Canadian comic character Red Green brings tour to Pantages on Wednesday
For 20 years, Canadian comic Steve Smith has portrayed the ultimate low-achieving fix-it man, Red Green, on TV, film and in books. Now he’s on a North American stand-up tour. The flannel-clad, raspy-voiced comedian brings his Wit & Wisdom Tour to Tacoma’s Pantages Theater on Wednesday.
Smith starred in 300 episodes of “The Red Green Show” from 1991 to 2006, making it the second-longest-running live-action comedy show on TV (following “Saturday Night Live”). Reruns of the show air on PBS stations all over the United States, including Tacoma’s KBTC. The show parodies home improvement and outdoor TV shows.
Smith retired the character in 2006 and spent a lot of time on Florida golf courses before realizing Red Green wasn’t ready for the pasture. “I got a little bit bored, and if you’re a creative person, you need an outlet,” Smith said.
Smith’s touring show is a bit of stand-up, advice to men on how to get along with their wives, handyman tips and stories from the TV show, he said.
“The main focus is on guys like me: wrong but not in doubt.”
Stand-up is new to Smith, he said, but “it’s the most enjoyable experience of my entire entertainment career. It’s just me on stage with what I consider a bunch of friends in the audience having a blast.”
Smith studied engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario before turning his career to acting and comedy.
“I’ve always had a mechanical aptitude. I have a lot of curiosity on how things work. Just because it’s made to do one thing doesn’t mean it can’t be reworked to do something else.”
Just before he began the summer leg of his tour, Smith’s character, Red Green, called in from the Possum Lodge (located “148 beer stores north of Toronto”). The News Tribune took the opportunity to get Green’s advice on local problems.
We recently built a new bridge over the Tacoma Narrows for $849 million. Could you have built it cheaper?
Well, my first thought is that for way less than $849 million you could have bought every resident of Tacoma a boat and you wouldn’t need the bridge at all. But let’s be reasonable. A smarter solution would be to award 100 different contractors the job of building the bridge and give them $1 million each. As each one built his bridge and watched it fail, it would sink and land on top of the existing bridge(s). As the hundredth bridge went down, you would have filled the Narrows and would now have a road rather than a bridge. OK, sure, it would stop marine traffic like freighters from going through, but you now have an excess of $749 million to spend on FedEx.
An art deco era ferry called the Kalakala, moored in one of our waterways, has a tendency to spring leaks and list. Is duct tape waterproof?
Don’t think of it as a problem, but rather as an opportunity. A leak is only an issue if the water is coming in faster than it’s going out. It’s like fat people – they don’t overeat, they under-exercise. Same thing here. Step one: Hook a 10k-gallon-per-minute bilge pump up to a Dodge 454 hemi V8 engine. That boat will be sitting level in a couple of days. Next you want to add some microfiber screens, chlorine injectors and charcoal filters to the system so you’re purifying the water as you pump it through the boat. Now you have more than a sinking ship, you have an ecological water purification system that will qualify for a federal grant under the Green Initiative. That leaky boat could be the best thing that ever happened to Tacoma.
We have quite a raccoon problem here. The city of Tacoma has just raised the fine for feeding wildlife to more than $500. Are panhandling critters a problem at the Possum Lodge?
No. When you have a Lodge full of fat guys, there are no leftovers. The only thing in the Possum Lodge garbage cans are instruction manuals.
We have two car museums here. The latest, LeMay-America’s Car Museum, just opened in June. Do you have a vehicle you’d like to donate and add to their collections of Dusenbergs, Cadillacs and Ferraris?
I’m thinking the Possum Van would be an excellent addition. It may only be a 1984, but it smells much older, and being in a museum will mean it’s not on the road, which is probably in everyone’s best interest.
It seems like not a day goes by without a new brewery, winery or distillery opening here. Is there something you’d like to drink when you get to Tacoma?
My favorite beer is always the one that’s in the fridge. If there are two kinds of beer in the fridge, I prefer the one that there’s more of. I know there’s been a trend towards micro – microchip, microbrewery, micromanagement – but my preference is macro. The more beer, the better. Or as we say at the Lodge, Holy Macro.
There’s this really big hill to the east called Mount Rainier that’s always threatening to bury us in mud or lava. And it gets in the way of a quick trip to Yakima. How can we just get rid of it?
My advice here is be careful what you wish for. Why would you want this mountain to be smaller? Whenever a volcano erupts, it wasn’t because the mountain was too big. So instead of getting rid of Mount Rainier, you need to add to it. Stick a landfill site or two on the rim and build that sucker up as high as you can go. It may be inconvenient for car travel to Yakima, but it’s better than being turned into a lava lamp.
The Tacoma mayor, Washington governor and our U.S. senators are all women. Who’s more capable: a handyman or a handywoman?
Let’s face it: The age of men is over. I think it would be better if all the leaders in the world were women. Back in the old days, when dictatorships were OK and kings were beyond question and presidents were the ultimate authority, that was a job for a dad. But now that you need people to agree and get along and have a consensus before you do anything, well, that’s a job for mom. Once women are in charge, there will be no more wars and men will be free to do ridiculous things and then convince the women to go along with it. It’s what husbands have been doing for thousands of years.