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95 Comments

culture

Save Picnicface, Save Canadian Comedy?

Canadian sketch comedy troupe Picnicface is fighting to get its act back on TV after it was cancelled by Bell Media.

Mark Little and Evany Rosen lounge on the grass (while Brian Macquarrie looks on) in a scene from the season (and possible series) finale of Picnicface.

On the internet, at least, there’s been no bigger Canadian comedy success story to date than Picnicface. The troupe’s eight members, who honed their technique playing regularly on stage in Halifax, are often cited as the successors to ’90s Toronto-based comedy stars The Kids in the Hall. Picnicface’s biggest claim to fame, the over-the-top Powerthirst sketch, has passed 25 million views since it was first posted on YouTube in 2007. And so it was with considerable fanfare that the troupe’s self-titled sketch series debuted on The Comedy Network last year.

But between the premiere and finale, The Comedy Network and its parent company, CTVGlobeMedia, were swallowed up by Bell Media. Last month, Picnicface was told that, despite decent ratings (and good online traffic to the Comedy Network website), they weren’t being renewed for a second season. This was the start of what has become an impassioned online campaign to #SavePicnicface.

“The thing is, we’d sold Comedy Network on a second season—they were behind us,” said Picnicface member Mark Little. “It was Bell Media that pulled the plug. It was clearly a ratings decision. They might have felt differently if they’d been there from the beginning, and been invested.”

To hear it from outspoken comedy veteran and former Kid in the Hall Scott Thompson, that lack of investment in homegrown talent is endemic in Canadian television. He and fellow Kids in The Hall alumni Dave Foley and Mark McKinney (who served as co-executive producers on Picnicface) have all been vocal in their support of the campaign to renew the cancelled show. Thompson doesn’t believe his own seminal troupe would have lasted long enough on TV to make the huge impact it did, given the same treatment. “It’s not just Picnicface, though I think they’re great,” he said. “It’s The Jon Dore Show, and Pat Thornton’s show Hotbox, and Michael Tuesdays and Thursdays—all these shows the networks in Canada never gave a chance. They’re abandoning an entire generation of comic talent.”

The lack of opportunity for Canadian comedians, the absence of a star system, and what Thompson terms “the political correctness, corporate neglect, and Canadian apathy that’s destroying our industry,” leads to the all-too-familiar brain and talent drain to the United States. As deeply rooted as Picnicface is in Canada (they even wrote a book about it), Little can’t help but acknowledge the near inevitability of leaving the country to find work. “Jon Dore’s there, and Pat Thornton’s spending a lot of time in Los Angeles,” said Little.

“I look at this generation, and I feel so bad for them,” said Thompson. “Kids in the Hall, you look back at our first season, it was us learning how to do television—unpacking our crate of theatrical sketches and adapting them. Some successfully, some not so successfully. By the end of that first season, we were ready to make televison—which is what we really started to do in our second season. We had that luxury.”

In contrast, Picnicface’s 13-episode season was shot in a tightly condensed schedule. “We’d be able to shoot a three-minute video in five hours,” said Little of the group’s pre-TV modus operandi. “If a YouTube video doesn’t work, you can just not post it. But we went from that to shooting an episode’s worth of material, two days at a time.”

Those difficulties aside, Little is proud of what his troupe accomplished during its first season on television—and he and the rest of Picnicface are confident a second season would be exponentially better.

The troupe is currently split evenly between Toronto and Halifax, but there’s more to come from them beyond the television show. The previously mentioned book is now available, and a feature film they shot, Rollertown, is scheduled for wide release in fall. It has already been shown at some film festivals. “It screened alongside Monsieur Lahzar and other Canadian films,” said Little. “That must have been weird.”

Meanwhile, the SavePicnicface campaign petition continues to attract signatures. Plenty of fans have sent in videos of their own. “Even if we don’t get a second season, the best part of all this has been getting all those lovely messages and videos,” Little said.

“We’re hoping to find a home again on television,” said Evany Rosen, another member of Picnicface. “But there’s really no ultimate goal other than getting a chance to do more together as a troupe.”

Thompson, while pessimistic about a Canadian network recognizing the potential in further Picnicface seasons, still firmly believes they belong on TV—perhaps on IFC, or HBO, where The Kids in the Hall found their initial American welcome. “Television is filled with shows, particularly comedy, that didn’t take off until the second or third season. I think Picnicface is great, and I think they should be given the chance to become greater,” he said.

Comments

  • observerator

    I dunno, I like Picnicface and have followed their development, but their target audience is pretty much consuming all their media online. I would be trying to figure out ways of making their content work better online, rather than trying to fight against the stodgy and backwards world of Canadian television.

    • Anonymous

      Either join or start a Canadian “Collage Humour” site.
      One of those… “fine you don’t want us, we’ll take our business elsewhere!”

      • Manningi

        While I agree with the previous comment that picnicface’s target demographic is watching online, and agree with you that Picnicface should focus there efforts online. I draw the line on “Collage Humor”, the internet, glue and cut up pieces of paper have never been and will never be a good combination!

        • Anonymous

          … English is my second language…. Always mix those two up. Evil evil English language.

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, why support a Canadian production when a popular American one can be bought and the CRTC’s bare minumum requirements are already met? What could anyone possibly have to gain?

    • Anonymous

      Supporting crappy content for the sake of it, is hardly a reason to support it.

  • TVNoWay

    Generally, there are a ton of factors that go into the renewal/cancellation of a show. If you’re not getting the ratings, you’re not getting a show, simply put. 99.8% of PF’s fan base are living/consuming online, and likely would rather watch online than park themselves on a couch for a half hour. I for one, rarely watch TV as it is because the Internet exists.

  • susan

    dunno.. kinda seems like the picniface crew want the cash that comes from being on TV, but aren’t willing to tailor their material to a TV audience — they’re stuff is clearly popular with people not interested in watching tv any more. i don’t think they can have it both ways, and you can hardly blame Bell for cancelling a show that got shitty ratings.

    • Anonymous

      “kinda seems like the picniface crew want the cash that comes from being on TV”

      Doesn’t everyone on TV?

      “but aren’t willing to tailor their material to a TV audience”

      What does that mean? Were they relying on hyperlinks to deliver punchlines?

      “shitty ratings”

      Cite your source.

      • Anonymous

        I guess you’re un-familiar with their content than?

        Swearing and nudity aren’t allowed on TV. Neither are blatant attempts at low-brow racial humour.

        • Me

          “low-brow racial humour” Huh?

          • Anonymous

            …and what is unclear about that exactly?

          • Garnet

            There was a sketch in which a couple of cast members try to goad a third into saying bigoted things. I think that’s about it.

          • Anonymous

            He Jewed me
            Reverse Burka
            Hey Africa

            But @Me already knows that. He’s obvs part of this group or a friend.

          • Garnet

            I’m ambivalent about the cancellation – I don’t think any of those three clips are hilarious or anything – but none of them is racial humour, either. (And they’re all three years old or more, so they’ve got little to do with BellMedia’s decision.)

          • Anonymous

            I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion than.

            If you can’t see the racial aspect of a clip title “He Jewed Me” or “Reverse Burka” than nothing I say will change your opinion about this and makes you sound like a zealot.

      • Anonymous
        • Anonymous

          I saw that too, but it doesn’t mean anything without context. I’ve seen those numbers described as “soft”, “average”, and “decent” by people working on the show and industry watchers, but not “shitty” or obvious cancellation-grade.

          • Anonymous

            Fair enough. If these numbers are considered the top ten:

            http://www.bellmediapr.ca/ctv/releases/release.asp?id=5773&yyyy=2002

            Then, I’d say it possible to conclude that the ratings were short of soft and venturing into “shitty”.

            Also this might provide a bit more context into what’s considered shitty and what’s considered great.

            http://www.toronto.com/article/725065

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            CTV is network broadcasting; Comedy is one of its specialty cable channels. The numbers really aren’t comparable in any meaningful way.

          • Anonymous

            Okay well Corner Gas received on average 1 millions viewers, this was (AFAIK) one of the highest rated shows on that channel

            The L.A. complex which was a MuchMusic and CTV partnership is/was considered the worst rated show on Canadian Television.

            “The L.A. Complex Premiered on January 10th 2012 in Canada. It was previewed on CTV drawing 351,000 viewers as well as 60,000 on its regular channel MuchMusic.”

            So if that’s the WORST. Then clearly picnicface deserved the shitty moniker.

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            1) Corner Gas’s ratings came from CTV, not the Comedy Network.

            2) You didn’t read the article you linked to, did you? Quote:

            “The L.A. Complex, a Canadian drama about a group of young actors trying to make it in Hollywood, debuted on American network The CW this week with the lowest ratings on record, according to reports.”

            The CW is an American channel. The L.A. Complex got the worst ratings in American television history. Its Canadian ratings are not mentioned as being the worst; aside from an offhand comparison to Arctic Air.

          • Anonymous

            Much music is Canadian last time I checked. It’s also a specialty channel. It meets both of your criteria.

            Or did you not read that follow up post?

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            The article you linked to does not say what you say it says.

          • Anonymous

            You’re right. My bad.

            Here is the link. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_L.A._Complex

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            Now take a look at your Wiki link, and back at your Twitter link, and see if anything stands out. I’ll give you a hint: Picnicface’s ratings beat LA’s ratings in all but LA’s first and second episodes (cable-to-cable), and LA got a second season.

            From a ratings perspective, Rek’s link is correct – it was most likely a bad move on Bell’s part to cancel this show, given that it was ridiculously cheap to produce, had a quick turnaround, and was getting middling, but not necessarily bad, ratings.

          • Anonymous

            If 60k is the “worst in broadcast history” than 71k IS shitty. That was the premiere. Take a look at the subsequent weeks, it actually was almost half that – in effect, making it worse than the “worst in broadcast history”

            I have no idea what your point in all this is.

  • Anonymous

    “cited as the successors to ’90s Toronto-based comedy stars The Kids in the Hall”

    That doesn’t say very much for the current state of Canadian comedy than.

    These guys aren’t even moderately funny.

    “Powerthirst sketch, has passed 25 million views since it was first posted on YouTube in 2007″

    I have no idea why the article would laud this. That is actually pretty pathetic, considering the nature of the internet. If the author and comments feel that this is worth applauding, they should also demand that the talking dog get his own NBC show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw)

    To put it bluntly, that video would only have earned (via youtube) just over 25k, which is 5k a year. Sounds like a VERY bad investment. Bell Media obviously has much better business in this regard.

    • Me

      Could you please post some more comments? I’m not sure everyone is clear how well this show satisfied your objectively correct taste in comedy.

      • Anonymous

        I think you need make your Astro Turfing just a BIT more obvious first.

        Feel free to object to any of my researched, objective criticism(s) though…

        • Me

          Well if you’re implying that my affection for the group is biasing my opinion, I guess you’re right, in that I bother to have an opinion. But I made that comment not because of your opinion, but how you expressed it.

          “These guys aren’t even moderately funny” is an absurd statement. Humor is whatever makes people laugh. According to Jim is funny, as is Benny Hill, as is your uncle’s fart jokes, as is anything that has ever made someone laugh. You only get one vote.

          So the next time you just can’t stand that there are people out there that don’t know how you feel about something, precede your opinion with “in my opinion” – bonus points for using the word “humble”

          • Anonymous

            ” as is anything that has ever made someone laugh. You only get one vote.”

            Youtube gets about 4 Billion views a day.

            Canada has 35 million people.
            71, 000 people watched the show premiere and was cut approximately in half for subsequent weeks. This is called Soft ratings (https://twitter.com/billbriouxtv/statuses/124606374817701890)

            One clip of theirs got 25 million views on youtube (total)

            Sorry boss, it’s obvious that the rest of the internet, television audience, country and world think that it’s not moderately funny too. You can’t refute this. The numbers don’t lie.

            “precede your opinion with “in my opinion”"

            Internet commenting, how does work?

        • Brad

          The article takes issue with the nature of the Canadian comedy scene, which I don’t know too much about. All I know is that it’s sad that the network was behind them and the larger media corp. decided to pull the plug. The article is about the state of a (theoretically) creative medium, not whether the show was funny, which it really really really was.

          Also, you sound mean.

          • Anonymous

            “All I know is that it’s sad that the network was behind them and the larger media corp. ”

            I’ve already shown with verifiable numbers that it most likely wasn’t the big bad media corp “pulling the plug”. Sorry you seem unable to comprehend that.

            “Also, you sound mean.”

            That’s only because you think the show was “really really really” funny.

          • Me

            No, you really do sound mean. And unhappy with your life. In my humble opinion.

          • Anonymous

            Go away troll.

          • Me

            I hope things improve for you :)

          • Anonymous
          • Vampchick21

            It’s a tv show folks. Get over it. How about you talk about the OTHER points raised in the article instead of nitpicking over ratings and other pretty much pointless things?

          • Anonymous

            Television and television ratings sort of go hand in hand.

          • Vampchick21

            Sigh. It’s become more of a pissing contest now to prove points and it’s tired. See the rest of my comment above? About OTHER points raised in the article that have crap to do with insulting each other over prefered forms of comedy and what constitutes shitty ratings? Try that.

          • Anonymous

            The only other point of hte article is how crappy our industry is BECAUSE this crapy troupe went off the air

  • Tad

    These guys are too edgy for the mainstream comedy audience. They managed to gain high visibility in a very limited market, but if TV audiences, aka your mom and dad, aren’t watching, then the network would have no reason to keep it on. The advertising value is attached to the amount of viewers.

    While they are very funny, I also don’t feel sorry for them. They claim the throne of Kids in the Hall without having earned it in any measurable way. Sorry Picnicface, your quest for mainstream legitimacy comes to an end whenever a 45 year old woman in Peterborough turns the channel. Maybe find a way to monetize your web presence rather than asking us to beg for your jobs.

    • Michael DiFrancesco

      To be fair, was KITH ever mainstream? SCTV, sure; Air Farce and 22 Minutes, obviously; but KITH always struck me as an offbeat sketch show that lucked into getting into the game when there was a serious dearth of CanCon comedies out there, plus a ton of CBC promotion. It always seemed too weird to be considered mainstream – which is why I loved it.

      What little I saw of Picnicface was certainly more in the KITH vein than SCTV, Air Face, 22 Minutes or the like, anyway.

      • Guy

        Maybe PicnicFace should try and get lorne michaels to produce them. Perhaps one of the “Kids” could speak to him about it, if they are as big of fans as they say they are. I’ll bet KITH got a second season because they had Lorne’s name and clout attached (Also because they were great) The article mentions “The Jon Dore Show” which I actually thought was one of the better canadian comedy shows out there. I wish someone would have tried to save that.
        As for “torontothegreat”, he’s entitled to his opinion and the fact that “me” and “brad” stoop to the level of calling him mean is, for lack of a better word, lame. Now I’m not calling them lame, I am referring to how they degraded into calling him mean.

        This whole thing stinks because it seems like if you want a show to last more than a couple of seasons, then you should NEVER get in bed with the comedy network. (I get that it was bell media at work here, I am speaking about numerous past comedy network shows, Except for “Buzz”, “Buzz” had like 19 seasons. I’m not going to cite a reference to defend my statement that “Buzz” had like 19 seasons for two reasons. 1# I’m not in university anymore and this isn’t a thesis and 2# because I’m posting on the torontoist website and who really fucking cares…. Am I still writing this in a bracket?)

        • Anonymous

          My “opinion” is cited and sourced. By not countering a single on of my points, you are in effect doing the exact same thing as “me” and “brad”.
          Or was that not obvious to you?

          I do agree with you about kith and lorne michaels. I wonder why their supposed fans with clout aren’t doing more?

          • Guy

            Hey I was defending you! I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with your statements. I have no opinion or comment on the whole ratings debacle.

            I don’t even believe you should have to cite the sources. We aren’t in court on this thread, you should be able to voice your opinion in any manner you choose.

  • Scott Vrooman

    This is Scott Vrooman, I was on the show. I saw some bickering about ratings below so thought I’d chime in as I have the precise numbers. Including DVR #s, ratings ranged from 44K Sept.28 to 138K Nov.23 (ratings quoted below did not include DVR). We were told online views were about the same. The decision came 100% from Bell, not Comedy. They were surprised and disappointed by Bell’s decision, and assured us the numbers were solid for a first run on Cdn cable.

    The main point of the petition was to signal to other broadcasters the strength of our fan base. It’s already worked in a sense, in that we are “in talks” with other broadcasters. Feel free to not sign the petition if you didn’t like the show. In any case we’ve been thrilled with the response.

    We feel very fortunate that we had the opportunity to make 13 episodes of a TV show with pretty much total creative freedom, and happy that there were a lot of people that seemed to like it. Whatever the future holds for the group, and us as individuals, we’re thankful for the opportunities we had and thankful to anyone who watched the show. Cheers y’all.

    • Anonymous

      Why oh why did this group not monetize their web presence? I mean, even the YouTube videos aren’t monetized. Any idea?

      • Scott Vrooman

        Our YouTube videos have been monetized for five years. Our 45 million views have got us about $12,000 total over that time. A very low budget 22 minute sketch television show starring 8 people costs $250,000 per episode. That got cast, writers, crew, actors, even producers about a year’s salary each for about a year’s work. Nobody got rich.

        We would happily distribute over the web if we had backers, and with the decline of younger viewers tuning in to network TV, many ad dollars will naturally migrate to where the younger eyeballs go. But we’re in the middle of a transition period right now, and short of a pool of advertisers signing on to fund you, there is currently no way for an 8 person sketch group to make anywhere near a livable wage on YouTube. And if we did videos without a crew, it would noticeably tank our production value and/or volume.

        We want to move our careers forward, not backward, so if we are unable to do the show in a way that maintains the level of production value we think it needs, and that gives it a chance to grow and improve, we will break off and pursue other individual projects.

        • Anonymous

          Really? Cause I’ve watched most of the videos and saw no adverts. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s really strange that I’m unable to view them (I have no ad-blocking software installed).

          “We would happily distribute over the web if we had backers”

          Why do you need backers to distribute something over something that is basically free?

          Well good luck to you! Thanks for the personal insight.

          • Scott Vrooman

            “Really?”

            Yes, really.

            “Why do you need backers to distribute something over something that is basically free?”

            The backers are needed to fund production (that $250,000/episode), and also to advertise the show. 70,000 plus YouTube subscribers are not enough to attract the necessary capital.

          • Scott Vrooman

            Badly put, what I meant was that 70,000+ YouTube subscribers would need to be increased through advertising to justify spending that kind of money on production. We have a decent online following, but it would need to grow, which we think it could do if properly cultivated.

          • Anonymous

            Now that is 250k per episode on television. Not the web.

          • Scott Vrooman

            Well that’s more of a quibble than an important point, given the realities of production costs. Given the level of trollery I read below I’ve decided not to comment further in this forum. If anyone has a genuine interest in further clarification of anything they can email “picnicface at gmail dot com.”

          • Anonymous

            Fair enough. My point was that perhaps there are cheaper (better?) Alternatives to tv. Anyhow. Good luck to you. At the very least this whole debaucle is a lesson learned in experience for you guys.

  • anon

    Bell is evil, but picnicface is just not original or very funny. There is no zeitgeist to their work besides arbitrary absurd comedy stock… from what I hear from people who have worked with them, they are kind of pre-madonnas….. Toronto has tons of comedy troupes and excellent comedians…these guys are just mediocre… bring back Hotbox or give Pat Thornton and crew a show.. much better show in the same comedy genre attempted by picnicface. I also agree with an earlier commenter who suggested these guys start their own online site etc. If they reach an audience, opportunities will abound.

    • Vampchick21

      It’s “Prima Donnas” not “pre-madonnas”

  • Anonymous

    @Vampchick21 The only other point of this article is finger pointing about how crappy our comedy industry BECAUSE this crappy troupe got pulled from the air.

    Which is the most absurd position I’ve heard to date about why Canadian content is suffering.

    It’s also pretty rich for this troupe to crap on an industry it’s trying to get in on. I’d say it comes off as sour grapes.

    There are a TONNE of reasons why our industry is where it’s currently at. However the cancellation of this troupe is NOT one of them.

    • Vampchick21

      Then you mis-read that point. You’re so focused on the Picnicface angle that you have decided that the point about the lack of support for Canadian comedy and talent in general is “because this crappy troupe got pulled from the air”, when that’s not the point being made at all.

      So I say to you, the point is raised in the article that the Canadian entertainment industry is suffering, and Picnicface’s cancellation is an EXAMPLE of that (regardless of your like or dislike of them, put that to the side for the love of the Gods!). You say that there are a tonne of reasons.

      I say, discuss those reasons! Stop yammering on about ratings and like or dislike of ONE particular group being used as a launchpad for discussion and have the damned discussion.

      • Vampchick21

        I mean, look at all the comments and discussion space wasted on the rather arbitrary point of whether or not one particular group of Canadian entertainers in the comedy genre is any good. The point is NOT are they any good, rather it’s are we offering enough support to the industry in Canada as a whole? Are our entertainers being developed and encouraged right here on home soil and given every opportunity to have successful careers right here without having to go to the US? And not just those lucky enough to get on TV, but our stage actors, our dancers, our singers, our musicians. (remembering that successful for a stage actor is different from a tv or film actor, different for a classical musician from a rock, pop or hip hop musician, etc, etc) And are we, the audience for the entertainment, regardless of what it is specifically, being supportive by attending shows, tuning in, buying the music, the made in Canada films, etc or are we just allowing ourselves collectively to be immersed in House and crappy US reality tv?

        • Anonymous

          ” The point is NOT are they any good, rather it’s are we offering enough support to the industry in Canada as a whole?”

          But the point IS whether or not they are any good. Why should CanCon support something that ISN’T good? Clearly Canadian shows ARE being given support, is it enough? Is it EVER enough?

          Are you saying we SHOULD support this, even though it’s not supported by viewers? So who’s fault is that? CRTC? CBC? The Comedy Channel? Viewers?

          People speak with their clickers, the people have spoken. That much is clear. Tonnes of Canadian shows do well here and abroad.

          I really think you’ve missed the point here.

          “I mean, look at all the comments and discussion space wasted on the rather arbitrary point of whether or not one particular group of Canadian entertainers in the comedy genre is any good”

          How else is television judged? Seriously.

          • Vampchick21

            Ok, again. Put your hate/dislike of this particular show to the side. Note that I’ve never actually watched it, so I have no idea if I would have enjoyed it or not. In fact, drop this one small example, ok?

            And also, did you miss where I broadened the discussion to include what’s NOT on the television? Because entertainment extends beyond the television? You are so focused on the Picnicface angle and then so suddenly defensive over simple general questions put forth as jumping off points that any kind of discussion with you is next to impossible!

          • Anonymous

            Hey. I’m just trying to stick to the topic at hand, rather than be labelled a troll.

          • Vampchick21

            Too late. Because you spent I don’t know how much time ranting about how awful one particular show/troupe was and then decided to turn my questions into my personal opinions. Not a good starting point.

          • Anonymous

            Uhhh. The article is titled: Save Picnicface, Save Canadian Comedy?

            I certainly didn’t frame the discussion.
            So really wtf is your point?

          • Vampchick21

            Sigh. They used the cancellation of Picnicface as a jumping point. You see it as them saying the cancellation is the end of Canadian comedy. My point is that you focused on how you read it and spend a frightening amount of time proving how much you hate Picnicface.

          • Anonymous

            “You see it as them saying the cancellation is the end of Canadian comedy.”

            Quote me or STFU.

          • Vampchick21

            Sigh. From one of your comments in a thread above this one.

            “The only other point of hte article is how crappy our industry is BECAUSE this crapy troupe went off the air”

            From the top of this particular string.

            “@Vampchick21 The only other point of this article is finger pointing about how crappy our comedy industry BECAUSE this crappy troupe got pulled from the air.”

            Are you done being a total jerk in this discussion and, like, actually discuss?

          • Anonymous

            Read carefully.

            Me: The only other point of the ARTICLE…

            YOU: YOUR only other point was…

            See the difference?

        • Guy

          I have to ask Vampchick21 (and I’m not attacking here at all I promise) what are the TV shows you watch on a regular basis? For me it’s primarily US shows like “Game of Thrones”, “Dexter”, etc. I’m guessing you’re a “True blood” fan, I could be wrong I don’t want to assume. My point is that the change really has to start at the networks. You’re not going to change people who watch TV shows originated in the US to watch Canadian instead. Networks in the US are all about (for the most part) who is best for the job. If an actor/writer/director is unknown but kills an audition/spec script/what have you, then they will take a chance on them. They also have the capital to send 10 odd shows per network to see which one hits the best.
          This just isn’t done here in Canada. Networks don’t have the money and aren’t willing to take risks on talent, and show ideas that don’t follow their “Standards”. If you’ve got a cop show idea, you are as good as gold.

          Again, I’m just curious to see what shows you watch on a regular basis. If you watch Picnicface, and or “Rick Mercer”, and Comedy Inc, then awesome and I’m glad you practice what you speak.

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            I’m just hoping that Picnicface gets picked up by HBO Canada or the like, in a similar vein as Less Than Kind, another great Canadian comedy that everyone should watch (thanks Torontoist!).

            Because you’re right – it’s an economy of scale thing, and Canadian networks just don’t have the ability to take a risk on the kinds of shows that even US networks shy from. I liked the surrealist humour from what I saw of the show, and there are few good sketch shows on either side of the border right now.

          • Vampchick21

            No, not a True Blood fan, never watched that show. I watch a lot of prime time cartoons (not limted to SImpson/Family Guy, watch a lot of Teletoon at Night), paranormal programs online, Red Green reruns, Just For Laughs, Big Bang Theory and other stuff. Was a huge fan of RCAF and still occassionally watch 22 minutes and Rick Mercer. I work two jobs so my tv time is actually pretty erratic these days. Never did watch Picnicface, mainly because a) I was at work when it was on and b) it didn’t catch my personal fancy.

            And you are right, change does need to start at the Networks, and Canadian networks need to take risks like the CBC used to do. They need to actually give shows a chance.

            Canadian viewers also need to not compare Canadian shows to US shows, it’s apples and oranges. The US has an entire industry which makes more money than many nations make. Canada doesn’t. It’s the same for our film industry, and frankly, I’ve seen some gems out of Canada like “Dance Me Outside” and “Phil the Alien”. I think Canadian films need to be better advertised, put in front of our collective faces as there’s a lot of imagination and talent and storytelling in them and are worth watching.

        • Guy

          I have to ask Vampchick21 (and I’m not attacking here at all I promise) what are the TV shows you watch on a regular basis? For me it’s primarily US shows like “Game of Thrones”, “Dexter”, etc. I’m guessing you’re a “True blood” fan, I could be wrong I don’t want to assume. My point is that the change really has to start at the networks. You’re not going to change people who watch TV shows originated in the US to watch Canadian instead. Networks in the US are all about (for the most part) who is best for the job. If an actor/writer/director is unknown but kills an audition/spec script/what have you, then they will take a chance on them. They also have the capital to send 10 odd shows per network to see which one hits the best.
          This just isn’t done here in Canada. Networks don’t have the money and aren’t willing to take risks on talent, and show ideas that don’t follow their “Standards”. If you’ve got a cop show idea, you are as good as gold.

          Again, I’m just curious to see what shows you watch on a regular basis. If you watch Picnicface, and or “Rick Mercer”, and Comedy Inc, then awesome and I’m glad you practice what you speak.

      • Anonymous

        So it’s the worst possible example that could have been given than. Happy?

        All things considered, I think we do pretty good here. I resent the fact that you think that we are “collectively to be immersed in House and crappy US reality tv”

        These show are generally the shows that I watch, which is a drop in the bucket of Canadian funded content on TV

        InSecurity
        The Marilyn Denis Show
        Being Human
        Skins
        Endgame
        Wipeout Canada
        Top Chef Canada
        King
        The West Block
        Bitchen Kitchen
        Republic of Doyle
        Heartland
        Dragons Den
        Little Mosque on the Prairie

        So, not sure what you’re watching or what you think is going on in the CanCon industry, but it’s not this bleak FUD that this article (and this particular troupe) is claiming.

        I get it. They are pissed off, but the “whole industry” isn’t in shambles just because one comedy troupe is getting pulled off the air for what is an ACTUAL reason to pull a show.

        • Michael DiFrancesco

          The only person even remotely pissed off around here appears to be you. Relax.

          • Anonymous

            Lollerz popperz

        • Vampchick21

          Or, it’s the most recent? Let’s try to drop the hate of one particular show already, ok? Cause we get it. You don’t like the show or the troupe or their style of comedy. Get over it.

          And um, did I state that *I* think we are collectively immersed in House and crappy US reality tv or did I ask the question if we are? There is a difference. Read it again and see.

          Actually, everythiing I had in my post was questions, jumping points of discussion, NOT my personal opinion. I really suggest that you drop the defensive posture here.

          In addition, you yourself said there were tonnes of reasons for the current state of the industry, and now you have spun around and said that it’s just fine.

          Which is it?

          • Anonymous

            No. I said its not in shambles as this particular group/article seems to claim.

          • Vampchick21

            While you did state that you didn’t think it was in shambles, you did so in a manner that turned my general questions for discussion points into my personal opinion, which the were not, as anyone with the ability to read and undestand can tell you.

            You “resent the fact that you think that we are “collectively to be immersed in House and crappy US reality tv” ” when this was not what I said, but what I asked. Think and ask are two different things.

            “So, not sure what you’re watching or what you think is going on in the CanCon industry, but it’s not this bleak FUD that this article (and this particular troupe) is claiming.”

            I never mentioned what I was watching or what *I thought* the state was. I asked questions to be used as jumping points of discussion, NOT gave personal opinion without backup.

            If you want to carry on a discussion, you might want to remember that questions are not personal opinion, but QUESTIONS.

          • Anonymous

            Interestingly enough, all the responses to me have nothing to do with any valid points I’ve brought up – cited and sourced.

            Lots of gaslighting going on though.

          • Vampchick21

            Actually, I saw some responses to you that had everything to do with the valid points you brought up and flooded the comments section with. You might want to go back and re-read?

          • Anonymous

            Zomg I’m engaged! Shame on me. nyways. Enough with your personal attacks. You’ve offered nothing to this discussion but static noise.

          • Vampchick21

            And you’ve offered nothing beyond vitrol for a comedy troupe. I at least tried, however, you chose to turn my questions into my personal opinion. I actually made no personal attacks on you.

          • Anonymous

            Actually I’ve offered a lot. You on the other hand are just following me around like a lost puppy, looking for a fight.

            Gaslight much?

          • Vampchick21

            WTF is wrong with you?

          • Anonymous

            Make sense please.

            The only thing you’ve accomplished in this thread is motherly finger wagging and a human spell-checker.

            You offer nothing.

          • Vampchick21

            done with you, period, end of story.

          • Anonymous

            thank god!

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryjoymc Mary Joy McLaughlan

    Good article….Picnicface, there is still HOPE!!!! Especially with wide release of Rollertown, which I loved!

  • Anonymous

    Canadian shows are doing better and better business beyond our borders, and not just in the US, so the cancellation of a Canadian production with a proven audience here (even if it is small) is a lost opportunity for export.

    Take “The Listener” for example. It was a FOX-CTV co-production that FOX dropped – but it turned out to be a bit of a hit in other markets (I recall reading it was even the highest rated show on FOX’s Italian channel, post-US FOX dropping it, at one point) so CTV carried on and the show is now on season 3.

    I’d hate to see Canadian film and television further curtailed by fear of risk-taking. Nothing good can come from that.

    • Vampchick21

      I think the same happened to Being Erica and Little Mosque, correct? They got picked up by US networks?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t know if either aired in the US, but both have been optioned for remaking by US productions.

        • Vampchick21

          It’s been a while since I read the articles, but that may be more along the lines.

    • Anonymous

      This is the most well-rounded comment in this thread *applause*

      We’re at a point where L.A. is “where the work is at” – sort of like if you grow up in Timmins and you aspire to be the VP of Scotiabank – you move away from Timmins.

      What’s fascinating to me is the differences in our music culture versus our broadcast culture. Musicians in Canada are much more community oriented and as such have made HUGE strides in the international marketplace. The same can’t be said about our television/movie industry AFAIK. The television/movie industry seems to be very protectionist (unions?) and the participants seem more like crabs in a barrel, fighting with each other for the same “big break”. Is it just a side-product of that industry as a whole? I’m really not sure, but we seem to be in the mould of the American version of our own Hollywood, rather than carving our own space.

      I think there could be a great renaissance for Canadian broadcasting via the internet, the same way bands like Our Lady Peace, BNL etc found fame in their era, by taking control and sidestepping the industry walls that are in place. The 2 are very similar in a lot of ways.