So Brent Butt called me up last week to chat about his upcoming film, Corner Gas: The Movie–which opens in select theatres December 3—and we got to talking about his TV series Corner Gas in relation to Trailer Park Boys, another Canadian TV sitcom that flaunts its Canuck-ness while garnering chuckles aplenty.
There’s a little more swearing and weed-smoking in TPB than there is in Corner Gas, but the Vancouver- based comic and actor was quick to commend the Nova Scotia-shot series for its genuineness.
No comedy snob, he.
“I think that Trailer Park Boys found its mark and that we found our mark because–as different as the two shows are–I think they were both authentic,” he said. “When we were first doing Corner Gas we didn’t think anybody was gonna watch, so we weren’t trying to satisfy anybody, because we just thought, ‘Nobody’s gonna watch a sitcom about a gas station in Saskatchewan. We’re gonna do it for this summer and then we’re all gonna go away.’ So all we could do–since we’re not gonna get picked up anyway–was just make sure that we really liked it.
“And I think audiences bought into that authenticity,” he added. “Like people can tell when they’re being sold something, and we came along at a time when there were so many TV shows talking about how ‘dark’ and ‘edgy’ they were–that was in all the promos for everything: ‘This is a dark, edgy show.’ And then you’d watch it and you’d go, ‘Really, I don’t get what’s edgy about that. Is it because you’re saying fuck? I did that in grade five. Oh it’s because people are having sex? Everybody in the world does that. So that’s edgy and dark, swearing and having sex, the same stuff that you do in junior high and high school? Congratulations.’
“It always funny ’cause, when people tell you they’re dark and they’re edgy, it always reminds me of like your uncle telling you he’s hip, how cool he is. You go, ‘Okay, alright Uncle Ernie, you’re prettty hip.’
“We were just never trying to be that, and I think Trailer Park Boys had the same thing. They maybe came at it from a different angle; I think they came at it more of a ‘Well fuck it, we’re just gonna do the show we wanna do, that’s it.’ And people respond to that authenticity. So as different as the shows are, I think one of the reasons they both struck a chord in people is that we were just legitimately doing what we felt was right.”