Last year I read this highly irritating article about Canadian Comedy in Vanity Fair. The whole premise of this article itself was so debatable that all year I have been stewing about it, so today via blog post I will ensue a rant upon this article and an outcry for the world to recognize Canada as a major player on the international comedy scene.
The article aptly titled “Of Moose and Men” plays a disgraceful homage to a very much undervalued cornerstone to the Canadian comedy scene, Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary; whose alumni includes Kids In The Hall funnymen, Bruce McCullough and Mark McKinney. Begins with this unfortunate sub-headline:
“Canadians may be too nice, too passionless to be funny. On the other hand, the country’s low comic profile—notable emigrants aside—could be Britain’s fault. Or America’s. Yes, blame them!”
Ummmmm dear Vanity Fair contributor and Canadian traitor, Bruce McCall, what the eff?
I understand the generalization that Canadians are too nice and I find it to be one of the most complementary cultural stereotypes out there. But to say you can’t be nice to be funny, is a very skewed and ignorant way to view comedy. Something can be funny without tearing people down, humor can be found in kindness and positivity. And dare I say that happy and nice people and happy and nice comedy is brimming with passion? And then to devalue the contributions of the comedy geniuses born and raised in our home and native land by pushing “notable emigrants” to the side, dismisses so many of our valuable players on the world’s comedy stage.
The comedy institution, Saturday Night Live, is the brainchild of Canadian, Lorne Michaels. And to this day with his guidance it has survived good days and bad days and throughout the years it has consistently given birth to major comedy careers of many actors and of course the unsung heroes, the writers. Blockbuster king and the man with the most versatile face on the planet, Jim Carey, is ours too. My very first sitcom crush Alex P. Keaton, Mr. Michael J.Fox is from Vancouver! Friggin’ Austin Powers is played by Canadian Mike Myers for goodness sakes. I could go on and on.
Canadians are a hearty people who can find humour on the blustering blizzard- prone prairie or in a traffic jam on the 401 and Deerfoot. We are funny because we can laugh at ourselves and WITH those around us. We are funny because we are not afraid to get all weird and ugly for the laugh, see Martin Short’s Jiminy Glick for reference. We are funny and Vanity Fair’s silly little article can’t convince me otherwise!
Sure a lot of our funny ones go to the States to have their careers take off because in Canada we don’t have a Hollywood with production palaces and streets paved in gold. Canadian television has limited opportunities and funding. Every once in a while they push out a gem in the rough but we are too engrossed in the American television machine to give Canadian television much of a chance. But the screen is not the only place you can find good Canadian comedy.
In my city and yours too, there is a ton of good comedy to find. Good old, Canadian weirdos who just want to make you laugh whether it be through standup, sketch comedy or improv. I encourage you to take the time to google it and support your local comedy scene.
My dream for Canadian comedy is for an all out revolution and for it to have a platform to thrive. To showcase what all the small theatre groups and comedy clubs in your city have to offer to the global comedy scene. A place where I can see a sketch video from Halifax compete with one from Winnipeg. A place, where on a cold Canadian winter night, I can watch a webcast of a show done in a comedy club in Toronto. A place that brings the Canadian comedy scene together from coast to coast to share a laugh. I am working to begin building this platform and I hope you will one day be able to come to this place online. Stay tuned.
Until then, I beg you to skip the romcom movie you were going to, getting drunk in your neighbourhood pub or just leave your cat at home tonight and go see just how funny Canadians are at a show in your city. I leave you with some suggestions that I hope you will explore and discover an appreciation for the freaking hilarious landscape of Canadian Comedy.