Netflix revealed earlier this week that Martin Scorsese – the director of such films as Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, The Wolf Of Wall Street, and The Departed – is taking on the world of Canadian comedy. The Oscar-winning filmmaker will direct an original comedy special exploring the legacy of Second City Television, the famed Canadian sketch comedy series that helped launch the careers of numerous superstars.
The special will reunite original SCTV stars Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, and Joe Flaherty for a discussion, moderated by Jimmy Kimmel, titled An Afternoon with SCTV. Rick Moranis was also among the troupe, though he isn’t expected to appear at the reunion.
“The thing about SCTV is we did it in a vacuum, so we weren’t aware that it had any impact until many years afterward,” Andrea Martin told the Los Angeles Times. “That generation of brilliant comedians, there are so many fans — Judd Apatow, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Hader. It’s been 40 years since it’s been on the air. We’re in the process of talking about a reunion show. And Martin Scorsese has talked to us about directing it.”
SCTV ran between 1976 and 1984 and is famous for launching the careers of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catharine O’Hara, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and Harold Ramis, among other comedians. The series began as an offshoot of Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe and launched just a year after Saturday Night Live. Many of the characters created by the cast went on to be sketch icons such as Levy as smarmy comic Bobby Bittman and broadcaster Earl Camembert, the late John Candy as smooth-talking Johnny LaRue, Andrea Martin as leopard-clad programming boss Edith Prickley, O’Hara as platinum blond singer Lola Heatherton, the late Harold Ramis as game show host Moe Green, Dave Thomas as drama critic Bill Needles, Rick Moranis as one of the 5 Neat Guys and Joe Flaherty as station manager Guy Cabellero.
Perhaps the show’s most famous bit featured Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as beer-guzzling Canadian brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie, hosts of their own show The Great White North, a hilarious lampoon of Canadian stereotypes that later spawned a cult classic movie, Strange Brew.
With 12 Oscar nominations and one win for directing The Departed back in 2006, Martin Scorsese is regarded as one of the greatest living filmmakers working today. He held long conversations with SCTV alums about their character-driven TV satire series as he developed his documentary about the famed comedy troupe, most of whom were Canadian artists.
“He’s been an incredible fan since the early days,” said producer Andrew Alexander, who’s in the early stages of the film with Scorsese and Netflix that dives into the legendary TV show. “He thinks there’s a cultural component to all of this — the influence this show’s had on so many comedic artists of today… This is something that came out of Canada that had a huge influence on North American comedy.”
The show will be recorded in front of a live audience at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre on May 13 at 3 pm, after which it will be available for streaming on Netflix at an unspecified date. In addition to handling An Afternoon with SCTV, Scorsese is also behind the big-budget gangster movie The Irishman for Netflix.
Images: Netflix, CBC, Universal (NBC)