‘Corner Gas’ closes for season
Keep your eye on Nancy Robertson, who plays Wanda the cashier on CTV’s hit comedy Corner Gas.
Nancy Robertson’s favourite scene so far on Corner Gas? Kicking The Tragically Hip out of the garage.
“It was nice bossing The Hip around,” she says. “Don’t think I didn’t take advantage of that.”
Robinson plays Wanda, the blond mighty mite behind the cash register on Canada’s No. 1 sitcom. She was in Toronto two weeks ago to promote the season finale of Corner Gas, airing tonight at 8 p.m. on CTV.
There’ll be no shock ending, she reports. “Nothing that’s cliffhangy. Just finding out more and more about the characters.”
The cheery Vancouver native almost didn’t audition for the series. Wanda was originally envisioned as an older character. When series creator Brent Butt and the other producers were having trouble finding Wanda, the casting director suggested they re-think the role for Robertson. She auditioned in Vancouver, got the good news on a Monday and had to be in Regina that Wednesday to start work on the series.
While she had met Butt before on the comedy circuit, the Corner Gas cast member she knew best was Fred Ewanuick, who plays Hank. The two co-starred in The Delicate Art Of Parking, a mocumentary about parking attendants which won Best Canadian Film at the 2003 Montreal Film Festival.
Robertson, a mainstage member of the Vancouver Theatresports Improv League, has worked shows like Addams Family and Cold Squad in the past. She’s in CTV’s upcoming Robeson Arms and had a small part in Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? “Blink and you miss me,” she jokes.
Corner Gas has been the Canadian success story of the past two years, averaging over a million-and-a-half viewers and flirting with two million on a couple of occasions. That’s despite several pre-emptions and scheduled shifts (mainly to accommodate the ins and outs of American Idol).
“You could see the possibilities because the scripts were funny,” says Robertson. “A lot of times you go to audition for a part and it says it’s a comedy and as an actor you go, ‘No it’s not.’ ”
She credits Butt and the other writers for establishing a “very specific rhythm” for the show.
And while it is set in fictional Dog River, Sask. (and shot near Regina), she thinks the fact that it could be any rural Canadian outpost broadens the appeal. Several recent Canadian comedies were industry shows (An American In Canada, Made In Canada, The Newsroom, etc). Corner Gas has nothing to do with television. “Everybody can identify with it,” she says.
It also helps that it appeals to all age groups, she says. “You’ll talk to people and they’ll say my grandson or my grandmother watch it,” she says. “It’s not offensive, not in your face. It has wackier humour, all different kinds of humour. It’s real escapism.”
Has she ever had a job like Wanda’s? Just once, and it lasted a day, says Robertson. “A friend got me a job at a T-shirt store when I was 17,” she says. “It was a Sunday and the boss wasn’t supposed to be there. I was a cocky girl and decided to unwind in the back room and read a few magazines. The boss walked in and there I am with my feet up, reading Playgirl.”
Sounds like a future Corner Gas episode. “Sure, that’s just what the writers need,” says Robertson. “You gotta second? Can we go for a walk?”
ALSO TONIGHT: CTV picks up John Stamos’ new comedy, Jake In Progress, already in progress on ABC. It makes its Canadian network debut tonight at 8:30 p.m., followed by back-to-back episodes Thursday starting at 8 p.m. (providing there’s no voter screw-up on American Idol this week). Also at 8:30, Ken Finkleman gets animated on the series finale of The Newsroom (CBC). Jerry O’Connell’s kid brother Charlie is the latest rose tosser on The Bachelor (ABC/CITY-TV, 9 p.m.) And Dave Bidini skates with Alexander Yakushev and other former Soviet stars in The Hockey Nomad Goes To Russia (CBC, 9 p.m.).
‘Corner Gas’ closes for season