He comes from the planet of Funkathon, where he was head cook to King Zaxxon until he ran out of sweet potatoes — which prompted an intergalactic trek in his space galleon to swap stories and songs for spuds.
Since landing on Planet Earth, he has been performing and teaching kooky games and dances in B.C. and Alberta, making videos and creating award-winning educational programs.
On one memorable occasion, he sang for the Dalai Lama during a trip to India.
He is none other than the singing, storytelling space pirate known as Captain Thunderpants — aka the town crier of Cumberland and Trashy Duke in the Dukes of Dodge.
His real name is Kevin Flesher, a children’s entertainer who plays “at least a dozen instruments badly,” including the guitar and accordion. He has drawn inspiration from characters on Sesame Street, the Muppets and Sponge Bob.
“Jim Henson was probably my hero,” Flesher said.
As Captain Thunderpants, he hosted a pirate variety show in Cumberland that featured a fiddler who Flesher “grabbed off the street that day.” A Robbie Burns Day variety show and a Christmas Spectacular followed.
“Studio Live (in Cumberland) is a fantastic location to shoot a show. We’ll do another one maybe soon.”
Flesher formed the Dukes of Dodge with people he met at open stages during a St. Patrick’s Day gig a couple of years ago at the Waverley Hotel in Cumberland. The band has since performed its upbeat, traditional music at every venue in the village, and at the Flying Canoe in Courtenay.
“It’s coming along,” Flesher said of Cumberland’s “favourite hillbilly pirate orchestra.”
The entertainment doesn’t stop there. In a series of zany U-Tube videos that have aired on Shaw TV, the good captain demonstrates how to make sushi, doughnuts and pizza, and how to farm oysters, among other things.
“They have a broad appeal. They’re educational and entertaining, and I feel there’s no end to the amount of topics you can do around here,” said Flesher, who is all ears to anyone with advice about marketing the videos. “I’d like to find a sponsor or broadcaster for them, or both.”
He has also founded an improv soap opera company called Pleasure Craft Theatre, an all-ages winter program that incorporates different themes each season.
Flesher assumes the town crier persona for special events that sometimes “need a little flavour.
“It’s amazing when people go to all the effort of putting up a stage, putting up a sound system, putting on an award, and then there’s no fireworks. There’s no chutzpah. I think it puts a little bit of pomp in the circumstance. I find with the town crier, people just need to be told it’s time to be excited.”
He had previously been the town crier at special events in his hometown of Edmonton. He earned the title by winning a competition between hundreds of applicants.
“As far as I know I’m still the town crier of Edmonton,” said Flesher, who moved to the West Coast from Drumheller, Alta., where he won a national award for developing educational programs about paleontology. He has also won awards for developing interpretive programs at parks and museums.
Before moving his wife Yaya and two daughters to Cumberland he had worked as a grizzly bear safari guide at Knight Inlet Lodge. Before that, Flesher had taught English in Nepal, Thailand and Korea, where he hosted a TV program called English Time With Kevin Teacher.
He still teaches from time to time at Beachcombers Community School. Recently, he finished a six-week puppetry workshop with North Island Distance Education School.
He also operates a window-washing company.
“I’ve hardly ever worked any kind of real job,” Flesher said with a laugh. “I spent a whole life mostly playing music or in some form merging together entertainment and education.”
Sounds like King Zaxxon won’t be getting his sweet potatoes anytime soon.
Flesher’s website is www.captainthunderpants.com. Children can send questions on the Facebook page.