You probably best know this Canadian tag-team by their separate accomplishments:
Dave Thomas has been in the world of comedy for the past four decades: he’s the SCTV alumnus behind the role of Doug McKenzie, part of the beer-guzzling McKenzie brothers with co-star “Bob” (Rick Moranis). Together they became national icons, brimming with satirical Canadian stereotypes, coining the term “hoser” and punctuating the end of every sentence with “eh!”
Dave has since been in the movies Strange Brew and Rat Race, worked on shows like Arrested Development and has loaned his voice to the likes of The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy. Plus, he’s been busy developing a couple of television shows of his own, and is running Animax Ent, an animation company that just nabbed the Emmy’s first Broadband award.
Younger brother Ian is a Juno-award winning musician: he broke the U.S. Top 40 with his 1973 hit, “Painted Ladies,” and has gone on to record 15 more albums.
He also played Dougie Franklin on the Red Green Show, has scored over 20 movies, and was the voice of the Rice Krispie character Snap. Currently, he’s doing cross-country concert tours with folksy quartet, Lunch At Allen’s, while working on his second novel, slated to come out this fall. His debut novel Bequest made him a best-selling author in Canada last year.
Even though Dave lives in California and Ian’s settled in Ontario, the two remain close, talking on the phone nearly every day, making each other laugh and acting as each others’ mutual support system.
It’s this kind of closeness that forms the basis of their October 23 stage show, Brothers Forever—An Evening of Comedy and Music. The combination of Dave and Ian’s wit, show biz experience and aptitude for silliness will leave you, they promise, laughing all the way out the door. We asked them 12 questions about their show, poutine and what it’s like having a crazy bro. True to form, they held nothing back.
1. Please confirm your date of birth and where you were born.
Ian: July 23, 1950, Hamilton, Ontario.
Dave: May 20, 1948, Istanbul [when we asked Ian to confirm this, he burst out laughing].
2. What was your relationship like as kids?
Ian: Close, real close.
Dave: He was my only sibling. I had no choice. My parents were too religious to interest me.
3. What is your relationship like now?
Ian: Best friends, confidants.
Dave: Ian is helping me through my old age. I need a shoulder to lean on.
4. Why do you think Canadians do comedy so well?
Ian: We sit on the apron of the world’s largest circus—the USA. It stimulates writers, comedians, singer-songwriters across our land. We have a comfortable seat and perspective.
Dave: Comedy is not a talent. It’s a disorder.
5. After spending time in the U.S.—what’s the craziest Canadian stereotype you’ve heard?
Ian: My brother. A.K.A Doug McKenzie. Actually a woman at a service station in the southern U.S. once said to me: “Y’all fellers from Kanda talk so quaint.” So there’s a stereotype for ya. We’re quaint!
Dave: Peter Mansbridge.
6. What would you rather have: poutine or a Tim Horton’s doughnut? And why?
Ian: POUTINE! It requires a greater commitment to blowing a raspberry at the grim reaper. It’s a way of embracing French culture with our bowels!
Dave: I’ve never had poutine! But I had some donairs in Edmonton. Does that count? Or do you guys hate people from the Chuck!
7. What is your favourite memory of Calgary?
Ian: Playing the Saddledome during the Stampede in the ‘70s with the smell of cow poo in the air. Really good for the sinuses. More recently, had a great time playing Elizabeth’s Concert of Hope for ALS. Calgary audiences are fun to play for, as they are generally up for some fun.
Dave: Meeting John Cleese on the set of Rat Race where I played his weasel lawyer. Before I got into show biz, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was a real inspiration; it’s what made me want to do comedy, and John Cleese was kind of the leader of the gang. I wanted to make him laugh, and I did.
8. What can fans expect to see at your show?
Ian: Two old bastards making fun of pretty much everything, ourselves included. We reminisce, sing silly songs, and generally make each other laugh. It’s kind of our take on the world.
Dave: Ian tricked me into singing—which needs to be seen to be believed.
9. Where did the idea for the tour come from?
Ian: Our mom said she wanted to see us do something together before she died. We looked in the mirror and thought maybe it was an idea to do something before WE died!
Dave: It was all my idea, which is why I think I deserve more than 50 per cent of the gate.
10. What are you most looking forward to (doing the show)?
Ian: Hanging with my brother, singing, doing all the stuff we used to get kicked out of class for.
Dave: Ian and I hold hands and pray before each show. To me, this is what show business should be.
11. Ian, what’s the best and worst thing about being known for your “Painted Ladies” hit?
Ian: Best thing is being a part of people’s past. I like that some of my songs are part of the soundtrack of their Can Con lives. Worst thing is, it’s so long ago since “Painted Ladies” was a hit.
Dave, what’s the best and worst thing about being known as Doug McKenzie?
Dave: I don’t think there is anything really bad about it. I remember in 1982, when it was in its peak of madness, when people would recognize me they wouldn’t come up and go “Oh, I really enjoy your work;” they would just see me, and raise their fists in the air and go “urgh” (grunt) and you know, it hit kind of a caveman mentality. On the other hand, Bob & Doug became national icons; phrases we invented like “hoser” are in dictionaries, and we’ve had an entertaining and cultural impact on Canada. That makes me think, “wow, we got lucky.”
12. Describe your brother in one word.
SEE THE SHOW! When: October 23, 8 pm Where: Jack Singer Concert Hall, Epcor Centre How much: Tickets are $42.50, call Ticketmaster, 777-0000—Laura Pellerine