How’s it goin’, eh? You hoser!
I had a lot of fun spinning a George Carlin record the other day, and decided I needed to pick up a few more old comedy albums for kicks. And at the top of my list is one I used to have on cassette and quite literally wore out, Bob & Doug McKenzie’s Great White North.
I discovered Bob & Doug’s “Great White North” comedy sketches on late-night playings of SCTV sometime around 1983-84. Back then I’m pretty sure these were coming in on UHF – they weren’t even on cable, I had to use an antenna on my tiny TV to try to tune in. In general I wasn’t a huge SCTV fan, so it would be quite disappointing if I stayed up late to watch and they didn’t run a Bob & Doug segment. Fortunately I had the album.
If you’re not familiar with Bob & Doug McKenzie (played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), the characters were a couple of overly stereotypical, rural Canadians who smoked, drank beer, fried up back bacon, and were complete and total idiots. Sometimes the segments were awesome… and sometimes awful. You never quite knew what you were going to get, and all of them completely ad libbed. But they were popular enough to spawn an album of the same name, which made it to #1 in the Canadian charts and peaked at #8 on Billboard, selling over a million copies in North America and resulting in an utterly amazing movie entitled Strange Brew. Sophmoric? Check. Stereotypes? Check. But say what you will – the Bob & Doug characters were popular on both sides of the border.
I was stoked to find a pristine copy of this at Amoeba down in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. I almost decided to crash out in my hotel room after having my flight home cancelled, but figured what the hell and braved the traffic into Hollywood. And finding this thing made the whole trip worthwhile.
I haven’t listened to Great White North in probably 25 years, though their skit “Twelve Days of Christmas” still gets played on the radio every year. And frankly I forgot how ridiculous it is. Skits about playing Russian roulette with shaken cans of beer (“Beer Hunter”)… musings about black holes… and song called “Take Off” featuring none other than Geddy Lee of Rush fame (Take off, to the great white north… It’s a beauty way to go…). It was also educational, back in the day teaching me the old “double it and add 30” rule for converting Celsius and Fahrenheit (which I still use today). Hearing these two goofballs, one voice out of each speaker, brought back a lot of memories. I’m not going to say it held up great, and I probably won’t go back to it often, but it was still fun to hear it all again.