I haven’t been quiet about my fondness for Still Standing. Jonny Harris is the perfect Wayne Rostad of this generation, visiting small communities across Canada and spotlighting their history, liveliness and quirkiness. With just 22 minutes of on-screen time, Harris and his writing team manage to tell a story through jokes and observations; no wonder Still Standing has been renewed for a season season.
For those wondering what all the fuss is about, tune in to Tuesday’s newest episode, when Harris arrives in Buxton, Ont. With a population of just 166, Buxton—near Chatham, Ont.—is a huge part of American history. The last stop on the Underground Railroad, Buxton was the place slaves headed to in search of freedom. As Harris did with his episode in Coleman, Alta.—site of the Frank Slide—he treads lightly when it comes to a heavy topic. But that doesn’t stop him from ending a heartfelt description of the dream sought by those slaves with a harsh reality.
“Canadian winters a bit of a kick in the nuts,” he states in his Newfoundland accent. “All that cotton and what I really need is some wool.”
Harris spends time tooling around the area in a sweet convertible Mustang, describing how much of the community is directly descended from slaves and that businesses have fled. Where once two stores, a gas station and garage once stood, there is nothing, forcing many young folks to flee town in search of opportunity. Ironic that Buxton was the centre for opportunity 150 years ago. African Americans, lured by the promise of free land, an education and protection from racism by Reverend William King, rang the liberty bell in town upon their arrival, signalling another freed slave.
What makes every episode of Still Standing a success is Harris’ curiosity and people skills. With his gap-toothed smile, wide eyes and wacky hair, it takes just minutes for east coast comedian to establish a repartee not only with his interview subjects but during the stand-up portions of Still Standing.
Still Standing airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.