Canada’s favourite ‘handyman’ will be stocking up on flannel shirts and duct tape and hitting the road this fall on his ‘Wit & Wisdom’ tour.
The comical trek, featuring Steve Smith, makes a Red Deer stop Sept. 18 at the Memorial Centre, with showtime set for 7 p.m.
“It’s beyond huge,” explains the Smith from his Hamilton home during a recent chat. He points out that the show, which of course will be squarely from Red Green’s zany perspective, will topically run the gamut from lodge life, handyman tips and lodge meetings to dealing with all kinds of people.
“The heart and soul of it is about folks – teens, men, how to raise kids, how to apologize to society when you blow it. It’s not a rant, I have no agenda and it’s not political – it’s just mindless escapism,” he adds with a laugh.
“I also talk about everything from the stories around being Red Green to how to get along with your wife or avoid her when you’re not and some stories about my childhood,” explains Smith. “I have a short attention span so I cover a lot.”
Red Green, most noted as the hapless handyman who believes “anything is possible if you use enough duct tape” has been entertaining audiences for the past 20 years with his popular CBC/PBS series Red Green. The show wrapped production in the spring of 2006.
Smith originally created the character for his 1979–1985 sketch comedy series Smith & Smith. The sketch was a parody of the long-running Canadian outdoors show The Red Fisher Show (1968–1989), starring BH ‘Red’ Fisher in which Red and his friends would show silent films of their fishing trips with commentary at ‘Scuttlebutt Lodge’. The Red Green character also appeared in Me & Max and The Comedy Mill before becoming the focus of his own series.
“I thought it would last one season,” says Smith of his legendary show, which struck a major chord with audiences south of the border as well. He attributes its longevity in part to the fact the team wasn’t looking for a season renewal. They poured everything into that first year, and that kept things strikingly fresh, original and on the edge. “We were just trying to be funny – we’d be laughing while filming the show.”
The show was produced first by CHCH in Hamilton then by CFPL in London, then by the Global Television Network. It then landed a permanent home at CBC for the 1997 season onward.
For those unfamiliar with show’s premise, Red Green is the president of the Possum Lodge, a men’s club in the small northwestern Ontario town of Possum Lake near the also-fictional town of Port Asbestos. He and fellow lodge members had their own TV show in which they gave lessons and demonstrations in repair work and outdoor activities and advice for men.
As for Red Green’s enduring popularity, Smith credits the overall appeal of the character and his setting to audiences. There’s something charming and comfortable about Red Green and his surroundings, and folks want to check into that place after a crazy day at work, for example.
“People want to spend time in that world. They just want to be there and take a break.”
Meanwhile, the live shows struck gold in the U.S. earlier this year and this fall will be Smith’s first coast-to-coast tour of Canada. It’s been an exhilarating season for him, and really marks his first time performing for a live audience as a solo performer. The concept was a bit foreign at first as he’d been filming a TV series for years, but Smith was up for the challenge.
He had a test show in Minneapolis and the format agreed with him from the get-go.
“I loved it, and I was immediately at home with it. You can’t beat the instant feedback you get instead of waiting for television ratings feedback.”
For tickets, visit Ticket Central at www.centralalbertatheatre.ca or call 403-347-0800.