Sunday 7 July 2019

A Bunch of Comedians Walk into a Gas Station - The Writers of Corner Gas Animated

In previous posts I have mostly concentrated on the talented folk in front of the camera. David Storey, Craig Northey and Jesse Valanzuela obviously don't count...because they are not talented. Ha! Of course I jest, those three chaps could combine to make some sort of talent superhero group. The Troubadours! If you put the three of them on stage in a talent show, Simon Cowell would get so excited he would jump straight out of his mirkin and hand them over all the record contracts. No, I mean the three of them are behind the scenes peoples.

This week I would like to focus on the writers of Corner Gas Animated. The show has a writers room full of supreme comedic talent. What is a writers room? Well, broadly, when a show is in pre production quite often a number of writers will be bought together to hash out story lines for a season. Each of those writers will then be given an episode or more to go away and write as an individual. The episodes will then be bought back to the group, worked on, punched up until the finished article is ready to be sent off to go into production.

Obviously at the head is Brent Butt who recently won a Canadian Screen Award for the writing of Season One Episode "Squatch Your Language". The majority of the original series episodes were written by only a handful of writers. Animated has a bigger team to put the seasons together. Here is a little run down of all those who were involved in Season 1 some of whom are returning to Season 2.

Andrew Carr

Andrew has been with Corner Gas since the very beginning. His background is in stand up comedy, as it is with many of the Corner Gas writing team. He met Brent as an amateur stand up and been friends ever since. When Brent was given the opportunity to produce the show he called on Andrew to help him co-write some episodes. The rest, as they say, is history. Andrew has written many of your favourite episodes of Corner Gas. His title on the show was Story Editor. Andrew would be in charge of developing stories and scripts for the show as well as making sure they suitable for production. He parlayed his success into other shows such as Little Mosque on the Prairie and other fan favourite Hiccups. On Corner Gas Animated, as well as continuing to write, he is now a Supervising Producer, meaning he oversees the work of producers on the show and answers only to the Executive Producers - who do other production stuff only in an office one floor up and have nicer chairs and better coffee machines.

For more info on Andrew and his work check out my interview with him here.

Diana Frances

 Diana Frances is one talented individual with a list of accolades and credits to her name that she should go straight to the top of the comedy class and be allowed to look after the school hamster for the weekend.

Diana has been nominated for numerous awards including eight Canadian Comedy Awards for "Best Female Improviser" and a Gemini Award as a writer on The Hour with George Stroumboulpoulos. She has a long list of t.v. shows she has written for including Beaverton, 22 Minutes, Comedy Inc and many others.

Diana is also an alumni of The Vancouver Sport Theatre League. Other such talents that have sprung from the League are Corner Gas's beloved Nancy Robertson, legendary comedian Colin Mocherie and no end of other talented comedians who are all absolutely wonderful but have no place on this biography other than being a fantastic way to pad out the text of this post.

Meredith Hambrock

Meredith has been a story coordinator for Corner Gas Animated since it's inception.  The story or script coordinator is responsible for liaising between the writers and the production staff, preparing the script for production and dealing with any clearance issues. She is now credited as co-writer on Season Two premiere "Dream Waiver". Meredith is a veteran writer with a very impressive C.V. She has experience writing both fiction and non-fiction for publications, theater and screen. She has also been the recipient of bags full of awards including for her short fiction and many other projects. She also credits herself as being a Hamburger enthusiast but gives no mention as to whether this has lead to further awards. On further investigation it seems all such awards have been given to a Mr. Wimpy who is apparently notorious for promising to pay for his Burgers next Tuesday and was arrested for such when wandering out of McDonalds without paying for his Happy Meal.

Meredith can be seen in this Buttpod video which gives a little insight into the world of the writing room.

Erica Sigurdson
Erica is an award winning stand up in high demand on radio and television. She is billed as one of a few punch up writers on Corner Gas Animated. Erica will be tasked with making jokes, scenes and the likes in a given script a bit of polish, making them better. I know, you wouldn't think it possible right! Turns out Corner Gas jokes are not always born as instant gut jigglers! Erica performs regularly on the comedy festival circuit around Canada. She is best known for her work on CBC's radio show The Debaters which is very popular in Canada. Being a show we do not get in England I imagine it involves witty banter about topics, as discussed - or debated if you will - by the people in front of microphones. See how quick I pick up on a premise? How am I not a professional review writer, or is it reviewist? Review Monger? Erica won a Leo award, along with another Buttpod guest Peter Kelamis, for best comedy screenwriting on the 21st Annual Gemini Awards, which I believe is a commendation given to people who are really good at being born between May 21st to June 21st.

Graham Clark

Again, billed as a punch up writer, Graham is a stand up comedian and well known co-host of popular podcast "Stop Podcasting Yourself". The show is a three-time Canadian Comedy Award-winning podcast that has been running since 2008 with over 500 episodes to date. Their weekly free-form comedy chat show has featured comedians among the likes of Jen Kirkman, Brent Butt, Nikki Glaser, Debra DiGiovanni, and Moshe Kasher. As the only Canadian podcast in the family of Maximum Fun podcasts, Stop Podcasting Yourself (or SPY as it is commonly dubbed) has made numerous lists of top podcasts, and has been named “the official podcast of unemployed millennial's” by The Paltry Sapien. Dave Shumka is Grahame's co-host and also a previous Buttpod guest who you can read about here. As a side note I was very excited on my recent trip to Vancouver to have assumed that I walked past Graham on Granville Street late on a Wednesday evening. The next day I had it confirmed that it was not Mr. Clark at all but obviously some evil lookie likey employed by the local council to trick tourists into thinking they had just seen a person of interest wandering about the place. I would imagine there are an awful lot of tourists on the look out for Graham as part of their site seeing schedule.

Kate Hewlett

Kate is another multi-talented human being with more strings to her bow than Robin Hood and his Merry Men all put together. I must mention that since I discovered Kate, about five minutes ago, she has fast become my favourite of all the Corner Gas writing team. As many of you know, I like to do as much in depth research as I possibly can on a subject as long as it a) does not involve any actual work and b) see a. The first work of Kate's I came across on Google is a blog for her Loft in Translation project. In the first paragraph I scanned I saw mention of Babel Fish, a reference to the greatest book ever to come out of the publishing houses of Ursa Minor, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That was me done, I didn't need to read any more, I was obviously in the net presence of a person of huge amounts of awesomeness. She has worked extensively as an actress in many popular series including InSecurity, Republic of Doyle and most importantly to the geeky types among us, Stargate: Atlantis. Again, awards abound as Kate has won trophies for a number of her screenplays. She also is known to be a fantastic songwriter. Any further information seeking was kindly circumvented by this rather awesome video I found on You Tube! Handy, for a lazy so and so like me!

Jennifer Goodhue

Jennifer, an alumnus of the legendary Second City Toronto, has worked as both a writer and actress in some of the top comedy shows to come out of Canada in recent years. She is one of the main writers and story editor on The Baroness Von Sketch Show. She has also written on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Comedy Now. Jennifer won Canadian Screen Guild Awards for Best Writing in a Variety or Sketch Show for her work on The Baroness Von Sketch Show, which is a program, you may remember, I mentioned at the top of this paragraph.

Mike McPhaden

Mr. McPhaden has a very impressive C.V. He appears to be one of those all round talented people that can turn their hand to all sorts of artistic pursuits. He is an actor appearing in the likes of Relic Hunter and the Men with Brooms movie spin off which was, after much debating in a creative meeting,  called Men with Brooms. He is best known as a writer and, as well as contributing to Corner Gas Animated, is currently working on smash Jann Arden vehicle which is called, after much debating in a creative meeting, Jann. He has written for everything from children's television on The Magic School Bus Rides Again (don't worry I won't use the same joke a third time) and How to be Indie to popular series InSecurity. Mike has a number of award nominations to his name however seems to have been criminally over looked for the coveted gong for Best J.J. Abrams and Kevin Fox Impersonator who could possibly be employed by Vancouver Council members to walk around Granville trying to fool tourists into selfies.

J.J Abrams
Kevin Fox

Dylan Wertz

Mr. Wertz worked extensively on the original series of  Corner Gas as a Story Editor as well as writing some episodes. He also wrote seven episodes of Hiccups, often referred to as Brent Butt's "other" sit-com (and will get it's own page at Fan Corner one of these days when I get round to it). He has also been involved in the world of reality television, writing for Yukon Gold, a show which follows teams of Gold miners as they attempt to find precious rocks in the harsh wilderness of Canada. That's it as far as information goes on the internet about Mr. Wertz. I can tell you he appears to have a beard and does not look like J.J.Abrams or Kevin Fox. Corner Gas Fan Corner - hard hitting investigative journalism at it's best. Actually there is a bit of a resemblance to Zach Galifianakis . I think I need to start an impersonator agency, I'm gunna clean up!

Zach Galifianakis
Josh Gal

If Josh Gal is indeed the same gentleman I have found a listing for on IMDb he also has a very impressive resume. Writing for Little Mosque on the Prairie, high concept comedy What Would Sal Do and Ice Hockey comedy Rent-a-Goalie. Unfortunately the profile does not include a picture. It's got to be him right? Here is what he looks like - 

Yeah, he looks like a writey type person to me, I reckon this is the correct info. I am starting to put together a theory that the budget is tight on Corner Gas Animated and all the writers have to have time share on the same set of spectacles. Wait...hold on a minute. Call a meeting of Conspiracy Theorists Anonymous!! All these people are actually only one person only at various stages of stubble!!!!



= !!!!!!!

So what can we garner from this post. The most important being that it takes a fantastic amount of amazing writing talent to put together Corner Gas Animated. Brent and the team have put together the cream of the crop to bring you what has amounted to a record breaking, award winning run. These joke mongers are who we have to thank for chuckles galore that have enriched our viewing pleasure and up the game of modern animated sit-coms. We have also learned that there are actually very few people in Canada as most of them are the same person with or without a beard or something in between. 

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