What comes to mind when you hear the word, “Renaissance?” Is it an age of gilded art and flourishing culture? Is it role playing nerds wearing puffy shirts and eating turkey legs? For me, the very first thing that comes to my mind is none of those things. The word Renaissance can be perfectly summed up in the form of one man, actor/artist John Dunsworth.
The work of this man came into my existence late last year and has marked me ever since. But it wasn’t just his talent as an actor, which is meticulous, but his actions as a person. Whether it is in interviews or even some of his interactions with his fans on his Facebook fan page, Dunsworth comes across incredibly real and warm. This is not your garden-variety talented actor, folks, this is a man whose background includes starting an alternative theater in the 1970’s and being not only politically active but also politically educated too. (There are few things more painful than having to read or hear the politically illiterate spew on about politics. You do not have to fear this when it comes to Dunsworth.) And face it, any man who can run around faux-drunk and in his undies on The Trailer Park Boys and then name check Antonin Artaud (the father of the Theatre of Cruelty & overall genius) is a man that is instantly my hero. In short, John Dunsworth is the man.
One of the more fascinating things about Dunsworth is how much he has whole-heartedly embraced the popularity of The Trailer Park Boys and his role as Jim Lahey, former police officer, current drunk and supervisor of the titular park. In addition to doing the occasional stage tour with Patrick Roach, who plays Lahey’s gut-blessed partner Randy on the show, he also released the now out-of-print “Dicshitnary,” a compendium of the many glorious ways one can incorporate the word “shit.” (Some nuggets from the Trailer Park Boys include “shit-rats,” a euphemism for cats, and my personal favorite, the “shitabyss,” which is exactly what it sounds like.) He even has his own YouTube channel, that includes anecdotes, assorted skits, cameos by his TPB cohorts and even a couple of appearances by Lahey himself.
John Dunsworth is a rare breed of a man and artist, one who is not afraid to be silly, surreal and smart, all in one fell swoop. One small example is this clip on his YouTube channel, where, while working on his boat, he talks about art, pop culture and the aforementioned Artaud, all in under two minutes. Enjoy!