|One-half of the fictional McKenzie brothers, actor Dave Thomas promotes the DVD release of Bob & Doug McKenzie's Two-Four Anniversary: True Hoser's Collectors Edition.
The Bob & Doug McKenzie's Two-Four Anniversary DVD comes with its own souvenir bottle opener. Beauty, eh?
You bring the beer. Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis supply the laughs. The DVD, hyped as the True Hoser's Collectors Edition, is out now, with a side order of back bacon.
Thomas keeps the Great White North flame alive. His hoser partner, Rick Moranis, has burned out on Hollywood and gone into semi-retirement, although he reluctantly agreed to return for the Two-Four.
This is their final hurrah, Thomas tells Sun Media. "I don't think we'll ever do this again as live-action characters." The only option is an animated series (Thomas owns his own animation company in L.A. and is intrigued).
At a running time of 94 minutes, the DVD more than doubles the length of the Two-Four Anniversary show broadcast by CBC-TV in the spring. So there is plenty of fresh material. In character, Bob & Doug introduce clips of their vintage episodes, which launched on the legendary SCTV in 1981. Celebrity and citizen interviews place the Great White North in its proper position in pop-culture history.
As extras, there are seven full skits, two tracks from the CD (including Take Off with Geddy Lee of Rush), scenes of Canucks doing the "coo roo coo coo" call (including National Ballet of Canada dancers), a Q&A with the hosers, extended interviews with celebrity fans featured in the show (including Matt Groening, who says SCTV inspired The Simpsons, and former Canadian PM Paul Martin), and old pizza ads (in which "McKenzie" was misspelled).
Sitting with Thomas in Wayne Gretzky's watering hole in Toronto, with fans peeking in to catch a glimpse, I ask Thomas if it is hard to be funny at 58.
"Being funny isn't difficult," he says. "Being heard is!"
Audiences often ignore older performers "because they don't think they're relevant." The Two-Four Anniversary -- marking the 24th anniversary of Bob & Doug's college-cult movie Strange Brew -- lets them be heard again.
Yet the interviews in the Two-Four show demonstrate that many North Americans do remember who the McKenzies are and what they represent to the Canadian identity crisis.
"I'll tell you why we did this," Thomas says. He pushed Warner Bros. for years to get sales figures on Strange Brew. Finally, an insider who left Warners revealed that, "since 2002, we've sold 500,000 DVDs and 450,000 VHSs," Thomas says.
So there are still fans out there. That's really good for an old title. That's why we did it, although Rick didn't even want to do that. It was me who pushed this through. He came back to this for me, at my request."
The Two-Four is a modest effort, with only a few new Bob & Doug routines spliced into the vintage clips and the interviews. Thomas says that's fine.
"We didn't reinvent ourselves. We remarketed the old franchise by doing new footage and by bringing on some celebrity guests to talk about us.
"I don't think we're really thinking: 'Oh man, if this thing sells, we've really got it made!' I think we're just thinking: 'Here's a final bit of live-action collectible for the fans that we think are out there!' So there you go."
The Two-Four explains how Bob & Doug happened and why they stuck in our brains. One insight is that the characters were smart about being stupid.
"That's Dave Foley's line," Thomas recalls, "and he's right! That was always the fun behind them because, in their own little world, they understood that public access had now given the mike's to the ordinary people. And they understood that the attention span of the public lasts about two minutes."
The Great White North routines were introduced in the third season of SCTV because TV executives demanded more "Canadian content," not understanding that the entire SCTV universe was Canadian.
"We did it as a satire," Thomas says. "It was a joke. You can't design a hit. It didn't become this breakout thing because we watered it and nurtured it and grew it. It was because we threw it away and didn't care about it.
"We shot those things at the end of the day at SCTV and Rick and I would drink real beer and actually make bacon sandwiches. And the rest of the crew and cast had gone home."
In their throwaways, Bob & Doug created hilarious Canadian history.
If P.M. was this funny, he'd still be PM
Like Al Gore, if Paul Martin was this funny on the hustings he would still be prominent in politics. In Martin's case, he might still be the prime minister of Canada.
"Wasn't he great!" enthuses Dave Thomas, half of the Bob & Doug McKenzie duo in the new DVD, Two-Four Anniversary: True Hoser's Collectors Edition.
Martin, in a power suit sitting in a wood-panelled office, does a mock-serious introduction in the anniversary show, lamenting how awful it is that beer-guzzling hosers are Canadian identity icons. It is all tongue-in-cheek and executed with comic aplomb.
"He was great on that show and he's a great guy," Thomas tells Sun Media.
"I was very impressed by that. To me, that was the funniest part of the show, Paul Martin as our host!
"We demanded some respect at the McKenzies and we needed a prime minister as our host! That was a fun day."
The clincher is seeing Martin leave the studio after shooting his spot. The power suit is gone.
Martin, primed for the laugh, is now comfortably dressed as a classic hoser and ready to take off, eh. Oh Canada!