Since there’s been television sets to complain about, parents have been warning their children that they “can’t believe everything [they] see on TV!” I would agree that this is very often the case, but when it comes to George Stroumboulopoulos, I’ve decided he can be trusted.
*This next bit is going to read like a second introduction and I’m pretty sure it is.
It irritates me when people talk about hating people they have never met. You can hate Lady Gaga’s music all you want or hate Charlie Sheen’s lifestyle, but you really can’t hate a person you don’t know. So whenever I hear people talk that way about George Stroumboulopoulos (which is rare but it does happen), I feel the need to defend him, having met him three times now.
The first time I met Stroumboulopoulos was in April of 2007. I was in Toronto to visit my sister and do the usual Toronto stuff: The Hockey Hall of Fame, The CN Tower, and the Allied Beauty Association’s convention and trade show (Yes, there’s a whole different story there.).
I also made plans to go to a taping of The Hour. It was really my main reason for going, next to seeing my sister, of course.
It was Tuesday, April 3, 2007 and his in-studio guests were James Bartleman, then the 27th Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario and Neil Sedaka; if you don’t already know who he is (shame on you), I won’t bother having to explain. But it wasn’t his interview style or the the guests that got me. It was how he dealt with the audience. During one of the breaks he started talking with someone in the crowd about hockey goaltenders. The conversation lasted the whole break. The floor manager gave him the 30 second sign. Stroumboulopoulos acknowledged it and kept talking with the audience member. At the 20 second warning, he began walking backwards to his chair, never breaking eye contact or conversation with the audience member. At 10 seconds, he was sitting in his chair still conversing with the audience member until he put his finger up for a pause, said, “Just a second”, then turned to the camera, “My next guest…”
After the show he stayed to meet every person who stayed to meet him.
The second time I attended a taping was November 30, 2009. His guests that day were Patrick Trahan, a motorcyclist from the Dakar Rally (who almost killed my friends and I when he arrived on his bike at the CBC, bumped into a cab, then lurched up onto the sidewalk), and Shawn Ashmore, the actor. My sister, her boyfriend, my friend Lori, and I sat front row. It was cool. At the time, I was doing my own interview show online and had a picture of Stroumboulopoulos out of sight, down by my knee. If an interview was going a little awry, I’d look down and think, “What would George do?” He signed the picture for me that day.
I hate Metrotown. I hate everything about Metrotown. In fact, the last time I was there was for this, five or six years ago:
Now hanging around all day making snide remarks about Canadian Idol is a great way to spend your day in the mall. Standing in line? Not so much. This past Saturday, Metrotown played host to a CBC Live event. I went to check it out. One “Lucky Facebook Winner” was given 20 or so minutes to ask Stroumboulopoulos questions, interview him. One of the questions was “Why the CBC?” Stroumboulopoulos responded that he didn’t even return their call the first time. It wasn’t until it dawned on him that there were no investors, no bottom line, at the CBC that he wanted to go work there. The CBC existed to program for a nation, not make investors rich. I decided to stay afterward to see if I could get signed posters for a couple of friends.
After almost two hours, and tweets like, “If I don’t get a @strombo poster b/c the line was too long, next person to walk by with a Heartland poster is getting punched on her 14yr old tit!”, I finally got a chance to meet him again, shake his hand, and get a couple of personalized autographs for my friends. Standing in line makes you punchy, I know, but I really wasn’t worried. Just as I figured, he stayed. While the Dragon’s Den guy was long gone with the cast of The Republic of Doyle, Stroumboulopoulos, “George” as he always introduces himself, was still chatting wildly with the first two people in line.
He is the real deal, Truth on TV. If you don’t like his show, fine. But if you’re going to slam him, shake his hand and look him in the eye before you do. It’s not being star struck either. Stroumboulopoulos is no star; he’s Canada’s boyfriend.