of the theatre. He hiked straight toward us, there in the sixth row. What a moment! Who wouldn’t have asked about geniuses at a moment like that? We hollered it at least twice, maybe three times, and Sr. Gonzales paused, his hand on our head, no doubt voguing in his lonely moment of recognition. “Who’s a Genius?” A second later he moved up a couple rows, and as if to prove our conjecture a reality he hoisted himself onto the shoulders of a bald guy, who teetered under his weight for a moment, then as if a miracle had occurred, stood straight and tall–then teetered again so Gonzales correctly climbed down.

But who, or what, is this Chilly Gonzales, you will rightly be asking about now.

In short, he is a mythical confection, created and served to meet the buying public’s demand for sweets. He lives only so long as he can be digested and reconstituted, tasted and smacked over, and for that he has to be on his toes. The public clamours for the next sweet! The public will not be satisfied long with a Ritter’s sport bar of marzipan filling!

So Gonzales, whom we last enjoyed as the warm-up act for the Popeye con Leslie Feist [please check transcription before publication–should that be “pop icon?” –ed.] about a year ago, is back this year with a new record and a new act. This time, he’s got “Gonzpiration,” and his act is the bilingually redundant “Together Ensemble” consisting of Katie Moore, Mocky, Socalled, and Matthew Flowers, among others. You will know them by their orange polyester neckties, their suspenders and (tight) black trousers. Except Katie Moore wore a skirt.

photo by maryam S.

What happened to the sweet, ivory-tinkling Gonzales of a year ago? Did he get bored of the pained artist stance? Evidement, my friends.

“Singing is where the money is,” as Gonzales says. “Singing is a good little racket.”

We heard that smarm-meister Jian Ghomeshi interview Gonzales on the CBC show Q (podcast is here, but you have to skip through some junky interview with that nobody Don McKellar in order to get to the good stuff–Sr. Gonzales is about a third of the way in) a week or so after his show. It was clear Gomeshi had not seen the performance, but he did his best to sound knowledgable. We wish we could have interviewed Gonzales instead. We would have gotten to the heart of the matter: you know, “Who’s a genius?”

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