Comedian chomps chili pepper at Edmonton public hearing while arguing climate change is 'not a huge issue'
A local comedian stirred up laughter, confusion and condemnation Monday morning when he ate a spicy prop at a public hearing in Edmonton City Hall as he ranted about how climate change is "not the end of the world."
He identified himself as "Arun Tysily" (aren't I silly) before city councillors gave him the standard five minutes to speak his mind.
CTV News Edmonton has since identified him as Brendan Washbern, a standup comedian who also played the prank on councillors in November when he joined a virtual meeting to rant about a historic house.
"We have these goofballs on the internet gluing their hands to artwork trying to protest the oilfield," Washbern said Monday.
"And I don't think anybody is really standing up for the oilfield as they should because every time you hear an ambulance or siren that's the oilfield right there doing their job."
Washbern explained that he brought a chili pepper to make his point about climate change, while councillors watched on quietly.
Brendan Washbern, AKA Arun Tysily, speaks at a public hearing at Edmonton City Hall on February 6, 2023. (Source: City of Edmonton)
The meeting was primarily about zoning bylaws so Washbern admitted he "could not find the appropriate meeting to come down to."
"I kinda wanted to demonstrate that climate change is not a huge issue because I brought a chili pepper and I was gonna eat it and show that even if something does heat up a little bit, it's not the end of the world," he said.
Washbern could then be heard chomping loudly on the video feed, which is posted to YouTube in its entirety.
"The pepper is heating up a little bit but it's not a big issue," he said.
"I wanted to demonstrate that because a lot of people say that if Canada was to heat up, it'd be the end of the world. But South America is way warmer than Canada and people vacation there all the time."
'NOT EVERYONE IS AGAINST THE OILFIELD'
Washbern later called himself an "activist" in an interview with CTV News Edmonton, and with a straight face denied that he was joking, despite the fact his Facebook is full of comedy posters and pictures of him performing on stage.
YouTube has many public-hearing-prank videos, including by a duo called Chad and JT. In one case they lobbied a local council to rename public infrastructure "The Britney Spears Toxic Water Center." They also call themselves "activists" who are "raising stoke."
One of Washbern's prank videos was recently shown on Jimmy Kimmel Live, which he also posted on his Facebook.
"I figured, I got the day off so I could do some good and show everyone that not everyone is against the oilfield," Washbern said of Monday's effort.
The pepper was real and hot and "pretty spicy on the way out, but completely manageable," he explained. He's originally from Duncan, B.C., but lives in Edmonton now.
"We have a saying where I'm from that there's no such thing as a joke," he said.
"It's hard to say, I'm a very busy guy," he added when asked if he'll appear at city hall again.
'IT WASN'T THAT FUNNY'
Councillors had no questions for him so the meeting moved on without comment.
Coun. Michael Janz later outed Washbern as a prankster on Twitter and Coun. Sarah Hamilton tweeted about "aspiring comedians" who need help with their punchlines.
"It's nice to have a little bit of levity. But it was a bit tedious because it wasn't that funny. If you're gonna come, like, be funny. And also remember that there's lots of different avenues to do satire," Janz said with a shrug after the meeting.
"It's democratic. Everybody gets their five minutes, whatever their concern."
Janz said he started following Washbern on social media after he appeared at the November meeting so he recognized him and the silly alias.
He said he hopes the comedian gets a Netflix special so he can stop coming to public hearings.
"I think everyone kinda knew what was going on. We previously had this gentleman, under other names and disguises, who likes to participate in public hearings as a comedic act," Ward Karhiio Coun. Keren Tang said with a smile.
"Glad to give him the time, but certainly we also need to carry on to the business of the day."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Canada makes amendments to foreign homebuyers ban – here's what they look like
Months after Canada's ban on foreign homebuyers took effect on Jan. 1, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has made several amendments to the legislation allowing non-Canadians to purchase residential properties in certain circumstances.
'Leave this with me': Alberta premier heard on call with COVID-19 protester
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, in a leaked cellphone call, commiserated with a COVID-19 protester about his trial while divulging to him there was an internal dispute over how Crown prosecutors were handling COVID-19 cases.
What is the grocery rebate in federal budget 2023? Key questions, answered
To help offset rising living expenses, the Government of Canada has introduced a one-time grocery rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians. Here is what we know about the rebate.
RCMP arrest 5 while executing search warrant at Wet'suwet'en protest camp
RCMP officers executed a search warrant at a protest camp on Wet'suwet'en traditional territory near the under-construction Coastal GasLink pipeline Wednesday.
'Compostable' food packaging may contain hazardous 'forever chemicals': Canadian study
As Canada phases out single-use plastics, more restaurants are opting to use 'compostable' takeout containers. But a new study suggests some of these supposedly eco-friendly containers may pose hazards to our health and the environment.
Could Usain Bolt outrun a 900-pound dinosaur? Physics professor poses the question
A new academic paper pits legendary sprinter Usain Bolt against a 900-pound dinosaur to see who could run a 100-metre distance the fastest.
Recalled in Canada: Change tables over entrapment hazard, hoodies due to risk of choking
Health Canada has issued two recalls, one for change tables over an entrapment hazard and another for bamboo nursing hoodies due to a risk of choking.
Many Canadians like to tell 'white lies' about home-cooked meals: survey
Have you ever had to lie about the quality of a home-cooked meal to protect someone's feelings? According to a new survey by Research Co. you’re not the only one.
Spending to increase economic capacity is fiscally responsible, Freeland says in post-budget defence
Defending her latest federal budget, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said spending that increases economic capacity is fiscally responsible.
‘I started breaking down:’ Friends remember 15-year-old homicide victim
A 15-year-old girl shot to death in the community of Martindale early Tuesday morning, has now been identified by friends and police as Sarah Alexis Jorquera.
Woman in custody, charges pending following Lions Park LRT station stabbing
Calgary police say they've arrested a woman in connection with a stabbing at the Lions Park LRT station that stemmed from a fight between several people.
Lethbridge UCP candidate Torry Tanner's claims against teachers disputed
A United Conservative Party candidate in Lethbridge claims teachers are exposing students to pornography and gender reassignment without parental knowledge.
Saskatoon police release video of 3 people placing 'large container' in dumpster where body was found
Saskatoon Police Service is asking for the public’s help in identifying three individuals they believe are connected to a suspicious death.
Saskatoon murder trial on hold as police investigate new revelations
A Saskatoon murder trial is being adjourned to allow police to follow-up on "significant information" that just came to the Crown prosecutor's attention Wednesday.
Dog that attacked five-year-old Saskatoon boy involved in three other attacks
CTV News has learned a dog that attacked a five-year-old boy last week had been declared dangerous in February 2022, but the city had lost track of the owner a year ago.
City council waiting for next steps in Experience Regina rebrand
The City of Regina is waiting for an update regarding the next steps for the Experience Regina rebrand.
Regina's Dewdney Avenue strip to undergo 2 year renovation project
The Dewdney Avenue strip between Broad Street and Albert Street is about to undergo a major two year renovation project.
Saskatchewan to spend $6 million for some hip and knee surgeries in Calgary
The Saskatchewan government is set to spend up to $6 million to send patients to Calgary for hip and knee surgeries.
N.S. mass shooting inquiry report must deliver 'clear commentary': family lawyer
A lawyer who represents Nova Scotia mass shooting victims' families said in an interview they are hoping "for clear commentary on what things went wrong and what things ought to have been done better or differently."
Cold front to sweep mix of snow, rain across the Maritimes Thursday
A low-pressure system moving north of the St. Lawrence River valley will sweep a cold front across the Maritimes on Thursday.
How Portapique residents past and present are dealing with reminders of the 2020 mass shooting
The eve of the release of the final report from the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting is a reminder for residents of Portapique of their small community’s traumatic past.
BREAKING | Man pulled from house fire in Toronto's Junction Triangle dies in hospital
A man is dead after being pulled from a fire at a home in Toronto’s Junction Triangle neighbourhood.
A rare weather phenomenon strikes southern Ontario again
Thundersnow has struck southern Ontario for a second time this month.
Why is there no cell service on the TTC? Riders say it could increase safety
The Toronto Transit Commission signed a deal in 2012 to provide cellular service on the subway network, but over a decade later, few are able to make a call in an emergency—something the TTC board members, riders and parents say has to change in the wake of the death of Gabriel Magalhaes.
Bill 15: Quebec tables legislation to overhaul health system
The CAQ government has unveiled its long-promised plan to improve Quebec's public health network. Tabled at the Quebec legislature Wednesday by Health Minister Christian Dubé, Bill 15 promises a major shakeup.
'I lost a brother': Funeral held for teen who died in Old Montreal fire
Almost two weeks after his death, a funeral was held in Laval Wednesday for a teenager who died in the fire in Old Montreal.
Flooded and fed up: St-Leonard homeowners file class-action suit over heavy rain damages
A group of homeowners in St-Leonard has filed a class-action lawsuit against their borough and the City of Montreal, claiming municipal authorities are to blame for repeated floodings during heavy rain.
LRT | Stage 2 of Ottawa LRT faces further delay
The long-awaited southern extension to Ottawa's light rail network is facing a further delay, a city committee heard Wednesday.
Truck held together with bungee cord pulled off the road in eastern Ontario
Quinte OPP says officers stopped the vehicle on Trenton-Frankford Road on Wednesday with a bungee rope stretching across the back of the truck.
Migrants' influx helps Cornwall, Ont. labour shortage
Hundreds of migrants, who have crossed the Canadian border at Roxham Road in Quebec and have settled in Cornwall, were on the hunt for jobs on Wednesday.
'Fairly emotional for everybody': Teen struck by LRT visits emergency crews who rescued him
Several weeks after a teen was stuck under an LRT train in Kitchener, he’s now up and walking and visited the emergency crews who helped rescue him.
Cambridge municipal election candidate suing city after names left off ballot
A retired political science professor says he was “stunned” by the way the Cambridge municipal election unfolded.
Businesses weigh in on government’s plan to reduce credit card fees
The federal government is touting plans to help small businesses by reducing credit card fees, but some local merchants say while they welcome the measure, the actual impact it will have on their operations will be minimal.
Northern Ont. family ‘ecstatic’ as 25-year-old murder mystery finally solved
Robert Steven Wright was convicted Wednesday of murdering Renee Sweeney, a little more than 25 years after her brutal killing shocked the community.
B.C. man pleads guilty to northern Ont. shooting, Crown drops attempted murder charge
A man who admitted to shooting up a home in Greater Sudbury in 2020 over a drug theft pled guilty Wednesday to reduced charges.
Driver caught travelling 200km/hr on major Ontario highway
A 20-year-old has been charged with careless driving after travelling double the speed limit on a major Ontario highway.
Manitobans should prepare for a gas price hike according to an expert
Come the weekend, Manitobans will be paying more for gas and the price could climb even higher in the coming weeks and months according to a gas expert.
Brandon pauses public engagement on 30-year vision over 'inappropriate and unsafe behaviour'
The City of Brandon has paused its public consultation on its 30-year plan for the city due to 'inappropriate and unsafe behaviour' from some residents.
Manitoba family launches lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccination
A Manitoba family has launched a lawsuit alleging their 23-year-old son had a stroke days after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving him legally blind.
'I made it': Inside the addiction and mental health treatment ongoing at old Riverview Hospital site
The Riverview Hospital itself has been closed for more than a decade, but 289 people are currently receiving treatment for mental health, addictions or both at the old site.
City of Vancouver considering requiring grant recipients to be 'respectful' in order to get funding
Vancouver city council has asked staff to shape a policy that would require grant recipients to engage with officials in a "respectful manner," a move that one political scientist says suggests an attempt to prevent or punish criticism.
'A freeze response of shock': Expert weighs in on bystanders not stepping in during fatal Vancouver stabbing
After a man was fatally stabbed outside of a Vancouver Starbucks in front of dozens of witnesses, video of the attack is circulating on social media, raising questions about why nobody stepped in to help.
IIO investigating after man driving construction vehicle shot, seriously injured by police in Duncan, B.C.
A man was taken to hospital with serious injuries following a police shooting in Duncan, B.C., on Tuesday evening.
Vancouver Island non-profit calls for more support for women with brain injuries from violent partners
A Vancouver Island non-profit is calling for more support for women who suffer a brain injury at the hands of a violent partner.
Police investigating 'targeted' attempted arson at home in Saanich
Police are investigating what they believe was a targeted arson attack at a home north of Victoria.