307 publications found
Sort by
Tracing the events and impacts of the Canadian satire boom of the 1960s

In the 1960s, Canada began shedding political, symbolic and cultural vestiges of its colonial ties to Britain. Politicians, Quebec separatists, new immigrant groups and university educated young people questioned what a modern Canada should be. Canadian comedians responded in part by adapting satirical techniques popularised by British stage revues like Beyond the Fringe, whose iconoclastic humour provided a voice with which to confront public figures and current events much more directly than had been done in traditional Canadian comedy. Canadian satirists drew critical praise when they first appeared in small clubs in Toronto, the country’s metropolis and the centre of English-language media. As satire’s popularity grew, television executives and political figures tried to harness the new comedy in hopes of appearing attuned to a changing country. However, when Canadian satirists received wider exposure on television, stage and internationally they shocked some people as vulgar and strident, while disappointing others for being too gentle. Within a very few years, satire’s moment was over, and its place in Canadian comedy history is obscure. This article attempts to define Canada’s ‘satire boom’ of the early-1960s as a foundational era for modern Canadian comedy, during which performers shed vaudeville tropes jokes for direct, irreverent, angry, observational humour about the contemporary world. Where Canada’s satirists are mostly unknown today, they helped lay the foundations on which the Canadian sketch comedy of the 1970s was built, and from which emerged international stars like John Candy, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara.