Ottawa man turns tale of woe into comedy after house destroyed in tornado

“If life gives you trees, find a way to build your treehouse.”

That’s how Arlington Woods resident Rory Gardiner sums up his perspective in direction of tornadoes.

The one which swept by way of his neighbourhood final September despatched timber crashing by way of his roof, flattened his autos and destroyed his yard, forcing the musician-comedian and his household to maneuver out whereas staff took over to repair the harm.

Eight months later, they’re again in their residence, and Gardener, 38, has an entire new present to convey to the Ottawa Fringe Festival stage subsequent week. The post-tornado enjoyable began with a video he made to make his neighbours snicker. 

Entitled The Ottawa Tornado – The Day After, the video exhibits him calling for decent tub service as a result of his sizzling tub isn’t working correctly and he may actually use the “relaxing water.” In the background is a sizzling tub crushed by timber. Another bit has him on the cellphone to promote his automotive, which was once an SUV however is now a compact as a result of it, too, is crushed by a tree. There’s additionally footage of Gardiner exhibiting off the “outside feel” of a brand new skylight in a room stuffed with damaged tree limbs and open to the sky. 

The video shortly grew to become the preferred factor on Gardiner’s YouTube channel, racking up greater than 10,000 views in a pair of days. It not solely prompted him to give you much more tornado jokes, refining them in comedy golf equipment over the winter, but additionally drew the eye of TEDx occasion organizers in Colorado, who preferred how he overcame adversity with humour.

Gardiner flew to Colorado final month to offer a TEDx speak, which was recorded in entrance of a dwell viewers and is predicted for on-line launch subsequent month. (The TEDx program options occasions organized independently below a free licence granted by the influential TED media group.)

To get an additional sense of Gardiner’s offbeat type of comedy, ask him concerning the day the tornado hit.

“I got home and ate pizza in the living room with the kids,” he begins, “and all of a sudden a tree falls in the front yard and my neighbour’s pool lands in the yard. It’s a pretty good indication I should probably put on some pants. So I grabbed my favourite kid and we went down in the basement.”

He goes on to lament the inconvenience. “Twenty minutes before the tornado, I had just vacuumed. I’m never going to get that time back.”

Of course, there was a severe facet to the expertise, and he most likely wouldn’t be laughing about it if he hadn’t been insured.

“I’d never really been faced with any life-threatening adversity up to that point,” Gardiner stated. “It was the first time that I felt today could be my last day, anything can happen. No one expects a tornado to come ripping up your street. We hear it a million times but we unknowingly take so much for granted.”

Between the video’s reputation and viewers response to his tornado jokes, Gardiner realized his observations would make a very good Fringe present, particularly in Ottawa. He additionally introduced his tale to colleges to do what he may to “put students’ minds at ease about tornadoes,” as he places it.

The son of a guitarist who performed in one of Canada’s main bluegrass bands, The Northern Sons, Gardiner has been writing about what goes on round him since he was younger. At first, he needed to be a rock star.

But “somewhere in the 90s, I caught the Garth Brooks bug and I never truly recovered,” he stated, explaining how his musical type advanced into nation music. He’s launched six albums, together with one album of songs for youngsters, and has had his music positioned on commercials and tv exhibits. Other highlights embrace opening for nation celebrity Keith Urban at Bluesfest in 2015, and being nominated for a Canadian Country Music Award final 12 months.

Although he nonetheless performs music (and will probably be half of the Country Music Association of Ontario awards festivities going down in Ottawa on June 16), Gardiner discovered he additionally loved speaking between songs and making the gang snicker. That led him to pursue comedy during the last 5 years.

But after the expertise of the TEDx speak and the varsity appearances, he’s now develop into in inspiring audiences by way of talking engagements. The speak may mark the beginning of a brand new chapter of a profession that additionally has a money-making facet along with his day job in real-estate growth. 

Meanwhile, Gardiner’s Fringe present wraps up the tornado chronicle, from viral video to TEDx, with a mixture of storytelling, stand-up comedy and music. It’s one of dozens of exhibits which can be half of this 12 months’s competition, which runs from June 13-23 at 9 venues in Ottawa’s downtown Rideau neighbourhood.

The competition’s preview night time takes place at 7 p.m. June 12 at Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Ave. 


Tornado Troubles

By Rory Gardiner

When & the place: June 13,15,17,19, 21 and 22, ODD Box, Arts Court, 2 Daly Ave.

Tickets: $12 for every efficiency, plus a $three Fringe pin

For advance tickets, particulars on exhibits and full schedule data, go to

[email protected]


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