Chapter 12: A Relationship, Marijuana and 23-Year Old Female Comedian Walk Into a Bar…

I caved. I got a cell phone. It’s 2002- who knows? These things might actually become the norm. My plan includes 200 minutes Mon-Fri, and unlimited calls after 6pm and on weekends. Since I want to keep the bill down, I’m not giving my number to my boss and family. They can still believe I only have a land line. 

I’m also starting to have solid turn over in my love life- a sign you’re a true comedian! I have no patterns with dating, I just like who I like. My latest boyfriend is pretty much the opposite of the last one. He’s a bartender (so he has money) and also grows pot. His roommate didn’t want me to know, but I figured it out. I had questions, like,

“Who lives in your third bedroom and why are his lights always on?”

I was smoking a lot of pot myself, leading to many late nights of Bronson Pizza combos. Ottawa has a serious deep fried zucchini scene. To this day I don’t think I’ve ever been to a city with this as a staple on every menu in town. 

I started writing bits about my new vice. 

“I moved to Ottawa cuz I heard Parliament Hill was having a joint session.”

“I have a friend who doesn’t smoke pot, so I asked why and he said, “Cuz one time, I was smoking THE marijuana, and I was high for five days….” I’m thinking “Fuck… my dealer sucks. I have the stuff where you pass out with chicken tenders in your lap watching Ally McBeal .”

I was trying to figure out if I should call them chicken strips, tenders or fingers. Even without reading Judy Carter’s book, I was gravitating towards funny words.

The Ottawa comedy scene was really becoming a tight knit group. Rick Kaulbars wrote a movie called Hell Gig that we were all gonna be in. The whole gang- me, Ben Miner, Jon Steinberg, Jon Dore, Jen Grant, Oliver Gross, Mike Beatty, Don Kelly, Wendi Reed, Jason Laurans. Rick would direct it, and somehow the whole thing would be made in days, AND in Ottawa. I didn’t even know you could make movies in Ottawa. I tried in my last year at Carleton, but my tech skills were so bad I ended up with a cassette for my audio, and VHS for the actual movie. I had to hit play on both machines at the same time to present my project to my class.

(Me, Jen Grant and Rick Kaulbars. And I’m guessing Alexander Keith’s cuz that’s all anybody drank back then.)

Things were going pretty well. My boyfriend had finally come to one of my shows. It took a while. He had zero interest in stand up. If he wasn’t staying home to play online poker (which he told his parents was not real money,) he was busy with this foosball league. Our relationship was actually quite good, even if I did fake being Catholic in front of his family. (I took communion in their church lololol.*)

I was smoking a lot of pot. Sometimes I did my dishes so high, I’d hide all the knives afterward just in case someone broke into my apartment and didn’t bring their own. (CANADA, baby! Even high, I never worried about guns.) Meanwhile I’d pass out with my lava lamp still on and who knows what days of the week I was actually taking my Tri-Cyclen. 

I was also over thinking my relationship- BIG TIME. 

I was dating someone who had NO interest in comedy.

Was it my comedy, or comedy in general?

(Cut to me in 2021 not wanting any guy I’m interested in watching my comedy cuz I’m scared he won’t want to fuck me anymore.)

I had big dreams. But what were his dreams? Was foosball a good prospect for the future? Or growing weed? (In hindsight, it actually probably was.) It sounds cheesy to write now, but these diaries from 20 years ago pour it out. After returning from the Canada Loves New York rally at the end of 2001, I wrote this:

Here’s my little trick that will help determine whether or not you’ve found your ultimate goal in life and how I know what mine is: When you think about your passion for something and cannot fathom how anyone else in the world wouldn’t want to do the exact same thing, you have your dream.

(Remember I’m high, it’s post 9/11 and I’m 23. Don’t judge me.)

I didn’t feel like I was dating a guy with a dream. 

And it bothered me.

As much as I loved him, I decided we needed to break up. I was barely out of my old technique where I just avoided a guy until they broke up with me. This one would have to be done properly. I was really growing up.

I played Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” on repeat every night for weeks. It didn’t really help me figure out how to do it, but I did learn all the words.

I managed to get it done, but it didn’t take.

I make it sound like I was this straight forward about my reasons for breaking up to him, but in reality I probably said:

“So ya ummmm I think we should break up, but I’ll see you at work! Let’s see if we can get different shifts!”

A week later, we met at Irene’s, a classic dive pub on Bank Street in the Glebe. (Is it still there? Tell me it is!) It was such a weird location for an emotional conversation. The only goal I ever had at this bar was getting the cranky old waitress to like me. But now my barely ex was asking for clarification on our break up.

“Why…? We get along great.”

He was right. We really did. Sagittarius/Aquarius combo. Things that really meant something back then. I took a big gulp of my Keith’s and decided to spit out the corny truth.

“I have dreams… BIG ones… I don’t want to live in Ottawa forever. Don’t you have dreams…?”

And he responded with something so powerful I don’t even need my diary to remember:

“Maybe my dream is just to be in love with a great girl.”


That’s a good one. 

I’m a dick. 

Instantly that line won me back.

And he added in another fun invite.

“Why don’t you come with me to my foosball tournament in Vegas? It’ll be fun.”

Oh that does sound like fun! We haven’t been anywhere other than Pembroke together. I’m IN!

Besides, what could possibly happen with a rocky relationship in Vegas…

To Be Continued…

(Because blogs don’t get red lights.)

*I finally came clean about not being Catholic. I tried to make it better by explaining my that family did go to church, we just went to a United one. (I left out the “once a year” part.) His uncle responded, “Ohhh, UNITED… just in case there’s a God…” I’ve never forgotten that. 

(Also, I fear this blog drifted between past and present tense. As a writer, I need you to know this bothers me. How did they do it in The Wonder Years?)

I’m bummed I don’t have more old shots of the Ottawa Yuk Yuk’s scene, but we didn’t live life on phones back then. Here’s one though: Jon Steinberg, Howard Wagman, Wafik Nasralla, me, Allison Dore, Tracey MacDonald, Jen Grant, Don Kelly and Pete Zedlacher even though he was from Toronto.

Also, here’s a clip from Hell Gig. I’m not even in this one, but it made me laugh my ass off.


Chapter 11: Too Soon

I’m 22 years old and three years into comedy. Cell phones are becoming more popular, and not just something only dads and cab drivers have. I am vehemently against getting one.

Hell no. The thought of people being able to get ahold of me 24/7 scares the shit out of me.

Straight from my diary, May 15th, 2001. (That’s right! I have all my diaries from this date forward here in my apartment, so I’ll be able to plagiarize my old self, and you can mock my EXACT dated thoughts!)

My supplementary job and boyfriend had changed. I quit my job at CD Warehouse shortly after the Spice Girls broke up. What was the point? Sure I bought Geri’s solo album, but “Look At Me” was the only good song. I got a job serving at Canada’s finest restaurant, Boston Pizza. (An Edmonton based chain, obvi.) After winning employee of the year at the end of 2000, I was feeling on top of the world. I took the DVD player I won and exclusively fed it Sex & the City season one DVDs.

I broke up with Marcus, but only after we did acid together. He tried to video tape the trip, but the second I started to feel it, I made him turn the camera off. To be honest, I REALLY wish I let it roll. I’d love to watch that now. That wasn’t the tipping point by any means. My break up was a solid reason:

“I just really need to focus on the sorority right now.”

My focus on comedy was building too, which was awkward having a restaurant job. Both these industries have the same busy nights of the week. But I thrived off slow days like Monday and Tuesday, cuz I could rock my friendly Canadian personality and sometimes get the full 15% tip I deserved out of the cheaper side of Ottawa. (WINNING!)

My material was coming along too. I replaced my first closer:

“Guys, if you go out later tonight, just remember, NO means NO… NO also means I’m not drunk enough, you’re not rich enough and your dick is way too small.”

(OOOOOF I am cringing writing that. I would NEVER make fun of penis size today. Those guys are great at oral. And I always date broke guys. And… well, I have a solid tolerance. I’m never drunk enough. That holds up.)

But my new and improved closer is way better:

“My best friend has a tongue ring…”


“I think we know what they’re good for… I’m too scared to get one. I think it might hurt and make me talk funny, so I’ve just decided if a guy wants that texture in my blow job, I’ll just pop a marble in my mouth… It’ll be the best game of Hungry Hungry Hippos he’s ever played.”

The joke was a quality closer. Something I could count on even if the middle of my set wasn’t going well. And I was finally trying to write more than just stand up. I wanted to write a SCREENPLAY! Something like Reality Bites, obvi. I was incredibly optimistic about the future. I was really starting to think anything was possible.

And then…

I woke up one Tuesday morning in September. (As a diary writer, I can confirm I’m never sure of the date when I pick up the pen.) I had to work at 10:00am. I hopped in the shower around 8:45. My mom was selling AVON at the time, so she had gifted me a shower radio. I’d blast Magic 100fm, cuz even at 22, I enjoyed some Phil Collins. All of a sudden, the sultry voice of the female DJ came back on after “Against All Odds.”

“We just learned news of a devastating plane crash at the World Trade Center in New York. Our hearts go out to every one effected.” 

What happened? 

I run out of the shower, and turn on the TV. That’s when I see it.

And then I see it again…

But this time it’s the other tower.

I don’t need to explain to you what happened. 

It was the most traumatic thing I had seen on TV since The Challenger. But this was something different. You could convince yourself after the first tower got hit, it must have been an accident, but the second… 

All of a sudden every dream, goal and worry you had yesterday seems to be superfluous. 

By the time I got to work, it seemed like the whole world had fallen apart. Normally we’d have sports on our big screens, but today it’s news, and everyone is glued to it. Nobody knew what to say, how to act or even work. My boss was sticking his keys in his ears like they were Q-Tips, which he only did when something was bothering him.

We kept the TVs on CNN all day with sound. Something we had never done before. All the government buildings in the city were being locked down. Planes were being diverted up to Canada. I didn’t really think we’d get attacked too, but it was a possibility. I worked with a lot of people from Lebanon and Afghanistan who were able to explain way more about terrorist groups than I ever knew. It’s embarrassing how it takes something catastrophic to happen before you choose to learn more.

I was always a big smiler, but I couldn’t do it today. If I saw any tables laughing I’d literally get pissed off. I was on a split shift, but after watching replays of the planes crashing into the twin towers all day long, I eventually broke down. Incontrollable sobbing. I couldn’t pretend I or anything was okay. My boss sent me home. 

Yuk Yuk’s cancelled the show on Wednesday. Thank God. I couldn’t imagine trying to make people laugh at a time like this. I didn’t feel like being funny nor could I pretend I had the power to cheer people up.

But when the club did open back up, I had to go. I wasn’t on the show, but I wanted to see how professionals would deal with it. The headliner was from Toronto. Ottawa comics had an interesting take on Toronto. Some of them had tried out the city, hated it, and came back. Some found the Toronto comics arrogant.

“Let me see you Twirl” man was from Toronto, so I could understand. But surely on a week like this, they wouldn’t try to make jokes about a terrorist attack that was surely leading us to war, right?


As I sat on the bar stool close to Tommy (the bartender) in case I needed another pint of Keiths for the pain, I PRAYED nobody would try to make jokes about Tuesday. It was DEFINITELY too soon. I don’t even think the phrase “Too Soon” was in my vocabulary until this particular week. The first few local comics seemed to get through their sets respectfully. The crowds were polite, but low energy, which was to be expected.

But then the Toronto guy went on stage.

And you KNOW he had to try to make a joke about it.

I was horrified. The whole crowd was uncomfortable. 

It took a certain calibre of comic to talk about 9/11. Three years in, I knew it wasn’t me. Jon Stewart did it right.

But not many people in between.

I actually really like this comic today, but that was an awkward first impression.

I had only been to New York two times at this point in my life. Most comedians dream of performing there. But after that day, I feared it might never happen.

But guess what?

Dreams do come true.

I finally moved here…

March 1st, 2020.

P.S. Pretty sure learning of 9/11 in the shower has scarred me out of proper hygiene to this day.

P.P.S. If you watched Sex & the City back then, that first season the towers weren’t in the beginning anymore was a sad reminder.

P.P.P.S. I know this is a LOT of P.S.’s, but that first pic is of me and my sorority sister/friend Natasha when we drove to NYC for a “Canada Loves New York” Rally. Didn’t want to say that in the beginning, cuz I didn’t want spoilers. Was it obvious I was writing about 9/11? You can tell me…

Chapter 7: My First Paycheck From Comedy

There’s something about making money doing what you love that means more than the actual dollar amount. I know several comedians who gave up perfectly stable and respectable jobs to have a shot at telling jokes for forty bucks. No sense torturing yourself at a 9 to 5 job when you can torture yourself in a comedy club.

I was a year in to doing comedy when the club owner, Howard, came down to assess the new talent. I had heard a few things about him- he was picky, had zero tolerance for comics who ran the light (great news for me, as I was still barely hitting it) but he knew comedy. This was the home club of people like Mike MacDonald, Norm MacDonald and Tracey MacDonald. This place was heavy on the MacDonalds. Hopefully a Walkinshaw still had a chance.

Howard booked the weekend spots and some one nighters in glamorous places I had yet to go, like Cornwall and Carleton Place. (Not to be confused with my school Carleton University.)

At the time, I was still going to school and working part-time at CD Warehouse, slinging Britney’s first album. The day her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” single came in I told my co-workers, “This girl is gonna be a star.” (I was a little off with my S Club 7 predictions.)

These were pre-Shazam years too. Do you how many people used to come in and ask,

“Do you know that song that goes “I ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh…and I don’t go to sleeeee to dreeeee?”

Fiona Apple. 

I was living my own personal Empire Records, and I was good at it. (Minus being confrontational with shoplifters. I’d just pray they never did it again.) 

Like any comedian still working another job, I incorporated jokes about it.

“I work at CD Warehouse so you know I’m not HMV positive.”

(That reference might only work for Canadians and Europeans cuz I don’t think that store existed in the states.)

And since it’s tax season:

“Went to visit my H&R Block Parent…”

The jokes get better. I promise. And not that I want to fast forward my story, but in case I forget later, and agent in L.A. will one day tell me I should never tell the audience I have a day job. 

“You shouldn’t disillusion the audience into believing you’re not a full-time comedian.”

So lie to the crowd. Noted.

Reversely, when people came into my day job, I would NOT tell them I’m a comedian. Tom Green regularly came into CD Warehouse, but no matter how much my co-workers nudged me to say something to him, I never had the courage to spring my small boob material on him. (I’m sure he’s thankful I didn’t.)

This was also the job I got the nick name “Bubbles,” either from being bubbly, or from accidentally putting hand dish soap in the dishwasher, which flooded the staff room with bubbles. My co-worker Robin gave me the name, while I called him Fart Knocker. (FK for short, respectfully, cuz he was a manager.)

This was also the job I received my favorite compliment of my entire life. Was it technically a compliment? I’m not actually sure.

It was Christmas time, so we were busy. My co-worker Dave and I were ringing up CD’s side by side. The exact same job, only I’m enthusiast about it, he is not. Finally, he stops de-magnetizing Andrea Bocelli and says:

Christina… things seem real fun in your world…

He’s right. I can make a lot of seemingly shit days feel okay.

Why am I babbling about my part-time job in a blog that’s supposed to be about my life as a stand up comic?


  1. You should expect to have one for a while.


2. I didn’t get into stand up for money. 

(You might actually enjoy it more when you’re not throttling it for rent money.)

I’ve always appreciated my part time jobs for supporting this crazy dream. 

So when Howard officially introduced himself to me, and offered me my first weekend spots, it wasn’t the forty dollars I was excited about. It was the fact I had made it past my first gate keeper. 

Plus I’ll never forget him saying this: 

“I need more women.”

Don’t worry, he said it in a professional, business manner. I’m sure out of context that could sound pervy. I know a lot club owners are notorious for booking mostly male comics, but this little Ottawa club was special. Back then Howard brought in headliners like Heidi Foss, Tracy Smith, Margaret Smith, Lisa Gay Tremblay- women who inspired me early on. 

I’ll never forget driving Margaret Smith to the airport one Sunday morning. She checked out all the bumper stickers on my Ford Festiva, noting one in particular.

“Don’t hate me cuz I’m beautiful, hate me cuz I’m sleeping with your boyfriend…. Well, thank god I’m not driving.”

It’s a good thing Howard never saw all the tacky bumper stickers on my car. He might have worried about my taste in comedy and slowed down my promotions.

But I got lucky. After my two paid guest spots I was gifted a cheque for $40. Maybe he purposely didn’t pay cash on the chance we’d get sentimental, and just frame it. (Casey Corbin’s is in a photo album at his mom’s house.)

But it’s an exciting moment. 

Because the first time you get paid to do stand up is when you start to think,

“I can do this.”

(And I was right. I still sometimes make $40.)

I don’t have a catchy phrase for ending these blogs yet, like I did with my Tinder dates. (Keep Calm and Tinder On…) But I’m open to suggestions.

That being said, that’s it, folks. I like to limit these blogs to 1200 words cuz I know people don’t like to read. I was also scared this week’s entry wasn’t going to be as juicy as the upcoming ones I have plotted, but just like season 2 of The Crown, we gotta get through it.

I’ll be back next week to discuss shitty intros and the women who gave them to me.

(That’s not a typo.)

I’ve been Christina Walkinshaw,

Thank you and goodnight. 

P.S. The one shoplifter I naively believed might have coincidentally walked in the store with a purse full of CDS did return, and that time we caught her. 

(Such a bummer I don’t have old pics of me working at CD Warehouse, but back in those days we didn’t take pictures 62 times a day. But thank you FK for whipping this up!)

Chapter 2: The Queen of Unfinished Projects

Before I go any further into this blog, I need to address an important fact. 

I am the queen of unfinished projects.

I get an idea… 

I think it’s THE BEST… 

I start it… 

Tell people about it…


I give up.

That’s right. I bail on myself. Take THAT, people of Los Angeles. 

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but that’s usually what happens. I have a shit ton of abandoned creations. Sometimes I get scared my high school friends will finish raising their kids before I even do anything noteworthy. I can’t imagine why my country song, “I’m Not Good Enough For Most Guys, But I’m Good Enough For You,” didn’t sell. I have no instrumental skills and can’t sing, but I believed I had a hit on my hands.

I’ve dreamt of writing a book since I was a kid. I think I got into stand up because at it’s core, it’s a forum for writers. (Plus I’m too tone deaf to become a rock star.) Stand-up is a swift creative outlet, that can jizz all over your ego. (It doesn’t matter if you interpret that as a positive or negative- both check out.) Sometimes I get mad at myself for not completing a book sooner, but then another year passes and I’m so glad I didn’t. Every extra year only brings a better chapter.

Being the Queen of Unfinished Projects (a face that isn’t on any Canadian dollar bills) is not limited to creative endeavors. There are also domestic things that most civilians could complete in a single day, but I can’t. Take for instance, my bathroom. 

My bathroom isn’t in the entertainment business, per se, but it has created some comic relief in my life. (Privately, of course.) When I moved into my first ever, one bedroom apartment in Toronto, I took on the project of painting. It was the first time in my life living alone. I always had roommates. This was a huge accomplishment, even if it was only $745/month. (Don’t try to track down my old landlord- he has raised his rates.)

I actually like painting. I didn’t know until my house in Miracle Mile with fellow comedian and BFF Melissa McQueen, Miss Kansas 2002 Lindsay Douglas, and MTV’s sweet Road Rules sensation, Kendall Sheppard. Now THAT was a household. We lived in an Orthodox Jewish community, so we were strategic throwing our parties on the Sabbath so the neighbours couldn’t call the cops. Kiefer Sutherland even showed up at one. I was a huge 24 fan at the time, so when I answered the door and he was standing there, I yelled, 


The four of us roommates had a great time expressing ourselves by painting this gorgeous house. Unfortunately, our landlord disapproved of our colours. He angrily claimed “This isn’t Pee-Wee’s Playhouse!!!!” And painted over ALL our work, including Kendall’s room which was brown, pink and vanilla in honour of Neapolitan ice cream.

So now that I was finally living on my own, and my landlord actually encouraged tenants to paint (probs to save him work,) I was going for it. I started with the living room, since the guy who lived there before me had stenciled his personal poetry on the wall. The room was brown, and in white block letters, one wall said, 

“People say size doesn’t count, but my heart is a house.”

I obviously had to paint over it. Not just because it sounded stupid, but since I also slept with him. (How do you think I knew what the apartment looked like before I moved in? My real estate techniques are not to be scrutinized.) I managed to finish painting the living room in full, a deep blue with one grey accent wall. It always looked nice at night, but during the day it looked like Smurf Village. 

Now on to the bathroom. I invited over my friend Sheree to help. We were co-workers at an Irish pub in the financial district. She’s hilarious, likes to drink, smokes pot and is a Sagittarius, like me. I felt as though painting would be more of a party than a chore with her. I picked out a nice shade of lavender, soothing for the morning after too much dirty draught beer.

The paint day started off easy. I was in charge of the green tape around the edges. Sheree was basically doing everything. (Must have been good pot.) We were killing it, BUT- my ceilings were high, and we didn’t have the couch to stand on like we did in the living room. We dragged a kitchen chair in to stand on, but it wasn’t tall enough. 

“Let’s take a break. Hit Canadian Tire and buy a ladder.”

(Canadian Tire is like Home Depot, for Canadians. They should change the name to Canadian Depot.)

It was April, which is a tease of a month in Toronto. It can be deceitfully sunny. You can look out the window, believe it’s a gorgeous day, then walk outside and get whipped by wind so fierce you end up in tears. It was one of those days, but we walked anyway, because we’re a little drunk and a little high. AKA “Canadian Invincible.”

We get to Canadian Tire at Yonge & Davenport, a corner which I will later shoot my first ever half hour comedy special. Am I bragging? Absolutely not. That place has since been turned into condos.

Our shopping adventure seems too easy.

“Look! This ladder is so small! Easy to carry home! And only twenty bucks! Perfect!”

When we get back into my apartment, we crack another Strongbow and smoke a little more pot. Then Sheree steps on the new ladder.


The ladder that we were so excited about being small, and easy to carry home?

It was the same height as standing on a chair.

Literally useless. 

It’s worth noting that I am NOT a return/exchanger of any sorts. If I buy something and it doesn’t work out, it just goes in my closet. Or I give it away. But I don’t really have the storage space for multiple ladders, so back into the wind we go.

The second ladder requires a cab ride home. (Pre-Uber days I spent a LOT on cabs in Toronto.) We get back inside, Sheree takes a few more hoots, I continue drinking the rest of my Strongbow that I put back in the fridge while were out, the same way I used to save unfinished juice boxes as a kid.

We continue with Paintapalooza 2008, then…

We run out of paint. 

Fuck. Neither one of us feels like another trip back to Canadian Tire. We’ll finish painting next Sunday.

It was a pretty solid plan, except…

Tuesday is garbage day. I played a lot of garbage games in this apartment, cuz we could only leave our trash out the one night of the week, after 4pm. I was very careful to make sure no piece of rubbish was left behind. I made sure those paint cans got tossed. Which seemed smart at the time, but…

The following weekend I head out to buy more paint. And guess what? I forgot to write down the name of the colour. No problem. I’m sure I can eyeball it. Surely I will be drawn to the exact shade of lavender I picked last time, right?

Sheree returns with pot and Strongbow. We have a few sips, take a few hoots, and back to work. But…

When the roller hits the wall, it’s not the gentle lavender that’s already on half the room. It’s Hannah Montana purple. 


Oh well. The colour is a little strong for a bathroom, but who cares? I live alone. No roommate to complain, and I don’t really give a shit. I love Miley Cyrus. (Even more true after her latest album, Plastic Hearts.)

A few hours later, we run out of paint again, because of course I bought the same size can as last time.

But it’s raining. And I already spent a lot on cabs that week. 

I never finished painting that bathroom. I just lived there, with three different colours on the walls for eight years. 

So if I never finish writing this book, I’ll just look at it as finally having a second bathroom.