For comedy troupe The Sketchersons, this past Sunday Night Live at Comedy Bar was a very special show. Not only was their host and musical guest bona fide Canuck rock royalty, but he’d been appearing in their weekly sketch show as a character for over a year.
Sketcherson Brendan Halloran first appeared on stage as Alan Frew, lead singer of Glass Tiger, in a sketch in March 2009, spouting off silly planned solo album titles riffing on his name. The host that evening, TSN’s Jay Onrait, so enjoyed the sketch that he repeated a few of the jokes on-air the following Monday. The character became a crowd (and troupe) favourite, recurring many times. So, on a whim, Sunday Night Live‘s publicist Jen Fitzgerald wrote Frew’s manager, inviting the busy renaissance man to host the show; surprisingly, she got a positive response.
After this past Sunday’s show—enthusiastically received by the crowd—the seasoned rock star and speaker said that it was his first time doing comedy for a live audience. “I only got my lines this morning,” said Frew, mentioning the Sketcherson’s weekly process of writing all new material. He copped to being nervous before the show, despite having entertained millions on stage for three decades. Nevertheless, he gave the writers carte blanche, and only really worried about one sketch: a full troupe dance-off, with Frew kicking off a dance circle on stage, showing off some pretty solid moves. “I’m just not really into my body,” Frew said modestly. “I like to be in the band, getting everyone else to dance.”
Pre-show jitters aside, though, Frew enjoyed himself. “I had a great experience! These guys were real pros; it was a ton of fun,” he says. When we told him that he was one of just a few musical guests who have also hosted the show, he replied: “Well, I’d be curious to see how many musicians could do that part.” “We gave you a lot, didn’t we?” said a grinning Jason DeRosse.
For their part, The Sketchersons had nothing but great things to say about their esteemed guest host. “Wanna know something about that guy, man?” said Pat Thornton. “Some [hosts] don’t want to show up until 4, 5, 6 o’clock [before the show]. Alan put in the whole day today.” Added Carly Heffernan, “He came in on Thursday, too, and gave a lot of input; he came really prepared.” The troupe also praised Frew’s willingness to poke fun at himself. “I believe my direct quote was ‘What the fuck is your problem, Mr. Frew?'” said Heffernan, referring to the dance circle sketch, in which Frew berated the troupe for their tired steps.
Asked if Frew had any favourite sketches, the Sketchersons came to a quick consensus. “He had a soft spot in his heart for the Swiss Chalet scene,” said Heffernan, referring to a sketch where Thornton plays a restaurateur who tries to option Glass Tiger for a lunchtime performance, with Chalet sauce as compensation. “At the end of the sketch, Bryan Adams agrees to do it for one large and one small sauce, and I say, ‘Beat it, Frew!'” recounted Thornton. “Then he says, ‘Bryan Adams, you fucked me again!'” Noting that the two musicians are longtime collaborators, Cole Osborne explained that Frew “loved that line every time he said it in rehearsal.”
Photos by Joseph Fuda.