SCTV re­union takes shape

With a live event on May 13 at the El­gin Theatre and a Net­flix re­union spe­cial di­rected by Martin Scors­ese in the works, SCTV alum Dave Thomas spoke with Post City about the his­tory of the iconic show and be­ing a life­long McKenzie brother by Ron John­son

Thornhill Post - - News -

Why is now the right time for an SCTV re­union?

As op­posed to what, wait­ing un­til we’re all dead? No­body said we gotta have a re­union. The op­por­tu­nity came up, and we all said do we want to do it? And we de­cided, OK, let’s do it.

What will hap­pen at the live panel dis­cus­sion this month?

It will be a chat. But with seven per­form­ers chat­ting with Jimmy Kim­mel, there will un­doubt­edly be some per­for­mances at that chat. The ac­tual out­line for the evening hasn’t been de­ter­mined yet.

Are you per­form­ing orig­i­nal ma­te­rial or just a doc­u­men­tary?

There is ac­tu­ally go­ing to be some orig­i­nal stuff, in ad­di­tion to the doc­u­men­tary. We wanted to make it an un­usual re­union show, so the choice of di­rec­tor was un­usual, and the choice to do orig­i­nal ma­te­rial will also make it dif­fer­ent.

Much of the SCTV cast first worked to­gether on God­spell, right?

Even be­fore God­spell, Eu­gene, Marty and I were at McMaster [Uni­ver­sity] to­gether, and we did plays there where our friend­ship was forged. An­drea, Eu­gene and Marty were all cast in God­spell, and I was fin­ish­ing a master’s de­gree in English lit. But there was a change in the cast, and they called me up and said I gotta get down there and audition, so I did and I got in, so I fin­ished my master’s part-time while work­ing on God­spell.

And how did SCTV hap­pen then?

Later, when we were all work­ing on the Sec­ond City stage in Toronto, Lorne Michaels was re­cruit­ing for Satur­day Night Live, and the pro­duc­ers thought they’d lose all the tal­ent if they didn’t start their own show.

What is the McKenzie brothers cre­ation story?

It’s a well-told story. Ba­si­cally there was a dif­fer­ence in broad­cast times be­tween Canada and the United States, and we were asked to fill an ex­tra two min­utes of Cana­dian con­tent, so I said, “Fine. Why don’t we just put up a map of Canada and we can put on toques and parkas and drink beer for a cou­ple min­utes. Would that do it for you?’ And irony of ironies, it be­came a big hit.

I heard you were an ad man for a while there. Is this true?

After God­spell, the prob­lem I had was that I couldn’t get any work. After six months, I got an On­tario Hy­dro spot where I rode a sail­boat into high power lines. I wasn’t go­ing to be a waiter who claims to be an ac­tor, so I thought I could get a job as a copy­writer. So I went through the Yel­low Pages in Toronto and just called agen­cies one by one, and by the time I got to McCann Erickson, I got the job. I started there and was put on the Coca-Cola Canada ac­count.

And how did you get back to Sec­ond City?

Well, when they opened the Sec­ond City stage in Toronto, I got an audition, and I took that stage job. And the pres­i­dent of McCann was, like, “I heard you’re tak­ing this job at Sec­ond City. What’s it pay­ing?” And I said, $145 a week,” and at the time I was earn­ing 60 to 70K, which was a lot of money for a young guy back then. But I said, “Hey it’s what I want to do.”

What are you work­ing on these days?

I have a cou­ple of pi­lots un­der con­sid­er­a­tion right now. I write for drama, [TV shows] Black­list and Bones. I en­joy it. It’s a dif­fer­ent type of writ­ing than the comedy. As I get older, I’ve be­come less and less in­ter­ested in act­ing. You know, you get some young di­rec­tor who makes you run down an al­ley 27 times, and I’m just like f**k this. I’m not do­ing that again. Once in a while, I’ll do some­thing, but I usu­ally ask if it’s a sit­ting role, like a judge or some­thing, then I’ll do it.

There is no talk of SCTV with­out talk­ing about the late John Candy.

When you went on­stage with John, the au­di­ence loved him so much, half the work was done al­ready. You just had to not suck. We all knew he was go­ing to be a big star. He made it fun for all of us. I re­mem­ber one day shoot­ing, and the pro­duc­ers wanted to fin­ish this bit and wanted to shoot all night if they had to. So John called the Four Sea­sons in Ed­mon­ton and had them set up a full bar in the stu­dio, and ev­ery­one got drunk and that was the end of that shoot. It was a clas­sic ex­am­ple of one of the larger-than-life things he would do.

The Bob and Doug McKenzie sketch, with Rick Mo­ra­nis (left) and Dave Thomas (right), was orig­i­nally de­signed to fill a gap in air time but be­came a hit

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