I’m Carolyn Bennett. Not the doctor and Member of Parliament, but the writer and comedian. I’m about ten, maybe 15 years younger, similar in colouring, hair length and height. My friends say I’m better looking, but they’re my friends. Dr. Carolyn Bennett makes ten times what I do, so okay, I’ll take being better looking. It’s difficult having the same name as a person more famous than you, especially when you’re in the fame business. I’m not nearly as well known as Dr. Carolyn Bennett, although I do get the occasional stare in the subway. Then again, who doesn’t? I’ve had a modicum of national exposure (my own CBC Comics special, spots on CBC Marketplace and various other odds and sods around the dial) but I can’t compete with a woman who is both a doctor and a member of parliament. Maybe I should have studied medicine as an undergrad, instead of the bottom of a beer glass in the school pub. Oh well. Then again, maybe she wonders about all those years she wasted delivering babies and campaigning for political office. She could have been telling jokes at the Beefeater Inn in Lethbridge, Alberta.
I think having the name Carolyn Bennett sometimes works to my advantage. I always seem to get a good table in upscale Toronto restaurants. I only had to wait two weeks to get an MRI. The best of all was when an invitation to the opening reception of an art exhibit at the AGO surfaced in the mail. A dreadful mistake was made, for it was addressed to Carolyn Bennett. Besides the occasional foray to the gallery on free evenings, I tend not to expand my mind in that particular establishment. My name must have been mixed up with her name on a mailing list. I don’t think the MP for St. Paul’s would have lived in the former Legion Hall turned flat that was my abode. But I did what any good comedian would – I went. Mark Breslin, the owner of Yuk Yuk’s, accompanied me and we mingled with the event elite. Every so often he called me “the honourable Carolyn Bennett”. As for the exhibit, Matisse is not my favourite Fauvist, but the flowing champagne and delectable nibbles pleased. I wonder if Carolyn Bennett ever receives mail for me? Maybe that would explain where my subscription to “The New Curmudgeon” goes.
I pity the poor actor or musician or comedian who is saddled with a name like Joe Clark or Stephen Harper.
There was a player in the NHL named is Jim Carey. Imagine how many comedians named Will Smith are trying to make it as comics.
Inevitably, I have thought about changing my name. Every so often, I’ll go on stage as Ginger Beef. The name Rufus Bennett has been suggested. I hearken back to my high school days though, when my principal said, “Carolyn Bennett – that’s a stately name,” as he handed me a suspension slip. It is a stately name. It’s my name. I don’t want to change it. It suits me. I wish Jennifer Lopez suited me, but it doesn’t. I am intrinsically, tragically, thankfully Carolyn Bennett.
Now if I decide to run for parliament and get a medical degree, watch out Carolyn Bennett.
- originally published in the National Post