'Listener' star Ennis Esmer earns repeat Canadian Comedy Award nomination; 'Hiccups,' 'Dan for Mayor' also earn nods
You may be thinking to yourself, how does “The Listener” qualify as a comedy?
Sure, “Dan for Mayor” and “Hiccups” are comedies through and through, but “The Listener” is a somewhat serious quasi-police procedural that features mind-reading paramedics solving life-and-death mysteries.
But as long-time fans of “The Listener” can testify, one of the hidden treasures of the sci-fi/drama is the always-on comedic timing of Toby’s so-called “sidekick” Oz, played with deft chops by Ennis Esmer.
Esmer is a riot on the series; incorporating his “comic relief” into a well-rounded, “real” character, Oz is the kind of guy you can imagine having a few beers with on a Friday night. Personally, my favourite moments of the show are when Esmer is paired up with Arnold Pinnock, who plays Oz’s boss George Ryder… can you say web series spin-off? I’d watch that.
So it should come as no surprise to fans of “The Listener” that Esmer has been nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for “TV Performance by a Male” for the second year in a row. (He was also nominated in 2008 for his role in “YPF.”)
When I talked to Esmer on the phone this morning, the self-deprecating actor responded to the nomination simply: “I look forward to losing to Jason Priestly,” he said with a laugh, humbly adding, “It’s cool, it’s a neat thing.”
Other CTV stars recognized with a nomination for the Canadian Comedy Awards include Nancy Robertson for “Hiccups,” and Fred Ewanuick, Mary Ashton, Paul Bates, Benjamin Ayres and David Ferry from “Dan for Mayor” for “Best Television Ensemble.”
Esmer, who is one of the original cast members of “The Listener,” came to Toronto from Ankara, Turkey at the age of three.
The actor developed his comedic strengths training in theatre at York University, followed by sketch/improv at Second City. After gaining notoriety for his standup work, Esmer became well known to Torontonians for his role as host on “The Toronto Show.”
Esmer followed up “The Toronto Show” with a role in the widely acclaimed Canadian film “YPF,” as well as roles in “Billable Hours,” “Regenesis,” and on the big screen with Rainn Wilson in “The Rocker.”
These days, besides appearing on “The Listener,” Esmer is the co-host for the Canadian version of “Wipeout,” and co-writes a humour column with Chris Locke called “Harshtags” for “The Grid.”
When it comes to the Canadian Comedy Awards, Esmer appreciates the event as a way to stay in touch with the hottest acts in the industry.
“I find it’s a way to bring exposure to sketch troupes and live shows… so while it’s good to be nominated, it gives me exposure to acts that I might not otherwise see,” says the actor, who revealed to me one of his plans this summer: getting back into standup.
“It’s a comfortable life working in television, so I look forward to knocking myself down a peg or two.”
Full episodes of “The Listener” are available online at CTV.ca.
Tyrone Warner has been with CTV.ca since 2005, covering news, entertainment and everything related to CTV. When he’s away from the computer, you can find him writing, recording and performing his own music, running his own record label and dabbling in photography, painting and creative collage. Follow him on Twitter!