CBC to honour McKenzie brothers
TORONTO (CP) – The Trailer Park Boys may be Canada’s latest low-rent darlings, but beer-swilling hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie were blazing a proud trail of loserdom when Ricky, Julian and Bubbles were mere children.
And so CBC-TV is celebrating the SCTV favourites, portrayed by comics Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, this Sunday with its so-called “Two-Four Anniversary Special.”
The title is an homage to three beloved Canadianisms: the country’s May 24th holiday weekend, the beverage of choice for Bob and Doug – an ice-cold case of 24 beer, colloquially known as a 2-4 – and the 24th anniversary of the Bob and Doug movie, “Strange Brew,” a film that became something of a campus cult classic in the U.S. upon its release in 1983.
“Someone was saying to me recently that if you did a montage of all of Canada’s best-known symbols, there wouldn’t be too many of them, but Bob and Doug would definitely be on there,” Thomas said Thursday on the line from Los Angeles, where he’s lived for more than 20 years.
“We are certainly icons.”
The special – airing on Thomas’s 58th birthday – features a long list of personalities paying tribute to Bob and Doug, including Canadians Martin Short, Tom Green, Paul Shaffer and Dave Foley. But there are also some longtime American fans like “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and actor Ben Stiller, who remembers lining up with his mother for hours at a New York City record store as a child to get Bob and Doug’s autographs.
One of the funniest parts of the special, Thomas says, is former prime minister Paul Martin’s deadpan appearance as he pleads for Canadians to reject the Bob and Doug stereotype once and for all. At one point, Martin sadly recalls: “I’ll never forget the four-year-old girl in Buenos Aires who looked up at me with her pretty eyes and asked, ‘Where’s your beer, you knob?”‘
“He absolutely nailed it,” Thomas says incredulously. “I couldn’t believe how hilarious he was.”
In honour of the 24th anniversary, even beer-makers are getting in on the party – Red Cap Ale has created a limited-edition range of six Bob and Doug collectible stubbies available in Ontario all summer long.
In every 12 pack of Red Cap stubbies, beer fans in Ontario will find one of the six anniversary edition clear stubby bottles, showcasing some of Bob and Doug’s finer moments.
Thomas loves Bob and Doug – characters created as a sort of raised finger to the CRTC’s strict Canadian content regulations when SCTV was one the country’s biggest television hits – but he admits to having frequently thrown out the Bob and Doug costume of toques and parkas in the past. He figured he and Moranis, one of his closest pals, had closed the door on the characters for good.
“And every time, here we go again – I have to get another parka and another toque,” he says with a laugh. When told he should hang on to the costume this time because they’ll likely be expected to resurrect Bob and Doug again on the 50th anniversary, Thomas is rueful.
“If I’m still alive, that is.”
He may be approaching 60, but Thomas doesn’t appear to be slowing down. He makes the odd television appearance, playing Charlize Theron’s uncle on an “Arrested Development” episode (“Who would turn that down?” he asked). And he’s currently working on a movie about Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo, and awaiting word on two television pilots – one a sitcom set in a hospital.
Thomas admits he misses Canada, even though he sold his cottage on Ontario’s Lake Simcoe years ago.
“My wife caught me hurling rocks at our motorboat in anger and frustration and she said: ‘You know, maybe you’re just not a cottage person,”‘ he recalls. “And she was right. It was a hassle maintaining that cottage.”
But he marvels every time he returns to Toronto, saying he’s astonished at how bustling and vibrant the city is now compared to how it was in the 1970s and ’80s, when he was launching his comedy career.
“I sometimes wonder if Toronto was the city it is now when I was starting out, if I would have even needed to leave it,” he said. “It is really such a great, vital place now.”
CBC to honour McKenzie brothers