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The show, which also goes by the name Schitt's Creek, has gotten some attention for its edgy and ironic title, but it's the funny Canadian cast that we were most excited about. Dan and Eugene Levy created the show, with comedy great Catherine O'Hara as their co-star. We sat down with writers and stars Dan and Eugene Levy to talk about family, humour and the new show.
Canadian Living: How did the idea for the show come about?
Dan Levy: I had this idea of: What would happen to a wealthy family, that we've seen on reality television, if they lost their money? And then I went to my dad and we started to flesh out the idea and see if there was anything worth exploring. But I think off the bat it was important to explore it in a real way. What interested me was to explore it in terms of a real comedic approach. That's when I came to my dad—
Eugene Levy: That's right. Because I'm real. No, I think it was the kind of movies I'd done with Chris Guest. The tone of those movies was kind of what Daniel had in mind.
Canadian Living: So this isn't a sitcom?
Dan Levy: No, I think a lot of people think half-hour comedy, and sitcom is naturally where the mind goes. When you think sitcom, you think multi-cam show with a studio audience, a sort of broad-stroke comedy. And this isn't that. It has a very real approach to comedy. The comedy comes out of the situations and the characters as opposed to scripted jokes. And there's also a lot of drama that runs through the show.
Eugene Levy: It's definitely character-driven. It's the characters that make the show, and make the show funny.
Canadian Living: What do you think about the attention the name of the show is getting?
Dan Levy: It's a real last name. It's someone's last name. And I feel bad for them if they have to read all this "controversy," because at the end of the day it is a last name. When you watch the show you realize that it is the name of the mayor of the town. And I think the more you watch, the less provocative it becomes. And our central characters would agree is not a good name. It's not a place they want to be.
Canadian Living: So the real Schiit's Creek—the town where all this was filmed—is Goodwood, Ont. What do the people of Goodwood think of all this?
Eugene Levy: We met them every day. They'd be out every time we were shooting. They'd bring out their lawn chairs and set them up and be watching us shooting across the street.
Dan Levy: [They were] very patient and accepting, which is kind of what the townspeople in Schitt's Creek are like. So I hope that when the townspeople of Goodwood see the show, they'll be hopefully quite pleased with how their town is represented.
Canadian Living: Often when people get into show business, they lose touch with their roots. Here you both are, working with family and in Canada. Why did you take this route?
Dan Levy: Well, the CBC came on board very early on. They were very enthusiastic and wanted the show, and we knew this could be a good fit. For CBC to have given us the freedom to really create the show we wanted to make, that was a very easy sell for us. And we got to make it in Canada with an amazing team of Canadians. We're quite proud of it being a funny, Canadian television show.
Canadian Living: There are so many funny Canadians. Is there something about Canadian humour?
Eugene Levy: I never really thought there was anything distinctive about it. I always thought it was just kind of the way you're born. But over the years I've grown to think there may be something in the water up here that does make for a particular kind of comedic sensibility. Because you can't argue with the fact that there are a lot of very funny people that have come out of Canada over the years.
Dan Levy: I think British comedy and Canadian comedy share a slightly heightened, smart, sophisticated humour. I don't know if it's a weather-related thing. I don't know if all that rain and all that snow have given us a little bit of an edge and we can really bunker down and invest in comedy, but I think there's a certain intellect to Canadian humour that is very unique.
Eugene Levy: Maybe it's just being part of the commonwealth for so many years.
Dan Levy: Perhaps. The Queen has such great influence on our comedic sensibility. Let's put it all on the Queen.
Eugene Levy: A funny, funny lady.
Canadian Living: You're both so funny. Do you think humour might be hereditary?
Dan Levy: I think it's what you're surrounded with. It's what you grow up with.
Eugene Levy: He inherited a great sense of comedy from his mother. My wife Deb is insanely funny.
Canadian Living: And yet you two get all the credit?
Eugene Levy: We get too much credit actually because what has seeped out of the household over our lifetime has mainly come from my wife Deb.
Canadian Living: What had you two laughing while you were making this show?
Eugene Levy: There was a moment for me in one of the episodes where Catherine [O'Hara] was so funny. And we had a scene where we're literally face to face, and I wasn't even looking at her. I couldn't make eye contact.
Dan Levy: Catherine makes us all laugh. My dad and Catherine have had years to hone the art of internalizing laughter, so for us to watch them and Chris Elliot do what they do best—it was hard to contain our laughter.
You can catch Schitt's Creek on Tuesday nights on the CBC.