Back in High School, there were three distinct comedy sub-cultures. Those who dug Saturday Night Live, those who were into Monty Python and the remaining few who were fans of SCTV. And while I admire SNL, and love Python, I was full-on addicted to watching Second City Television.
SCTV was a Canadian based sketch comedy show that ran from 1976-1984. From 1980, the show ran on the American NBC Network on Friday evenings at midnight. No matter how tired I may be, I would stay awake for the full 90-minute broadcast. I would often laugh out loud, but even more often I would marvel at the sheer creativity. Most everyone went onto successful stage and movie careers. The cast included such future stars as John Candy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, and Catherine O’Hara among many others.
The show originated in Toronto but eventually moved to Edmonton, Alberta to save money. The show had an exorbitant costume and make-up budget. Most of the cast were gifted impressionists and the actors did some dead-on impersonations of the celebrities of the era such as Bob Hope, Woody Allen, Orson Welles, Brooke Shields, and Indira Gandhi. The cast also had many original recurring characters as well. The skits were so ambitious, the network chided them to either reduce the characters or move to another city with a lower overhead. Hence, the move to Edmonton.
One of the breakout characters from SCTV was “Bob and Doug McKenzie”. The brothers hosted a Candanian information show called “The Great White North”. Ostensibly, Bob and Doug were to discuss issues pertaining to life in Canada but usually consisted of them drinking beer and cooking back bacon (what we in the states call “Canadian Bacon”) Usually they were pretty hammered and would end up fighting with each other. the fight would usually end with one of the brothers telling the other one to “Take off, eh?” which I am guessing is a Canadian insult(?) A couple of years after the show my brother and I made our first visit to Canada and we were amused to find out that some of the people we met actually sounded like the McKenzies.
Recently, the city of Edmonton built a statue of Bob and Doug. The sculpture sits in the arts district near the original studios for SCTV. More statues of some of the show’s other character’s are also planned. Next up, is a statue of John Candy as the lecherous “Johnny LaRue”. the sculpture brings back fond memories. It’s nice to see the city honor the cast this way.
Aside from a bustling theater and live entertainment. there’s the West Edmonton Mall which for years was the world’s largest and feature’s a massive wave pool. I’d really love to revisit sometime in the future. As soon as we are past the Covid, I fully plan to “take off, eh?”