Brent Butt is living his dream
Brent Butt feels like an NHL player.
Without the skating, bodychecking, concussions and inexplicable refereeing, that is.
“Without getting maudlin, this is what I wanted to do since I was a kid,” said Butt, the creator and co-star of Hiccups, which kicks off its second season Monday, May 30 on CTV.
“So maybe not every day, but at least a couple of times a week, I think to myself, ‘When I was 12, I dreamed about doing this, and I’m doing it.’
“I think it probably is like how guys in the NHL feel. There probably is part of them, in the middle of a game sometimes, where they remember the 11-year-old playing street hockey and dreaming of being in the NHL. And they say to themselves, ‘Wow, I’m actually in the NHL.’ “
Butt became famous across Canada as the star and creator of Corner Gas, which ran for six seasons on CTV. Hiccups is a Corner Gas follow-up project for both Butt and his real-life wife Nancy Robertson.
In the Vancouver-set Hiccups, Robertson is Millie Upton, a volatile author of children’s books based on fictional characters called the Grumpaloos. Butt is “life coach” Stan Dirko, who has been hired to keep Millie’s angry genie in its bottle.
“I liked season one a lot, I’m a fan of it,” said Butt, when asked if he re-evaluated the first season as he plotted season two. “I pride myself on being able to be objective and I really like the show.
“What happens, though, is you do a season and you start to learn the rhythm of the show. Every show has its own rhythm and you really don’t know what it’s going to be until you get in there and start mucking it out, with what you do on the floor and what you do in the edit suite.
“We really found our rhythm, I feel, in the last third of the first season. Without getting too metaphorical, that’s when you can really start to dance, you know?”
The season-two dance begins in Los Angeles for Millie and Stan, where they have been sent for business meetings to discuss a Grumpaloos movie. But no matter where the characters roam physically, it’s knowing them better mentally that expands the playpen, according to Butt.
“Absolutely, it allows you to be brief in some ways,” Butt said. “You lose the burden of exposition.
“It’s like in Cheers, once you realize Cliff Clavin is a know-it-all, you don’t have to explain it every time. When he says something obscure, it’s just part of the character. You can cut to the funny quicker.
“Myself and the other writers on Hiccups, we all were champing at the bit with our fingers crossed to do a season two, because now we know what the game is.”
Just to be clear, the game is comedy, not hockey. But Butt still relishes being a player in the comedy version of the NHL.
“That’s not lost on me,” Butt said. “And if it ever leaves, I’ll quit.”