Tag Archives: Still Standing

Preview: Still Standing in Buxton, Ont.

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.


Murdoch Mysteries star celebrates small-town Canada with laughter

On Murdoch Mysteries, Jonny Harris plays Constable George Crabtree, tasked with aiding Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) in the solving of crimes in and around turn-of-the-century Toronto. But in his newest series, Harris does some investigating of his own.

The veteran Newfoundland comedian swaps his scratchy police wardrobe for regular duds in Still Standing. Debuting Tuesday on CBC, the series finds the energetic lad discovering small communities across Canada and spotlighting the citizens who call the areas home. As Harris told me at CBC’s upfront announcement, he spends five days in each community, getting to know those who live and work there and doing various chores (like milking goats or lassoing a calf). At the end of it, Harris hosts a small comedy show where he tells jokes based on his experiences, a tough task for a guy who prefers to wait until the last minute to write, even if he does have a couple of guys helping him.

“We write jokes while we’re on the road,” he explains. “We’ll meet someone in the morning and then we’ll furiously write on our laptops. Then we’ll go and meet the next guy or I’ll do the next activity and then over dinner we’ll write. Then we have to out together the set itself in a way that flows and makes sense to people.   At the end of four days I have to try and cram it all into my brain.”

Thirteen episodes comprise Season 1 of Still Standing and among the communities featured are Rowley, Alberta—population eight—a virtual ghost town neighbouring communities support with a monthly pizza night; Berwick, Nova Scotia, a.k.a. the Apple Capital of Canada; Souris, Prince Edward Island; Oil Springs, Ontario, the birthplace of the modern oil industry in North America; and Coleman, Alberta (population just over 1,000), a location fraught with tragedy. Mining disasters, including the Frank Slide of 1903 that wiped half the town of neighbouring Frank off the map.

“They have a very on-their-sleeve attitude about the slide, which made it very interesting for me comedically,” Harris admitts.

Locations were chosen because they were struggling to survive as towns, were locations not on major highways and places most people had ever heard of. The communities may be far-flung, but they all shared the same passion for the land they and past generations call home.

“The goal of the show is to celebrate the towns,” Harris notes. “And if somewhere down the line someone decides to stop in there because they saw it on Still Standing then it’s even better.”

Still Standing airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.


Will you be watching Jonny Harris in his new role? Let me know in the comments below! Follow Greg on Twitter.