06/29/2012 12:00 EDT | Updated 08/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Why I Love Canada: We'll Tickle Your Funny Bone


Canada is a funny place. I mean "funny - ha ha", not "funny - sheesh." I won't say Canadians love to laugh, because I'm pretty sure that's not unique to the Canadian character. Everyone, everywhere, loves to laugh -- like they love to eat and drink and have sex and sleep. Add laughter and that's the perfect date. We may not love to laugh any more than anyone else, but I think we may laugh more. Canadians are funny and they like funny. It's how we see ourselves and how others see us.

People my age will remember Wayne and Shuster. They had comedy specials that were broadcast across English Canada on CBC television. Back then, we all watched the same thing on television -- like Canada was one large living room and somebody had lost the remote for the TV. I'm going to get some flak here, but I never thought they were funny. Clearly, they intended to be -- these were called "comedy" specials. My Dad was a lot funnier than these guys and he was a banker.

But, you know, I am as proud as any Canadian that Wayne and Shuster appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 67 times -- more than any other act. I can't explain it. To Americans, Canadians were either hockey players or these two funny guys. Eventually, Americans and Europeans played hockey, but Canadians remain the comedy Kings and Queens.

Still, without denying the impact of W & S, I thought The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour was way funnier. The "Lorne" in Hart and Lorne was, and is, Lorne Micheals. Yeah. That guy. Coincidentally, he was married for a time to Frank Shuster's daugher, Rosie. So, how do I know that Hart and Lorne were funnier? Well, I laughed.

I also laughed, a lot, at SCTV. And Kids in the Hall.

CBC Radio also gave us a lot of laughs in a distinctively Canadian way. Royal Canadian Air Farce was much beloved [I am too young to remember The Happy Gang]. Again, despite my affection for it, I didn't think Air Farce was very funny -- in the "make me laugh" sense of the word. But Frantic Times? Very funny. Mr. Canoehead -- a crime-fighting super hero with an aluminum canoe welded to his head by a lightning strike during a portage. What could be more Canadian? Well, maybe Hart Pomerantz's portayal of the beaver.

Double Exposure was also funnier. Bob Robertson and Linda Cullen provided the lasting and defining impressions of an array of Canadian political figures, from Preston Manning ["EEEEliminate the deficit"] to "I'm Adrienne Clarkson and you're not".

And, I've only mentioned people who plied their yuks-trade here in Canada. This Canada Day, America's funniest folks will be celebrating their Canadian roots. You know who they are.

And back home, on this Canada Day Weekend, let's gather around the campfire and debate important matters of Canadian cultural identity and our international presence. Am I wrong about Wayne and Shuster and Air Farce? Are Jim Carrey's movies funnier than Mike Meyers'? Are politeness and humility the key ingredients to Canadians' comedic appeal? Which is more "Canadian" -- stand-up or sketch? Who do we miss more, John Candy or Phil Hartman? Would The Simpsons be funny without Canada? Does 22 Minutes need Rick Mercer? Is anyone funnier than Brent Butt? Red Green? Could Russell Peters have emerged from anywhere other than Canada? Who is your favourite Ghostbuster -- Dan Ackroyd or Bill Murray?

Bill Murray? He's not Canadian.

Yeah, but he could be.