11.28.2006

famous

Not so very long ago, I realized that everyone is Canadian. To quote myself, back in January:
Last night we watched the CBC Comedy special "Comedy Gold", which traces the most famous comedy to come out of Canada. (The second part is tonight.) It was neat to see the behind-the-scenes Canadian connections that I wasn't aware of, and, of course, old clips - David Steinberg's controversial writing for the Smothers Brothers, Dan Ackroyd's Bass-O-Matic, Kids In The Hall in their club days. The older material like Wayne And Shuster was new to us, but I'd love to see a whole Shakespearean Baseball Game. (I'm sure you'll all be posting links to help me.)

I'm always telling Allan that Canada has produced a disproportionate share of comedians, actors and entertainers, given the country's small population. This is generally expressed by the statement, "Everyone is Canadian". (Example: A cartoon version of Michael J. Fox appears on The Simpsons. I point and say, "Canadian," followed by, "See? Everyone is Canadian.") Allan doesn't believe me.

That is, until last night. Enter "Hee Haw". Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I regarded Hee Haw as a foreign ambassador from some strange land "out there". But Allan grew up "out there", and like millions of Americans, he watched Hee Haw. When he learned (last night) that the show was created by two Canadians, and that this guy is Canadian, he changed his mind: "You're right! Everyone is Canadian!"
Canadians love to list famous Canadians; if you don't know this already, Google "famous Canadians".

My own list is called I Didn't Know That Person Is Canadian. This week's addition: Elizabeth Arden, born Florence Nightingale Graham in Woodbridge, Ontario.

The great Florence Nightingale was not Canadian.

11 comments:

Scott M. said...

Florence Nightingale Graham... a great tribute to a fine woman, but one hell of a moniker to go through school with.

Why do parent's willingly give their children names that will clearly result in increased insults as children?

L-girl said...

Kids probably just called her Flo, or Florie.

In my experience, kids who get teased will be teased no matter what. Kids who escape that - usually the teasers - can have any name in the world, it won't matter.

Woti-woti said...

But then you get the sub-set:

Don Cherry is from Kingston.

"You're from Kingston? Did you know Don Cherry?"

Please, god.

Jere said...

I have (Native) Canadian blood. On my mom's mom's side. (The French quarter of Jere.) We have a pic of an ancestor of mine who has an "8" in her name, which is my favorite number. So it all works out. American by birth. Canadian by ancestry.

redsock said...

My mom's mom's family has a long history in Quebec.

8?

GEORGE: I think they really went for that Soda.

SUSAN: What, are you crazy? They hated it. They were just humouring you.

GEORGE: Ah, alright. Believe me, that kid's gonna be called Soda.

SUSAN: I can tell you, I would never name my child Soda.

GEORGE: Oh, no no no. Course not. I got a great name for our kids. A real original. You wanna hear what it is? Huh, you ready?

SUSAN: Yeah.

George uses his finger to draw a number 7 in the air, accompanying the strokes with a two-tone whistle.

SUSAN: What is that? Sign language?

GEORGE: No, Seven.

SUSAN: Seven Costanza? You're serious?

GEORGE: Yeah. It's a beautiful name for a boy or a girl ...

Susan scoffs.

GEORGE: ... especially a girl. Or a boy.

SUSAN: I don't think so.

GEORGE: What, you don't like the name?

SUSAN: It's not a name. It's a number.

GEORGE: I know. It's Mickey Mantle's number. So not only is it an all around beautiful name, it is also a living tribute.

SUSAN: It's awful. I hate it!

GEORGE: (angry) Well, that's the name!

SUSAN: (also angry) Oh no it is not! No child of mine is ever going to be named Seven!

GEORGE: (yelling) Awright, let's just stay calm here! Don't get all crazy on me!


Bringing this back to the Seinfeld discussion, George yelling all the time was also a sign that the show had dipped.

Jere said...

Crap, I missed the Seinfeld discussion. I've caught up now. I saw a bunch of Canadian TV show names and just never clicked the comments on that post. Much like when we'd play Trivial Pursuit when I was little, we'd have a rule where if the entertainment question was about some Canadian show you've never heard of, you'd get a new question. No offense to Canada, just saying, some things you're just never going to understand, until you move to a different country. But who's got time for that?:)

Anyway, about Seinfeld. I've never been big on the the "it stunk toward the end" theory. It definitely got sillier and weirder, but i say, Great, so that was the silly/weird phase. I specifically loved the Griffin episode. That's the one I always point to in my defense--and then I saw Laura specifically DIDN'T like that one. To each her own.

It seems like a lot of times people don't like the "later" or "newer" stuff, and that goes with music and other stuff, too. Like The Simpsons. Almost every die-hard Simpsons fan I know hates the newer seasons. Every time I catch a new episode, I love it. I wonder if maybe we get so used to the reruns, that we think anything new couldn't possibly top them. The old shows we know by heart. The new ones, something really funny might happen, but we can't remember all of it right away. I'm all for watching the new show and then immediately watching it again, to let things sink in more. Not that I do this often, but I thin kit helps.

L-girl said...

I don't like early Simpsons at all, didn't like them for many years, and now love them, and like them more and more as the seasons go on.

I know what you mean with the whole earlier/later thing, but there are very specific reasons for that, especially regarding music.

Early efforts are usually what the artist most wanted to say, what was in her/his creative blood and needed to come out. As time goes on, often there's less and less of that, and more and more commercial pressures - until, for most commercial artists, that's all there is. The ones who avoid it usually lose all but their core audience, and most people aren't willing to do that.

With Seinfeld it's something extremely specific: the absence of Larry David. Period. He was the creative engine driving the show. When he exited, the show tanked.

A non-sequitur: Jere, it makes me laugh that you played Trivial Pursuit when you were little. That game came out after I had graduated college.

Redsock my dear, could you go easy on the long Seinfeld quotes. I'll be accused of playing favourites.

Anonymous said...

Hee! My own riff on immigration, famous people, and Canadian identity goes sort of like this:

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born in Canada but left to go to Hollywood at the age of four?
A: A Canadian.

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born in the United States but moved with his family to Vancouver at the age of fifteen?
A: A Canadian.

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born in the United States but married a Canadian and spends summers in Toronto?
A: A Canadian.

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born and raised in the United States, lives there now, but once made a pit stop in London, Ontario on his way through from Buffalo to Detroit?
A: A Canadian.

;-)

L-girl said...

I/P, that's excellent!! Thanks for sharing. I'll highlight it soon.

Someone here (Lone Primate, I believe, but maybe not) pointed out this very theme in our discussion about dual citizenship. Canadians claim everyone from Neil Young to Winnie the Pooh as Canadian, no matter how tangential the link - but we're discussing whether people who live and work in Canada every day but also maintain citizenship in the country of their birth are "Canadian enough"?? Ha.

Anonymous said...

I knew I had really become a Canadian when I started doing it myself. :-)

L-girl said...

A few months after we moved here, Allan and I were watching The Daily Show, and Stewart led with some item about Canada. It might have been the election. We were like, Yes! Canada's on The Daily Show!

When I blogged about this, I was told: you are Canadian now. "Hey ma, we're on the tee vee!" :)