Even though I have been doing comedy since May 25th, 2009, I fell in love with the game March 31st, 2013. The place: Yuk Yuks. The show: Kenny Robinson’s legendary Nubian Night. The City: Toronto. That shit, Nubian Night in Toronto, is the mecca of comedy and Hip-Hop in Canada. I love Toronto. This is the city where Maestro Fresh put out a banger letting American’s know Canadians can spit too. This is the city “Northern Touch” was talking about and all of Canada was going crazy. Please, this is the home of the champ: Drizzy Drake. It’s fucked up to think one of the leaders of the new school grew up in the city I’m trying to come up in. Growing up, I remember listing my Top Five: Scarface, 2Pac, Biggie, Nas and Jay-Z (no Canadians!) Not once did I think Hip-Hop would get better than these legends and their generation. The emcees I grew up on were so monumental because they surpassed the greats who came before them; before my Top Five, everybody’s Top Five was more or less Kool G Rap, Slick Rick, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and Rakim Allah (still no Canadians;) these greats where the forefathers of the culture and they came from the greatest era: The Golden-Age of Hip-Hop.There was no getting better than this, but Jigga, Nas and them proved the world wrong.
After my top 5 surpassed these Golden-Age gods of the mic, every Hip-Hop head, including myself, legitimately thought this rap shit was over; there was no surpassing this! We were going to die like Rock did! We were wrong. The 2000’s looked bleak for Hip-Hop. Even though Kanye West was changing the game with classic albums, Slum Village was making noise and Jay-Z and Nas were still delivering, the rest of Hip-Hop, for the most part, was garbage! Doomsday was approaching quickly. I lost all hope when kids younger than me would tell me the greatest rappers alive were 50 Cent and Lil’ Wayne. They were alright at best. I’ll give Wayne a bit more credit, though. At least he could spit! It wasn’t until I started hearing mix-tapes from A.S.A.P. Rocky, The Black Hippy Crew, J.Cole and Drake when I started changing my mind. Not only did I change my mind, I fell in love with the music again. I was always in love with the culture, that’s what the old school is for, but the music from the 2000’s was killing my vibe. Thank God these dudes, who are mostly my age, came out and did their thing independently because the mainstream clearly wasn’t listening. Although it’s too early to list you my Top 5, I will tell you these emcees, in no particular order, have definitely surpassed the greats I once deemed unbeatable: Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul, Big K.R.I.T., J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and the Toronto-bred Drizzy Drake. If you would’ve told me a decade ago one of the top-tier Emcees of the New Golden-Age of Hip-Hop would be Canadian, I would’ve politely told you to suck my dick. That’s right. I said it: We are living in the New Golden-Age of Hip-Hop and a Canadian is a heavy contender in it. No one can ever take Hip-Hop away from Canada again and it’s all thanks to Drake.
Even more so than Hip-Hop, Toronto is the metropolis where the art of stand-up comedy roars. I remember picking up a mic in Calgary, Alberta and not knowing a thing about the game. All I knew: I was going to be the greatest and I was sure my shitty Michael Jackson joke would take me to the top. But I had no idea Canada was a land filled with monstrous, talented as fuck comics. The only greats I knew were the Americans I grew up watching: Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence, and Eddie Murphy. And then I became obsessed with the guys who made my favorite guys love to do it: Richard Pryor, Freddie Prinze, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Robin Williams, the list goes on. I was like: “I’m gonna become the Latino/Canadian of all these dudes! Essentially, I was finna’ become the Drake of comedy! Obviously, that shit never happened. There’s too many Drakes in this game, and compared to them, I’m more like Soulja Boy. When I first got in the game, I was schooled by Alberta’s road comics and the lessons were dope but I still thought I was Drake. Even though I was thankful to these veterans, I legitimately thought I was better than them no matter how much more experience they had than me. I felt things were owed to me because I thought I was funny. If Yuk Yuks or Comedy Monday Night (Canada’s best open mic) didn’t give me any stage time, I created my own shows and productions. They were fucking horrible. My ambition was there but there was no quality to back it. Me and my boys even created our own movement known as Friends and Gangsters (F.A.G.) But we were mostly known as The Puppy Bowl Crew. We were wreckless comedians who drank beer out of bowls, pissed off waitresses and took our shirts off for the fuck it. I do not regret any of this; although, I do wish I had done it all sober. I met some of my best friends during this period of my life and that will never change. One day, there will be a Puppy Bowl Crew movie. I assure you.
Despite the the fun I was having, I needed my ego to be crushed and left for dead. If I would’ve made the move to Toronto with the attitude I had in Alberta, I would’ve been demolished by the city’s elite. Worse than my arrogance, my alcoholism was off the charts. I didn’t realize how deep in the bottle I was because I was in denial. I was burning bridges left and right and making an embarrassment of myself. There was a point I almost quit because I was fed up with everybody not getting me. Even The Puppy Bowl Crew thought I was going crazy. I didn’t want to be a fucking, Latino comedian from Canada anymore. I didn’t want to talk about Tim Horton’s or any of that shit. It wasn’t me. Since the day I heard my sister playing Dr. Dre’s The Chronic in the basement when my parent’s weren’t home, I knew my culture was Hip-Hop. I wanted to be Canada’s Hip-Hop representative. I was angry because Canada, especially in comedy, especially in Calgary, was lacking in all things Hip-Hop. I said, “fuck jokes and all that punchline shit!” I just wanted to go up there and be Hip-Hop. I tried so hard doing that shit on stage but it wasn’t working. And being the unmanageable, alcoholic that I am, my only answer was to quit. It wasn’t until I met Toronto comedian Dave Merheje when it all changed. This guy, who was touring across Canada for the first time, would just go up there and expose his life and anxieties, but with a Hip-Hop twist that was so beautiful. It was like watching Richard Pryor if he had grown up listening to N.W.A. and Run D.M.C. I was jealous. This mutha fucka was mastering what I wanted to do this entire time! Despite my jealousy, he also excited my love for comedy again: I made it my goal to be Hip-Hop; I made it my goal to be Dave. The only thing holding me back was my ego and my irresponsible habit with drinking.
There was even a time I got to go on the road with the boy Dave and one of my best friends and fellow Puppy Bowl Crew member, Doug Mutai. We were in Grand Prairie, Alberta, and I ate a dick! My boy Doug Mutai went up there and crushed it! Dave went up there and demolished that crowd. At the time, I was already hitting AA meetings so I was trying to sober up. But me bombing, especially in front of Dave, triggered me to go back to the bottle. Before I went back to my hotel, Dave gave me some advice I carry with me to this day. He told me not to be so hard on myself and to have fun. He told me he understood what I was trying to do up there and to never quit even though I was having trouble figuring it out. He told me to trust myself. All the things he was saying were true but my mind was already made up: I was going to drink. I was sharing a room with the homie Doug. I waited for Doug to go to sleep so I could go out for a few drinks. This mutha fucka took forever to fall asleep, though, and I was ready to snap. When he finally started snoring, I went into my luggage and pulled out two warm Heinekens I had packed, right next to my Big Book (The Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.) Before I had quit drinking, I dumped all the liquor in my house, except those two Heinekens. I figured I would save them for Grand Prairie and surprise Dave and Doug with them. Retarted! Anyways, I chugged both warm ass beers and went out into the town for a few drinks. The next day, I woke up in the drunk tank and Dave and Doug had no idea where I was. They were both forced to leave without me because they both had shows in Calgary and had to leave early in the morning. When I was released from the drunk tank, I continued to drink. I had no money. I went back to the hotel to grab my luggage and that’s where I learned they had left back to Calgary. I was devastated and filled with remorse and shame. I remember bar hopping and running out on each of my bills. Then I came to from my blackout at some random house party and I was dancing to Ludacris with my shirt off: classic Marito! I remember walking out of the house party and calling my Mom to ask her for some money. That woman trusts me and has my back like nobody else on this Earth. I lied to her and told her I picked up another show and that’s why I wasn’t home yet. I told her I would use the money to take a Greyhound home the next day. She believed me. The next day I woke up in the hospital; in the fucking hospital! Long story short, eventually my Mom found out what had really happened. Everybody found out what happened. Even comedians in Toronto heard about the mess I was. Long story short: I made it home. But as far as my comedy career was concerned, at least for the time being, was over. I went to rehab and took a long time away from the game. But I needed it. I was hopeless.
To Be Continued…
Written By: Marito Lopez