Media Blitz Gives Mixed Future of Home Brew
Bob and Doug McKenzie April 6, 2000 @7:30pm EDT

Four articles in Sun newspapers across Canada on the Canadian Comedy Awards (hosted by Dave Thomas) all report a slightly different future for Strange Brew II (aka Home Brew). They have one thing in common, and it looks like the sequel is a no go for now. Here's some selected quotes from Dave:

"I don't know if it will get on again."

"There are more than 100 web sites devoted to Bob & Doug. But try and sell that to the Royal Bank of Canada. They'd rather finance some drug deal out of the Cayman Islands."

"I'd like to get all the people who really loved that movie to write to the financing companies, but I can't get organized enough."

Thursday, April 6, 2000
The laughs are on us

SCTV's Dave Thomas hosts first Canadian Comedy Awards

By MIKE ROSS (Edmonton Sun)
Dave Thomas agreed to host the first Canadian Comedy Awards on one condition
- that Bill Needle do the opening monologue. Needle, the acerbic critic's
critic Thomas created for the SCTV television series, is expected to have
his own take on, "Oh, no, not another awards show. Gimme a break."

 With people like Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Rick Mercer and Bruce McCulloch
among the top nominees - plus Edmonton's own Die-Nasty soap opera - it airs
Friday at midnight on CTV (Cable 2). The "unedited" version will air Sunday
at 9 p.m. on the Comedy Network (Cable 34, 41).

 Mr. Needle will start with "an absolutely vitriolic pan of awards shows,"
Thomas says, lapsing slightly into Needle-speak on the phone from his office
in Los Angeles. "Specifically a Canadian Comedy Awards, like anybody needs
to see one of those."

 Still, this promises to be different than your usual awards show. Shorter,
too, we hope.

 "It's probably more of a comedy show than an awards show," Thomas says. "I
don't know where the show will be five years from now, if they're still
doing them and I hope they are, but it's certainly valid to start off this
way. We're going to try to be different. Instead of having people come up in
tuxedos and thank everyone for a piece of plastic they get to put on their
mantel, we're going to make it into bits, sketches and routines and keep it
off-centre. Here's the way I look at it: When this is on, you're going to
have a choice between this or Cops or some maudlin Barbara Walters
interview. I think it's as valid as anything on TV. Let's give it a shot and
see where it goes."

 Where "it," meaning Canadian comedy, has been going lately is straight to
America. One gets the feeling that Thomas is part of a sinister cabal of
frostback funnymen who have infiltrated Hollywood. Like they said on the
McCarthyism spoof Canadian Conspiracy, "Lorne Greene. Green card.

 We think not. Thomas points out there are three guys who can get a movie
made in Hollywood at the moment: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey and Mike Myers.
Note that two of them are Canadian.

 "There ya go," Thomas chuckles gleefully. "We got two-thirds of the market
at the highest level."

 As for this SCTV alumnus, his role in the ongoing Canadian quest to subvert
the American comedy industry will soon take an interesting twist. Thomas is
launching a comedy Internet site in three months, inspired by a startling
realization he had while surfing: The Net isn't funny. Alleged humour sites
are often larded with bad jokes that turn out to have been pulled from back
issues of Hustler magazine.

 "I found all kinds of sites that said they were comedy and they weren't
funny," Thomas says. "And I thought, gee, it would be great if there was a
real funny site out there instead of something that just sucks."

 Fellow Canadian comedy conspirators Mike Myers, Martin Short and Dan
Aykroyd are involved, along with writers from The Simpsons, SCTV, David
Letterman, Jay Leno and Saturday Night Live. The site will be simple, easy
to load (no stupid animations) and refreshed daily.

 "We're not trying to sell it as TV. These are short, short bits. They're
little things you can't do on TV and don't sustain as a program. I've been
in writer's rooms for so many years where I've seen great ideas that once
they're pounded, even into a sketch form, they're already too long and they
have a beginning that doesn't quite work and an ending that doesn't work.

 "Head writers in many sketch offices will say, 'yeah, yeah, that's a good
idea, go write it up,' and what they mean by that is go build a cathedral of
unfunny structure around something that already is funny. The audience can
see through that. So there has to be a place where you can put those funny

 "These guys have tons of ideas they've never been able to put in shows.
Some of them are blue and don't fit the censorship of TV and some don't fit
the format of shows. Now there's a home for these things - finally."


Thursday, April 6, 2000
Northern laughs

Awards show spotlights best and brightest Canadian comics

By LISA WILTON (Calgary Sun)
Why are Canadians so damn funny?

 It's a question that has been asked by many, but answered by few.

 Even Dave Thomas, one of Canada's most respected comic talents of the past
25 years, doesn't have a clue.

 "I have a theory, but like all theories, it could be bull," says Thomas,
who is hosting the first-ever Canadian Comedy Awards in Toronto tonight.

 The show will air tomorrow at midnight on CTV and at 10 p.m. Sunday on The
Comedy Network.

 "There is a kind of objectivity to not actually being in the States, but
being in the front row seats on the border, that allows us to view the
largest pop culture in the history of civilization and comment on it," says

 "I think remoteness is kind of the key ingredient to comic observation."

 CCA nominees include Calgary's own improv queen Rebecca Northan, nominated
in the female improviser category, and marionette master Ronnie Burkett, who
is competing in the new playwriting category.

 As well, international superstars Jim Carrey and Mike Myers are competing
against each other for the best on-screen male performance.

 The awards honour those in several fields of Canadian comedy, such as
standup, improv, film, stage and writing.

 Guests will include stars of Air Farce, Twitch City, Double Exposure and
This Hour has 22 Minutes, as well as a short video courtesy of Mike Myers.

 While Thomas was flattered when asked to host, he let it be known he would
only do it if he could play his embittered SCTV character, Bill Needle.

 "I said I'd do it provided I could play the critic and pan the show at the
top," he explains.

 "They said yeah, so I went, 'Well OK, they've got a good sense of humour
about themselves if they're going to allow me to do that.'"

 Even though SCTV -- which parodied and skewered everything that was holy in
TV land -- signed off almost 20 years ago, there is still a strong cult
following thanks to regular syndicated reruns.

 Although there were dozens of unforgettable characters created on SCTV, two
of the most beloved are Thomas and Rick Moranis' hoser heroes, Bob and Doug

 "Rick and I have found out that the Bob and Doug thing has a huge cult
following," says Thomas during a phone interview from his Maple Palm
Productions office in Los Angeles.

 "There are more than 100 internet fan sites devoted to the McKenzie
Brothers. That's a lot."

 As for the much-talked-about sequel to the 1983 McKenzie Brothers film
Strange Brew, Thomas says it's a no-go for the moment.

 The sequel was set to start filming last year, but funding problems stalled
the project indefinitely.

 "I don't know if it will get on again," Thomas says.

 "We've been trying to take the independent route, but we haven't taken it
to many studios.

 "I'd like to get all the people who really loved that movie to write to the
financing companies, but I can't get organized enough."


Thursday, April 6, 2000
Awards bring on clowns

 Seems someone has been toying with SCTV hoser Doug MacKenzie, and Dave
Thomas wants to know about it.

 "You've seen it? I haven't even seen it yet," Thomas says phoning in from
his production office in Los Angeles.

 He's referring to the palm-sized Doug McKenzie doll which Calgary-based
Todd MacFarlane Productions will be putting on the market soon, along with
his brother Bob, the character immortalized by Thomas' SCTV partner Rick

 "I caught a glimpse of the Bob McKenzie doll, and that one looks a lot like
Rick," Thomas says with a laugh.

 One of Canada's famous comedic talents, Thomas is flying to host the first
Canadian Comedy Awards, which get underway tonight in Toronto.

 "I was reluctant to do it at first, but when they presented it as an
'out-of-the-ordinary' awards show, I told them I was game," Thomas says.

 The proceedings, which will air on CTV tomorrow at midnight and again
Sunday night at 7 on the Comedy Network, includes nominations for "the new
writing stuff down so people can perform it" award (new playwriting), and
the awards -- gilded beavers on pedestals -- will be presented in the format
of jokes, comedy sketches and improvisation.

 Actor/writer Don MacKellar earned the widest variety of Canadian Comedy
Awards nominations, running the gamut from movies (direction for Last
Night), to television (writing for his series Twitch City) to theatre
(writing for The Drowsy Chaperone).

 This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made In Canada and CBC's Comics are all vying for
television awards. And the standup comedians list talents such as Ron James,
Derek Edwards and Ottawa native Terry McGurrin.

 The film awards categories feature notable faces such as Jim Carrey and
Mike Myers who, like Thomas, had to fly south in order to gain better

 Thomas, however, knows all too well there can also be a few
kicks-in-the-pants. Recently, financial arrangements for a possible Strange
Brew sequel fell through, much to Thomas' dismay. And he says his life on
the set of the TV sitcom Grace Under Fire, starring Brett Butler, wasn't a
barrel of laughs, either.

 "She was very difficult to work with," Thomas says. "She wanted to be in
control of everything. But hey, we were well paid, so I can't complain too

 Thomas is currently planning to launch an all-star comedy website with help
from writers from The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.


Thursday, April 6, 2000
Thomas hangs tough

Comic laughs his way through setbacks and challenges

By JIM SLOTEK (Toronto Sun)
 It's been a tough year, but Dave Thomas has kept his sense of humour. All
he has to do is turn on the news.

 "Stuff that everybody takes seriously just makes me laugh," says Thomas,
who's in town to host the first Canadian Comedy Awards at the Masonic Temple

 "Like the stock market. They've coined the term 'the old economy' as
opposed to 'the new economy' -- which spells doom for glass, steel,
automotive parts -- all things we don't need anymore because they're 'old'
economy," he says with a laugh.

 The profound absurdities of big money should probably depress Thomas
-- what with his experience last year trying to produce Home Brew, a sequel
to the Bob and Doug McKenzie flick Strange Brew. A week before filming in
Toronto, financing fell through. A lawsuit against his Canadian partners in
the film was resolved -- perhaps not satisfactorily as far as Thomas is
concerned, but resolved nonetheless.

 The upshot is that Thomas has to come up with more than US$700,000 one way
or another to cover debts. He hopes to make it up with a movie he's written
and plans to direct, starring the suddenly rediscovered Chevy Chase.

 But Home Brew appears to be history. "There are more than 100 Web sites
devoted to Bob & Doug. But try and sell that to the Royal Bank Of Canada.
They'd rather finance some drug deal out of the Cayman Islands," he snarks
over the phone from his Maple Palms production company in L.A.

 Meanwhile, investors are apparently lining up to finance his next project,
an online comedy Web site for which he's already lined up buddies Rick
Moranis and Paul Shaffer, A-list comics like Rick Overton and most of the
writing staff of The Simpsons. Expect to find it on your browser in three

 So why is it he can find money for a Web site and none for a viable
commodity like Bob & Doug? "Y'know why? Old economy -- new economy, need I
say more? It boils down to two words, dot-com. Throw them around and you get

 Thomas reckons he's spent more of his life trying to get money than
concentrating on comedy.

 "Even at SCTV, I was always out with Andrew Alexander trying to line up
cash. That show was always in trouble," says Thomas, who started in
advertising before moving to the fledgling Toronto Second City. "After that,
I was selling wacky ideas to NBC and ABC."

 So he's got some sympathy for the young comics-cum-salesmen who'll be given
some overdue kudos at tonight's Comedy Awards. The event, featuring
standups, actors, improv and sketch artists from across the country (more
than 100 in 22 categories), will be broadcast in edited form tomorrow on CTV
and in its entirety Sunday on the Comedy Network.

 "I got called by the producer (Tim Progosh, best known as Farouz the wizard
on the Sinbad series) and he said, 'We're doing the Canadian Comedy Awards
and we'd like you to host.' And I said 'Yeah, like the world needs another
awards show.' Anyway, he was quite relentless, so I kind of tested him and
said I'd do this provided I can open as Bill Needle and pan the show.' And
he said 'Sure,' so I figure okay, they've got a sense of humour.

 "I know some of the acts, but a lot of them I don't know for reasons of
geography. I've always had a hand in helping younger comics. My ex-wife Pam
brought the Kids In The Hall to Lorne (Michaels), and I hired Mike Myers for
my CBS summer series before he was on SNL.

 "I mean if you think about the fact that the top three comedy stars are
Adam Sandler, Mike Myers and Jim Carrey, and two-thirds are Canadian,
there's an argument for having a Canadian comedy awards show right there."
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