Wordfest: American comic chronicles obsession with hockey in new memoir, The Superior Recreation

Wordfest: American comic chronicles obsession with hockey in new memoir, The Superior Recreation

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It’s a testomony to Dave Hill’s obsession with hockey, and his associated obsession with jerseys, that late-night searching on-line led to an exhausting journey to Kenya.

Granted, it’s potential the New York-based comic, writer, actor and musician knew that it will make a great chapter in his fourth guide, The Superior Recreation: One Man’s Unimaginable Globe-Crushing Hockey Odyssey.

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Throughout his seek for obscure hockey jerseys, he occurred upon one for Kenya’s one-and-only hockey workforce, The Nairobi-based Kenya Ice Lions.

“As I speak about within the guide, I feel non-NHL jerseys are all the time cooler than NHL jerseys, regardless that there are some cool NHL jerseys,” says Hill, in an interview with Postmedia from his New York dwelling. “I feel I did a seek for ‘the best non-NHL ice jerseys’ and the Kenya Ice Lions was on the record. What Kenya? Kenya, Ontario? Is it a small city with a Junior A workforce I’ve by no means heard of? Then I spotted they have been really in Nairobi. That’s how I ended up going over there. It was simply ‘Oh man, that jersey is wonderful.’ I bought in contact with them and one factor led to a different.”

It was an eye-opening expertise for Hill and can also be the main target of considered one of his guide’s funniest chapters. As a hockey-obsessed American, Hill was solely 11 when he started enjoying hockey in Cleveland. As he admits within the guide, his love of the sport generally had him exaggerating his expertise for it in his personal thoughts. When he found the Kenya Ice Lions had not been round for very lengthy, he satisfied himself that he would be capable to “destroy these guys” on the ice. They didn’t make it to the ice.

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When he arrived, Hill found Nairobi’s solely ice rink had but to reopen post-COVID. So that they opted to play curler hockey. Hill bought his “ass kicked.” Members of the workforce have been all 20 to 30 years youthful than him. They performed a marathon five-hour recreation.

“If I hadn’t flown internationally to be there, I might have left after two hours, tops,” Hill says. “There’s no approach. Who performs hockey for greater than two hours? They only stored going and going and I used to be lifeless. Additionally, I used to be actually hungover. It was silly however I used to be going out with these guys each evening and, once more, they have been a lot youthful than I’m. In Kenya, whenever you order a beer, they carry you two beers except you beg them to deliver one. By the point I really performed hockey, I used to be in fairly tough form.”

He additionally determined to do a comedy present whereas within the nation.

“I did one present in Nairobi, which was what I wish to name a ‘character-builder,’ ” he says. “It was one of many worst exhibits I ever had.”

His excuse for heading to Finland was related. Finland, second maybe solely to Canada in terms of hockey obsession, was additionally dwelling to groups with cool, non-NHL jerseys.

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“The charges to purchase one and ship it was so excessive, I used to be like ‘I’ll present them, I’m simply going to go there,’ ” says Hill.

Whereas the topic does occupy a variety of pages, The Superior Recreation isn’t really about hockey jerseys. Hill’s connection to hockey in Poland, as an illustration, was a bit extra private. He had found that his sister-in-law’s second cousin was knowledgeable hockey participant there, so he was quickly packing his baggage.

“It was simply chasing little granules of knowledge and seeing the place they led me,” he says.

The Superb Recreation is a pure follow-up to Hill’s 2019 guide Parking the Moose: One American’s Epic Quest to Uncover His Unimaginable Canadian Roots, which had the comic travelling throughout the nation to pattern all issues Canadian, together with a Wordfest cease in Calgary the place he ate poutine, drank caesars and watched the Flames lose to the Dallas Stars.

In The Superior Recreation, Hill goes again to his childhood obsession with hockey, which was seen as considerably eccentric in Cleveland, and his life-long frustration that fellow People don’t appear to understand or perceive the game.

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He recounts his days enjoying hockey as a pre-teen and teenage and his enrolment in a really costly hockey faculty. He additionally sought perception into the sport from folks resembling veteran sportswriter Stephen Brunt, former Olympian and hockey professional Venla Hovi, who’s at present head coach of the Metropolitan Riveters, a New Jersey-based girls’s professional hockey workforce. He additionally tracked down Len Frig, who was the primary NHL participant he noticed “up shut and in individual” when his grandfather took him to a Cleveland Barons recreation within the 1976-77 season; and Bryan Trottier, who he had met as a teen and reconnected after he learn Trottier’s memoir All Roads Dwelling.

At Wordfest this yr, Hill might be part of 4 occasions on Oct. 13, 14 and 15, together with How one can be a Good Sport on Oct. 14 at Memorial Park Library the place he’ll focus on his guide. He’s additionally internet hosting Leacockians on Oct. 13, which can function a panel of Canadian comedic writers – Ali Bryan, Terry Fallis, Will Ferguson and Amy Jones. Whereas right here, he hopes to fulfill Canuck comedy royalty Brent Butt, who might be at Wordfest selling his darkish thriller about stand-up comedians referred to as Enormous.

“I’ve grow to be on-line buddies with him however I’ve by no means met him in individual,” says Hill. “So I’m excited. Perhaps he’s a monster, although. You by no means know. He is perhaps an entire monster. You possibly can inform him my issues”

Dave Hill will seem at Wordfest’s Imaginairium on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m., Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m. and  3:30 p.m. at Memorial Park Library’s Alexander Calhoun Salon. He can even seem on Oct. 15 at 2:15 p.m. on the DJD Dance Centre.

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