Gary Jones – Chief Mst Sgt. Walter Harriman from Stargate!
Today Jeff gets to sit down and chat with Chief Mst Sgt. Walter Harriman from Stargate himself, Mr. Gary Jones in an epic two part interview!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Ardus
Gary Jones Part 1 video interview
Jeff: [00:00:00] Hello listeners. Let’s put our country today on the show. We have a very special guest, Mr. Gary Jones. How’s it going, sir?
Gary Jones: Awesome.
Jeff: It’s a great pleasure to have you I’ve been a fan of star gate for a very long time. It’s I mean, the show has been on, I guess, a year. Was it almost a. 20 something years ago. And I’ve been a fan for it ever since.
Gary Jones: Yeah. Yeah. 1995. It came on Jeff. It’s a, it’s a pleasure for me to be on the show. And you’re one of my favorite people to cancel constantly on,
Jeff: you know, other guests are to be like, you know what, screw it. We’re not going to do this. But for Gary Jones, I was like, you know what? We’re going to make this happen. You can cancel on me. The thousands time we are making this happen. Oh, my God. It was an honor to be, to be canceled on by you.
Gary Jones: Yeah. Yeah.
That’s kind of how I was hoping. You’d think about it. Like, oh my God. Guess who canceled me again?
He still wants to do [00:01:00] the show.
Jeff: What the hell? See, that’s the sign of a true fan. I’m thinking myself, you know what? It’s worth it. Anybody else? Like I said, I’d be like, screw them. But for Gary Jones, And this was the 50th time. I’d be like, you know what? Give me 10 minutes with Gary Jones. I’ll take the interview.
Gary Jones: Sounds
Jeff: good. So when did the acting bug first hit you? What did you do remember a moment when you were like, this is what my life is going to be. I’m going to be an actor.
Gary Jones: Oh my God, this no, the, the I, what acting did I do as a, as a kid, one time in a, in a, in a school variety show they said, oh, we need we need some kind of funny comedy thing.
And and I put my hand up and I said, I’ll. I said, I’ll write a comedy. And I did something akin to this famous Yeah, pianist, who was also commuting Viktor Borgia, who did, he was, he could actually play piano, but he all, he did all these like hilarious, like, physical [00:02:00] comedy around the piano.
And so I did something like that. This was back in the day when I was at, I don’t know, it was like, I was a grade six or something like that. And I went home and I found a piece of classical music that I sort of listened to over and over and over again and kind of memorized. And then I, and then I kind of broke it down into what I thought would the, what the physicality that I could do around these different parts of the, of the piece.
And then I performed it in front of an audience with my back to them at a piano where I wasn’t playing, but I was just pretending to play. And my parents were stunned. They had no idea what I was, what they were about to see. They knew that I was listening to this piece of music over and over again.
And they were like, oh, okay. It’s kind of bugging us, but whatever. Yeah. And then when they saw the final product, they were like, Oh, my God. So you were rehearsing and I was rehearsing it all my head because they didn’t have a [00:03:00] few, we didn’t have a piano. So I was just thinking all, come in at this bit.
And then I’ll, then I’ll sort of do this here and then I’ll wait here. And then I’ll, I just marked it out as you would, as any, I guess physical comedian would do. But I didn’t realize kind of what I was doing. You know what I mean? I just, it just seemed to make sense to me is that that’s how you break it down.
And after that, nothing after that great sex, nothing, I didn’t do any any acting. I didn’t go to drama, school, nothing. And cut to me. I was around I dunno, maybe 27. So yeah, many years later and I was living in In Toronto. And I was working in the field of advertising. I was like a, a designer and a copywriter working for a small agency.
I’d gone to school for that. I graduated with a, you know, an advertising diploma and I was working in that field and I was quite happy doing that. It was very creative and fun and [00:04:00] everything. And then and then I, one day I just saw a small advertisement for improv comedy. And I, as soon as I read that this, you know, it was like one of those things where people talk about that little voice inside your head.
I was like, I have to do this. I have to do this. And so I called up a buddy of mine and I said, Hey, you know, come and do improv comedy with me. Yeah.
Jeff: Well, I think I lost you for a moment.
I think you’re frozen.
Gary Jones: Oh, yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. I lost you for about the last about 10 seconds.
Gary Jones: Okay. Am I still frozen? Nope, you’re doing good now. Okay. Anyway, I’ll just back up. So, I was working in advertising and then I. I just saw this ad for improv comedy. I called up a buddy of mine, said, Hey, do you want to do this with me? [00:05:00] And we D we, neither of us really knew what it was, but we thought let’s give it a try.
And so we did. And I ended up getting hired by second city theater, which is that famous you know, started in Chicago and moved to Toronto. And I worked for second city for two years. And then I moved to Vancouver to perform at expo 86. So this is a long time ago, eight, 1986. And as soon as the, so I worked at the fair for like six months.
And then as soon as the fair was over they, you know, everybody went back to wherever they went and I just stayed in Vancouver and stayed here and worked here. So. That’s kind of how it happened. But I did back in Ontario when I was, when I got hired by second city to sort of do corporate events with their touring company.
And I was doing that on weekends and also working at my nine to five job at the agency. And we went on tour. They booked a tour and we toured from Toronto to [00:06:00] Winnipeg. And when I came back from that tour, I just walked into my boss’s office and I said, I have to quit because I’ve kind of found my tribe.
Like, this is what I need to be doing. And he was bummed out, but he went okay, well, you know, and so I quit. So when people say in the, you know, when you’re, when you’re talking about like, Getting into performing or singing or any kind of, any of the arts people. You know, the classic thing is don’t quit your day job, but I did actually quit my day job.
Jeff: That’s pretty ballsy. I mean, w was there any part of your back of your mind going, oh shit. What did I just do to myself?
Gary Jones: No, I was too enamored with the whole, you know, it was, it was as if a curtain had been pulled back. And I was like, what is this life? What is beyond what is like, I didn’t even, it was like almost straight, easily enough, like walking into a parallel universe where there was another kind of way of living that [00:07:00] I had no idea existed until I, until I started hanging around with these people and realized, wait a sec, these people are actually making a living.
And kind of living this sort of Bohemian life. I just, it just appealed to me so much. It was like, oh my God, I just didn’t know how you know, because you saw people on TV. And I remember one time going to a stand-up comedy show in Hamilton, Ontario with my parents and some friends and just. Killing myself laughing.
I think the comedian was, there was probably just your average comedian, you know, but I, how I was like, what is this, what the hell is this? And but even that didn’t give me the bug enough to, to go do it. But once I joined second city and started touring and doing, you know, driving in the van, setting up the stage, putting all the props backstage [00:08:00] and, you know, it was like, it was like a modern version of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney is like, yeah, Hey, we can perform in the barn.
My mom can make costumes. Yeah, let’s do it. Come on. We raised money for the farm. You know, it was like, it was like that. It was very, hands-on very that’s kind of what people that’s, that’s just what we did. And and it was, it was really quite wonderful. I, I just loved the whole vibe of it and I, and I also, but more than anything, I think I love the people that I met and worked with.
They were a breed apart. They were a breed apart.
Jeff: So, what did your parents say when you said, Hey, this advertising gig, I’m going to quit doing that. I’m going to go totally through improper. They’re like, that’s a smart movie where they’re like, what the hell were you thinking?
Gary Jones: They didn’t quite, they didn’t quite understand it.
You know, I have to say I went through a bunch of stuff back then. I was married at the time. My, my wife at the time [00:09:00] had gotten into a car accident. She couldn’t work. She couldn’t work. And I was like, not making much, it was like, hello, welcome to the arts. I wasn’t making much. And I thought to myself, okay, I, I have to quit this second city.
I have to quit it because it’s just, you know, it’s not paying the bills anywhere near. And my wife, man, you know, I, it warms my heart to think that. She basically said no, no matter what, I don’t care how injured I am. You cannot quit doing this because this is what you’re meant to be doing. And to their credit, our parents picked it kicked in and, and kind of helped pay our mortgage.
And and I just kept working at what I was doing. And so, you know, Everybody in the business. Lots of people have stories like that. I mean, but I mean, mine was from back in the mid eighties, you know, where you know, [00:10:00] there was no social media or anything like that where you could, I don’t know. It was a very, it was a very different sort of hands-on one show at a time you built your career, like one show at a time.
You couldn’t just get on social media and sort of reach like a million people instantly. You know, he couldn’t go on Twitter and, you know, do any of those things. It was literally like you show up, you put the sat in place, you get the props, you set your costumes backstage. And you see the running order and you go through it in your head and you run lines.
And it was very, very hands-on kind of you know, it was like, it was like, it was like being like Amish farmers, as opposed to like high-tech you know, modern farming, very, very hands-on. And I think that just went in that just kind of went into my bones and and it really, really sunk in and establish something.
Cause it was not. It just didn’t have a temporary field to it. You know, like looking back over my career, [00:11:00] such as it is. I would say that, that these things went in my bones and they, they became part of me as opposed to something quick and easy and convenient. So
Jeff: you were also in mission and probable, was that before or after second city?
Gary Jones: Oh, God missioning probable with Roman Danilo. Yes. Yeah, that was just a. That was just, that’s just like one of those offshoot things. That’s just to me, enrollment going, Hey, we work well together. Why don’t we do like a corporate why don’t we do a corporate thing where we do corporate improv and and so we did, we did We did those kinds of things.
Measuring Bravo was like a blip on my, on my trajectory of, of anything I’ve done. But I will tell you one, one kind of amazing thing that came out of mission and probables working with Roma Danilo. Who’s one of my dearest friends and like a hilarious guy. He and I. Got hired to perform on the, on the, on the new year’s Eve of the millennium.
[00:12:00] So clicking over from 1999 to 2000, that new year’s Eve, we were in the home of bill and Melinda gates. Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah. That was pretty cool. That’s a nice gig. It was a great game. And you know, what’s funny. It was like the people that were booking us. I remember they said to us, this was well before new year’s.
I think it was probably around like October, September, October, and they came to us and he said, are you up for doing any new years, gigs and Rowan? And I both knew what it was like. It was like usually new year’s gigs are the crappiest gigs to do you get paid or you get paid a bit more, but the people are always hammered.
You know? You’re like, oh no. So we said, we said, no, At first and she goes, okay, you should like, definitely you don’t, you don’t want to be considered for any gigs. And I said, well, if they pay us, like, 2,500 bucks each. Oh wow. Back in 1999, that was a ginormous amount. So what [00:13:00] I actually did was I tried to price us out of the market so that we didn’t have to work.
Cause I go, who’s going to pay us 5,000 bucks. Who’s going to be reenrollment five grand to, to do, to do an improv show, you know, on the next thing. And oh, she calls her, she goes, well, I have a client. I was like, You have to be kidding me. And she goes, yup. But you have to sign a NDA. And I was like, oh my God.
And then she finally told us that it was that it was a Melinda gates. And bill gates said, had seen somebody had shown them a video of a, of, and I, and they were like, yeah, let’s hire those guys. Yeah. Oh, wow. We went down to, we went down to Redmond, Washington where the where’s houses. And we bet we met with his wife, you know, sort of talking about what we would do and you know, where we would perform or whatever.
And, and then next thing I know we’re staying in a hotel, you know, getting picked up and normally Roman and I would [00:14:00] do a, like a 40 minute show. Right. And ending in us. Doing like a day in the life of bill gates, we would improvise a day in the life of bill gates working at Microsoft and and just improvise it.
Right. Yeah. And and, and so, and so, his, his right-hand man at the time, I don’t know if he still is no. Anyway, Steve Balmer. Who’s like this kind of like, oh my God. Okay. Go team, go. Whoa. He’s that guy? Yeah. Still like bill gates was like very super soft spoken and and Roman goes, okay, so I’ll play bill gates, you play Steve Balmer.
And then we’ll just, we’ll just kind of riff and, you know, make it up as we go along. And I’m like, great. Awesome. It’ll be super fun. So, So we’re sitting, waiting to do the show and they come in and they say, ah, yeah, we’re running a little bit late, running a bit late. Could you do like half an hour instead of 40 minutes?
And we go, oh, okay. Yeah, yeah. We can do half an hour. Yeah, no problem. No problem. They come back shortly after that and they go, yeah, [00:15:00] we’re still running late. Can you do 20 minutes? Yeah, but you know, 20 minutes is not. It’s not the best, but I suppose they come back later and they go, can you do 10 minutes?
Oh, wow. And we go, no, we’re not doing 10 minutes because that’s not anything. And they were like, oh, oh, okay. Okay. Okay. So we’ll do 20 Matt, you know, like minimum, but literally for five grand, they would have taken 25. They were taking, taken a 10 minutes. That’s awesome. My God. And when, and when we showed up at his compound, it’s so funny where he lives, where he lives.
I mean, if you’ve seen shots of like, Of all these compounds, you know, an aerial shot of his compound. It’s like ginormous, right, right. On the shore of lake Washington, when you’re driving to his compound, he’s at the end of the street, the end of the street. And we’re in this limo, we get picked up in this limo and we’re driving along to his house and we come down [00:16:00] this street and I’m like, where’s this house?
Where’s this house. And the guy goes, oh yeah, you see that giant wooden, like Cedar gate. That’s like cut into the rock at the end of the street. It’s beyond that. So we’re like, we’re like, oh, okay.
We go we go oh, okay. And and as we’re driving by, I’m looking at all the other houses. On the, on the street and there’s guys like with a car port and an old Volvo in there, and it’s like a regular kind of slightly beat up neighborhood, you know, like, you know, it’s nice. It’s kind of high-end and everything, but I mean, but it just looks totally regular.
And then we get to this big Cedar door and it’s like, and it was right out of James Bond. This massive gate goes into the rock. And then we drive in and then there’s a, there’s a guy in a guard hut and he comes over and they’ve all got like, they’ve all got like, you know, teen gates golf shirts on.
And and, and the [00:17:00] guy says to the driver, he goes, who you got in the back there? And the driver just goes, I got the comedians. Okay. The comedians are here. Okay. No names. Th that nobody says, hi, just go gate comedians. You’re here. All right. I’ll just let them know. The comedians are here and he parks the car and the driver gets out and he’s got like one of those walkie talkie, Mike.
He was a little microphones in his car. Oh, yeah. It’s like, it’s like, you know, it’s like, I want a doctor. No, and he’s talking his cuff as he’s walking, he came with us. He goes traveling. I’m traveling with the comedians. Yup. We’re traveling with the comedians to the kitchen area, meet us at the kitchen area.
I’ll be there with the comedians, Roland and I were just killing ourselves laughing. And then we just did a show for bill gates.
Jeff: When I can’t have a wonder is it seems like it would take an enormous amount of guts to. Have a show where you’re playing the host in a comedy skit. I mean, how, how careful was the line between [00:18:00] laughing with him and laughing at him while doing an improv for
Gary Jones: him?
We totally made fun of him. Like totally made fun of him. And we just like totally made fun of Steve Balmer. And we just like rake them over the coals and they loved it. They just kept because that’s the other thing, nobody does that. Nobody goes only God, you can’t make fun of bill gates who were like yeah, just watch the show.
And we just like, kind of, you know, we, we, we totally poke fun at him and about his wealth and about Microsoft and, you know, the laptops and everything like that. We just like went to town on the guidance. Oh, wow. That’s
Gary Jones: Well, I mean, that’s what we did is like, we’re not going to do anything less than that.
We’re like, well, okay. For us, it was more like, if you give us a really great target or a client or we’re going, what, how far can we go? Like, how much fun can we have with [00:19:00] this? So that was like, that was my attitude with Roman. And that was his, that was both our attitudes. Like we’re going to just like, have a total laugh with this.
Jeff: Well, when you, when you are doing improv, can you be a good improvisational comedian within a bad group, or is it ness or does it necessitate a good group for any one individual to be good at it?
Gary Jones: You made a good group. I mean, a group that you’re performing for groups that you’re performing
Jeff: with performing with.
So like, are you, can, does it take a team effort for any one of them, of you to shine or, or is it able to be good on your own? Even if you’re improperly, but you’re playing with
Gary Jones: are not very good. No, that, that, that’s not the optimum one. Like it like. You want the people that you’re, you want the people that you’re being that you’re performing with to be, to be at least as good as you or better, because if they’re better, you kind of raise your [00:20:00] game.
If they’re as good as you, then at least, you know, that you’re not going to die. But if you’re performing with people who are less experienced or that you don’t know. Or have a different sense of humor then you’re, it’s kind of like you’re working stuff out on stage that you need to work out off stage because the guy, the people that I worked with, all the, all the people that I improvise really, really well with are people that when I’m just coming up through Vancouver it’s eater, spoils.
In the nineties we would hang out together. We would go for dinner together. We’d go to movies and we just became friends. And then, and then there was nothing better than being on stage and improvising with one of your best friends. Cause because you, you then kind of knew each other’s rhythms. You, you, you knew, you sort of knew what to expect, even though they could surprise you, but they all.
We’re confident. You know, you know, they, they, none of them were [00:21:00] shrinking violets and and it was like a kind of a powerhouse group of people that that, that I shared the stage with. And and, and to this day, I’m friends with them, like, Thirty-five years later, like really good friends.
Jeff: But when you w when you are doing impro, how do you see, what would it make me the most nervous is failure.
Like not being, not having your jokes, not land. How do you overcome that when you’re doing
Gary Jones: well? First of all, after if you’re any good at it, you have to, you have to accept that. First of all. Over over a long course of time, you’re going to get good at being funny. You know, like if you have a, if you have a propensity for doing improv, all you need to do to is really the nuts and bolts of the rules of what makes a good scene.
You know, you got to have a who, a lot in aware, and then you come in with YouTube, you pick a character. And you [00:22:00] decide what your status is. Like, all those things, all those nuts and bolts things you can learn. And that’s, and I’ve done it when I teach improv. But what you cannot teach is a kind of an X factor thing that make that where somebody is inherently funny.
If you take somebody who’s inherently funny and then you teach them the nuts and bolts of improv, then you’ve got like, then you’ve got somebody that’s just like, you know, untouchable, like Colin mockery. Came from Vancouver theater sports. So whose line is it? Anyway? Call-in is Canadian. And then the other guy, the guy that I, that his partner that you see a lot, see him a lot within whose whose line is Ryan styles?
The tall guy. Yeah. Ryan was in the second city show Trip that I was in an expo. So I performed with Ryan for like six months. And Ryan was just one of those guys who could walk on stage, say nothing and get laughs. He was just one of those guys. And, and, and it becomes, it becomes really [00:23:00] evident like who, it just, you know, it separates the wheat from the chaff kind of thing.
You go, oh, Well, this is a no brainer. If I’m in a scene with Ryan, it’s going to be funny, you know, but if it’s in a, if I’m in a scene with somebody else, I’m going to have to work hard because then I’m making up for them kind of thing, you know? But what you just said earlier about failure, the first thing I teach when I teach improv is like, get used to failing, get used to dying on stage and get used to getting humiliated.
If you’re not. If you’re not prepared to get used to that don’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. So, because it’s a, if there’s a long learning curve and it involves those three things, so. So,
Jeff: what do you do when you noticed that? What you’re performing isn’t landing, do you stop and move on to something else?
Do you keep just running with it and try to work it out?
Gary Jones: The thing is if, if you’re a seasoned [00:24:00] improviser, none of that, none of that stuff bothers you. You can, you can comment on it. You can actually take a moment to go, okay, well, this seems not working, obviously, you know, like yeah. You know, because nothing bothers you.
I remember. I’ve told I’ve told other people that the turning point, I can’t remember when it exactly happened, but the turning point for me in performing improv was even though I would be considered to be a good improviser and somebody that people wanted to perform with the turning point for me was when.
I suddenly realized that I’m not going to care anymore about whether or not I die on stage. I care about the audience response. I want to give them a good show. I care about my fellow performers and I care about what I, what I bring to the stage. I do care about that, but the results of the scene and whether or not the scene lives or dies, I don’t care about I don’t care that that is not going to.
[00:25:00] Define me or hold me back because I have to go 100% into the scene. And if it dies, it dies. If it dies, there’s another scene. If it, if it, if it goes great then great. But that was a turning point for me and completely changed my style of improv. I just became way more I guess fearless would be the best way to describe it.
Like fearless as in. You know, I just, it was like kinda like walking in a battle with like, instead of like having a ton of armor on just going now, I just need a shield and a sword. That’s all I need. Yeah. But we’re all wearing armor. Yeah. I’m not going to wear Armenia armory anymore. I’m kind of done with it.
It’s like, so I just like thrown off the chest plates and the knee protectors and just took off the helmet. And I said, you know, if I get killed in battle, at least I’m, you know, kind of free and you know, I can move around kind of thing. It’s a little bit like that. That’s what it was like. [00:26:00] I just, I need to free myself up.
So how do I free myself up? And I just had this epiphany that, oh my God, I don’t care anymore. And then people, you could. You could actually see the audience. They responded differently. I don’t know how else to describe it, but they were like, okay, we’re in the presence of somebody who is ballsy and, and we’ll do anything because I didn’t care what the risk was anymore.
Jeff: does not caring about the risk inherently make you more capable of being funny because you’re could, you’re saying things that maybe be what other people would hold back.
Gary Jones: Yeah. I, I personally I think so. I believe that because, because once you know that you’re willing to like, like, like you’re going to die and you don’t care, the risks you take in a scene are bigger.
And when you take [00:27:00] bigger risks, the payoffs are bigger. But, I mean, you could die dismally, but that’s part, but that was part of what I didn’t care about anymore. So if I didn’t care about the degree of failure that I experienced, then I reaped the rewards of the bigger successes. And that just was, that came from that, that whole attitude of not caring.
Does that make sense? Yes.
Jeff: When, when, as you said, you teach improv. Now when you have your students. Is it for the best way to phrase it? Is everyone capable of doing improv well, or are there certain skill sets you must possess in order to become good at improv? You know what I’m saying?
Gary Jones: I’m teaching, I’m teaching students now and I can’t white tail.
I’m getting a, I’m getting an inkling of who is inherently funny, but I can’t quite tell yet because they, they still all hold back. Well, I was teaching a class the other day. And I’ll just tell you the [00:28:00] difference of what, what is required in the scene. One, one girl, she was, it was like, there were, it was a scene in an airport and and some guy came in as a security guard and said, Hey this is your passport.
You gave, gave us a fake passport. It was a fake passport. And she. And she looked at him and she goes, oh my God, I got to get out of here. And she ran, she ran off stage behind the curtain and I said, no, come back on stage. Like don’t run away. And, and, and I said I said, do something interesting instead of running away.
And she, and she, so she looked at me and she didn’t know what to do. And I said, tell you what he’s going to deliver that line to you again. And and you’re going to pull a gun. You’re going to pull a gun out and she goes, oh, okay. And and so that happened. And then the scene just kind of took off the scene, took off because she had done instead [00:29:00] of running, she did something interesting and watchable.
So I S so I boiled that down to this whole concept of it’s. What are you going to do? Are you going to run. Or are you going to pull a gun? And they were like, ah, oh, I said, because if you run a, you’re abandoning all your fellow performers on stage being the, now they have to come up with something on stage because you’ve ditched them.
And and you don’t want that. I said, so. And I said, not that you’re going to pull a gun in every scene. I don’t mean that what I mean is you’re going to stay and do something that surprises and shocks us. And that makes it interesting. And she was like, okay, I get it. I get it. And that, and I said, see how, see how fun the scene was then, because you were like, it was active and the stakes were raised and everything, everybody reacted to you.
And she’s like, yeah, yeah, I get it. And so that’s. [00:30:00] So, those are the kinds of things that I teach when I teach improv, because I think, you know, even when you play improv theater games, it’s kind of like half the time. I think that the students don’t really know why they’re playing these theater games. So it’s like, oh yeah, let’s have fun doing this game.
I’m going. Yeah. And I, but what I do is, is if I apply, I take the game they’re playing and I apply it to it, to seen work. So I said, so I say, if you, if this is how you are in the game, This is how you respond in the game. This is how you will be in a scene like, oh, I said, yeah. So don’t just think that you’re playing a game.
This is indicative of who you are on stage and how you will collaborate with fellow performers. So I’m very much like that. I’m very like in there into the, kind of like the science and the. Physics of the scenes of why they work and why you even play games to free up your mind kind of thing. And Lou and loosen, you know, get your, get your left brain [00:31:00] thinking kind of thing, or right.
Brain thinking. So how does.
Jeff: Does the skills involved in being good at improv? How does that correlate to other forms of either writing
Gary Jones: or acting? Oh my God. Improv is I, it took me years to is, I mean, a number of years to discover this, but, or realize it, but improv is just writing on your feet. You’re literally every scene you’re writing, but you just are writing it in the moment.
So you’re so as an improviser, you’re a writer. You’re not just a performer, you’re a writer because actors, when you think of actors, it’s like, oh, we just get handed a script or some sides and you learn it. And then you just regurgitated on stage, you know, in your own particular style. So that’s fine. But that’s learned stuff that you kind of know what you’re about to say within prov.
You don’t know what you’re supposed to say. And so what that does is theoretically lends a, an air of immediacy. To to performing to the, to, to the [00:32:00] scene. And that’s kind of like the difference, you know?
Jeff: So when did you decide to shift from improv to acting?
Gary Jones: When I realized I needed to make money,
Jeff: good point that I’m sure that’s a big motivator.
Gary Jones: And I realized that that improv wasn’t paying me enough and I needed to make a living. And the first time that I ever I got an agent when I was in Vancouver. And the first time that I got onset on a television show was a show that was being shot here in Vancouver called danger bay. And you know, it ran for, with Donnelly roads.
Starring and he remember, I don’t know if you ever saw the show soap from many years ago, he played this ex criminal called Dutch. Very funny guy. I love the guy, but he got this show he’s starring in and there was shot at, in Vancouver. And it was about a guy who worked at the aquarium. Like he was a, he was a scientist that worked at the aquarium with two kids and a single [00:33:00] dad.
And just the adventures that they got up to in I think wearing, right. So I got a, I got a gig on on an episode of that by picking up the wrong. The wrong audition sides. So in other words, when I went in to read for my part I thought I was reading for one part, but it turns out that I was holding the wrong audition sides and the casting person was getting kind of upset with me.
And then, then the, the the producer, the director said, oh, let him read it anyway. It’s okay. He’s in the room. Let him read it. It doesn’t matter. So I read for that part and instead of getting a small actor role, I got that part, but it was the guest star. Oh wow. And it was like a complete and utter fluke in a way.
I mean, it could look like a fluke on the outside, but I was looking to the heavens and you know, the universe and saying, give me a sign. Should I move back to Toronto? I need work. What do I do? Do I stay in Vancouver? Do I move back? What do I do? And I need a sign and I got my [00:34:00] sign by picking up the wrong sides, completely unintentionally, and then ended that reading the part and getting hired and all that.
I have to say that I had never been on set before. Never set foot on set. I didn’t know anything about how it worked. I didn’t know what set etiquette was. I have no, I had no idea. I literally went from the second city stage. To a television set and nobody prepared me for it, which is why when I walked on set, the first thing I saw was the craft services table, which is like, which was piled high with food.
And I looked at it and I there’s, this was me arriving on staff. The day of my first day of shooting, I arrive on sets and you’re supposed to always check in with an assistant director, just say, hi, I’m Gary Jones. I’m here for, I’m playing the part of this guy. I’m here for, from my, a call time. And then they say to you, okay, then they go on the walkie talkie and they go, Gary Jones is here, you know, w w would, should just wait around or [00:35:00] what do you want him to do?
And in this case, you know, you would have to go to hair and makeup and be prepared and get your clothes on or whatever, because they’re gonna, they’re gonna shoot you in, in that the scenes coming up. I didn’t know that I didn’t know that you had to check in with an ID. So the first thing I do is I see this Cheyenne’s giant table food, and I go, oh my God.
And I just start making myself this massive sandwich, like this giant, like bagel. And I had like Turkey and ham and cheese and lettuce and tomato. It was like, it was like a Dagwood Bumstead stacked sandwich. And And I’m, I couldn’t even, I couldn’t even take a bite of it. I had to kind of not like a gyro, you know what I mean?
Like, like the way they, the way they cut jive was like slicing it down at the end. Like as if, and and the assistant director walks up to me like a 30 D and he goes, hi, who are you? And I said, oh, I’m Gary Jones. And he goes, okay. And I’m eating a sandwich. Right. And he goes he goes [00:36:00] he calls him and he says, Gary Jones is onset.
Then he’s got his walkie talkies. You’re a piece of, and he goes, oh, they want you to go to hair, hair and makeup. And I swear to God, Jeff, this is a true story. I was telling one of my other buddies this the other day and never heard this story. And I look at this, I look at this this Ady and I go, yeah kinda I’m kinda eating a sandwich and he’s like, he looks up me, you guys.
Why I go, well, I just made the sandwich on Kinney. I’m just eating a sandwich,
dude. You got to go to hair and makeup and I’m like, like put out I’m I go, I just go, what am I going to do? Oh, can I say to him, could you look after this sandwich for me? And he goes, no. And I go, oh my God, what am I gonna do with a sandwich? What am I going to [00:37:00] do? Oh, I know what I’ll do. I’ll I’ll wrap it up in paper towel and I’ll hide it right behind the toaster oven here.
Okay. So just, and I’m telling him, and he’s looking at me like I’m like on a day pass, I’m nuts. And And I go, I’m just going to hide it behind the toaster and then he goes, knock yourself out. And then, and then, so I went to hair and makeup and all I could think about I was obsessed. All I could think about was that sandwich.
I was like, somebody’s going to steal that sandwich. I know it. I gotta get back there and eat my sandwich. So every time we were like done rehearsing, I run over to craft services, take a couple of bytes of my sandwich, wrap it back up, put it back behind the toaster oven and go back to. And by the time I finished that sandwich, I was like, so bloated and huge.
And like, I just wanted to have a nap sandwich. Must’ve been like four pounds. Right. It was like just meat and cheese. And [00:38:00] then, then they go, okay, we’re breaking for lunch, lunch. They go, yeah. Yeah. Oh, okay. I thought this was the food thing. No, that’s not the food. Okay. That’s the snacks. That’s the snack table.
I thought this was like the buffet they’re like, no, no, no. Lunch is like Baron of beef or something, you know, like, roast beef and mashed potatoes. So I have that as well. Cause I’m like, well, I’ve got to have that. Like, there’s no way I’m missing that. I could barely move. I was like busting out of my my costume and it was some of the worst acting I’ve ever done in my life.
But anyway, I love that story about just, you
Jeff: know, so, so it sounds like your priorities were in we’re we’re all set that the sandwich over the acting role.
Gary Jones: Yeah. Yeah. The dinner roll over the acting role,
Jeff: but, but I’m sure the lesson you learned that was very valuable was always [00:39:00] wait until lunch. Yeah.
Gary Jones: Oh yeah.
Now that I, you know, as soon as I knew that I was like, oh, there’s lunch. Oh there’s oh, they serve lunch. Okay. Great.
Jeff: So, so how did you get involved with Stargate?
Gary Jones: I literally just started my, my agent at the time told me that they were making a TV show about based on the movie and just go and she said, just go in addition for it, they want to see you and don’t screw it up because, because th this, this, this character may recur, they may come back.
I was like, oh, okay. And I liked to me, it was like any other audition that I’d ever gone to. It was like, yep, no worries. And I went and I went and auditioned and you’re a fan of the show. Right? Okay. So, so you know that my character in the earlier years was all about like Chevron one and coded Chevron two encoded, [00:40:00] right.
Chevron three and coded, you know, just up to Chevron sevens locks. I said that, I said that line many, many times in the early days before they started giving me other lines and a bit of a life. But when I went into audition, they only had those lines. Chevron one and coated, then they’d cut away. They’d cut away to Daniel Jackson doing something.
They’d come back to me. Chevron two uncoated. I didn’t know what a Chevron was. I had no idea. I just knew that something was being lit up. Like I, I, you know, like I didn’t quite get it. So I went and I thought, okay, what am I going to do to make this interesting? You know, going back to my whole, you know, you know, early days of like, am I going to run or I gonna pull a gun.
Right. So what am I going to do to make this interesting? And the only thing I had in my sort of arsenal, really, when you think about it was just comedy. So I thought, oh, I’ll make it funny. So as soon as I start reading these Chevron wanting codes, whatever, I was like, Chevron and coded. Joe Montana, [00:41:00] uncoated Chevron three and coded Chevron four in code ID.
You have on five and gilded. And I just built it up like that. So that by the time I got the Chevron seven lock, I was in full Jerry Lewis mode and I literally went Chevron seven locked and it was like, it was like, Hey lady, you know? And Oh, hang on. Just, can you, can you pause for a second? Can you one
Jeff: second. [00:46:00] [00:45:00] [00:44:00] [00:43:00] [00:42:00]