Now That’s Funny #1 – SCTV’s Half Wits

Our world today seems to have forgotten how to be funny. Most modern humor on television, streaming services, or movies depends on humor that shocks the viewer into laughing. It’s as if the writers and producers think that only R rated material can be funny. Recently, I heard one director of comedy movies say he was getting out of the business of making comedies because he is tired of people complaining about the way his movies insult people. He complained that our culture has gotten so sensitive that it was almost impossible to make a funny movie without getting sued. Well, I’d like to say that’s because that comedy director and just about everyone else making comedies today have forgotten how to be funny.

Second City Television castComedians of the past didn’t depend on shock value to be funny. I grew up watching many great comedians in a plethora of hilarious tv shows and movies that were for the most part clean. This blog post is the first in a new series of posts called Now That’s Funny. In these posts, I’ll be sharing clips from the past that highlight some of the truly funny people and entertainment of the past. If I come across anything similar that is more current I’ll share that too. My goal here is to remind us all that comedy doesn’t have to be vulgar and insulting to be funny. On the contrary. As you’ll see with this post and those that will follow, comedy was once a thriving and fulfilling genre of the entertainment world.

SCTV was a late-night comedy sketch show that came on during the ’70s. I remember watching it after Saturday Night Live, and that show started at 11:30 on Saturday nights. So, SCTV came on really late, but boy was it worth staying up for. I quickly decided it was twice as funny as Saturday Night Live. The show was pure comedy with no political satire and no musical guests. The show was built around the premise of a fictional tv station and the actors all played characters on the station. The cast members played multiple characters; some that worked at the fictional station behind the scenes while others were actors in cheesy tv shows. It was brilliant and funny from start to finish. Many of its stars are still working today as some of the best character actors around. In this clip called Half Wits, you’ll recognize Eugene Levy, John Candy, and Martin Short.

3 thoughts on “Now That’s Funny #1 – SCTV’s Half Wits

  1. Scott! You failed to mention one of the most wonderful parts of that show!!! It’s Canadian!!!
    It was a Canadian show with Canadian actors. Now… maybe that’s not as exciting for you, but as a Canadian, that was cool for me. I grew up watching that show. Martin Short was always one of my favourites (notice the Canadian spelling of that word) and John Candy was a close second.
    I remember this half wits clip and have watched it again as an adult more than once on youtube. One of my favourite Martin Short characters was Ed Grimley. I loved the spoof he did on Oliver Twist. I think it was called “Oliver Twisted.”

  2. Yes, Shawn, thanks for pointing out that it is a Canadian show. I guess that point is slightly embarrassing for us Americans who happen to be SCTV fans because it is obviously much funnier than the most popular American late night sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. Although SNL definitely has it’s funny moments. It figures that you are an SCTV fan too and that would explain why your books (the Arestana series and Jerry the Squirrel books) are so funny. You had some great comedy influences in your childhood if you grew up watching that show. Ed Grimley was also one of my favorite characters on the show. I may have to share some more clips from SCTV on this blog because they had so many classic characters and TV parodies.

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