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Arrogant Worms celebrate 20 years

Comedy trio play BAG on Saturday

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The Arrogant Worms have been around for 20 years. Think about that. It's hard enough to keep any project going for 20 years, so it's all the more impressive coming from a trio of comedy musicians.

Comedy music, after all, isn't exactly a ticket to rock and roll success.

"I don't think that rock stardom was ever a reality," says bassist Chris Patterson. "If it happened we would have welcomed the opportunity but I don't think it's going to now either."

With that said, playing with the Arrogant Worms continues to yield new pleasures for its three members — Patterson, Mike McCormick and Tim Strong — after all these years. They recently played Dauphin, Manitoba, for the first time ever. They'll be playing the Brackendale Art Gallery for the first time this Saturday.

He says they're holding out to play all these places they've never seen before they call it a day. And if the job is still keeping life interesting, well, it's no wonder they're still around.

"We don't make an awful lot of money doing this but it has been our living for a long, long time and there's been no reason to not do it. It's been too much fun to give up on."

They've earned a modest cult following in Canada, selling 150,000 copies of their 12 albums. They're masters at spoofing genres, taking on everything from folk to opera and most things in between. Each of their albums boasts one track of gleeful Canadiana and beyond that they'll sing about, and laugh about, just about anything.

"It could be a pop culture thing or something funny that someone said. It kind of comes from all over, anywhere. It could be just someone saying something randomly and remembering to write it down then revisiting the idea. It could be months, it could be years later," he says.

The individual Worms met each other at Queens University, where they performed sketch comedy on the university radio station. Eventually the sketches were dropped in favour of songs because they were easier to play live.

"Everyone seemed to have a similar sensibility and an interest in wanting to write stuff, so as time went on it synthesized into what it is now," Patterson says.

Their eponymous debut album was release in 1992 and featured now-classic tracks "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" and "Jesus' Brother Bob."

Two decades on, they've released Hindsight 2020, a compilation of audience favourites spanning their 20 years — including those two highlights from 20 years before.

In the time between, they've played festivals from Bethlehem to Edmonton. They've appeared on NBC, CBC and, of course, The Comedy Network, among others and have been dubbed "certifiably demented" by the Toronto Star.

"Our M.O. the whole time has been to make the audience happy," Patterson said. "We could have been three standup comedians performing at the same time but that would have been awkward, I think."

Tickets are available at the Brackendale Art Gallery and Xocolatl for $25.

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