The Fish

for 5 February 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
 


Joey Anuff
Producer

 


Terry Colon
Art Director

 


Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor

 


T. Jay Fowler
Production Editor

 


Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

 


Owen Thomas
Copy Editor










 


Carl Steadman
Co-Founder

 


Sean Welch
Suckgineer


 

Attack of the Killer
Canadians!

What with the responses we've
gotten to Furious George's
America First tirade on
Canadian comedy, you have to
wonder how NAFTA ever got
signed.

The American contribution to
Canadian comedy is
significant, but only as a
source of comic material. We
are greatly amused by our
neighbors to the south, and
have a great time spoofing
them. However, we also have a
great time spoofing
ourselves, and that is
perhaps where the major
difference between our
respective comedies lies: We
are able to laugh at
ourselves, and that is why we
produce so many world-class
comedians and so many
genuinely funny people.

Unfortunately, for too long,
we have had a horrible
tendency to feel that our
comedians, artists and
musicians haven't made it
until they break into the
American market. Our Canadian
inferiority complex has
caused great harm to our
comedy, film, television and
music industries. This is
changing, I'm happy to
report, especially in the
music industry. Hopefully it
will spread to comedy, film
and television as well.

In closing, gimme Bob as an
uncle over Sam any day!

Your pal in Toronto,

Luis Cardoso
<hydrogen@netcom.ca>

Hmm, you're right... if you
include the music industry in
an account of Canadian
culture, it's easy to
recognize how many "genuinely
funny people" have come out
of Canada... and we don't
just mean "funny-looking"!
Alanis Morrisette's success
is probably the biggest prank
pulled on America since the
we got suckered into buying
Alaska (which condemned us
forever to trans-Canada
travel).

 
 

I believe it was an SCTV
alumnus who summed up the
success of SCTV thus:
"Americans watch TV, but
Canadians watch American TV."
It is our status as outsiders
that gives us our ironic
edge.

And in Canada, this phenomenon
is evident at the next level
down. Our funniest show right
now - This Hour Has 22
Minutes - comes from a bunch
of Newfoundlanders. These
outsiders, who didn't even
join the confederation until
the 1940s, are to Canada much
as the rest of us are to the
United States, and so they
can offer us a perspective
that we do not have.

I can only wonder what you
Americans (twice removed)
would think of them?!

Roy Schulze <roy@galleon.com>

Hmmmm, your point is
well-taken, but there's
something not quite right
about

Newfoundland : Canada ::
Canada : United States

We read E. Annie Proulx (and
we listen to Big Black), so
we wonder if a more
appropriate analogy might be:

Newfoundland : Canada ::
Jordan, Minnesota : United
States.

 
 

You have an attitude all too
typical of many Americans
that really grates on your
neighbours [sic] up north.
(And if you put a [sic] after
"neighbours" [sic], I'll
shove my toque down your
throat...)

A few years ago, Saturday
Night
magazine devoted an
issue to publishing views on
Canada from non-Canadians,
especially Americans. One of
the contributors was a
Hollywood screenwriter/
producer/brown-noser; his
article was about a
French-language movie from
Quebec called Le
Déclin de L'Empire
Américain
("The
Decline of the American
Empire," if you must know)
which was very successful
not only in its native
Quebec but in the ROC as
well (sorry... "Rest Of
Canada"; was that too
culturally specific?).

The writer - if I may be so
liberal as to apply the term
to someone who makes a living
in Hollywood - first declared
that he could see no
difference between Canadian
and American culture. He then
went on, in the rest of the
article, to specify how he
would have to change this
Canadian script in order for
it to be successful in the
American market, despite his
previous declaration of how
indistinguishable our
cultures are. (For example:
"The characters spend too
much time talking about sex
and never doing it," I recall
him saying. "There would have
to be more real, on-screen
sex," he declared, proving
he'd missed the point of the
movie entirely.)

Oh, the dramatic irony! I
still wonder if the article
was a hoax cooked up by a
Saturday Night staffer, but
when I see the typical dreck
generated by studios in
Southern California, the
sheer vapidity of the article
was entirely believable. And
comments like those in
yesterday's Fish only
reinforce my belief that a
real American wrote the
article.

Keep on suckin'...

Ron Stewart
<Ron_Stewart@pbsc.com>

Oooh... what's a toque?

 
 

Lip Serviceable

Furious George's Slapstick
Traces
was wonderful,
poignant and deservedly
scathing.

Regarding Aykroyd and Belushi
(the lesser)'s funerary
choreography, you didn't even
mention what a pathetic
demonstration of lip-synching
it was. It's made even more
pathetic by how terrible it
sounded Not only can Jim
Belushi not sing - they
couldn't even make it sound
like he could sing from the
controls of the recording
studio. Not that John was
threatening Pavarotti's job,
but with that certain
believability he had, it
sounded right.

Suck away -

Brent Billock
<brentano@mcs.net>

You're complaining about the
lip-synching? Keep in mind,
the alternative is actually
hearing Belushi sing. Let's
count the decision to
lip-synch as the one tasteful
choice of the entire event.

George

 
 

Perky Canada Has Own Laws,
Comedy

My, my, my... how typically
American you are. SCTV was a
Canadian television show,
highlighting the talents of
great Canadian comics such as
Andrea Martin, John Candy,
Joe Flaherty, Martin Short...
the list goes on; yet you
could only mention Americans
Martin Mull, Steve Martin and
Albert Brooks, who may have
appeared as guests on the
show, but were never part of
the cast. How pathetic! Were
you afraid your American
readers wouldn't recognize
any Canadians you may have
mentioned? I don't know why:
The Canadian contribution to
comedy in America is quite
astonishing, in light of our
population in comparison to
yours. The funniest people on
programs such as Saturday
Night Live have always been
and continue to be Canadians
such as Dan Aykroyd, Phil
Hartman, Mark McKinney,
Martin Short, etc. NewsRadio,
one of your funniest sitcoms,
features two Canadians in key
roles: Phil Hartman and Dave
Foley. Canadian comedy
programming such as Kids in
the Hall, and most recently,
This Hour Has 22 Minutes,
make Saturday Night Live in
its present incarnation seem
a huge bore (although, to be
fair, Saturday Night Live
does just fine being a huge
bore on its own). If you're
going to write about
Canadians, get your facts
straight, eh?!

Luis Cardoso
<hydrogen@netcom.ca>

Luis, where did I say SCTV
was an American show? SCTV
was a Canadian-produced show,
but Second City (the theater
from which it gets its name)
came from Chicago (and later
opened a Toronto theater)
where all of those actors
were trained, even to the
extent of swapping casts
between Chicago and Toronto
periodically, which they
still do today. I'd actually
argue that SCTV is
indistinguishable from
American sketch comedy. I'd
be interested to hear what
you think actually separates
the two cultures comically,
because I've always felt they
were identical in most
respects. Obviously, Canadian
comics can play up specific
locales and characters - the
Bob and Doug MacKenzie
sketches, for example - but
outside of that, what? These
actors, American and
Canadian, are so closely
linked in their age,
training, and attitudes that
I find it hard to separate
them by country.

As for names left out from
SNL, don't forget Paul
Schaeffer and Lorne Michaels,
both from Canada. Although at
this point, how much of
Michaels' career do you
really want to claim as part
of your national heritage?

George

 
 

How To Read Suck 3.0

Yep, that's right, I am just
enough of a sucker to step up
and take yet another swing at
the New Suck 3.0 Look. Call
me crazy, but things will
never be as good as they were
in the old samizdat-style
days of Suck 1.0 - however,
far be it from me to merely
offer you another chance to
snap back with a
harsh-on-the-surface-
but-really-sorta-caring-
underneath retort: Your
response to carping reader
emails - like this one - has
been a little heavy on the
cute and light on the
venomous lately. What's up?
Worried about losing readers
or something? Well cut it
out. Personally, I think we'd
all trust a Suck that spits
on us more than a Suck that
seems to have read some
customer service poster from
Successories.

Ah, but I digress.

The main point of this
particular carping email is
to point something out to all
those readers who find the
new horizontal ad frame on
the bottom a major annoyance
(not to speak of the
sincerely toned apologies
laying it at the feet of the
big bad standards bodies).
Just as Wired magazine
helpfully located their ads
so that they can be either
cut out altogether or glued
face to face
, Suck 3.0's
engineers thoughtfully...
[unintelligible] - and it's
the old Suck all over
again (or at least as
close as we can get in these
later days).

Spread the word.
<dmilstei@sig.bsh.com>

Regarding the engineers' work:
We aim to please, Dan.
Readers come before ad reps,
and quality content and
service before expanding
demographics. It's just a
good thing that the sales
people around here still
think ActiveX is a skateboard
company and that Lemay is
what comes after Le April...

And as for your concern that
our letters are too "cute and
light" lately, well, you
don't seems to understand
that our misanthropy only
reaches as far as the door.
We have many reasons to be
bitter, but most if not all
of them can be viewed in a
purse-sized compact. We love
our readers, we hate only
ourselves.

But, as stated, we aim to
please, so: Jesus, Dan, if
you'd been paying attention,
you'd notice that we've been
regularly flogging and
flouting the new ad frame in
these very pages for some
time now. Is it your memory
that's short or just your
d... uh, attention span?

There - feel better? Let us
know if there's anything else
we can do.

 
 

Press Release o' the Day

NEW WEB SITE FOR NIHILISTS

What is Nihilism? What's it
like to not believe in
anything? What is nihilist
art? Where can you find
nihilist videos? Answers to
these questions and more are
now available on the new
Nihilists' Corner World Wide
Web site. Conceptual artist
Elisha Shapiro has spent the
last six months constructing
this extensive resource.
Shapiro says, "This site
makes learning about nihilism
fun. Whether you're just
curious about nihilism, or
you're a nihilist yourself,
it's great entertainment."

Shapiro is the artist who
created the Nihilist Olympics
in 1984. Events like the
Decathlon of Housework and
the Projectile Vomiting
Marathon were highlights of
the Olympics, and are now
part of the extensive and
hilarious documentation at
this site. There is also
documentation of Shapiro's
National Nihilist Party
campaigns for President in
1988 and LA County Sheriff in
1994. The Nihilist Corner Web
Site also features serious
information about the
philosophy of nihilism as
well as extensive reading
suggestions. There is also a
complete list of videos from
Nihilist Productions, along
with products from the
Nihilist Press. There is a
page for visitors to comment
about nihilism or about this
site and to read the comments
of others. The latest
addition to the Nihilists'
Corner Web site is a page of
Nihilist Links if you want to
continue on to other sites.
This is a must visit:

http://members.aol.com/
nihilist01/corner.html 

Projectile Vomiting Marathon?
Who knew learning about
nihilism could be that much
fun!

 
 

Polly Wants to Smack Him

Hey "Polly"

Have you ever tried Equinox
itself or tried the products?
If not get this crap off the
net because we are
environmentally aware and we
are trying to do something
for the good of mankind and
it is not a cult. We don't go
around chanting little
sayings, because we don't
have the time to! We are too
busy trying to get pig-headed
people like you to do
something with your lives and
stop wasting your time
putting garbage like this on
the net!

Anonymous

Polly Esther responds:

Well, it happens at least once
a week. Someone writes to me
about that Equinox article I
wrote almost exactly a year
ago. Only they usually write
to tell me all about how
Equinox's quasi-pyramid
scheme depleted their
savings, lost them a number
of friends, cost them their
marriages, or otherwise
ruined their lives.

But it is good to hear that
you're making an effort to
get people like me to stop
wasting my time. Please, do
help! I can't seem to stop
putting garbage like this on
the net! And you should meet
the people I have to work
with.... It's a nightmare
with no end in sight.