It's no secret that some of Canada's best-known comedy figures have been big on the CFL. John Candy famously was one of the Toronto Argonauts' owners in the early 1990s (and did a lot to keep the league alive and vibrant along the way), Dan Aykroyd has hosted the league's awards in the past, and plenty of others have been involved here and there. One of the most prominent and long-standing celebrity fans of the CFL is comedian Martin Short, though, who starred on the incredible SCTV series with Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin and others and went on to do Saturday Night Live and movies like Three Amigos, Innerspace and The Big Picture. Short's always been a huge fan of his hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and his comedy special I, Martin Short, Goes Home which aired on CBC this week and featured the likes of Levy, Martin, Flaherty, George Strombolopolous and many more amazing comics, had some terrific CFL references as well. You can watch the whole special online at CBC's site here (warning: there is some language that may offend some). Here's a clip of Short (seen above with CFL official Jake Ireland and Ottawa Renegades' centre Carl Coulter doing the coin toss at a 2002 Ottawa-Hamilton game) talking about the special and what Hamilton means to him:
The special primarily focuses on Short trying to honour a mentor of his who's gone from children's TV star to street hot dog vendor, but it also has some great unrelated segues, including a Mad Men parody and an appearance by Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. One of the best is a fake film trailer, The Boy With The Pigskin Tattoo, which involves Short (in a red wig and glasses) suiting up under centre as the Tiger-Cats' quarterback. You can catch it at the 19:16 mark here. Some of the best lines:
—"Okay, look, we've got four minutes to score 37 points. Oh my god, guys, this is so doable!"
—"And let's not forget what we've learned, protect the quarterback! Thanks for your time!"
—"That was a hard hit, really, deeply a hard hit. God Almighty, guys, that's not fair! I'm pretty livid right now."
—After getting hit: "Who's cooking bacon? Why would they cook bacon? Mama, mama, is it morning? I want eggs, sunny side over please. I'll tell you what this stadium needs, it needs a window!"
—From the voiceover narrator:
—"In a city looking for a hero, Norbert 'Red' Reese came a-knocking."
—"But even the heart of a hero can't overcome the ramifications of massive head trauma."
—"In the tradition of Rudy, Friday Night Lights and the softcore classic Bang The Bum Slowly comes an inspirational tale of courage. Coming this fall, The Boy With The Pigskin Tattoo."
Yeah, I'd watch that movie. (By the way, one of the opposing players in the clip has a #67 Dyakowski jersey, so I'm guessing he's real-life Tiger-Cat guard and "Canada's Smartest Person" Peter Dyakowski.) The rest of the special's pretty great, too, including Short playing "Pierre LaSalle", the supposedly-French explorer who claims to have discovered Hamilton in 1669 and gives a terrific speech about the city's future:
"Here one day, there shall be a grand city a grand city of commerce and industry. Thank you, or as they say in English, thank you. You want more? No problem. I see many other things in Hamilton's future. Oh, that would not be a bad name for this city, Hamilton. I see many heavyset Hamiltonians riding around on little scooters with the tires very flat, a baby in one hand and a cigarette in the other."
Short may kid Hamilton pretty hard here, but he clearly has a deep affection for the city and its football team. As he told The Hamilton Spectator's Daniel Nolan in advance of the special's airing, Tiger-Cats' games provided some of his best memories growing up:
"I don't have a fondest memory. I have a myriad of fond memories. There's not one specific memory. I spent 22 years there. There is not one memory in my childhood in which I say, 'Ah, that was Hamilton to me.' But probably the most exciting was going to the Ticat games, those sudden deaths. The Ticats would be down, they'd score 28 points, come back and wind up in the Grey Cup and (Bernie) Faloney would run the field. Those memories; Angelo Mosca, Garney Henley, Gerry McDougall, Frank Cosentino (and) Joe Zuger."
Short lives primarily in L.A. these days, but he said he still tries to come back frequently to visit family and go to a football game or too. If he's interested, the CFL and the Ticats should definitely look into partnering with him on a special event or two, but even if not, it's great to have a prominent Canadian out there representing this league. Even Cheaplaffs Johnson would appreciate that.