History Series: Canadian Humour, Bob & Doug Mckenzie

We wear toques in the winter, except for our snow birds down south. We’ll grab a 2-4 of cold ones and a Mickey for the party this weekend. You can find us ordering a double double at Timmies, paid with a couple loonies. We go out for a rip with our buds. And you know it’s ‘zed’ not ‘zee’. Sorry, eh?

One of the most iconic comedy duos, and users of Canadian slang, are Bob and Doug McKenzie. Good day eh, and welcome to the Great White North.

The Great White North: Bob and Doug McKenzie:

Coo, loo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, cooo!

The characters Bob and Doug McKenzie, portrayed by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, first appeared on the show SCTV in 1980. Their series, Kanadian Korner, was initially created for an extra 2 minutes of purely Canadian content to almost mock the rules set by the network.
The name was later changed to The Great White North for legal reasons.

The show is a great example of improvisation; the two often did not know what their topic was before they began, and would not know what the other was going to say. The topics ranged from lack of parking at donut shops, explaining long underwear, if the robot arm on the space station could open a beer, and sometimes included arguing about who’s topic was better.

The simple set featured fake plants, back bacon on a grill, a cooler with Canadian beer, and a simplified map in the background. These toque-wearing hosers gave Canadians a new perspective and glimpse of themselves that was not previously acknowledged. What started as filler material became the most popular part of the show. Letters and love poured in from throughout Canada as well as America. When Hosermania hit, it was a pop culture phenomenon in both countries.

An album was released including their popular remake of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, (‘Three french toast, two turtlenecks and a beer… in a tree,’ anyone?) and the movie Strange Brew. After they left SCTV to film the movie, their characters were reprised several times for commercials, the two moose characters in the movie Brother Bear, and their anniversary show in 2007, among others.

Recently local Ottawa brewery Dominion City re-envisioned The Great White North with a promotional series they called Crispy Corner. I guarantee that in the 1980’s Bob and Doug could never have imagined how far their little show would transcend.


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