In my opinion, one of the funniest shows in the history of TV was SCTV. That stood for Second City Television, because all of the cast came from the Second City Improv Troupe in Canada (except for Harold Ramis, who was from the Chicago Second City Troupe.) The show started out in 1976 as a monthly program in Canada, then it went bi-weekly and by September of 1977 it was a weekly comedy sketch show. The premise was that the sketches were all shows or commercials produced from the world’s smallest TV station. The original cast consisted of: John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis, and Dave Thomas (Rick Moranis and Martin Short later joined the cast and Ramis left after the second season).
NBC picked the show up in 1981 and it ran as a 90 minute show every Friday night until 1983. It then moved to Cinemax for one last season and then the series ended and the cast members all moved on to other TV shows and movies. Luckily chunks of the show and a special about SCTV remain on YouTube and below are four SCTV related videos.
It’s hard to pick just a couple of SCTV sketches because they all were so funny and original. SCTV was often compared to Saturday Night Live, but they were really two different shows and two different types of humor. SNL was hyper and often political and topical comedy while SCTV was pure conceptual and absurdist humor. And of course SNL was live and SCTV was taped, so they could do more with make-up and special effects. The Farm Film Report is really indicative of their absurdist, off-the-wall humor. It’s a parody of an early morning farm report TV show, but the farmers, Joe Flaherty as Big Jim McBob and John Candy as Billy Sol Hurok are also film critics. And then as an extra layer of humor, they like to blow people up, like they do in this sketch where Catherine O’Hara does an hilarious impression of a stumbling and bumbling Brooke Shields and ultimately gets blowed up...real good!
The Gerry Todd Show is another example of really original and conceptual humor from SCTV. It was a video show hosted by Rick Moranis playing a geeky video broadcaster, Gerry Todd. Within the show you had “video star” Tom Monroe doing cheesy and hilarious videos of “Turning Japanese” and “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.” There’s also the “exciting” cash contest, weather and ads from Crazy Hy’s at 4650 Landsdown. I love it when he adjusts the color on the logo! It’s little touches of eccentric humor like that that really made the show special.
Cast members, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Harold Ramis and Dave Thomas talk about the series and share memories of the years they worked on the show. I love the interaction between Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty and how they genuinely crack each other up. Catherine O’Hara and Andrea Martin share the fact that much like SNL, the females had a tougher time getting credit and air-time on a male dominated show.
One thing I took from these interviews is how they were really into pure comedy on the show. As I mentioned earlier, they weren’t political or topical at all. The humor was really layered and well written. And this video ends where this post began, explaining how The Farm Film Report developed and became a popular recurring sketch on the show. It ends with a classic Farm Film Report with Eugene Levy as Neil Sedaka. He blows up real good!