ON DOING STAND-UP I've put together some stuff, incorporated jokes and made them sound like real life. I did it in Boston in 2001 for my dad because we go to comedy clubs together and he was there for Father's Day. I asked the club owner, and it so happened I was on his fantasy team, so he said no problem. I did eight minutes. I was with Florida then, and the guy on stage before me said to make a local reference to win them over. They were doing the Big Dig [a massive highway construction project] then, and I was like, 'It's good to be in Boston. I've noticed the Big Dig'--everybody cheers--'and I've seen the official state tree of Massachusetts, the three-foot orange cone.'
ON HIS DESIRE TO HOST SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE They can make fun of any celebrity--anybody, anything--and not get in trouble. My favorite era was Chris Farley, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers. That's what I grew up with. If I'm hosting the show, the musical guest will be The Tragically Hip.
ON HIS CONVERSION, IN MAY, FROM STARTER TO CLOSER It's still in my blood to be a starter--I've been one my whole life--but I really enjoy coming out in the ninth inning with the game on the line. Maybe it appeals to the showman in me. I like the adrenaline rush. You can't screw up your lines.
ON BEING CANADIAN I'm from Gibsons, British Columbia, and I had to take a 45-minute ferry ride and then take a bus just to play. When I made it to pro ball, the work ethic was ingrained in my brain. You look at guys like [Dodgers closer] Eric Gagne, the stuff he's gone through to get from Montreal to pro ball. The work ethic gives Canadians the determination to be the best.
ON GETTING KICKED OUT OF CLASS Mr. Smethurst [at Elphinstone Secondary] threw me out of eighth-grade science. He was trying to discuss the planets. We kept calling it 'ur-ANUS,' and he kept calling it 'UR-anus.' I repeatedly asked him, 'How big is ur-ANUS?' Finally he kicked me out.
ON HIS IMPERSONATIONS Harry Caray's fun because people get it. But my best is Dr. Evil in Austin Powers.
ON PERFORMING MAGIC I have a trick where I turn a $100 bill into a $1 bill. My wife has one where she turns a $100 bill into no change back. The $100 bill is one of my better tricks. You do it in a bar with some guy's hundred. When he asks for it back, you say, 'If I could do that, I'd get in a lot fewer bar fights.' Then you see how long he waits for his money. He'll follow you around like a puppy dog the rest of the night.
ON FANS WHO HECKLE HIM AS 'DUMPSTER' I say to them, 'I've never heard that before in my life. So original. You should be writing screenplays.' Usually they get embarrassed and don't rag you again.
ON RIDING HIS BIKE TO AND FROM WRIGLEY FIELD I was riding home after a game, and some people recognized me and said, 'Can you sign some autographs?' I stopped and signed. And the guy's like, 'Hey, you're just a regular guy.' I was like, 'Yeah, that's right.' I have a barbecue after the game, and I sit on the patio and have a beer with my buddies just like anybody else.
--As told to Michael Farber
DEMPSTER, 28, WHO REMINDS YOU TO TIP YOUR WAITER, GOT HIS 11TH SAVE IN 12 CHANCES ON SUNDAY FOR THE SECOND-PLACE CUBS.
"You basically have to tip everybody." --Nick Swisher, A's RF,
Midseason Rookie Report, page 35
"BEING A CLOSER APPEALS TO THE SHOWMAN IN ME."
photograph by todd rosenberg
BRAD MANGIN/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (SWISHER)
JEFF HANISCH/US PRESSWIRE (DEMPSTER)