An Hour with /SCTV/'s Rick Moranis Page 4

Bob and Doug, Eh?

Do you expect to see a resurgence of the McKenzie brothers' popularity because of the box set coming out?The McKenzies have an audience apart from SCTV. They're sort of perennials. The video stores, for the last 20 years, have rented and sold copies of Strange Brew [their 1983 movie]. moranis 3

Hoseheads and beer: Moranis (left) and Dave Thomas as the McKenzie brothers

And it's on DVD.I know. I was in a record store the other day, and it was front-racked, and that really shocked me. But it's an evergreen title. There will always be another group of kids going to college, drinking beer, and discovering that movie. Many of them have never even heard of SCTV.

I don't know that the phenomenon that surrounded the McKenzies in '81 and '82 could ever be recreated. I think they're an entity unto themselves because of the album and the movie. There's no other explanation for it being front-racked at a Tower Records here in New York.

How did you feel about making the Great White North album and having a Top 40 hit song, "Take Off"? How much of it was improvised, and how much was scripted?When we were producing the Great White North comedy album, my experience in radio told me I needed two singles in order to get enough airplay. So we created a hit single, "Take Off," a parody of what we thought was the perfect formula for a hit. It was 2 1/2 minutes in length, with an 11-second or so intro so that DJs could talk over it; it was uptempo, and it had a good chorus hook.

Two Toronto musicians, Kerry Crawford and Jonathan Goldsmith, who totally got the joke, created the very commercial jingle-sounding riff, and then Dave and I improv'ed our dialogue over the verse space.

We were being released by Anthem Records, where Rush had done all their albums to that point. I had gone to elementary school with Geddy Lee, and we'd heard he was a fan of the brothers. Anthem asked if he'd mind singing the chorus ["Take off/to the Great White North/Take off/It's a beauty way to go"], and he said he'd love to. So he came in to the studio and blew us away.

The second single we had was "Twelve Days of Christmas." Again, Dave and I improv'ed numerous takes over the tracks, and Marc Giacomelli, the producer, cut it down to what it is.

To Sketch or Not to Sketch

Do you miss doing sketch comedy at all?I miss the kind of work we were able to do on SCTV because that was a unique time for all of us. We were young, we didn't have any other kinds of distractions. We were all in Edmonton, where there was pretty much nothing else to do but work, and going over schedule or budget was common. And I don't think that set of circumstances could ever intersect again.

It was unique to have that kind of time and money and passion and hunger. At the time, we had no idea we had an audience. We were winging it and making each other laugh. Then one day we found out people were watching. I mean, we were on 12:30 at night. As it turns out, we sold a lot of VCRs, because people found out about us and couldn't stay up to see the show.