He may be in the comedic industry per se but he certainly fits in the category of my comedic inspirations which include Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen, Steve Martin and my brother, Rob.
When I first started watching him on TSN’s Sportcentre, I wasn’t too enamored with him, believe it or not. But Jay Onrait grew on me in relatively short time.
During MLB highlights one evening, instead of saying “4-3 Oakland”, he would say, “4-3 for MC Hammer’s hometown,” or when promoting TSN’s then-new show Morning Rush, he would constantly yell “What A Rush!”, the popular catchphrase of WWE’s legendary tag team, the Legion of Doom. These were only two examples of how I came to admire Jay Onrait.
On Tuesday night, he returned after departing for Los Angeles-based Fox Sports 1 this past summer with his longtime partner, the (very nearly almost) equally funny, Dan O’Toole.
At Indigo, Onrait was promoting his new book, Anchorboy: True Tales from the World of Sportcasting which I have read and must admit that I am a huge fan of. Of course, as funny as the book is, Onrait does touch on a few serious issues. Unfortunately for me, I made the mistake of eating breakfast while reading the chapter where Jay describes the time he got violently ill after eating crabs legs. Common sense would indicate that a chapter entitled “Pooping in Front of My Parents” would have been enough of an indication not to proceed on a full stomach but for whatever reason, I didn’t see the red flags in front of me. Onrait also discusses “pulling cable” for TSN veteran Rod Smith during his early days at TSN. Whether that’s a euphemism or if he meant it literally, you’ll just have to buy the book and find out for yourself.
Nevertheless, being that astronaut Chris Hadfield spoke in front of a packed house the previous Tuesday, I knew I had to get to the bookstore to see Jay a wee bit early (he was on at 7:30. I showed up at 5). Now, I know what you’re thinking: how could a sportscaster draw more than an astronaut? Watch a few episodes with Jay and Dan whether it’d be old Sportscentre footage, Fox Sports 1 or listen to their podcast and then I defy you to repeat such a silly question..
While I was able to ask Onrait whether he would ever considered being a Kings fan now that he’s based in Los Angeles, I do regret asking him whether he wanted to have a Dodger Dog and a beer assuming he would be attending January’s outdoor game between the Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. My only concern with that, of course, is that if Onrait declines, I might briefly turn into Del Griffiths from Planes, Trains & Automobiles where Onrait declines so many of my request that I end asking him if I could buy him Life-Savers or a Slurpee.
To answer my question about whether he could support the Kings, Onrait said that he believes that fans should primarily support the team of the city they were born in no matter what. Based on Jay’s logic, I certainly hope there aren’t Kings fans born in Anaheim or San Jose – and if there are, we can let sleeping dogs lie.
Upon my arrival at Indigo on Tuesday, I expected a downright hilarious, entertaining showing by Onrait and he did not disappoint.
From loudly greeting his audience from backstage before entering the large room handing out large bags of ketchup chips (which, sadly, are not sold in the United States) to members said audience, from singling out customers passing by to taking a plethora of shots at Toronto mayor Rob Ford (earlier in the day, he admitted to smoking crack while in office), Jay Onrait lived up to his billing. As entertaining as he is on TV, he was just as, if not more so, in person.
For those of you interested (and if you get my homour, you’ll get his even more) Anchorboy: True Tales from the World of Sportscasting is available at Chapters-Indigo and online at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. I assure you, you will not be sorry you made such a purchase.
Whether it’s in Toronto or Los Angeles, I certainly hope to meet with the funny man again – and if it is the latter, maybe we can shoot the breeze over a Dodger Dog and a beer.
We’ll just have to wait and see.