Writer running with comedy inspiration

[attach]4562[/attach]If you’re going for a run near the Don River Valley, you might’ve passed another regular jogger whose mind is often focused on writing material for the sitcom Dan for Mayor — a political comedy about a slacker who becomes the mayor of a fictional Ontario city.

Paul Mather, the show’s co-creator and one of its executive producers, says that there’s a simple explanation to how story and plot ideas come to him.

“It’s desperation,” he says with a laugh. “Complete desperation for ideas and disciplining your mind to picking up on things that happen while you’re running errands or going for a run.”

It’s the kind of desperation that Mather has been working with for the past decade.

Mather’s writing career took off in 2001 when the CBC hired him to write satirical sketches for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a TV show that satirized Canadian politics. A year later, the show earned Mather and crew a Canadian Comedy Award for “Pretty Funny Writing.”

Since then, Mather has made his footprint visible in Canadian television, writing and producing for shows like Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie, The Rick Mercer Report and Men with Brooms.

With so much on his resume, one might think he’s passed the point where he’s desperate for ideas. But Mather, who lives with his wife and three children in their East York home, insists that he is.

When thinking of personality traits for his character, Mather says that he often empathizes with the more neurotic ones.

“There’s one character (in Dan for Mayor) called Mike. He’s always over-thinking things and screwing things up,” Mather says. “That’s a lot like me. I’ll get so worked up over something, just to have it blow up in my face.”

Such was the case in a recent incident with his children — Mather had attempted to ingeniously combine exercise with the couch-surfing mechanism that is the video game.

“I got the Wii video game system for my kids so they can all stand up and be active while they’re playing,” Mather says.

Unfortunately for Mather, his children — 10-year-old Kate, seven-year-old Sam and five-year-old Jane — had caught onto a loophole.

“My kids quickly figured out that you don’t have to jump around to play the games. You just need to move the remote in the right way.” Mather says. “So they ended up just lying on the couch and moving their hands with the most minimal amount as possible.”

Like his character Mike, Mather may have overthought the whole Wii incident. In fact, he refers to the situation as another Wile E. Coyote moment in his life.

“If I had to be a cartoon, I’d be Wile E. Coyote,” he says. “I’d chase the Road Runner, but he would know when to stop, whereas I’d run off a cliff with an anvil following closely by.”