Son. Brother. Screenwriter. Gifted comic. Born Feb. 2, 1981, in Edmonton; died Jan. 21, 2017, in Toronto, of melanoma, aged 35.
Much of what Jordan Christianson did in life was for his own amusement. He might invite you to the movies, bring some whisky and ask you to put it in your backpack. Then, as your ticket is being ripped, ask the usher, "Don't you want to check his bag?" This is Christianson comedy checkmate. Because no matter what happens next, Jordan gets to laugh.
And so do you. Whether you were a classmate from elementary school in West Vancouver or a colleague in the writers' room of the TV drama Murdoch Mysteries in Scarborough, no one made you laugh more. It was his timing, his absurd questions, his unpredictable turns of phrase. It was his deadpan look, his smile, his reddening face when he couldn't control his laughter. And it was his repeated apologies for making a fool out of you even though you were laughing harder than he was.
Jordan's writing was an extension of this approach to life. His early films explored a youth spent driving aimlessly around the placid suburban streets of West Vancouver. A scene: You're driving to a party on a warm summer night. Next to you is Jordan, your friend, pointing out the pretty girl in the car beside you at the red light. You agree she's pretty. So Jordan grabs your phone and gently tosses it through her window onto her passenger seat. "Now you can call her later."
After university, Jordan and some of his closest friends made With Friends Like These, a web series that focused on the comic minutiae of their daily lives in Vancouver's West End. The first episode is about parking meters and "panini sandwiches." It is perhaps the purest expression of Jordan's sense of humour.
Viewed alongside his earlier work, it revealed a theme, a philosophy. There is humour in the mundane. If nothing is happening, look closer. Life is in the details.
Years later, Jordan found a way to bring this comic perspective to the murder investigations at a police Station House circa 1900. Murdoch Mysteries's Detective William Murdoch is a forensic innovator, a master of deduction, an intellectual genius. He has invented the X-ray, the metal detector, the fax machine. Jordan had him invent bicycle gears, the jolly jumper, the tea bag. Fans of the show delighted in these more personal moments, but no one found more joy in them than Jordan himself.
Jordan leaves behind those who loved him most: his mother, Gail; his father, Brian; his brother, Dane; and his sister, Karina. His family enjoyed his humour, too, but also knew a more serious side of Jordan. As a top-tier youth basketball player, he was always the epitome of sportsmanship. He carried that graciousness and leadership throughout his life – gentle and kind, considerate to a fault and endlessly empathetic.
If he could have scripted his own ending, Jordan would not have added jokes or written himself out in a blaze of glory. It would have been much as it was: quiet, private and surrounded by his loving family. The only thing he would have changed was the year.
Simon McNabb is Jordan's friend.
Lives Lived celebrates the everyday, extraordinary, unheralded lives of Canadians who have recently passed. To learn how to share the story of a family member or friend, visit tgam.ca/livesguide.