From a gig as a dance show host (billed as “Funky Mike Myers”) to a stint on Saturday Night Live to hit films like Wayne’s World and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Michael John Myers has followed the path of Canadian trailblazers like the SCTV folks who found fame making Americans laugh. The Scarborough, Ontario born comedian says he was able to break into the American comedy market “because other Canadians helped me.”
Citing early boosters like Dave Thomas, Martin Short and Lorne Michaels (who the young Myers idolized, even doing an eighth grade project on the producer) Myers found his feet as a comedian with Second City, (on stages in Toronto and Chicago), and then in 1989 he, like Dan Aykroyd and Phil Hartman before him, found fame as part of Saturday Night Live.
Since then he’s had time to reflect on why Canadians have been so successful in America. To explain he quotes one of his early advocates.
“Martin Short said something that was kind of interesting which is when Americans watch TV they’re watching TV but when Canadians watch TV they’re watching American TV. There is sort of a separation. We can look at American culture as foreigners except that we’re not all that different. ‘Wow, we are like two cultures separated by a common language,’ to quote Winston Churchill.”
Canadians, he suggests, are the great observers, carefully studying and digesting American movies, television and music before putting their own spin on them. Having both objectivity and perspective allows comics like Myers to analyze pop culture, and then create a unique style that adds to the culture while cleverly (and quietly) dissecting it.
“Canada is the essence of not being,” he says. “Not English, not American, it is the mathematic of not being. And a subtle flavor. We’re more like celery as a flavor.”