Seriously Funny: Marty Adams

By Justin Roberston

The dinner bell demanded attention at Marty’s household every night around six o’clock. Just picture them: the whole family, all five of them, tucked into their chairs tighter than tinned mackerel, ready to devour their daily feast. All that echoes through the dining room is the pulling apart of chicken bones and the scraping of knives and forks on plates. If words are spoken,
it is merely a message of “pass the sauce please.” At the end of the table sits a boy, unlike the rest of the family, eager to put an end to the dreary dinner din.

Marty did his absolute best to put his siblings and parents off their eating game, just to get them to pull out a smile between bites. He will tell you that they were the hardest audience to crack, but their inability to fight off his charisma
helped mould him into the actor he is today.

Marty who? Marty Adams. You know, the 27-year-old who has starred in several commercials. The guy who played a small role in the recent box office hit Saw IV. And of course, the same Marty Adams who now works the main stage
six days a week at Second City Toronto, developing his acting career. The Marty Adams who – much in contrast to the giddy schoolboy comedian he often portrays – has a love for horror movie paraphernalia. Perhaps it is this meshing of
gore and laughter that creates his oddball persona.

“We were big eaters as a family and just enjoyed the dinner table. So if anyone was talking, no one hardly paid attention because you know, we were eating,” he says with a huge red-faced grin.

Sitting there in his thick winter coat, which looks more like a NASA space suit, Adams pulls back from a laughing fit and turns his attention back to the interview. “So if I could make my family lose focus and make them laugh during
dinner then I knew how to get through to people,” he says.

Adams is the youngest of three children and grew up in Parry Sound, home to 6,500 people, including hockey legend Bobby Orr. Most kids skated and spent countless hours at the arena and dreamed of making it big in the NHL. But Adams
had other ideas. “I didn’t skate. I couldn’t,” he says, with a sad shake of the head. “I played other sports and I had to make friends through laughter.”

He decided to pursue a football program at McMaster University in Hamilton. It was there that he began honing his skills and started to carve out a future in drama by involving himself with the university theatre after school hours.

Adams hurt his knee and quickly realized he might be wasting his money at McMaster, ultimately leading him to London, Ont. for a year off school. “It was murder. I was so used to setting goals and trying to obtain them and moving forward that it killed me to not have anything ahead of me,” he says. “My sister told me about the Humber comedy program, who was doing some improv courses at the time, and so I auditioned and got in.”

Initially Adams did not want to live in a city that was just too big for him. Growing up as a boy on Georgian Bay, he hated Toronto with a passion. But after adjusting over the past five years and grasping the ins-and-outs of the Big Smoke,
life has become easier for this laid-back country town comic.

Following Adams’ first show at Second City, Facebook of Revelations, he read the papers the next day and saw two shining reviews – each of them with a catch. They “focused on the fact that I was the main guy and did well, but
there was a lot of – oh he was doing his fat guy shtick – and they mentioned fat in every other line,” says Adams. “There wasn’t a point in the show where I said, here are my fat guy jokes.” Perturbed at the fact his acting efforts were
neglected in lieu of a focus on weight, Adams explains that he is harder on himself than any stage reviewer will ever be. Nevertheless, dealing with rejection has been a harsh reality to come to terms with. “It’s tough, you try to not say ‘Oh reviews don’t bother me, it’s water off my back,’ but I read them religiously,” he says.

Dan Shehori, fellow actor and current director of the Second City mainstage, says that Adams is fearless when it comes to acting. “He’s not worried about making a fool of himself,” he says. “In fact, you forgive him for that, but you
actually admire him, because he’ll try anything. If you have a guy like that who is willing to try anything you can’t go wrong. That’s a huge asset to have.”

It’s this fearlessness that won Adams a small role as a “horrible” rapist in the blockbuster horror movie Saw IV. “At the audition I saw all these brilliant Canadian actors you see in everything and I just sat there with my stupid head -shot thinking, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to go well,’ so I just went in and threw it all out there,” says Adams. He also scored a part in Repossession Mambo, where he swapped lines with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. “The best part about that role was I got to tell Jude Law to fuck off,” he says with wry smile.

For someone who thinks of comedy work as effortless, like watching butter melt on warm bread, his dramatic itch comes as a startling surprise. Saw IV was his first big league feature flick, but it’s the emotional side of acting that inspires

“Kathy Bates always plays strong dramatic characters in all of her movies,” he says, mentioning his exemplar for the umpteenth time. “And it’s funny how my favourite films are Shawshank Redemption and In the Bedroom – both not comedies.”

The Toronto film Industry is growing with more opportunities for actors, which could be good news for Adams. Carlie Baxter, Adams’ agent, has worked with him for the past two years. Prior to that she was a producer at Second City and has brought with her 12 years experience in the stage, film, television and theatre industries. With the potential to have more studios built in Toronto over the next few years, Baxter says the Canadian film industry will have a “bump” in production as it’s going to get much busier for actors. “Canada has been a great breeding ground for talent because we do have an amazing theatre system and even theatre school system. Because we are so close to the U.S. border it becomes easier for Canadian actors to get noticed,” she says.

Comedians often draw their routines from a painful past, Adams continues, and like everyone else who has dropped everything in the pursuit of happiness, he has had to make gutsy decisions in order to do what he loves. Spending many
awkward nights sleeping on a friend’s couch and living off peanut butter sandwiches, like a seasoned traveller, became a way of life for a while, he says.

As a struggling actor Adams literally had to scare himself into doing stand -up. “I used to say to myself, ‘If you don’t go out tonight and do stand-up and get paid $50, well, you won’t be able to eat for the next week,’” he says. “You put everything on the line and that’s what I’ve had to do, but it’s worth it because it’s all I want to do.” Adams looks reflective when he recounts those desperate nights spent on floors and hallways, as though it happened just yesterday.

But Adams says he wants to be more than just a one-dimensional stand-up icon. His work ethic speaks for itself. “He is the first person to come to rehearsal [sometimes an hour before it starts] and will watch tapes from the previous night’s performance,” says Shehori. “For a guy who is always joking around he takes acting pretty seriously and a lot more serious than most of the people in the industry.”

Adams has come a long way from being that boy at the dinner table trying to break his family’s attention away from their plates. He has learned to deal with criticism and shoddy stage reviews. Don’t be surprised if you are drawn to your
television set because of a John Candy-esque chuckle. If that’s the case, you’ll most likely put down that chicken fillet, hold the sauce and allow yourself to be interrupted.



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