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CANADA'S GREAT WHITE MIRTH

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Why have so many cutting-edge comics come from Canada? ”No one ever asks why there are so many funny Americans,” Kevin McDonald of Toronto’s Kids in the Hall says seriously. But one can’t help seeing maple leaves when glancing at the cable channel Comedy Central, which airs reruns of Saturday Night Live (whose notable neighbors from the North include Dan Aykroyd and Mike Myers), SCTV (Toronto’s John Candy and company), and Kids, whose absurdist sketches will be spotlighted during a 12-hour marathon on June 20. The Kids have theories on why Canada is such a hotbed for hilarity. ”Canada is a nerd, and America is the big man on campus,” Kids’ Scott Thompson explains. ”The big man never becomes funny, but the nerd has to.” Adds McDonald: ”There’s something funny about a group of people who are apologizing all the time. If Canada were a comic, we’d be Woody Allen.” Canadian comedy isn’t completely homegrown. ”We’re the son of All in the Family and Monty Python, a mixture of American aggressiveness and British-one hesitates to use the word-wackiness,” McDonald says. Nor is Canadian humor regionally homogeneous. ”There are no comedy stylings on the West Coast,” Thompson says. ”Comedy starts at Edmonton. As you go east, it gets darker. By the time you hit Newfoundland, it’s pitch-black.” The country takes patriotic pride in its humor. ”(Myers) put Toronto references all through Wayne’s World-the bar they go to, the Gasworks, is an old heavy-metal hoser bar in Toronto,” Thompson says, adding that Wayne was an Ontarian when he debuted on Canadian TV in the mid-’80s but moved to Aurora, Ill., when Myers joined SNL. ”But I thought the most wonderful reference would have been if he had kept Wayne from Scarborough.”