Who is Wayne Turmel and why should we care?
“Wayne Small Print Turmel was my trusted Consigliere. Often the only voice of reason during those wild comedy boom days. Aka Trim”
- Kenny Robinson
“Wayne Turmel was a truly outstanding and original comedian. He is also a gentleman and a very, very dear friend of mine and the smartest comic I ever saw. He was also a wonderful mentor to many young comics, me. Wayne has more depth than anyone I have ever met. He is an accomplished comedian, published author, brilliant and much sought after public speaker and a great father and husband. To know Wayne Turmel is to love Wayne Turmel.” - Lou Eisen
" Wayne Turmel is A white man who will fight Racism with both fists" - Kenny Robinson
"Wayne Turmel is a comedian turned corporate trainer turned historical novelist. The weird part is how successful he's been in each discipline, which makes him almost impossible to like." - John Wing
“Wayne Turmel was a great writer and the everyman stand-up with great confidence on stage” - Judy Croon
“Wayne Turmel came across on stage as the hip high school teacher in the room.” - Mark Christian Walker
“Wayne Turmel is one of the most beloved comics that came out of the 1980’s Canadian Comedy Boom” - David Reuben
The 1980’s stand-up boom in Canada originated at the famed Yuk Yuk’s comedy club on the corner of Bay and Yorkville in Toronto. It was a small community and anyone who was anyone in Canadian stand-up descended on Toronto and the corner of Bay and Yorkville.
One of the smartest and nicest of the bunch was Mr. Wayne Turmel. He worked clean, was a headliner and had a positive attitude towards comedy and life. Wayne always had a smile on his face and an encouraging word. The author, David Reuben, first met Wayne Turmel in 1983 at the Monday night amateur show at Yuk Yuk’s. Wayne was one of the first pro comics to reach out to this newbie and helped me work on some jokes.
You know Mr. Turmel had a lasting effect on stand-up comedy in Canada because when the author reached out to former colleagues in stand-up they jumped at the chance to talk about Wayne and remain friends with him to this day. In fact, Mr. Turmel’s family and Mr. Kenny Robinson’s family met up in Chicago in the summer of 2017.
Mr. Wayne Turmel grew up in Mission BC the oldest of three siblings and the only boy. According to Wayne; “It’s where Carly Rae Jepson comes from, so that now makes me the third or fourth most famous person from there.” Wayne’s sister Annette remembers; “that all three of the siblings did public speaking and their mother Walline had a love for words.”
Wayne’s love of comedy started early by watching comics such as Alan King and Jackie Vernon on the Ed Sullivan show. As he grew up other comics started to impress Wayne and these included Firesign Theater, National Lampoon, Pryor, Carlin, Newhart and Nestor Pistor’s album. (Authors note: you can find Nestor Pistor at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypZxdxeU5ZY)
Wayne states; “David Steinberg was actually a huge influence on me as a kid. I used to do his Psychiatrist sketches, walking up to my sister, grabbing a pretend spider from her shoulder and shouting, “Get…. Off…” I thought it was hilarious. I’m sure the two of your readers who remember do too.”
In school, Mr. Turmel was a straight A student, was a member of the drama club and active in Youth Parliament. Outside of school, Wayne talked his two sisters into working for him in his Puppet Show company which did birthday parties and a big gig at the Elk Hall. The girls could not remember if Wayne paid them for their work in the Puppet Show company, so the author made sure he finally settled with them in November 2017.
According to Wayne; “I was a straight A student through most of school, until Grade 12 when I discovered girls, beer, and the fact that I could get passing grades without bothering to go to class all that often. I was bored a lot and always did the extra assignments and gave myself tasks like reading Tolstoy (yeah, I know, I got beat up a lot) just to keep myself interested. That carried over to my 2 years at BCIT.”
The idea of trying stand-up always appealed to Mr. Turmel and in the summer of 1979 while recovering from an ankle injury the inevitable happened. “My first ever show was an audition set at the Davy Crocket motel in Abbottsford (I died an appropriate death) but Rich Elwood had just opened Punchlines in Vancouver, and so I did my first real open mike there, (and did way better than I should have) with Roger Chandler, Ryan Styles, and a bunch of other folks. I worked out of Punchlines all through college and for another year before heading out to Toronto.”
If you speak to Wayne’s sister Rogine; “6-year-old Wayne was performing at family functions and commanded the audience.” Mr. Turmel’s father Roger states; I could not bloody well believe it when Wayne started doing comedy and he was working in bars before he was old enough to drink in them.” Wayne’s sister Annette remembers; their mother Walline wanted her son to be happy in his work, but have a clean mouth.” (authors note: Mom was a Baptist Sunday-School Teacher)
Mr. Turmel crisscrossed Canada throughout the 1980’s and even dipped his toe into the US comedy market. According to touring buddy Mark Christain Walker; “Wayne was very chill on the Road and a loyal guy. He only lost his shit once when he was opening for Chicago in 1989 and at the sound check there were no tables and chairs in a room that sat twelve thousand people. Everything was fine by show time and Wayne killed his set. It was surreal because right after that show he went to do a show for two hundred people. Wayne is my mentor and hero.”
In 1991, My Turmel was ready to make the move full-time to Los Angles and take on the US comedy market. There was only one problem, the club boom was ending. Wayne remembers; “With my usual business acumen, I moved to LA in 1991, just as the club boom was ending. By 1994, I had several close brushes with success, and was headlining road clubs, but the road clubs were closing. By 1992 I had a wife and a baby on the way and needed to man up—and I mean that seriously. My responsibilities became more important than my ego. Because I was trying to make a living, I didn’t spend enough time working for free in LA and that eventually cost me when the road dried up. I got off the road to work day jobs (for the first time in 15 years!) in 1994, and hung up the mic for good in May of 1996, when I got my first full-time training job. It was a great run, but at some point, you need to be a grown-up and face your responsibilities. The wife and child needed to eat and that’s what a man does.”
After fifteen years of making his living as a stand-up comic Mr. Turmel was working a full-time day job as a car salesman. His wife Joan states; “everything changed when Wayne met Mr. Campbell who gave Wayne the opportunity to bring humour into the training business”
“In 1996, I ran away from the circus to begin a second career in the training and development field. Over time I became well known for helping develop management and communication skills in people around the world. My podcast. “The Cranky Middle Manager Show” had thousands of subscribers around the world and was recognized as one of the top HR blogs in the world. In 2008 we started GreatWebMeetings.com, a company dedicated to teaching the skills to present, sell, train and lead people and teams using tools like WebEx, Lync and more. In 2015, we merged with the Kevin Eikenberry group, to form the Remote Leadership Institute, where we help clients around the world learn to present, sell, and lead people and projects when they’re not all in the same place.”
In 2003, Mr. Wayne Turmel decided to merge his love of writing and history and his first book (A Philistine’s Journal- an Average Guy Tackles the Classics). Wayne did 7 instructional books before The Count of the Sahara, came out in 2015. Today, he has two novels published and four more novels in his head. To find out more about Mr. Wayne Turmel visit http://wayneturmel.com/
Mention you found out about Mr. Wayne Turmel on www.thecomedygreenroom.com.
“Wayne wasn’t so much a joke teller as he was a stand-up preacher. His shows were revival meetings punctuated by big laughs and applause breaks. A very sweet and very white man. Always a joy to work with despite his questionable taste in hats. “ - Howard Busgang