Take off, eh? Bob and Doug McKenzie lead bill at star-studded comedy fundraiser in Toronto
Local fans of Canadian comedy had better prepare to dig deep for a couple of good causes. In July, Bob and Doug McKenzie — Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas of SCTV fame — are reuniting for one star-studded night in Toronto, featuring Martin Short, several of The Kids in the Hall, Eugene Levy, and more.
“Take Off, Eh! An All-Star Benefit For Jake Thomas And Spinal Cord Injury Ontario” was born after Jake Thomas, the SCTV writer/star’s nephew, sustained a complete spinal-cord injury while snowmobiling, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. So on July 18, some of the biggest stars Canada has ever produced will gather on the Second City mainstage for a fundraiser with benefits, proceeds going to Jake Thomas’s Road to Recovery and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.
Among the performers: Martin Short with an interview by Jiminy Glick with a surprise special guest; comedy from Dan Aykroyd, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, and Joe Flaherty; The Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley, Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald; and musical performances from Paul Shaffer, Ian Thomas, Murray McLauchlan and surprise musical guests. That’s on top of the first McKenzie brothers appearance anywhere since a 2007 CBC special.
Thomas, the 68-year-old Hamilton native, told the Star on Thursday that it would be an “exceptional evening for any fans” of the comic performers in attendance, but for him the tragedy of the accident looms over the event.
“Of course, I’m excited to be working with Rick Moranis again, and doing something with Dan Aykroyd and Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, and The Kids in the Hall … but under the circumstances it would be so much better if it (the accident) hadn’t happened and we didn’t have to do this.”
Tickets aren’t cheap — they’ll be $500 when they go on sale on June 12 via secondcity.com, with $2,500 VIP tickets (including a party with the stars afterward) on sale a week prior — but for fans this is a rare opportunity. Moranis has not been seen live or on screen for a decade, quietly recording a couple of comedy albums while writing the odd op-ed piece for the New York Times.
Thomas, meanwhile, has largely been working behind the camera as a writer and director, though sharp-eyed viewers of Bones will have spotted him in small roles there.
Created out of a need to create some extra, specifically Canadian content for the longer Canadian version of SCTV episodes, Bob and Doug were caricatures positively wallowing in Canadiana, wearing Mackinaw jackets, frying back bacon and drinking real beer on camera. They became an unlikely pop-culture sensation, leading to the 1981 album Great White North (and its hit single “Take Off,” featuring Geddy Lee of Rush) and the 1983 film Strange Brew.
Thomas said that the project was born when he discussed the accident with Short, who suggested a benefit show and promised his own participation; Second City co-owner Andrew Alexander then “picked up the torch and ran with it.
“Andrew (Alexander) was instrumental in offering his theatre, arranging to get Gretzky’s (restaurant) for the after party, and he said he’d put a tent in the parking lot on the other side of his theatre for cocktails beforehand. And he’s doing all of this just because he’s a nice guy.”
“It’s a once in a lifetime show with some unusually talented people that all got their start in Toronto — coming together because of unfortunately tragic circumstances, but trying to turn it into an entertaining, fun evening for everybody who’s going to be there supporting it.”
“It will be an exceptional evening for any fans of the McKenzie Brothers, or any fans of Aykroyd or The Kids in the Hall, or Marty Short or Eugene and Catherine.
“It’s a one-time event and all of the proceeds will go to Jake and Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.”