Jim Carrey got his first laughs performing for classmates in Burlington Ontario
Published November 14, 2023 at 6:16 pm
Jim Carrey has had a long and successful career both in television and in movies, but before he first climbed on stage at comedy clubs he kept family members, neighbours and high school classmates in stitches with his antics right here in Burlington.
As a child, Carrey moved around a lot, citing Newmarket, Jackson’s Point and Scarborough as places where his family stayed for short periods. But it was in Burlington where they settled for eight years and where his talents began to emerge.
As early as the mid-’70s, neighbours in his Burlington townhouse complex began to take notice.
“Even as a young kid, he had that expressive face that he could twist and contort and create characters with,” wrote one friend on a fan website several years ago.
Attending the former St. Francis Xavier School in Burlington, Carrey’s comedic talents and his ability to perform were recognized early. He won a speech contest in Grade 6 and, because of his good-natured way of making people laugh, one of his teachers at St. Francis Xavier often let him perform for his fellow students at the end of the day.
“He was just so funny, a natural,” the teacher has stated. “If the class was behaving that day, I would let Jim perform before they went home.”
Carrey has often acknowledged his teachers for encouraging him.
By the time he entered high school, Carrey had already earned a reputation as a funny guy, quick with a joke and easily impersonating teachers who didn’t seem to mind his antics.
As a former classmate writes on the same fan site: “The first time I noticed Jim was in my art class attending Aldershot High School and I can remember him doing a drawing and imitating John Wayne at the same time.”
Another former classmate commented: “He always made our lunch hours in the cafeteria a blast. He was always in a role just acting away as if in another world. It was incredible fun… a time I will never forget. :)”
His football jersey was also once on display at the school.
Carrey didn’t last long in high school as the family continued to move around, falling on hard times. Often finding themselves homeless, Carrey said as a teenager he and his siblings lived in a tent in a park in the Town of Lincoln, near St. Catharines.
Still, he was ambitious and made sure he turned up at comedy clubs in Toronto to refine his skills.
It was during one of his shows at Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto when he was noticed by a teacher who invited him back to the school. The result was Carrey performing at Aldershot, where he had former classmates and teachers “howling and cheering.”
A couple of years later, Burlington friends caught up with Carrey again after a nightclub performance in Toronto. At the time he was working on his first major project, a television show called Duck Factory. Although Duck Factory failed to click with television audiences, it was Carrey’s first starring role and was soon followed by performances on the Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.
By the early 1990s, Carrey was a regular on the comedy sketch show In Living Color, which also launched the career of Jennifer Lopez who performed with the show’s dance troupe.
From there, Carrey’s career took off. Starring roles in Ace Ventura Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Batman Forever, Liar Liar, The Truman Show, Cable Guy and How the Grinch Stole Christmas followed, establishing him as a major Hollywood star.
While Carrey has reached the pinnacle of the entertainment world, he has taken a few steps back from the limelight recently by concentrating on art and writing in his Los Angeles home.
In 2013, his connection to Burlington was made once again when he produced the children’s book How Roland Rolls. When a friend introduced Carrey to illustrator Rob Nason who would help with the book, they found they each called Burlington home at one time.
As Carrey decides his next move, he has said that Burlington is often on his mind and drops in for a visit when nobody is looking.
“It’s still home,” he has said. “It was a good place to grow up and I miss the good times I had there.”inhalton's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising