Comedian Jeremy Hotz among acts on new series 'Just for Laughs: All Access'

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TORONTO - Comedian Jeremy Hotz likes to ease into his New Year's goals.

"I was going to start to really concentrate on making a New Year's resolution for next year. That's my New Year's resolution," the famously miserable standup star said in his signature anguished tone during a recent telephone interview.

Might that resolution involve being happier onstage?

"I don't think that's ever going to happen," Hotz groaned.

In the meantime, the Ottawa native can be seen in the Comedy Network's new original series "Just for Laughs: All Access," which debuts Monday at 10 p.m. ET.

The show features highlights from comedians at Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Hotz is in episode 4.

Other comics who perform in the series include "Saturday Night Live" cast member Bill Hader, "Community" star Joel McHale, and Jack McBrayer of "30 Rock" fame.

"For me, it did everything," Hotz said of the Just for Laughs festival. "It got me quite a bit of notoriety and it made me sort of an international star because they sell the product all over the world.

"It is the most important comedy festival in the world. It's the international one and it's a major feather in your cap if you get that festival. Especially if you're coming out of Canada, you really need that festival."

Hotz has performed at the festival countless times since the 1990s, when he co-starred in the CBC-TV series "The Newsroom." He was also a writer for "The Jon Stewart Show" and has won Gemini and Canadian Comedy Awards.

Hotz's "Just for Laughs: All Access" segment finds him in his famous pose (his right hand over half of his face to appear distressed) and putting a pessimistic touch on topics including crows, public transportation and how he's been mistaken for Nicolas Cage.

"That really happened," Hotz assured over the line from his home in Los Angeles.

"In America, from far away, people seem to think that. And then they get up close and go, 'Nah, he looks more like Klinger from 'M.A.S.H.'"

Hotz fans can hear more of his griping when he kicks off the Canadian leg of "Jeremy Hotz: The Magical Misery Tour" Feb. 19 in St. John's, N.L.

The show will touch on "getting older and not realizing that you're not indestructible anymore," said the 49-year-old, who lives with his 16-year-old dog.

"You walk around and you still think you're, like, 21 and then you look in a mirror and you go, 'Who the (hell) is that guy? It's not you.' Everybody thinks they're somebody else inside their head. Mirrors are really bad for people."

The so-called "master of misery," who's been performing standup for two decades, said he's writing new material more quickly than ever these days. That's because his standup bits become stale the moment they hit social media, YouTube and TV specials.

"It's a good thing. I don't mind that," said Hotz, noting he's also improvising and playing off the audience more than ever.

"You have to do that. And I write better that way, just right there, when there's all that pressure and they're staring at you.

"I walk an amazing tightrope onstage now," he added.

Hotz is also busy co-developing a TV series with the Laugh Factory comedy club in the U.S.

And in the fall, he'll be seen in a new season of HBO Canada's Halifax-shot comedy series "Call Me Fitz," starring Jason Priestley.

His character, Leonard, is a struggling social worker and new father who has a big secret.

"Leonard is an extension of me," said Hotz. "He's a man who's very put-upon. I wouldn't call him miserable. I think he's profoundly disappointed."

Organizations: Comedy Network, CBC

Geographic location: TORONTO, Ottawa, Montreal U.S. Canada Los Angeles St. John's

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