Illustration by Roxanne Ignatius/Torontoist.
It may say something important about our nation that, even in a year when our Olympic athletes dispensed estimable amounts of whoop-ass at the 2010 games, our highest profile celebrity is probably a twenty-one-year-old pigeon-chested kid from Brampton. Maybe it’s Canadians’ propensity to root for the underdog that explains the popularity of Michael Cera, and the adorable, hand-wringing twerp persona that he’s been plumbing since he got his big break on Fox’s Arrested Development in 2003. Or maybe we just think he’s funny.
In any event, you can’t swing a knapsack around these days without hitting Michael Cera. A few months ago, Cera’s face half-smiled on the cover of Cineplex mag Tribute, along with the goading tagline: “How can you not love Michael Cera?” And come August, as we have previously reported, Cera is set to star in Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Toronto-set Scott Pilgrim comics, a film which will further expand the profile of Cera and the much-loved Hogtown hot-spots the movie sees him slumming around in.
As a means of formally celebrating Cera’s local-boy-makes-good appeal, Brampton comic retailers Stadium Comics have announced that they will be hosting a Michael Cera Appreciation Day on August 13, the day that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World sees wide release. Setting up a website in hopes of luring Cera to their shop (and drumming up a little grassroots publicity), Stadium managers Kevin Hickey and Rob Sinnott’s Cera Day celebrations seem equally marked by genuine enthusiasm for the Scott Pilgrim movie and a cheeky reaction to Cera’s curious celebrity. In any event, it’s really funny.
We had a chance to bounce some emails back and forth with Hickey, talking about Stadium’s planned appreciation day, Scott Pilgrim, and why Michael Cera would kick Jay Baruchel’s ass.
Torontoist: Whose idea was Michael Cera Appreciation Day?
Kevin Hickey: While sleeping one night at the beginning of May, I had a dream that Michael Cera came into our comic store, on a flaming pie, carrying signed 8 x 10 photos of himself, and copies of the Scott Pilgrim comic books. I knew that this meant that we, as his hometown comic shop, needed to hold an event in his honour. I rushed into the store early that morning to tell Rob Sinnott, who co-manages the store with me, and he was already working on the event. Turns out, he had experienced the exact same dream!
What steps are you taking to get Cera into the store?
We are firm believers in the whole “if you build it he will come” approach. Years of cheesy sitcom and movie clichés have taught us that the best way to get a celebrity to your event, is to just tell everyone he/she will be there: 99% of the time, the celebrity guest shows up at the last moment, out of the goodness of their hearts, saving the event organizers embarrassment. We have no clue how to get in touch with his agent or his people, but we have faith. Faith that Michael will hear about what we’re doing and want to be a part of it.
If he doesn’t come, will he have betrayed Brampton and Bramptonians?
Michael is a busy guy, and we know it’s asking a lot for him to show up on the day his movie premieres across North America. He won’t have betrayed Brampton if he doesn’t attend, because I think deep down he’d want to be here. However, photos of children in tears at our store on the front page of the local paper under the headline “Why, Michael?” the day after the event wont look good on him, will they?
Why wouldn’t he come? Who does he think he is?
If my hometown comic store was holding an event in my honour, I would certainly show up to the party. Maybe he wouldn’t come if, when he was younger and less famous, he came into our store to buy Pokemon cards or something and we were jerks to him. That could be a problem.
The soon-to-be-Cerafied storefront of Stadium Comics in Brampton. Photo courtesy Kevin Hickey.
Can you explain for our readers the “contingency plan” in place should Michael not arrive?
We have extended open invites to all of Brampton’s other celebrities, should Mr. Cera not be able to appear. This includes comedians Russell Peters and Scott Thompson, NHLer Rick Nash, Shawn and Aaron Ashmore, as well as former Ontario Premier Bill Davis. Should they attend we would just ask that they dress up as Michael Cera, to preserve the spirit of what Michael Cera Day is all about. If Michael shows up after all, we’ll thank each of the “Pseudo-Ceras” for their time and send them on their way with a $5 Stadium Comics gift certificate. It’s win-win for them.
To what do you attribute Michael Cera’s popularity? Will it ever end?
Michael Cera is so popular because we can empathize with the nerdy, socially awkward young adult character. In the ’80s that was Michael J. Fox. Today it’s Michael Cera. I don’t think his popularity will ever decline. In fact, I envision a future where the many talents of Michael Cera bring peace to our planet…sort of like the Wyld Stallyns in the Bill and Ted movies.
What is your favourite thing that Michael Cera has been in that isn’t Arrested Development?
From what we’ve seen from the trailers, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World looks like it will be amazing. I also like Superbad and Year One for when you want to have some laughs. Juno if you want to have some laughs mixed in with some tears. I feel this would be an appropriate time to mention any actors who have co-starred with Michael are also invited to this event. We’re looking at you, Jack Black and Ellen Page.
Is everyone from Brampton as aww-shucks adorable as Michael Cera?
Yes. This is a well-documented fact. Last year, a proposal to have Brampton nicknamed “The Awkwardly Cute & Nerdy City” was narrowly defeated by city council.
Did you know Michael Cera’s birthday is next week? Any plans for that?
No major plans, but we will have a single cupcake with a birthday candle and a nice card at the ready should he want to come by the store to discuss any of the logistics of the event with us.
Who would win in a fight between Michael Cera and Jay Baruchel?
Cera wins, but it’s a tough fight. Baruchel spent all those years on Popular Mechanics for Kids, so he’s a man of science. However, the martial arts moves Michael learned while filming Scott Pilgrim defy all science.
Okay, but who would win in a fight between Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg?
Cera sends Eisenberg packing back to Adventureland, with the help of Jay Baruchel, who in defeat has sworn allegiance to his fellow Canadian.
Finally, who would win in a fight between Michael Cera (circa Year One) and Michael Cera (circa Scott Pilgrim)?
Scott Pilgrim for the win.
What has the response been to Michael Cera Day so far?
The response has been amazing. People have been coming into our store that we have never met before, saying they’ve heard about what we’re doing, and that they’ll be here on August 13 just to see what happens! We even had to create a website devoted to providing up-to-date info on our progress which will include blog posts, photos, and video leading up to the event.
The Scott Pilgrim movie is based on a comic book, and is set in Toronto. It’s generated a ton of buzz worldwide and I think Canadians in general are extremely proud of what Michael has accomplished. We think it’s time Michael got a little recognition here in his hometown, and we are going to do just that on August 13.