June 19, 2022

Mary Walsh: A Fart in the Mist

Mary Walsh: A Fart in the Mist

If Mary Walsh isn’t the mother of Canadian comedy, she is certainly its sister. Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, a founding member of the CODCO comedy troupe, Mary went on to co-create the legendary news satire program This Hour has 22 Minutes. There, she created the infamous character Marg Delahunty, a fearless, sword-wielding warrior princess in cat’s eye glasses who became the scourge of Parliament Hill. A writer, director and novelist, Mary still lives in St. John’s, just down the street from her husband. She spoke to us the day after the 2022 Oscars, when the world was reeling from Will Smith’s attack on presenter Chris Rock. This led to an intense discussion about violence, violence against women, against comedians, and against women comedians. We also talk about getting older and getting funnier, sexy politicians and the lack thereof, Mary’s unusual upbringing, unconventional marriage, and love of family, We also learn about Milltowns and rainbow blowjobs.

Transcript

And now this message from Maureen and Wendy. 

Hey there.

Howdy! So, we're about to launch into our episode with Mary Walsh, who everyone knows or probably knows. But a little bit of full disclosure here. We need to place- we need a bit of an update. We need to place this in context.

Yeah. Although our intention is that there would be a certain timelessness to the conversations that we have with our women of ill repute. Time stops for no man, or woman, or non binary person.

Yeah. So the update is, just so you know, we talked to Mary the day after the Oscars. Those Oscars.

Yeah. The day after the slap was heard around the world, when Oscar nominee Will Smith struck presenter Chris Rock on stage for ostensibly insulting his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Jada, I love you, GI Jane 2. Can't wait to see it. All right. Uh oh. Richard- Oh, wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me. 

Yeah, and so, not surprisingly, Mary Walsh, as a comedian and just like as a human being, she had a lot to say about that. Just so you know, here we go.

The Women of Ill Repute, with your hosts, Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway. 

We felt like dogfaced girls on prom night. What if we get stood up?

Yeah, we were afraid it wouldn't show up, but there you are. We love you, so we're so happy you're here.

I don't have a fucking reputation for not showing up. I may be a lady of ill repute, but I have never not shown up, I don't think, since the really early days.

Well, you weren't the first person we thought of when we said women of ill repute. We haven't gotten hookers yet, but we're working towards that.

You were definitely the top five, I could tell you that.

Yeah. So great to see you here, Mary.

Great to be here. Nice to see you, Wendy. 

Yeah, you've all got books and I've got wine glasses, which in the background, which is appropriate, i think.

I think mine are actually videos. My books are in another room. This is my office with old videos, like young people go, Is that VHS there? And I go, yeah, some of them are even Beta.

But, Mary, I have to tell you, you must know this because I remember my wedding was shot on VHS. And what happens over time? The sound remains, but the images disappear. So you have these ghostly people reciting their vows, in my case. So you might want to check on some of the older stuff, because if you didn't get it moved to DVD, then you're out of luck.

Yeah, I just didn't throw it away. It's old CODCO shows. Andy, one of my colleagues in CODCO, has always been the archivist. And so it's just like one of those things, like it's there. I don't give a fuck about it. If it's not there, it's not there. Somebody's got it somewhere, you know what I mean? I'm not thinking, oh, my God, I've got to keep these old CODCO sketches or else they'll never be there, because I feel quite secure that Andy's already got them, sent them off to Memorial University in the archives there and that they've done all that. I'm thinking that that's the truth. It could be. Could not be. But still.

Yeah, someone asked if I was going to write a book, and I was like, well, I would, except that I have no archives and no memory. But aside from that- 

But are all books memoirs? I mean, look at Rick and Mark. They've already got two. Well, Rick has three, I think by now. I was just talking to him on the phone. He's 16 years younger than me, so I guess he's 53 and he's got three memoirs. And Mark Critch is even younger than that. And he's got two memoirs. I mean, is there no end to fucking memoirs? Write a novel. You don't have to remember anything.

I have your novel displayed prominently on my bookshelf. And you're in St. John's now, aren't you?

Yes, I am.

So is that just a love love relationship now? Because at one point it was a love hate relationship, at least according to the main character in your book, who, of course, was named after me, I want to point out. 

That's right. You know, everybody in Newfoundland, we were dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century out of feudal kind of times where people didn't have access to money. They actually just gave their fish to the merchant, and then the merchant gave them their supplies, you know what I mean? So the 20th century was- And so there was a great amount of shame at that point when we were making that transition, which quickly passed. But there was a point where you would rather be anywhere. And it's really interesting now to be in Newfoundland where everybody's always going about, oh, they're so nice there, and everything is so beautiful. And Ken Harvey used to write CODCO material. Ken Harvey used to write where there was just a rape on every page, and more and more child abuse and terrible things. And yes, so Newfoundland has gone from her dark past into this glorious- neither one of which was true, into this glorious brightness of kindness, compassion and love. But like the guy from Gander said about the Come From Away, what the fuck do they expect us to do? Let them starve to death? No, Newfoundlander would have written that play because it wouldn't seem like anything. Like people are in trouble. And what do you do? Like, everywhere, even in England, when they were being bombed, everybody came together to help each other. People who had nothing. Even in Toronto when the lights went out that time, like people were having barbecues on the street and sharing with their neighbors who didn't have- it's just what people, human beings do in times of trouble. And we forget about it because we live in places where we turn on and off the lights and turn up and down the heat and think we're in control of things and that we can depend on just ourselves, till the elevator stops working and you're on the 80th floor, of course. But you know what I mean? We forget who we are, I think. And so it was great. I love that show and everything and that it celebrates that. But I think that people who live closer to subsistence haven't forgotten that yet. And people who live in big cities and stuff forget that they're just like that too. That's what happened when the lights went out in Toronto.

It was a wonderful time.

Yeah. See, people are still talking about the Blitz in England. Oh, my God.

That's when I was born. We were all created when the lights went out. It's funny reading a lot about your- I haven't read your book. I should, because it sounds like novels are the place to be. And I now have time. I'm going to read it. Reading about your home. Like I grew up in this little itty bitty family. It was just me and my mom. You came from a huge family, but not so great.

Well, I grew up next door to my family, to my huge family. They lived at number seven Carters Hill, and I lived at number nine, Carters Hill with my two maiden aunt and uncle. Really, seriously, I'm 69 now. I'm just starting to get over that. I'm starting to move to the other side of that. It just would seem so ridiculous. And why was I- and at the same time, it was impossible to ask because you were always afraid the answer was going to be, because you were no good. At eight months old, we could tell. And so we gave you away and you couldn't really ask the people who are looking after you because it would seem so ungrateful to be asking those questions. So I never had the gall or the nerve to ask why, though my sister, who lies like a rug, said it was because mom really thought I could do better and stuff like that and that she did it, which I never saw my mother act that way at all. But I'm very close to my family now and I'm just so grateful. Like when he said my son there's just him, but he's got a step brother and a step sister. And also he has three other children from his birth family who he's never met. And so I'm thinking because as I've gotten older, I've gotten closer and closer to my family. And it's just such a you know, all the things like, I thought Newfoundland was terrible. I thought my family were terrible. All the things I was absolutely wrong about everything, apparently, as it turns out.

Yeah, everyone told me I came from a broken home. But like, I thought it was great. I was an only kid. Everything was wonderful. And then my mom, in their 30s, started dating this guy and he proposed and I was thinking, marriage, kids. I don't know, I got it pretty center of attention. But then she got old and got Alzheimer's and I was the only one to look after. It would have been nice. I'm so glad you're tight with your family.

Yeah, no, it's great. It's really good.

I have to throw in my two cents worth, because there's some- Mary. This is pretty funny. I actually was abandoned when I was twelve. My family moved to Toronto from Montreal and they put me in a convent boarding school. And I'm not sure why. I have three younger brothers and sisters and to this day my parents are both gone. And I once asked my mother why I was put away and she said it was to save my marriage, which confused the hell out of me because it was very close to my dad and I'll never get any true answers. That's for the psychiatrist couch. But let me tell you, reading your book about the nuns on the Hill that run your life and then running wild on Crescent Street? Hello. That's how I I was 15. We used to go drinking at a bar called Shade Jilly on Drummond Street, which was a lesbian bar. And I don't think any of us were acknowledged lesbians at the time or to ourselves or anything, but it was a safe place to go, strangely enough, because you didn't have that same fear of they'd hit on us, but they wouldn't penetrate us. I don't know. There was a sort of underlying understanding that these women aren't going to hurt you. So that was my experience, reading your book. Sure as hell wasn't yours. You had a rough time.

I didn't go to Montreal then. I mean, I went to Montreal later, but I didn't get to go to Expo. I didn't make it in the choir. A Sister Catherine noticed that it was me who was throwing the Altos off. And so I got caught. And then I never got knocked up either. It's the first book. So if there's things in there, like I didn't grow up with my mother and father and my brothers and sisters. My beginnings were very different and I didn't get to Crescent Street until I was working at CBC. I went to visit my friend in Montreal and she was in with this guy who was a pornographer. I was 18, but very young, 18. And like, everything you pick up, like I put it in the book, everything you picked up was like a penis. Going for the salt and pepper. It was like a naughty nun with her tits out. It was like, oh my God. Anyway. But that didn't happen to me. I didn't get to go to Expo.

But you both come from these tortured backgrounds with mothers and felt abandoned. And you're both funny so there's something there. So it's not just Newfoundlanders who go through a hard time and become funny. Like, you're kind of funny, too, Maureen. So I guess we're back to the, is everybody the same or is Newfoundland special?

There are very few funny people who come from absolutely well adjusted backgrounds. I mean, there may be a few. I don't know, Mary, do you know any?

No. I mean, look at Chris Rock. He had a terrible go round, right. Which is really so sad when you saw what happened the other night. And it just occurred to me just before we got on, like, I felt physically sick when I saw that happen. I really did. And I knew it was real. My husband said, oh, that's just part of the but I knew it was real because if you've ever been smacked, punched in the face, you know what's a punch in the face and what's a you know, you can tell I don't get sick when I see people being punched in the face on movies. But I knew this and my heart came right up in my throat and it really reminded me. I thought, wow. Like this guy who used to punch me in the face was my boyfriend for a while. And I was in the Dominion Drama Festival was kind of my first thing. And I guess I was about 17 or 18. And I was playing Magda Gorse's Lesbian Lover in a play called without any irony at All, Little boxes. And me and this guy, this abuser, were sitting at the Dominion drum official. They used to take everybody on tours of the beer things in the afternoon, the beer or whatever. And so everybody used to get pretty hands up. So he had gotten really loaded. And when he was loaded, that was the worst. And so someone was on stage, and then he started yelling at the person on stage, but he got taken out. I was so relieved. And so I got to sit there for the rest. It was only at the beginning of the night, and I think it must have been the awards. And they just took him right out of there and threw him out. And I thought, he can't get back in here. I'm going to be blamed for this, but he can't get back in here at me. And I'm safe for now. And I thought, wow, I hadn't thought of that the other night, and I hadn't thought of it in all these days that I've been talking about it and worried about it and just felt so overwhelmed by it and feel so sorry for Chris Rock. And I hadn't remembered that it was an award show, but that he had screamed, Shut up, fat lady, and then kept going on until the things came and got him. And Luckily, I think he took a few shots at them. And I just sat there looking straight ahead like praying, praying, praying. That they would get him out. So at least I could enjoy the rest of the award show, which I suppose they couldn't really take Will Smith out.

I think we're all on the same page here. Comedians shouldn't have to be punched or- that should not be an occupational hazard.

No.

I sort of wonder, though, Mary, like you said, that you were with a guy who punched you. I know women who have been in abusive marriages, and yet they're all like super fierce, strong, powerful, successful women. Like, why should women let all this shit happen? And then how do you make yourself fearless?

Well, I don't think women let all this shit happen, Wendy. I think that's the wrong question. I'm really sick of that question. And the other question I'm really sick of is why do women stay? First of all, the question is why would someone like Will Smith, who has hands like Ham hocks, hit five foot four, tiny with his hands behind his back, Chris Rock, because he figured he could get away with it. I bet he wouldn't hit Jason Momoa. And why women stay is because when women leave, that's when they're at their most danger, they get killed. So I think that's the wrong question.

Yes, I agree. I guess I'm coming at this because my good friend Anna Maria just has done this podcast about being married to some guy who almost killed her. And I'm just like the reaction to her has been so much like, you're so strong, you're so powerful. And yet we're all just people, right. And we all get into situations. And Sarah Pauly has written about how stuff happened with her and Jian Ghomeshi, and it is this whole, I guess, people's reaction, not so much my reaction, but my question might be bad.

So there are obviously people out there, most of the men, and I suppose there are some women, too, who feel just to try to be understanding, I guess, such rage and frustration. Chris Rock was on a podcast and he talked about how when he went to Brooklyn first from wherever they were from, he was bullied, unbearably every day. He used to get the shit kicked out of him every day. And one day he took a brick to school and he hit the bully with the brick and hit him and hit him. And at the end of it, he had beaten up this guy. And he thought, I will never, ever let myself get this angry ever again, right. And he never did. And that's why I guess he was- because the natural instinct, if somebody hits you, is to hit back whether you make connection or not. And I guess because he'd made that commitment to himself that he'd practice that all the time of never being that angry again, never letting himself go to that place.

It's fight or flight, though, isn't it, that's the immediate instinct is you're either going to back away or you're going to respond and to respond causes escalation.

I just find it really interesting that because, Mary, I see you as a really brave, strong person. And so reading about how you had to steel yourself for some of the Markdale Hunty things, I don't know, it's just like I see you as like, superwoman. And then reading that there's this little person inside going, oh my God, should I really do this? I just find it so interesting. And I guess that's how I linked it back to this idea of why all these super strong women, what are they doing with these men who are fucked up? But I guess we're all just fucked up. It's not why do you let things happen. It's that everybody is human. Right?

Well, women are brought up in a way where in my generation, anyway, where if you didn't have a fella, you were really not worth anything, right? It was absolutely necessary that you had a fella. So really, in my crowd, being one was just not acceptable at all. So that was the general social kind of thing at the time. And so I think that a lot of women come on, 50s Housewives, gobbling down Milltowns, living in the suburbs with the Aqua fridge and matching stove, just out of their minds with misery. I mean, I don't understand why you're even asking that question. Because why do women like, why is society built like this? Why does it keep going on? Why do women only make $0.70 for every dollar a man makes? Why are women told repeatedly that they're not as good, that they're no good, that they haven't contributed anything to art or culture or engineering or anything else? And it turns out that, of course, we've just been doing it all in the background. So I don't think the question of why, I think the answers are in neon lights out there as to why and why you might feel if you've had a lifetime of being in the Catholic Church. And I'm sure in the Christian Church generally, women were seen as vessels of sin, as the tempters, as Eve with the Apple, as Pandora with that box. So in our Judeo Christian culture, women have had a pretty bad name, so that some young woman growing up, this would become part of you. I mean, I'd have to be on milltowns myself all the time. Growing up, all through high school, I'd have to do acid just to not let that get in in some way, you know?

What are milltowns? Are they like valium?

They're valium. Yeah, they're old fashioned valium.

How did you psych yourself up? Sorry to get really tacky here, but I think you loathe Steven Harper. But you kissed him. Tell us about that.

What was that like? Were his lips cold?

Oh, yeah, I did that because- I don't know, because he was such a stick, you know what I mean? That was before he became Prime Minister. And became such an autocrat. But at that point, when he was running for the head of the- you know what I mean? He was against this and against that. And they're all against everything. And the hair that like somebody said he used to take it out of the fridge every morning and put it on, you know, like, what was that guy from the Munsters? Like, what's his name? Munster hair. And so I just thought I'd do it just because I would disturb that.

So was he hot when you kissed him? Like, was there something?

Think about it, Wendy.

I don't want to think about it.

Yeah, I know.

Are any politicians hot? I got to ask you about this. You've spent a fair amount of time around politicians by choice or by not. Is there anybody that you found, male, female, old, young, attractive?

Not really. Like, I really like Jean Chretien because he had a great sense of humor. He was very much at home with himself, you know what I mean? But here's an interesting story. John Cretin and Rick Mercer have the same experience. They both didn't want to go to school. He was with the Jesuits. So he was at a boarding school like you, Maureen, but Rick was at home with his mother. And there was a test or something that day for both of them. I mean, they were in different times and different places, but Rick pretended that he had appendicitis. Right. But Rick's mother was a nurse, and so she knew Rick was going in all the wrong spots. She made him get up and go to school. But at the boarding school, he actually had to go in and they put him out to give him surgery to get that appendix out when there was nothing wrong with his appendix at all. He just wanted to avoid the test. I think I got that right. I think he told me that story. Definitely I got it right about Rick. But I think he told me that story about having his appendix out.

Lawrence Martin wrote about that in his book about how he had to sit for law school or something. And he told his mum, no, I'm so sick. I've got this pain, and he must have pointed the right place or she didn't know. And he went and he had the surgery. I just think that's so amazing. It just shows how freaking pigheaded he is.

Yeah. So he's been through a lot. So I thought he was really interesting, and I just really enjoyed him.

Talk about a big family. There were like 19 kids or something like that, that lived- So his mother must have been pregnant from...

Oh, my God.

Yeah. No, I didn't find politicians too hot either, although apparently Stephen Harper and I went to- he told me that we went to public school together, and I couldn't remember. So I was at the age of like grade three. We were all like the same size. So I used to get in fights with boys. So I just hope it wasn't for that.

Honestly Wendy, everybody I know says they went to school with you. And I know a secret about Wendy.

Oh, no.

Yes, I know a few. But one of them was she was a cheerleader. She doesn't want anyone to know that. Why are you ashamed of that?

Because it's not who I want to be. I want to be like a Princess warrior. I want to be like Mary.

I would have been a cheerleader if I had any chance of getting on the cheerleading squad, even though it was Holy Heart of Mary, or Hearty Holt of Mary, as we used to call it. I would have done it. I mean, I just never did anything because I was afraid I would fail, really. One year I was the principal's favorite and our teacher in grade four and five, I was her favorite, too, I guess, because I grew up with two maiden aunts and uncle. I was precocious. Right.

Well, and hormones change everything. My grade seven, I was star of the school play in grade eight was like, don't look at me. Don't look at me, please. Just let me disappear.

Mary, when did you first know you were funny?

Well, you know, the thing is, everybody in Newfoundland is pretty funny. My family is very funny, in a very mean kind of way. It took me a long time to kind of break out of that. And they moved around the Bay when I was about eleven. So when I was twelve, I went and spent a couple of weeks with them, and they were all- my mother was very funny. Everybody was very funny. My little brother was very funny. Like, I was just trying to write a comedy routine about, how would they know when I was eight months old that I wasn't going to be funny? Was it my timing? Was it the material? But I do remember being there and telling what I thought was something funny. And then everybody kind of just...

You didn't land it. 

And then going back to whatever they were at. So I didn't really think I was funny. Neither did I really want to be funny. I wanted to be a journalist. Actually, by the time I got to the end of high school, I wasn't attending very much and stuff. And I didn't have the grades to go to Carlton, to journalism school.

But you kind of are a journalist.

Well, I know, This Hour Has 22 Minutes was the best job for me, because I wasn't a journalist. I could get to play one on TV, so that was good. 

The Women of Ill Repute.

So what do you watch now? Like, I used to love John Stewart, and now I watch his new show, and it's too serious.

I know.

So I don't know whether we want people to be comedians or journalists. And then Maureen and I are doing this thing where she's a comedian, I'm a journalist, and we're trying to work things out. Like, what's serious? What's funny? Can the two be melded? You kind of brought the two together.

I thought that whole question was brought to the floor at the Oscars. Alopecia is something that anybody who's bald has. It's not leprosy, you know what I mean? And I know that we say that somebody's pain is just as big as somebody else's pain, but it's not true, really. I guess, when you're being impaled, it's not the same as having a pimple. I mean, there are- relativity does really exist. And so to get hit for making a joke, I mean, I just don't know where comedy is. I just really don't know. And then for him to get a standing ovation. 

Oh, that's the worst. That was the worst to me.

It's just like, you just go, wow, will it be all right for people to make a joke? Like, Dave Chappelle has been saying that it isn't safe to make jokes anymore and all the cancel culture and stuff like that and other people have been saying, well, you can't make jokes about fat people, say, or you can't make jokes about- all those easy jokes you were riffing off before. You can't do that anymore. But now we come to a place where I think male pattern balding is huge. And that is Alopecia, you know what I mean? So I didn't know she had Alopecia. I thought when I looked at Jada, I thought, oh, my God, I love her hair. And it goes so well with that kind of Victorian dress she has on. It so beautiful. So how in the name of Christ would, I don't know, anybody else know? And even if they did know, what odds, you know what I mean? I think. That's what I think. So I don't know what's going to happen, really. Like, I guess things are weird right now. At the butt end of a plague, we had a global plague, and people have had to do things they didn't want to do. And they've been mad and angry, and there's been all this pent up just anger at everyone and everything. And so we see it play out even at the Oscars, like, it's just weird. So we're in a weird time, I think. But no doubt the pendulum will swing right back the other way in the same way it did against feminism when 13 year old girls were giving boys blow jobs and rainbow blow jobs. So all the girls wear different colored lipstick. And I remember my son was going to a Buddhist school at the time. And Miss Jane, who was the head teacher, had to take all the girls in grade eight and nine aside and say, sex is something that is for both parties, both a man and a woman. You're not supposed to just be providing pleasure. You're supposed to be getting pleasure. But the backlash had been so great, at that point, that everybody was going around with hardly anything on giving rainbow blow jobs. No doubt we're going to swing back from this, too. I hope that seems to be the way it goes.

I have to bring something up. I think this is a good time to do it. So, Mary, you impersonated Wendy.

I what?

You impersonated Wendy. You've made jokes, but you've impersonated her as well.

Yeah. You did this thing. I was on Undercurrents, and you did something about how I was a little fart in the wind and I was like, *gasp*.

A fart in the mid. Yeah. As Marg. I remember doing that. I remember. I said little Wendy Mesley, she's only as big as a fart in a mid, but I don't remember impersonating you.

Or maybe you didn't. Maybe she just made jokes about you.

Maybe Cathy impersonated you.

Cathy did. It was Cathy who did you.

Cathy is much more of an impersonator than me. I'm the person who called you the fart in the only the size of a fart in a mid. And Cathy must have impersonated you.

Yeah. No, I don't remember the impersonation. You made fun of me. And I was like, oh, no, Mary's making fun of me. I'm not as bad as Stephen Harper. And I should have been honored. Like, if you could do anything now, I would be like, Mary knows that I exist. It was so stupid.

I mean, comedians, good comedians, anyway. They don't kick down. They only kick up. You know what I mean? So it means that you're right there up there, like, being a part of our lives and an important part of our lives important enough so that we notice you. And especially people who impersonate other people, like, they notice you. They clock every move that you make, every word that you say. It is the greatest kind of like- because we all want to be seen. We all want to be known. That's what we long for from other people. And so being impersonated by someone means that somebody really has paid attention.

I know. No, I should have been grateful.

Well, you are now. Mary, you didn't marry until you were 52.

Was I 52 or was I 50?

Well, you didn't marry till later.

No, I was 50 because this is our 20th anniversary. Wait. I was born in 1952 and we got married in 2022, I think. So. I was 50, I think. But now how can this be our 20th? Because I'll be 70 in May, and we got married in August. So then I'll be- good God. Yeah. So we've been married 20 years.

So why?

I don't know. I love Don, and he's wonderful, but we have separate homes, and that really wasn't something that Don was interested in. He's an 18th century scholar and so very conservative in very many ways. Right? But really, I couldn't take it. I mean, really not Don. It was really me and my expectations of what a wife was, and what a wife should do, and being in charge. And I had a son who was 12, 13 at that time, and being in charge of the emotional temperature in the room and just trying to keep all the balls in the air. And I just couldn't. I mean, maybe stronger people, better people, people who weren't abandoned when they were eight months old, maybe they could do it. I couldn't. I mean, Don and I are still together. We spend every day, some part of every day together. We go on holidays together. We spend the weekends together. Of course, we haven't gone on any holidays in the last couple of years, but so it's really good. It's really worked out really well, for me anyway. And I think for Don, too, actually. Yeah. No, I have no idea why I got married. I mean, it just seems like that whole being brought up to think, you know, like I had already come round to going, Well, I am a spinster. What odds? I don't care. My son and I were living in Halifax. We had great friends. We had a great life. This Hour is 22 Minutes was going really well. I was happy as Larry. And then I met Don, and he wanted to get married. And I thought, I mean, I remember talking to Shirley Douglas and Shirley goes, Married? Oh, no, Darling. No. Move in together. Yes, certainly, but not married, Darling. And my sister saying to me, oh, my God, no. Married? Because her husband had died maybe five years. And she said, I have never been as happy since Johnny died, because now I can come home and I can lie down in the middle of the fucking stairs if I want to. And nobody to tell me any fucking different. You have gone from being somebody's child to somebody's wife to being somebody's like- That air that comes with being your own person. You can stop being the object of somebody else's desire and start being the subject of your own life. And there's a great freedom in that, and a great joy. Right?

I completely get it because I married young and that didn't work out. And then I married when I was older, and that's worked out much better. And he's much more sort of independent, or able to have a life without an adoring wife. But I sort of wonder about the- like, why do you care about somebody's expectations? I guess because you have to get along with somebody else as if you're going to live with them. Right? So it wasn't like wearing Saran Wrap or an apron.

I don't think I was caring about his expectations, though. They were there, too, because he'd grown up in a very traditional home. They weren't allowed to talk at the table unless they had something to say, you know what I mean? And the father was the doctor and the mother- they had been the first couple who had graduated as a married couple from McGill, and she had studied science of some sort. But basically she took care of the home and his office, did his books and things like that. Maybe she had an economics degree. I'm not sure, but he was very expectant of that too. But really, that wasn't what the problem was. The problem was my expectations of myself. Could I do this? How did I do this if I knew how to do it? If all these things were wrong with me, I could be in charge of the emotion. I could keep things happy. Wendy, again, it's not the question of somebody else's expectations. It's the question of the world's expectations and my embracing those expectations and then trying to do a really bang up job. A perfect job, in fact, being a perfect wife. without the Saran Wrap.

What's the Saran Wrap? You get naked and you wrap yourself in Saran Wrap. Oh, my God.

Yeah. In the Mad Men days, that's what you were supposed to do. You were supposed to greet your husband with a Martini wearing Saran Wrap.

That is such a confluence of domesticity and perversion. It's just so bizarre. Like leftovers.

I don't think there were leftovers involved, but, you know, to each his own.

I don't think you were allowed to serve leftovers.

Mary, I love you. It's a throwaway, but it's really funny. The three stages of womanhood, young, middle aged, and...

Oh, my God, Mary, you're looking good.

Mary, you're looking amazing. Are you happy?

Yes. I've got a lot of projects on the go. Like my natural state is resentment and rancor. You know what I mean? If I stop at all, I fall deeply into that. So I have to work against that all the time. But basically I am happy and I try to be grateful I spent all those years. I mean, that's why I felt so sorry for Chris Rocks, because I think a series of tumbling things, one of them being that you get hit a lot, you tend to think of yourself as a victim. And because looking back now, I realized that if I hadn't come out of the background that I'd come out of the first time he hit me. It's not like nobody said. I remember my sister's taking me aside and going, oh, no, if he hits you, that's the beginning of the end. Because once he's that mad that he hits you, he's going to be that mad again. And then what's he going to do? And I thought, no, he's not going to do that because he said he wasn't going to do it. So once you get into that place and once you get really afraid and fearful and terrified, it's hard then to not fall into that. Those little grooves have been neuroscience says that we grow those Helmers or whatever they are between our brain there, and then they're easy enough to fall down into if you get hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I never get hungry, by the way. Angry, not so much anymore. Not lonely, I got to say. And maybe it's because I grew up with those two maid aunts and uncle. I'm never as happy as when the day is over and I lock the door and I'm just alone. And I really like that. And I never realized because I always was so scared of being alone. I was always terrified of being alone, which I'm sure is why I got married and all those things. But now I love tired. I do get tired. And then I'll tell you, Wendy, my old why doesn't the CBC hire me? Why aren't I doing this thing on the CDC? I did all these shows on the CBC Tuesday night. They're all people that I hire first. Wednesday night, the same fucking thing. So I can go there very easily.

Hey, say anything you want about the CBC.

No, I'm not saying that I'm saying it. I'm saying these are the feelings that I have. And so I have to avoid them because what good are they to me, you know what I mean? Like, no good except to keep me in a place that I don't want to be an unhappy. And I have to say I am probably happier than I've ever been from the time when I can remember to now. I find these later years really good years. And they do say it's not just me that people get happier as they get older. There's a curve, right? You go sort of down in your forty s and fifty s, and then you start to go up. And that's not dependent on money or health. Now you may not be happy happy because maybe you were really miserable, but you are happier in your later years than you ever were. And I find that to be quite true.

For all of us.

Yeah. I think we can get the word out there about that, you know what I mean? Because people think, oh, old age is going to be so miserable. And certainly life is hard for sure. Hey, yeah.

I find that getting old is scary because things don't work the way they used to, but I just find my heart is open, my brain is open, and I have more time to be with the things that I love and care about and friends, like who knew? Who knew there were stars in the sky? Who knew there were friends? And anyway, I'm realizing all of this stuff, and maybe it's too bad to do that in your 60s. That's better late than never.

That's the way of everyone. It's not just you, Wendy. That's the way it goes. That's the human condition, right. And I was just saying that I had to use this cream from my mother area. And I said, oh, fuck it, I'm not going to do it. I don't really use that anymore anyway. And I was, like, horrified with myself. And I thought, oh, my God, what kind of thinking is this? And then I thought, well, maybe that's the way that the thousand tenderness is that life is like, as things aren't useful to you, you just forget about them. Like if you've got a frozen shoulder and then you start to think, oh, well, how much was I going to lift with that shoulder? And then you fall down, break your hip, then you're in a wheelchair and the whole bottom half is gone. And then sooner or later, there you are, dead, and you've gone to it bit by bit by bit, each thing being more accepting. You know what I mean? As you go along, well, there you go. Bye.

Sounds glorious. Not. No, thank you. I never think I'll be in a wheelchair, but I never thought I'd get old either.

It sounds fine. We're all in it together. This we're all in together. Nobody escapes it.

Yes, this we are definitely all in it together. Yeah. But I love that. The notion that acceptance has to that's why it's so great to get old in some way, too, because you are more accepting of life the way it really is. Right. Which involves death. And that's it like I used to always say my favorite aunt May- if aunt May dies, not when aunt May dies, if I should ever die, but as you get closer to it, and then each moment, like Wendy was talking about, becomes more precious in a way, and you get more enjoyment out of things because you still are learning. Like, I find I get quite cranky when I write, and so I'm very bad tempered when I write, so I try to avoid writing. And now I understand why I try to avoid writing because I get so bad tempered. And of course, I'm still at that childish phase where I kind of take it out on the people around me and I start talking to the woman I work with. Like, I already said that. I said that I wanted that to be like, who do I think I am? So I'm trying to learn how to be a decent human being and still write. I don't know if I'll ever get there, but work sometimes makes me quite bad tempered, so I don't want to retire or anything.

Happy medium. A little bit of work, a little bit of play.

Yeah.

A little bit of wine, some walks, some kite surfing if you're Wendy. You don't drink. Not anymore.

No. It'll be 30 years in October if I live that long.

Wow.

Yeah, I think I had enough. Like, I drank enough. Like, if you put it out over all the years, it'd be fine. I'd still have my quota of liquor.

I'm still working on it. So. Yeah. Mary, it's been so lovely to talk to you. I've got like a bazillion. More questions. I'm sure Maureen does, too, but.

Well, I just hope you'll come back. I want to thank you for doing this. It's been absolutely wonderful and also very educational. I think we now know what a rainbow blow job was. We might not have known that before.

They were all the rage for a while.

Yeah, so were pill parties. I told my daughter about, don't take the pills out of the bowl from all of the parents when you go to so and so's party. And she goes, mom, like, come on, that's like an urban myth.

Yeah, I think so. I never went to a pill party, but then I never gave or received.

Well, we didn't even have any pills, for Christ's sakes.

Right? We had Milltowns.

I would have definitely, if they were on offer.

Well, on that note, Mary, thank you so much. Would you come back if we asked you?

Absolutely. You guys, so great to see you. Good to see you, Wendy. I miss you on CBC. I really do. Honestly, I'm not saying this. I just miss you. Like, you were a great presence there, and I feel like you were there my whole life, but I know you weren't. And then I never can make that joke over.

Like the fart in The Mist.

I am the size of three regular sized Canadian actresses. Cynthia Dale, I forget Sheila McCarthy. And still room right here to squat in little Wendy Mesley. But that might be awkward where Wendy and Cynthia both banged Peter Manny. Oh, that toxic little triangle.

I wonder you're saving all this for the end.

Yeah. No, it was a sad time. I didn't leave the way I wanted to leave, that's for sure. But it doesn't sound like you did either. But anyway, lots of great times, and you were there and you did your stuff, and so did I, and we're both proud of most of it.

I have lots more stuff. Like my therapist goes, but look at all the people who you helped to get there. I go, well, fuck them. Yeah, I'm really glad they got a series, but Where's my fucking series? You got a decade. I know I'm supposed to be bigger. My heart is supposed to be bigger than that. I'm supposed to be a bigger person. But maybe by the time I'm 80.

You'Ll have a series on CDC and we'll be watching.

No, I'll be a bigger person.

Love you, Mary.

Okay, guys, take care.

Bye bye.

Bye, Mary.

Thank you.

She was great. Yeah, we had another little fight, but I think she said some really. It was kind of like my chat with John Stewart where I was pushing, and he goes, no, you're full of it. But then talked about such meaningful things. So I'm glad when you asked whether she was happy or not. I just find it so interesting that all of us, even whatever age we are, like her at 80, or whatever, just trying to sort of figure out how to be brave, how to be fearless, how to be angry at things that make you angry. And yet to be a good, decent person. She's special.

She struck me. I love her. I love her fearlessness and how comfortable she is in her own skin. I found that she had a very tender approach to you, Wendy. I don't know if you picked up on that. I think she loves you. You probably don't know each other particularly well. I mean, I feel the same way. I was really sad to see you go, but maybe you'll always be my friend, but I really sensed from her a tremendous tenderness towards you. And she schooled you a couple of times and wasn't afraid to do that.

Now, which I think is great. That's what I love about her, and that I miss in the world that we live right now, that people can't just say, no, I disagree, or you hurt my feelings, and then the other person learns from that, and then they come together like you and I have arguments sometimes. We work them out. Not everyone is a twin, and we have to keep learning from each other. And I wish she did have a series, because there's not a lot that I watch on mainstream television anymore. But I watch whatever she did because she's got so much to say.

Never say never. She does look really good, Mary. She looks great. She sounds great. She's totally with it. She's funny as hell. Also something that a lot of people may not know about. Mary Walsh. She's quite an intellectual. I mean, she's run book clubs. She's a real patron of the arts. Her husband's a PhD. What did she say? An 18th century scholar?

Yeah. No, I was going to ask her, so who's smarter? He's like the PhD scholar and your comedian like, who's smarter? Because I read something where he said, well, she's way smarter. She's written three books, and they're all got way more in them than I could ever teach, and that they live separately, too.

That's interesting.

Yeah. We got into an argument about how she could be with somebody who would hit her, which I just think is so fascinating because women, including my friend Anna Maria, who I've known since Ottawa 1000 years ago, is writing now about how she married a guy who almost killed her. It's fascinating that women like Mary has always been open, but a lot of women are strong, powerful women who are not afraid of anything have been made to be afraid. So I find that really interesting.

Well, I mean, too, just to her point was that it's as much it's a social thing. And yeah, I get how she reacted. Why did she stay? We're lucky that we've never been in that position, and as such, we probably can't even begin to fathom why that happens. But she's been through it all. Alcoholism, abuse, abandonment. And as a result, I would argue is funny as hell and incredibly warm. And I just feel nourished, I feel that Mary Walsh is like an angel. Like a Guardian Angel almost.

It sounds so silly that I had my heart broken when she made fun of me, but it was good Mary Walsh. I love her. I love her so. I still love her.

Well, we'll have to get Kathy Jones on and get her to impersonate you to your face.

I'm not sure that ever happened. I should have corrected it wasn't really an impersonation.

So we'll have to know that was my fault. It was Kathy. I do remember Kathy Jones doing an impersonation of you and Peter man's bridge. Your former husband doing the election return right after your divorce and I thought it was pretty funny. She played a very pissed off Wendy Vesley. So, anyway, comedy always has a target and sometimes for better or for worse, and as you pointed out, it's kind of an honor to be a target by good comedians.

Oh, Gee, I didn't watch that. There's a few things I didn't watch.

She was fun. And now we know what a rainbow blow chop is.

Yeah, following all of the time. Well, I probably kind of did. But anyway.

The women of ill repute.

With Wendy, Mesley and Maureen Holloway available on Apple podcasts, Spotify Google podcasts or@womenofillrepute.com.