MQFT with John Morris

This week, John sits down with John Morris, a man who barely requires an introduction and the second most handsome man named John who curls out of B.C. John is a 2010 Olympic gold medallist, two-time World Junior Champion, one-time World Men’s Champion, and a man who is looking to improve upon his 2013 Olympic Trials Runner-Up finish this year at the Pre-Trials and Trials.

John Morris in action at the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary, Alta. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

Welcome to Magical Question Fun Time, the Curling Canada feature where comedian John Cullen sits down with your favourite curlers for interviews like you have never seen. This interview features eight questions: five standard questions that will be asked to each curler, two questions specific to that curler, and one question that the curler interviewed before them asks.

1. Aside from the travel, what’s the coolest opportunity you’ve had as a result of curling? John Morris: I’ve been lucky and had a lot, but it’s got to be the 2010 Olympics. The whole experience was amazing, but I think getting to meet all the people you’d never be able to otherwise was really special. I worked out in the Olympic Village gym with Chris Pronger, watched Canada play hockey with Wayne Gretzky at the Hockey House, and then the post-Olympics was really cool. We did a media tour with some of the other athletes, hung out with guys like Jonathan Toews at the MuchMusic Video Awards, just all that stuff. It was awesome. JC: Now did you find that the athletes you met knew a lot about what was going on with the curling, or were they focused on their own thing? JM: No, that was the cool part about it, you really feel a part of Team Canada, and I think the hockey players especially really enjoyed it because for a few weeks they just got to be normal people. Sure, they’re famous in the Village too, but no one bugs them and they can just be regular people. And they definitely respect curling. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins actually came out to the Glencoe Club in Calgary after the Olympics for a team-building thing, and he was saying how much respect he had for us because he was horribly sore the next day. He told me he discovered muscles he didn’t know he had, so to hear that from a guy like that was pretty good.

Canada’s 2010 gold-medal Olympic champions: (left to right) fifth Adam Enright, lead Ben Hebert, second Marc Kennedy, third John Morris and skip Kevin Martin (WCF/Michael Burns photo)

2. If there was an action figure made of you, what non-curling accessory would it come with? JM: A bow and arrow, for sure. Actually, a bow and arrow in one hand, and a fishing rod in the other. JC: Now I knew that you were an outdoorsy guy, but I didn’t know about the bow hunting thing. Why do you like to bow hunt? JM: Well, I started out hunting with a gun, and I didn’t like it at all. It was a unique experience, but I didn’t like that the animal didn’t really stand a chance. It didn’t feel true to me. I like the purity of bow hunting, where you actually have to HUNT. A lot of guys think hunting is that you just show up in a bunch of ridiculous camo gear in a pickup truck, shoot a thing, and leave. Bow hunting, you do a lot of tracking, stealth, all that stuff. I also like knowing where my meat comes from, and it tastes amazing. JC: Do you think it helps with curling at all? JM: Oh, for sure. You have to be in really good shape to bow hunt, you’re doing a lot of running and tracking and they’re long days. It helps with my heart for sure. And mentally, it helps me find my zone on the ice. When you’re out hunting, the phone is off, you’re communing with nature, and it really centres you. Sometimes when I get stressed on the ice, I think about that and it helps me clear my mind. 3. If you were forced to rob a bank, which two curlers—you can’t choose more than one teammate—would you choose to be on your squad, and what role would you play? JM: Oh, wow. Okay. Well, we clearly need someone to distract the teller; that could be anyone, I guess. But the key is to send in Ryan Fry as my second guy. He’s so short that no one would be able to see him. [laughs] I’ll have him sneak behind the counter and open up the vault. JC: [laughs] I’m getting a great image of Ryan Fry behind the counter, dodging and darting. [laughs] And you just wander into the vault, and scoop up the cash. You get all the glory. JM: [laughs] Absolutely my friend. I’ll share the cash with Fry though, don’t worry.

John Morris: “The key is to send in Ryan Fry as my second guy.” (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? JM: I would say my first job was probably my worst job, I worked at Canadian Tire when I was in grade 10 and 11. I hope they don’t read this though, my old boss will be unhappy. [laughs] I made $6.50 an hour and every cent of that went towards beer money on the weekend, but it was a painful way to make that cash. JC: What was so bad about it? JM: Johnny, I honestly couldn’t tell you. It just really wasn’t my thing. I really loved the people I worked with there and they were the ones who kept it bearable, but I just didn’t enjoy it. I felt like my shifts took forever. I would usually work six-hour shifts and they felt like six days. Actually, [laughs] I shouldn’t tell you this, but sometimes we would have to go and get some stuff from upstairs in the office. When I had to do that, sometimes I would go up there, find a quiet spot, and sit on a box and fall asleep for half an hour. [laughs] JC: [laughs] Oh man. I think we’ve all had those jobs, where it’s a struggle to stay awake. JM: I will say this, just so my old boss doesn’t get TOO mad at me. It was good for me to learn at such a young age that you shouldn’t work a job you don’t love. I’ve had nothing but great jobs since then, and I think that was something I really needed to learn. 5. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed was true for a long time? JM: Whew, that’s tough. In university, I guess incorrectly believed I was a gourmet chef. Now that I’ve done a lot of chef training, I realize that making Kraft Dinner and chicken fingers and putting the chicken fingers in the KD doesn’t make you a gourmet cook. [laughs] JC: Oh no. I can imagine that didn’t go over too well for the ladies in university either. I’m sure now one of the things you can do with your chef training is cook a lovely meal for a lady, and if you thought that was gourmet back then… JM: [laughs] Don’t remind me. I do think on a date once I told a girl I was a good cook and I brought her over and cooked this meal. [laughs] It didn’t take me too long to realize that maybe I’m not as good of a cook as I thought I was. I’m pretty sure there was no second date. [laughs] 6. So on with the John Morris-specific questions, and I’ll tell you…there’s a lot of stories we can’t print here. But there are also some great ones we can. The first thing I was told to ask you about was pheasant hunting. I hear you got eliminated from a spiel once and took out your anger on some pheasants? JM: [laughs] Ah jeez, that’s true. Happened twice, actually, although I think one time it was because we qualified A-side. It happened in Brooks both times, it’s actually known as being a pheasant hunting mecca, people come from all over the world to hunt there. The first year we were there, the pheasant hunting guide or whatever was the sponsor we were sitting with, and we had fresh pheasant for dinner, so I thought I’ve gotta try this. We were always motivated to qualify A side there. JC: And if you didn’t qualify, no better way to get over it than by taking some shots. JM: Definitely the one year we were out by Sunday and so while it sucked we lost, we got to spend the day out in the fields. I actually remember that time was with Carter and he brought his wife Sheila, and man, it was embarrassing. As I said, I hunt all the time, but I am just horrible with a shotgun, just a brutal shot. So I went out there expecting to do well and the dog goes and flushes the pheasants, and Carter and I took a bunch of shots, got nothing. Sheila took two shots, two pheasants hit the ground. She’s a country girl so it was pretty cool to see her do that, but mine and Carter’s effort definitely sucked. [laughs]

Carter Rycroft (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

7. It’s fitting that you bring up Carter, because my second question actually has to do with him. I remember one year in Vernon playing you guys and you took an RV up to Vernon for the spiel. Now I’ve heard from some sources that you guys played a lot of cards and in that spiel in particular…Carter suffered a unique punishment. What was it? JM: Well, first of all, that weekend was a blast. That was something I always wanted to do, take an RV and drive to a spiel. So we drove one in from Calgary, camped at a few spots, I cooked a bunch of meals for the guys, it was a great time. On that team, we definitely played a lot of cards and I remember we were sitting in the RV in the club parking lot and it started to snow. The card game was getting heated and so we decided to put a little wager on the line, that the loser would have to stand up against the wall and get pelted with snowballs. JC: Oh boy. JM: Well, exactly. So Carter loses, and we put him up against the wall. First snowball misses his head by an inch and just explodes all over the curling club wall. Nolan was on that team if you remember, and he pitched for a college baseball team, so these weren’t light tosses out there. [laughs] We realized pretty quick that if we connected with his head, we might knock him out. So we switched to this soft football we had, and I stepped up and hit him directly in the ass. He had a mark after, it was hilarious. 8. Now this last question is the player question and it comes in from Lisa Weagle. Now, she’s asking about something I’ve heard about you as well, and it’s that you love karaoke. So Lisa asks, what is your most epic karaoke experience? JM: Oooh, I’ve had a few of these. Probably the best was in the Shuswap a few years ago with a bunch of firefighter pals of mine. We were staying a buddy’s cottage and one night we went into the town to a local pub, and sure enough, it’s karaoke night. We had a good-looking waitress and we were chatting her up, and all the guys at the table were like, “Morris! Time to go up there!” At this point I had enough liquid courage that I asked the waitress what her favourite song was, and she says “Teenage Dirttbag” by Wheatus. [laughs] JC: [laughs] Oh my god. That’s an absolutely insane song to try to do at karaoke. JM: Absolutely, and we knew no one in the whole place, so it must’ve looked ridiculous, this guy going up doing Teenage Dirtbag. [laughs] I had never sung it before, but I had fun with it and rocked it, and then the funniest part was there’s a woman’s part in the background near the end, and these two old ladies in the bar started screaming the part out. It brought the house down. It felt like we were going to go out of the bar on their shoulders after that. [laughs] JC: Still, that’s a brutally tough song. How did you manage those high notes? JM: Well I’m sure you know from curling yourself, I have that permanent raspy voice so I don’t think I quite got there with the high notes. It was the effort that was applauded and not the actual result. [laughs] JC: Amazing, thanks John. And now we need a question for my next guest, who will be Krista McCarville. JM: Ooooh, I gotta think on this one. Don’t worry, I’ll come up with a dandy. JC: All right, thanks John, best of luck at the Olympic Pre-Trials coming up in PEI! And sort of luck at the B.C. Provincials. [laughs] As always, you can follow John on Twitter @cullenthecurler and you can follow John Morris @johnnymocurler.

John Morris is a crowd favourite – as this fan and her sign show! (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)