Chip Coffey sure doesn’t like me. He isn’t a big fan of the Centre For Inquiry Regina either. Found this out when I showed up before his show at the Hotel Saskatchewan last night to take some pics of the CFI crew. They were handing out fliers with information about the methods psychics use in their shows, and I thought a blog post on their action might make a nice coda to our Chip Coffey coverage.
Didn’t realize I’d end up getting a chance to shake the hand of the man himself.
Just as I was preparing to head home and CFI Regina was leaving to have a post-action drink at Beer Bros, Coffey stormed out from the lobby to confront the people protesting his show.
Of course, they weren’t actually protesting. As they tried to explain to him, they were standing around on a public walkway, handing out pamphlets to audience members who were interested. And, they told me, they also went into the hotel and left a few fliers in the bathrooms.
Coffey wasn’t interested in making distinctions between people distributing information and people marching around with placards and shouting slogans as at one point he declared that “you skeptics” are just like the Westboro Baptist Church. A bit of a stretch, but hey, the guy was pretty pissed off.
He even took a moment to single me out. “Where’s Paul?” he shouted into the small group. And when I identified myself, he sarcastically thanked me for being a “duplicitous bastard.” We shook hands and he suggested he’d like to write something about me for his thousands of followers. Said he might call me this week and interview me for it as well.
I’m waiting by the phone.
Throughout Coffey’s tirade, the CFI crowd handled themselves courteously and with good humour, telling him that they were only there to express an alternative viewpoint on paranormal claims. And Coffey, who seemed to be spoiling for an argument, was clearly unprepared for their uncanny powers of Canadian politeness as he eventually settled down and invited CFI Regina members Diane and Shea to attend his show for free and “judge it for themselves.”
I’ll try to get an interview with Diane or Shea later to hear how things went. Who knows, maybe they were converted. (I doubt it.)
On a personal note… There were a few moments where I started to feel sorry for Chip Coffey. He certainly seemed genuinely hurt that people had come out to express skepticism about his professed “gifts.” But then I reminded myself that the guy made buckets of money off his Regina show, and many buckets more off the other cities he’s visited on this tour.
So maybe it wasn’t so much that he was hurt as he was supremely annoyed that his livelihood was being threatened. Not that it was. He’d already collected his money here. And I suspect his Regina audience witnessed a Coffey Talk like none other and will be talking about it for days.
Oh! On a professional note… At one point, one of Coffey’s “people” — I suspect a representative of Trixstar Productions, the Edmonton company that organized Coffey’s tour — mentioned to me that they’d run the numbers and they received no traffic from Prairie Dog’s website. I suppose he was trying to say, “Hey, you suck and your paper sucks. Nobody reads you.”
I prefer to interpret that data as proof that our readers are too sophisticated to be taken in by a traveling psychic show.
By the way, that pic above is a screengrab from a video I took of the encounter and as soon as Steve sends me login info for the Prairie Dog Youtube channel I’ll post it. Until then, here’s a pic of CFI Regina shortly after Chip, Diane and Shea went in for the show.