My 2 Cents

Just around the time when, at the most recent NATPE, it became known that Howie Mandel, host of the popular NBC network show, Deal or No Deal, is Canadian, VideoAge’s Canadian contributor, Diane Barnes, suggested a story on Canada’s comedic talents.

The point of the story –– which can be read on page 16, is that in the U.S. there are a disproportionate number of Canadian comics, actors, stand-up comedians and writers.

The question now is: Why do so many remarkably funny people hail from Canada?

And more puzzling: Why do these people become funny only when they cross the border?

Barnes answers the first question with more questions: “Is it something in the snow? Has it got something to do with the canoes they paddle to work? Maybe it’s related to all that skiing they do 12 months of the year. Or in which province they were born.”

If indeed it has to do with the provinces, the funniest Canadian province has got to be Saskatchewan, where there is a city called Regina, which they pronounce as something that rhymes with vagina.
It is also possible that the expression “having a funny bone” –– which indicates a quality of someone entertainingly humorous –– came from Canada, when starving artists would ask their rich neighbors in the south to “throw a few bones,” and the Americans thought that was funny.

It could also be that Canadians are hybrid creatures: half English, half French, and mercifully mutated into a genetic American-appreciated form. However, those with the English DNA go to Hollywood, and those with the French DNA go to Paris (like Québécoise stand-up comedian Stephane Rousseau). No Canadian comics go to London, possibly because they want to avoid Heathrow airport like the rest of us.

I’m convinced that Canadians say “aboot” instead of “about” only to make us in the U.S. laugh. Indeed, “aboot” is not funny in Canada — only in America does it become hysterical. Take Canadian jokester Jon Lajoie, who, after he was called to Hollywood by United Talent Agency, told USA Today, “I really wasn’t sure what I was doing [in Canada] was even funny.”

Perhaps it’s little things that turn everyday people in Canada into funny people when they cross into the U.S. This is why, when then-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien called president George W. Bush a “cowboy,” and his spokesperson, Francoise (nicknamed “Francie” for fun) Ducros, called W. a “moron,” the comments weren’t funny in Canada. However, they became hysterical in the U.S., to the point that White House staffers started referring to Chrétien as “Dino,” which is not as funny as calling him by the Italian slur “Guido” –– popularized by NBC’s Saturday Night Live (produced by Canadian Lorne Michaels). In many respects NBC can be considered the U.S. refugee camp for Canadians.

In the VideoAge story, Barnes also mentions that Canadian “funny bones” are exported south of the border in increasing numbers, and she attached those “bones” to such talents as Mike Myers, Martin Short and Jim Carrey, just to mention a few.

This situation is alarming for some Republicans, such as presidential hopeless, Mike Huckabee, who was clamoring for better secured borders by pledging to erect more than just cultural barriers. A less drastic alternative that should be considered is an exchange program sponsored by the Republican Party where dull Americans are sent to Canada to reinforce their “funny bones.”

And even though no visible sign will be perceived while in Canada, as soon as those “funnied” Americans return to their Mother Land, comedic juices will start spilling from their pores just like true Canadians who jump the fence. In my view, the fun juice of Canadians cannot get out in temperatures like minus 45 degrees, such as it was in late January in parts of Alberta. But once they go to Hollywood the hot weather plus the warmth and honesty of the people make them drip with funny stuff.

I’m sure that even those annoying Canadian immigration officers –– who insist on knowing if, during an afternoon in which you travel from New York to Toronto, you’ll be stealing the job of some starving Canadian comedians –– will turn into Dan Aykroyd once they visit the U.S. side of Niagara Falls.

The funny part of all of this is that American officials like to keep this invasion of Canadian comedians a secret. Plus, because Canadians make Americans laugh and U.S. president “Dubya” (as they say in Texas) makes Americans cry, the U.S. government doesn’t like them. That’s why it blames Canada for everything and, in my opinion, ordered CNN commentator Robert Novak to call Canadians a bunch of “weenies,” which is really funny.

Dom Serafini