“Schitt’s Creek: Up Close & Personal” live show is headed to Detroit, making its debut at the Masonic Temple on August 10.
Featured photo courtesy of Adweek
The funniest person in the family is my wife, Deb. But she doesn’t like to be in front of the camera since her grade 3 play when she forgot all her lines,” Eugene Levy told the Today show.
To be called the funniest in this family is serious. Eugene, who’s been in the comedy business as an actor, producer, director and writer, cut his comedic teeth at Second City, Toronto, an improv theater troupe, with the likes of John Candy, Dan Akroyd and Catherine O’Hara, as well as SCTV. He’s also legendary for his collaborations with Christopher Guest, appearing and co-writing Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman and co-writing the Grammy-winning title song for A Mighty Wind. He’s been seen in Splash, American Pie and now Schitt’s Creek — the cast of which is headed to the Masonic Temple for a live appearance on Aug. 10.
The Canadian Pop Network comedy was co-created by Eugene’s son, Dan Levy, who also writes and co-stars, along with Catherine O’Hara — who’s collaborated with Eugene for more than 40 years — and Sarah Levy, Eugene’s daughter. The show tells the tale of the filthy-rich Rose family — video-store magnate Johnny, his soap-opera star wife, Moira, and their two grown children, David and Alexis (Annie Murphy) — suddenly losing it all except the broke-down motel Johnny once bought for his son as a joke in a town called Schitt’s Creek.
Eugene Levy is the kind of guy who can make you laugh by just looking at the camera. Or by raising one of his comedically outsized eyebrows. It’s not so much what he says in Schitt’s Creek as it is his straight-man delivery.
Although what he says almost always packs a punch, too. Eugene has passed his comedic talents, timing and eyebrows on to his son, Dan. In his hands, the show is not the cheap class-war comedy that the title and set-up might have viewers expect. Well — it may start out that way. But very soon in, we realize that the show has very endearing and light-handed elements of sophistication, quaintness and warmth. The family does display very bad behavior, but throughout the seasons (they’ve just signed on for their sixth and final), each character experiences contrition in a way that feels very real, not corny, while still remembering who they are — part of a zany family built on unbelievable premises and high-comedy that become completely relatable.
Dan Levy, who came out as gay to his supportive parents at the age of 18, uses Schitt’s Creek to demonstrate a world without homophobia. His TV character, David, is pansexual and eventually relaxes into a homosexual relationship — but these facts are never stated. When David’s boyfriend, Patrick (Noah Reid), is introduced in the third season, Dan told The Advocate, “I have made a very strong point to not ever show bigotry, homophobia or intolerance on our show because to me, it’s a celebration of love. At the root of it, [Schitt’s Creek] is a celebration of love between the family and between the relationships that we build.”
Like the real-life Levy family — dad Eugene is Jewish, mom Deborah is not, and kids Dan and Sarah grew up interfaith — the Rose family presents as Jewish, with plenty of Jewish humor and references, despite mom Moira not being in the fold. In a holiday special aired between seasons four and five, Johnny wants to throw a Christmas party at the last minute, a reminder of the elaborate ones the family hosted in their former life, and begins to delegate tasks.
“Look at you, Mr. Rose. Seemingly possessed by the Christmas spirit,” Moira says.
Johnny responds, “That reminds me! Somebody needs to find the menorah.”
Schitt’s Creek has been gaining heat — and extremely loyal fans, reaching cult status — since its launch in 2015 with Pop Network (and screening on Canada’s CBC Television). It gained even more in 2017, when it became available on Netflix. But most didn’t realize quite how hot the show and its actors had become until July 19, when the Emmy nominations were announced and the Canadian comedy scooped up four nods, their first ever.
Among them: best costumes; Catherine O’Hara, an unsung comedic genius who should have viewers flocking to their screens just for her, as mom Moira, earned a best actress in a comedy; Eugene Levy, as dad Johnny, got best actor in a comedy; and the overall outstanding comedy series. (The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sunday, Sept. 22.)
In 2016, both Eugene and Dan Levy were nominated for Canadian Screen Awards, they said on the Today show, the first time in the history of entertainment that a father and son were nominated in the same category (Eugene won).
Dan, who had previously hosted a show on MTV in Canada for eight years (without ever referencing his famous father) took it in stride. “To come to work every day with your family is a beautiful thing,” he says. “I think the reason the show has worked along so smoothly is because we share a similar sensibility.”
So now, as the writer and co-creator of Schitt’s Creek, Dan says, “there’s a very interesting power shift because I get to write what he does. I’m able to hammer home his sensitive spots. One: his hair. He has a lovely head of hair — but don’t touch it. It’s a perfectly coiffed head of hair. The second episode of the first season, I write a drip in the first scene that makes his hair sopping wet. My dad read the script and called on the phone with a few questions: ‘How wet will the hair be?’ ‘Sopping.’”
At the end of that season, I had him run through an entire scene, full force. He’s not the most athletic person. I don’t think he’s run in 35 years. That was fun.”
Join Schitt’s Creek cast members Eugene and Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy (Alexis) and Emily Hampshire (Stevie) for “Schitt’s Creek: Up Close & Personal” 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Masonic Temple, Detroit. $59.50-$99.50. Themasonic.com.