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Why was Mayor Rob Ford's meeting with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis so disappointing?

Why did I race down to the Hockey Hall of Fame at 4pm yesterday? The rationale seemed obvious at the time.

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, two of my favourite comedians, are in town promoting their new movie? I’m not normally a crowd-gatherer or a cell-phone-photo-taker but these two bring out my inner squealer. Rob Ford, brilliant political satirist and/or actual Mayor of Toronto will be in attendance? It’s kind of my job to pay attention to what the Mayor does. The movie in question is about dumb politicians? Rob Ford is perhaps the most perfect incarnation of “the dumb politician” this city has ever seen! Zach and Will are clever satirists playing idiots but Ford is the real thing. It’s as if Rob Ford was walking into a trap. Surely, something humiliating will happen!

Giddy, I hurried down to the venue to catch a glimpse of the players in this PR pageant. The crowd played their part and was whipped up into a frenzy when the celebrities rolled in aboard their promotional Zamboni. These pretend American politicians had clearly unlocked the secrets to Canadian electoral success. I watched the mayor arrive to considerably less fanfare, obviously a precursor of the embarrassment to come. My live-tweet was in full swing.

I didn’t have press accreditation to the event and the 120 or so tickets available to the public had sold out long before I arrived. So after hanging around with the autograph hounds for a while, I split, assured in my assumption that the mayor’s boneheadedness would be viral before I made it home. I scoured the Internet later that evening, watching clips from different news outlets hoping to get a whiff of the mayhem. I had become a cringe junkie, scavenging the media’s refuse for the tiniest smidgens of gaffery.

But like anything you want too much, this great gaffe in the making was not as satisfying as I’d hoped.

Everybody showed up on time. Nobody did anything embarrassing. No stinging barbs were hurled.

The harshest words for reserved for a Toronto Sun reporter who corrected Galifianakis when he told the audience how excited to ride the “Stromboli.” “It’s called a joke, Toronto Sun. Typical journalist…” Zach chided when the reporter (Don Peat?) informed him it was in fact pronounced “Zamboni.”

The closest thing I got to what I had imagined was a single innocuous quote from Galifianakis in the Sun about how he didn’t agree with the mayor’s stance on Toronto’s bikes-versus-cars debate.

Will Ferrell said our mayor was a “nice fellow.”

I was disappointed.

I was not disappointed by the actors. They were as charming as I always find them, even if they weren’t doling out their A-material (understandably so considering the venue). Starting a beef with a politician and thus alienating potential movie-goers isn’t in their interest.

I was not disappointed by Warner Brothers and their promotional team. They performed their coup de presse perfectly, briefly transforming Toronto’s city hall press corps into their own publicity machine.

I was not disappointed by Toronto’s city hall press corps. They got some fluffy content to fill up their sleepy summer newscasts and maybe tease viewers into watching some actual news. Nothing wrong with that.

I was not disappointed by the mayor. He was his usual tongue-tied self – beet red and grinning ear to ear. He didn’t say anything stupid.

I guess I can only be disappointed in myself for being so invested in the Mayor’s failure. For wanting so badly to play Jon Stewart and skewer the buffoon-in-chief with my clever remarks. For loving to hate this guy so much.

Why do we take such pleasure in tearing politicians to shreds? I think it’s because it confirms that feeling we get in our gut that we are truly on our own. There is nobody capable of managing our pooled resources because everybody else really are idiots. Nobody has our backs.

But that’s not really true. Of course there is incompetence and corruption in government, and those in power should always be held to public scrutiny. But we have to remember that there are enough capable people working for us that no one man can reduce our society to shambles. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and remember that simply being embarrassed by somebody isn’t the end of the world. It can actually be kind of endearing.

So let’s all go watch a silly comedy this weekend and tone down the righteous indignation a bit. As for those pent up clever remarks, I’m going to save my A-material for the campaign.


Michael Kolberg is The Sprawl Editor at Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter for jokes @mikeykolberg

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