Second City gala features the legendary Bob and Doug McKenzie

The king hosers return to their homeland for rare stage appearance


Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas last performed as Bob and Doug a decade ago

For those of you who’ve been saying you’d give up a body part to see Rick Moranis perform again, it’s time to call your surgeon. You’re going to get your wish, but it will cost you.

On July 18, both Moranis and Dave Thomas will reprise their roles as the famous McKenzie brothers in a star-studded gala at Second City (tickets $500 to $2,500). The evening will not just include the duo but also appearances by Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dan Aykroyd, the Kids in the Hall, all to benefit Thomas’s nephew who recently suffered a spinal cord injury.

Even without the McKenzie brothers, it would be an amazing night of comedy. With them, it becomes an historic  evening.

Moranis almost never performs. He claims he’s not retired, just very picky about his projects. Quite awhile ago, tragedy befell Moranis as his wife died suddenly. He chose to focus on bringing up his kids in New York and put comedy on the back burner, an admirable choice but one that took him mostly out of the public eye, except for a country music album in 2005. 

I was close with Moranis back in 1976 when he was one of the first wave of standup comics at Yuk Yuk’s. That’s right. He did brilliant standup in those years, a fact few people know, mainly because he secretly hated it.

“Like begging for laughs, “ he used to tell me. 

He also implored me not to call my comedy club Yuk Yuk’s, but something more generic and audience-friendly like Comedy Factory or Laugh Shop. 

Thomas, meanwhile, has been visible with a variety of subjects, including writing and performing on series such as Bones and The Blacklist. But the last McKenzie brothers project that involved Moranis and Thomas was a CBC reunion special in 2007. 

Thinking back to the heady days of the McKenzie brothers explosion, I am reminded of the curious circumstances that created the legendary bit.

SCTV was in its infancy, and their sketch comedy series was being taped in Edmonton. But government financing included a clause that there must be some content that was “distinctly Canadian.” So Rick and Dave were approached by the producers to come up with something that would satisfy the mandate.

Sneering at the idea, the boys decided to give them a piece of Canadiana that cynically checked all the boxes: beer, toques, plaid and the repeated use of the word “eh.” 

To their surprise, the Mackenzie brothers sketch “The Great White North” became the most loved and most successful part of the show.

Without the McKenzie brothers, there is no Trailer Park Boys, no Letterkenny, no standups such as Ron James, Jimmy Flynn and Derek Edwards, not even any Wayne’s World. For who are Garth and Wayne but suburbanized versions of Bob and Doug?

The hoser tradition celebrates the rural, down-to-earth, good-hearted goofiness of sweet-natured Canuck maleness. 

As an international image, it may present us as unsophisticated rubes, but funny ones, nevertheless. Knowing that it’s all an act brings us all in on the joke.

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Post City Magazines’ humour columnist, Mark Breslin, is the founder of Yuk Yuk’s comedy clubs and the author of several books, including Control Freaked.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

How creating graphic novels helped one Toronto teen thrive

How creating graphic novels helped one Toronto teen thrive

For Evi Tampold, dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child was both a curse and a blessing. A curse because she grew up with frustrating bouts of hyperactivity and rage, and a blessing because it drew her to the world of graphic novels.
Posted 11 hours ago
Daily Planet: Why we need to stop using plastic straws

Daily Planet: Why we need to stop using plastic straws

It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. In the U.S. alone, people discard 500 million straws every day or more than 180 billion a year. That’s about 1.4 million kilograms of plastic sent to landfills and oceans every day!
Posted 14 hours ago
From towers to townhouses: A Richmond Hill highrise development gets a major scale back

From towers to townhouses: A Richmond Hill highrise development gets a major scale back

After four years of development limbo, an original proposal for two residential towers at 370 Red Maple Rd. has been resubmitted as a reduced plan for a townhouse development, slashing the number of units by 74 per cent and the height from 16 and 18 storeys high to three-storey townhouses.
Posted 5 days ago
Nine Toronto venues will host Prince Harry’s Invictus Games

Nine Toronto venues will host Prince Harry’s Invictus Games

Canada will be represented by 90 Canadian Armed Forces members, two of whom hail from T.O. — retired Cpl. Michael Clarke, in cycling and track and field, and retired Cpl. Ryan Voll in cycling. Events run Sept. 23 to 30 at nine venues across the city from Nathan Phillips Square to York Lions Stadium.
Posted 5 days ago
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Comedy Shows

  • Party Today, Panic Tomorrow

     @ Second City Toronto

    Party Today, Panic Tomorrow expresses the absurd dilemmas of life in 2017. This hilarious, all-new sketch revue reflects suffering from political...

  • An Evening With David Sedaris

     @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

    With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, DAVID SEDARIS has become one of America’s preeminent humor writers. The great skill with...

  • An Evening With Carol Burnett

     @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

    Laughter and Reflection Just For Laughs and NorthWest Comedy are thrilled to announce that comedy icon, award-winning actress and best-selling...

  • Festival of Arabic Music & Arts presents Djihad

     @ Berkley Street Theatre - Upstairs

    “Djihad” is a comic satire about radicalization, racism, xenophobia and other forms of hate. This event supports building a socially...

  • Jim Jefferies

     @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

    Comedian Jim Jefferies has announced the Unusual Punishment Tour, his latest major multi-city standup comedy tour that will take him across the...


     @ Hart House Theatre

    The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Music and Lyrics by William Finn, Book by Rachel Sheinkin Conceived by Rebecca Feldman Additional...

  • Festival of Arabic Music & Arts presents Bassem Youssef

     @ Bluma Appel Theatre

    Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of popular TV show AlBernameg – which was the first of its kind...

Show More...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module