Canadian country-rock legends Blue Rodeo have signed on to perform at next month’s Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame gala at Hamilton’s First Ontario Concert Hall, which will honour Hamilton’s Martin Short and Burlington’s Jim Carrey and a ‘who’s who’ of other Canadian comic legends.
For tickets to the closing gala, click here and use code: CCHOF2023
Also being inducted in the performer’s category February 24 will be Short’s SCTV castmate Eugene Levy, the entire cast of the legendary Second City show, Steve Smith, and Billy Van.
Smith, the creator of the Red Green character, is also being honoured in the creator category along with Jo-Anna Downey and Joe Bodolai.
Legacy inductees for 2024 include the Happy Gang, Rose Oulette and Marie Dressler.
The Gala will be hosted by Shaun Majumder and will include tributes to the cast of SCTV, Short, Levy, Carrey and Downey, as well as special comedic performances from Elvira Kurt, Sterling Scott and a special sketch ‘super group’ featuring Aurora Browne. There will also be a set from iconic Hamilton punkers Teenage Head.
The virtually brand-new Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame held their first induction ceremony two years ago, bringing in comic legends John Candy, Rich Little, the Royal Canadian Air farce, Wayne and Shuster, Dave Broadfoot and Don ‘Charlie Farquharson’ Harron as the first class.
Last year’s inductees included the cast of Wayne & Shuster, Stephen Leacock and Mack Sennett in the legacy category; Andrew Alexander, Peppiatt & Aylsworth, Lorne Michaels, Mark Breslin, Ivan Reitman, Bruce Hills and Andy Nulman in the creator category; and legendary funny people Phil Hartman, Mort Sahl, Norm MacDonald, Mike MacDonald, David Steinburg, Leslie Neilson, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Aykroyd and Michael J. Fox.
Canada has been leading the world in comedy since it was first founded – cartoonists lampooned the country in 1867 as a baby being fought over by Britain and the USA – and were among the pioneers in vaudeville, radio and later television, with acts like the Happy Gang and Ed Sullivan’s favourite comics Wayne and Shuster.
Canadian is nation of comedic storytellers as well – just read Stephen Leacock and Mordecai Richler for a hint – and our American, British, Indigenous and multicultural influences have combined to gives us a mosaic of cultural expressions, with comedy becoming one of the nation’s greatest exports.
Launching the hall of fame, the organization declared on its website, was an opportunity to “collect the stories and the memories of the funniest nation on the planet” and to “celebrate the people who made it their life’s work making us laugh.”
“They deserve to be celebrated; their work deserves to be praised.”
The 2024 Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame Inductees:
The Cast of SCTV – the show an entire generation of Canadians (and eventually Americans) fell in love with from 1976 to 1983. Second City also introduced us to comic legends John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Martin Short and others. Candy was an original inductee, O’Hara was honoured last year and Levy and Short are being celebrated this year.
Steve Smith – the creator of the iconic ‘Red Green’ character, Smith is an actor and comedian who is being honoured this year in both performer and creator categories.
Jim Carrey – the Burlington-raised Carrey is one of the most well know comic talents of his generation. An award-winning actor, comedian and even best-selling author, Carrey is a two-time Golden Globe winner got his big break on the In Living Colour television show and is best known for comedic movies such as Mask, Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Eugene Levy – from SCTV to American Pie to the Canadian smash hit TV show Schitt’s Creek (with fellow SCTV alum Catherine O’Hara), Levy has done it all in comedy here and south of the border.
Martin Short – the Hamilton comedy star transitioned from SCTV and Saturday Night Live (where he introduced iconic characters Jiminy Glick and Ed Grimley) to the big screen Most recently he received a Golden Globe nomination for the Hulu television series with Selena Gomez and long-time pal and collaborator Steve Martin.
Billy Van (1934-2003) – one of Canada’s top comedic talents in the 1960s on CBC’s late night satire program Nightcap, Van was also a frequent (and award-winning) pitchman in the U.S. for Colt 45 malt liquor. The Toronto-born Van rose to fame in the 1970s on the CHCH-Hamilton produced Party Game and the Hilarious House of Frankenstein, which also aired on the Hamilton television station.
Jo-Ann Downey (1967-2016) – a legendary comic’s comic, Downey nurtured international talents like Robin Williams and Lewis Black and a generation of Canadian talent from Toronto’s Spirit nightclub.
Joe Bodolai (1948-2011) – Bodolai helped launch the careers of Brent Butt, Mike MacDonald, Harland Williams and Shawn Majunder. He also produced the Kids in the Hall television show and co-founded the Comedy Network.
Steve Smith – as mentioned, the creator of the Red Green character who also starred with his wife Morag on their own show from 1979-85 on CHCH-TV in Hamilton.
Happy Gang – a CBC comedy troupe active from 1937 to 1959. In its hay day two million Canadians tuned in and their records were played on trans-Atlantic crossings during the Second World War to keep hopes up for citizens and soldiers alike.
Rose Oulette (1903-1996) – a Quebec entertainer and who sold out shows for 17 straight years and a pioneer in burlesque and vaudeville theatre and comedy during the 20th century.
Marie Dressler (1868-1934) – A silent film star and comedian who starred in the first full length film comedy (Punctured Romance, with Charlie Chaplin) in 1914 and won an Academy Award for the 1931 comedy Min and Bill.