He’s been involved in some dubious money making schemes over the years, but this time Trailer Park Boys resident rapper J-Roc has his heart in the right place.
In what started as a response to a fan who asked how much he would have to donate to a local food bank to get a signed picture, J-Roc (aka Jonathan Torrens) upped the ante, promising a personalized recording from J-Roc to anyone who made a minimum $50 donation to a food bank or shelter.
The idea is catching on. So far dozens have people have made donations and Torrens is rolling with it, using his Twitter account and Facebook to connect to all the “Mafsks” who have taken him up on his offer.
“I’ve just been doing some work with (Halifax-based charity) Feed Nova Scotia and I know how tight times are for lots of people,” Torrens told Cantech Letter Sunday. “This idea was born out of someone asking me for an autographed J-Roc picture. They were willing to pay. The truth is I don’t have any pictures so I offered to send a personalized recording for a donation to any shelter or food bank. In the spirit of the season I thought maybe we could get two birds stoned at once, as the great Ricky would say.”
Food Banks Canada says more than 860,000 Canadians use a food bank every month and that one in six of the people they help are employed.
I decided to take J-Roc up on his offer, too. After I provided proof that I made a $100 donation to the Vancouver Food Bank Saturday, this recording arrived just hours later.
The gesture from Torrens comes despite the fact that he retired the J-Roc character earlier this year after a decade-long run. The Nova Scotia-based, PEI-born actor says the decision was a long time in coming.
“Every six months since it started I’ve thought ‘Well, that’s got to be that, then.’ And it continues to find new audiences everywhere,” he said on his Taggart and Torrens podcast in April. “Ten is a nice round number and feels like a nice way to exit…. As hard as the decision was, it feels right.”
The Trailer Park Boys have been a cult favourite in Canada since the mockumentary began airing on Showcase in 2001, but their fame reached an entire new level after the show debuted internationally on Netflix in March of 2014. Today, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are likely to be found touring the United States, hanging out with Snoop Dogg or appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where they have become regulars.
While many associate Torrens with the J-Roc character, the actor has had a long and varied career. The 44-year old Torrens got his start in 1989 as the host of CBC’s hit show Street Cents and has appeared on Canadian institutions such as Degrasssi, the Royal Canadian Air Farce and, more recently, as Robert Cheeley on the hit CBC comedy Mr. D. Torrens runs a popular podcast and comedy tour with former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart called Taggart and Torrens.
Throughout his career, Torrens has never been shy about using his celebrity to lend a helping hand. In May of this year, when fires engulfed Fort McMuray, Torrens helped get flights home for the many fellow Maritimers who were trapped there. Back home, locals knew it was something he had been doing for some time.
All in a day’s work, says Torrens.
“As J-Roc would say “it’s one Mafk for all Mafsks and all Mafsks for one Mafk. Or something like that,” he says.
For those looking to make a donation to a food bank, Food Banks Canada has links to provincial resources such as the Ontario Association of Food Banks and Food Banks BC.
ShelterSafe has a comprehensive list of Canadian shelters and transition houses.
Below: Trailer Park Boys – Best Of J-Roc 1