Vanier sparked winning comedian’s career

Meet Ron Sparks: Toronto resident, stand-up comedian, master of deadpan shenanigans and York alumnus. The 25-year-old is this year’s winner of the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund, one of the most prestigious annual awards in comedy, reported Metroland newspapers Dec. 12. Sparks won the $2,500 prize at the Cream of Comedy show, sponsored by the Comedy Network. As an added bonus this year, he received $10,000 from the network to produce a short comedic film. Sparks, who graduated from York in 2002 with an honours double-major degree in film and Canadian history, started his comedic career as a member of Vanier College Productions and the Vanier Improv Company. A five-year veteran of sketch comedy and member of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew and Gazebo Pals troupes, Sparks made the foray into stand-up comedy only seven months ago.

AT&T’s seasonal slogan has familiar ring

If “Give like Santa. Save like Scrooge” conjures up a Canadian Tire ad, think again: This season, it’s AT&T Wireless that is using the slogan in newspapers across the United States, reported The Globe and Mail Dec. 12. A Canadian trademark holder might be able to argue that advertising in a US publication with some Canadian readership infringed its trademark because of “spill” into the Canadian market, but it would also have to prove harm to its business, said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Canadian Tire’s is not the first slogan to find itself repeated elsewhere. “That stuff happens all the time,” Middleton said. “In fact, there are some creative people who do nothing but search advertising annuals of the world looking for good ideas.” 

On matters of the heart, cholesterol and Oreos

In a Toronto Star column Dec. 12, Judy Gerstel says Dennis Raphael is challenging us to think critically about the focus on cholesterol as the major cause of heart disease. The York University health management professor is “a tireless proselytizer for acting on the proven link between health and socioeconomic status,” said Gerstel, who outlines his arguments. “The excessive concern with trans fats is a joke,” says Raphael. “For the average, healthy person going to Loblaws, the health effects, if any, are going to be negligible. But having close to 800,000 Canadians using food banks on a monthly basis, with not enough money to spend on basic needs, experiencing stress and insecurity, that’s really sowing the seeds for poor cardiovascular health.”

 On air

  • Craig Heron, history and social science professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, discussed and showed pictures from his book, Booze: A Distilled History, on City-tv’s “Breakfast TV” Dec. 11.