Sympatico MSN - Canadian satirist and actor Rick Green has been poking fun at our nation’s leaders for decades. Now he’s taking on those who are no longer with us in “History Bites The Separatists”, a sly look at Canada’s past, from The North West Rebellion in 19 th century Manitoba to the Gomery Inquiry in Quebec, the television special exposes the tacky truth behind historic moments in Canadian politics and policy making.
I talked to Rick Green about “History Bites The Separatists”.
How did this project come about?
“History Television gave us $50 million and said, ‘Save Canada.’ So we did. Seriously, History Bites exposes how history tends to repeat itself. Like, we showed the similarities between Pope Alexander IV and The Osbournes. Or the fate of Henry the VIII’s wives and Princess Diana. But Canadian Separatism has been going on and on and on. History isn't just tending to repeat itself, it's the exact same thing , over and over! I finally asked, ‘Why? It's like a Zombie, or Bob Barker. It just never dies!’ I mean even Paris Hilton has realized it's time to grow up and get on with life. And she's about 125 years younger than Canada.”
What is it about Separatism that interests you so much?
“How Canadian we are about it. I mean, the Americans have a Civil War and half a million die; we have a referendum. We're so 'polite.' It's wonderful. With Bill C-20, the Clarity Act, we've become the only nation on earth with a lovely set of rules on how to commit suicide. We're totally civilized about it.”
Your research goes back to the beginning of Confederation. What did you learn that you weren't aware of before?
“Well, for starters, how much better a show looks in High Definition. Woo hee! But the thing that most shocked me was that at one point or another, every region of Canada has wanted out. Or else they came close to joining the States. We show how, just three months after Confederation, Joseph Howe was elected Premier of Nova Scotia on the platform of separating from the country. Of course in our skit, he talks like Porky Pig, so it's not totally historically accurate. But you get the idea.”
You could bring this on the road as a one-man show. Is that a consideration?
“Well, I could. But I wouldn't be the one man. It would have to be Ron Pardo or one of the other cast members. I gotta tell you, in this special, more than ever, I'm the guide, the tongue-in-cheek host. The characters, politicians, terrorists, and so on are all played by an incredible cast. We parody the whole Meech Lake fiasco as an episode of ‘Survivor’. ‘Out Whine. Out Complain. Out Threaten.’ The cast is incredible. And we do a hilarious parody of Stephan Dion singing ala Celine Dion, and I cannot sing. Mind you, I've always wanted to do a one-and-a-half man show. That would be something to see.”
What was the most difficult part of making this?
“Well, there was some fear that after seeing this the FLQ would get back together and hunt me down. But I think people will see we are equally insulting and mocking of every part of Canada. We're an equal opportunity offender. Technically the most difficult part was the scene where we have 10 actors in a mini-van, each one representing a province. We show how the history of Confederation has been like 'the family vacation from hell.' It was tricky to shoot and put together with everyone screaming and yelling at each other. And the crew trying not to laugh.”
How did you get into comedy and why?
“I realized that if I could make bullies laugh, they wouldn't give me a wedgie. Same with teachers. That was a very empowering realization. Later, I thought, 'Hmm, if I can make girls laugh, maybe they will want to go out with me.' So I asked some girls out. And they laughed at me. I got the process mixed up somehow. Still, I've never had a girl give me a wedgie. Knock on wood.”
You're a veteran of the History Bites series. Tell me about the series and how it came about.
“True story. I'm watching the News. A tornado has hit a trailer park in Arkansas. A woman stands in front of the wreckage of her trailer home saying, ‘It's a sign of the end of the world. It's just happening everywhere. One disaster after another. World's going to hell.’ And even then I knew enough about history that I start yelling, ‘No it's not!! We live in the best age in history!! 100 years ago women died left, right and centre giving birth! Why do you think Jane Austen only wrote about widowers!! Kids died of tooth infections! Slavery was normal! Everyone's face was scarred with smallpox. People had nine teeth by time they were 25. If you had Schizophrenia or Autism you were burned as a witch!!...’ I went on for a while like that. And then I realized the news was over and I was yelling at a tampon commercial. And I thought, ‘And that's another thing, they didn't have tampons! They used moss! That's right, moss! And you want to live back before they had toilet paper!?...’ Anyway, out of that anger came a very dark show with, ironically, a rather positive message: ‘The world isn't going to hell. It's been there. Look!’ ”
What are you working on next?
“Tons! More History Bites specials. History Television loves what we're doing and they're wanting more. The show is also in reruns on The Comedy Network. That has to be a first for a TV show, history and comedy networks. Oh, and the first History Bites DVD collection comes out in August. It looks amazing. And I'm doing live appearances with The Frantics Comedy Troupe. And I've got a slew of new television ideas are in development with some really great people. The next five years are going to be incredible. Can't wait.”
“History Bites The Separatists” airs on History Television June 24 at 7pm.
History Bites The Separatists