Comedy, Cancer, and Cannabis: Alan Park’s Wild Ride

(Photo by Kim Sakamoto)

By all accounts, things were going well for Alan Park in the mid-2000s. The comedian was becoming a household name in Canada, appearing as a regular cast member on the CBC’s weekly sketch comedy show Royal Canadian Air Farce.

The primetime cable show, which kept tabs on the minutiae of the country’s political and cultural inner workings, saw Park become the regular face of many of the show’s political impersonations, from former Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United States’ Donald Rumsfeld, and even Barack Obama. The show ran weekly until 2008, and carries on through annual new year’s specials. Park would continue working with Air Farce for these specials, although soon, to the dismay of his fans, it appeared as if Park had dropped into near oblivion.

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But as he reveals in Green Crush with Alan Park, the weekly podcast he launched earlier this year, the comedian got some not-so-good news that saw him indefinitely sidelined from the comedy acting and writing gigs he loved dearly.

That news? “I had stage-four cancer,” Park tells his listeners on an episode of Green Crush.

He says he had then been told—two different times—that he was on a “guaranteed deathbed.” It wasn’t a question if he would die, but when.

Park’s acerbic wit underscores a fearless attitude perfectly suited to someone who’s twice beat stage-four cancer.

Now, with the cancer diagnosis a few years behind him, Park says he’s “living proof” that cannabis be used as a treatment tool in the fight against cancer, having fought an “astronomical” prostate-specific antigen (PSA) value of over 700 down to less than two, lower than the normal upper limit of four.

In a video filmed by Canadian cannabis activist Russell Barth that now has more than 10,000 views on YouTube, Park says taking increasing doses of concentrated Rick Simpson Oil helped cure the cancer that, as he recently put on his show, was “irreversible, aggressive, advanced, terminal cancer that had already metastasized into most of my skeleton.”

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In Green Crush, the comedian-turned-podcaster hopes to use his broadcast platform to not only talk about the benefits cannabis can have in cancer treatment, but also to attack “myths” about cannabis he says are being spread by the government.

On Green Crush, the comedian-turned-podcaster talks about cannabis’ cancer-fighting benefits and attacks cannabis myths spread by the government.

Among the show’s segments is the aptly-named What About The Children?, in which Park shines a light on what he says are phony arguments that cannabis needs to stay illegal because of the effects it might have on youth.

“What about the children of the people who have been sentenced to die?” he says during one such segment, flipping the script on prohibitionists while alluding that cancer patients could use cannabis. “Children who then get to see their dad deteriorate. What about those children?”

Where Royal Canadian Air Farce mocked the little details of Canada’s political goings, Park does the same with Canada’s legalization plan and the ballooning costs that law enforcement officials they say they’ll face.

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A frequent target of Park’s is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, especially since her ministers announced that the province would restrict all forthcoming sales of recreational cannabis to 150 government-run stores and one government-run website.

“It’s nothing more than an extension of the tribal control that’s been on top of our society from the beginning of time,” Park said during one episode. “They don’t want other people getting in the way and saying ‘Hey – it could be like this! We might be able to consider these possibilities.’ No. They’re just putting up a bogus, full-of-shit wall of nonsense defense and a lot of people are chilling out and taking it easy on and not fighting hard enough.”

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You can tell Park has been through some stuff. His voice sounds much more gruff than it had on Air Farce, and the acerbic wit he now employs underscores a give-no-fucks attitude that only someone who twice beat stage-four cancer could have. “I really didn’t think I’d be talking about these things like this three or four years ago,” he told his podcast listeners. “I was lying on a couch wondering if I could get upstairs to go to the bathroom, now I feel like I just want to tear the walls down.”

The whole angle Park brings to the show is one of a conspiracy-theorist radio host.

The whole angle Park brings to the show is one of a conspiracy-theorist radio host. And that’s probably because Park comes fresh off hosting the podcast “Conspiracy Queries: With Alan Park,” in which he “questioned the official story, attempts to reveal the conspiracy, and uncovers how and why we are being lied to.”

Now, Park is doing that with cannabis, becoming a sort of Canadian-marijuana Alex Jones (without the fascist sympathies and food-supplement hucksterism). There’s no stopping Alan Park—on every episode of Green Crush he cites some of the science behind the notion that cannabis may treat cancer. And now the man won’t stop until he’s shared that message with everyone.

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After hours of listening to the podcast, I reached out to the man himself, with a handful of questions I hadn’t heard him address on Green Crush.

Pressed to identify his biggest hope for Canada’s impending cannabis legalization, he tells me, “My best hope for the impending legislation would be for the general public to be aware that the inherent architectural structure of this legalization is so heavily flawed on so many points.”

What about his biggest fear? “That no one will care and that they will get away with it.”

Finally, does he miss doing political impersonation on TV? “Yeah a little bit,” he tells me. “I wanted to do a Joel Osteen gig a while ago when he wasn’t letting Hurricane Harvey victims into his church. I thought I’d have a good time with that. It’s not a burning desire, but now I’m incorporating voice work into my show.”

Listen to Green Crush with Alan Park here.