Scraggly haired Dean Haglund didn't think he'd
get the part of a nerd on X-Files
-- but he was wrong

Sun Television Writer
The Vancouver Sun
May 27, 1997

Dean Haglund has his own conspiracy theory about the Kennedy assassination.

"It was a suicide," he says, with just a slight arch of his eyebrows.

No, wait. Think about it.

The beauty of conspiracy theories is that they're all true, he explains.

"No one can disprove a claim when there aren't any facts to support that claim in the first place. That's the very nature of a conspiracy theory: something that can't be proved, or disproved."

He waits to see if there's a laugh.

As a standup comedian, a regular in Vancouver's TheatreSports comedy troupe and part-time bit player -- playing, what else, a conspiracy buff and Net-head -- in The X-Files, Haglund is constantly prodding and probing people for their reactions, in his restless, never-ending search to find out what will make them laugh.

His specialty is improv -- improvisational comedy -- often performed with the willing if sometimes unwitting participation of regular, everyday folk in his nightclub audience.

When, four years ago, sometime X-Files producers Glen Morgan and James Wong first created the Lone Gunmen -- conspiracy-theory buffs who surf the Net to smoke out details surrounding political assassinations and their attendant coverups -- the casting call brought out seemingly every pale-faced, crew-cut nerd in the Lower Mainland.

Haglund didn't think he'd get the part, but he gave it a try anyway. At the very least, he suspected his long, scraggly hair and dishevelled appearance would make him stand out in the crowd.

Haglund was hired on the spot to play Langly, along with Vancouver stage actor Bruce Harwood as the impeccably dressed Byers and X-Files assistant-director and part-time actor Tom Braidwood as the unkempt Frohike.

Initially, the idea was that the Lone Gunmen would make just one appearance, in the first-season episode E.B.E., about a UFO shot down over Iraq and secretly transported to the U.S.

Haglund had no reason to think the gig would last any longer than one of his one-night stands at Punchlines.

Instead, in keeping with the show's unpredictable, meteoric surge in popularity, the Lone Gunmen have taken on a life of their own, becoming a key strand in The X-Files' labyrinthine web of deceit, paranoia and weird doings.

For Haglund, four years of X-posure has been a boon to his comedy career.

He is a regular on the X-Files convention circuit, where his quick wit and improv background come in handy when performing for the show's fans.

He is still active in TheatreSports, and lately has taken his nightclub routine on the comedy-club circuit across Canada and the U.S.

In recent weeks, he has juggled gigs in Florida and California with a trip to Bangladesh to visit his father, a structural engineer who is supervising a railroad construction project there.

Beginning July 2, he will be performing in TheatreSports' See B.C., a lampoon of the West Coast lifestyle, at Vancouver's Arts Club Revue.

"My 10 years of TheatreSports training has allowed me to go into improv situations and not have to worry about being idiotic, crass or embarrassing myself," he says. "I know I can go into any kind of situation and not blurt something out that I'll regret later."

Life in comedy's fast lane isn't all laughs, however.

Haglund's advice to would-be comedians is to do every gig they can and learn how to handle different crowds.

"A lot of starting comics think they can pick and choose, and avoid the places they think are beneath them," Haglund says. "My personal feeling is that every minute you have onstage is gold. There's no substitute for experience. It's better than any school or any book or any course.

"It's tough to make a living doing standup in Vancouver. Punchlines closed, and there aren't that many places left where you can get that experience in front of a live crowd."

Beginners quickly learn to distinguish between the concept of making money and the concept of having a career, Haglund says. The two don't always go hand-in-hand.

"You have to go where the work is, and do whatever you can do to pay the bills. If you're good, and you stay focused, the career will take care of itself."

Haglund has shared a stage with everyone from Ryan Stiles, the Richmond secondary-school grad who has landed a full-time gig as Lewis, Drew Carey's sidekick on The Drew Carey Show, to the legendary Robin Williams, recently named by Entertainment Weekly as the funniest man alive.

"Robin is constantly trying to top himself," Haglund says, recalling a recent night onstage with both Williams and Stiles.

"He's hilarious, but he's also very giving. He has that innate ability to set up a routine in such a way that whoever is onstage with him at the time looks just as good as he does. Just standing next to him on stage is worth 25 to 35 years of improv experience."


Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun


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