(Source: The St. Catharines Standard, Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Don Fraser)
By riding his unicycle to New York City, Alex Kazam hopes to peddle his act on David Letterman’s show.
Kazam – a comedy magician from St. Catharines – has always taken his cue from the TV host’s barbed comedy style.
“Ever since I was 10, I wanted to get on The Late Show with David Letterman,” said the 18-year-old, inside St. Catharines’ Johnny Rocco’s restaurant.
“And I’ve always wanted to meet the guy. He’s a pop culture icon and a huge inspiration.”
Kazam is a Brock University drama student, as well as a unique entertainer at Niagara establishments like Boston Pizza and Johnny Rocco’s.
He describes his act as, “I tell them a joke and then sneak something into my pocket.”
The unicycle has been a passion through his teen years and helped expand his comic repertoire.
“I was trying to come up with ways to get Letterman’s attention,” said the graduate of Ecole Secondaire Jean-Vanier in Welland.
“Unfortunately, the best I could come up with was a unicycle ride.”
Kazam’s assistant-friend, Chelsea Howard, is cycling alongside but on two wheels. The two left midday on Wednesday.
“It’s new to me,” said the 17-year-old St. Francis Secondary School student before setting out. “I know I’m ready for it, but obviously there will be challenges.”
Also along for the trip is Kazam’s beloved stuffed bear he calls Eddie the Teddy, who’ll be hitched to the magician’s back.
“I’ve had him since I was born and I take him everywhere,” Kazam explains. “It’s all in the name of good spirit.”
World Vision Canada also stands to benefit from the 600-km, one-wheeled sojourn.
Kazam is raising money for the international relief and development organization on his site: www.tiny.cc/longride
He said since he and Howard are in decent shape, no major physical preparation was needed for the pedestrian route that selected using Google Maps. However, he concedes the longest he’s unicycled before has been for 90 minutes. The ride to New York City could take six days.
“It’s probably not a smart idea (to do this),” he conceded. “But then, I’m a little bit eccentric and crazy, so it’ll be fine.”
As for snoozing arrangements on the trip, Kazam and Howard are counting on the goodwill of strangers. They are willing to crash almost anywhere – attics, porches, even under a truck.
As his trip progresses, Kazam hopes media coverage will help him nail some airtime on Letterman’s long-running CBS comedy talk show.
As for getting Letterman’s attention, “it’s people like you” who will help get it done, he said to a Standard reporter.
“I’ve emailed (show producers) and tried to call it a stupid human trick,” he added, in reference to Letterman’s long-running gag. “I didn’t yet get any callbacks.”
Johnny Rocco’s owner Tony Visca is wowed by Kazam’s chutzpa.
Kazam performs at Rocco’s Niagara Falls location Friday evenings and St. Catharines on Saturdays.
“It’s a great thing, I think it’s awesome,” Visca said. “I really hope he (raises) a lot of money and gets picked to go on Letterman.”