I’ve been waiting for years to have Still Standing film in a small town close to me. And then, when it finally did, I missed the whole thing.
I’ll blame COVID-19 for that, as Season 7 of Jonny Harris’ cross country standup series had to adjust to changing audience numbers and community health recommendations on the fly. Returning on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, Harris and his crew drop in on Hope, B.C., where they divulge the history and people of that small Canadian community.
And, like hundreds of other television productions, the pandemic delayed everything and put the heart of the show—Harris’ live performances in front of the communities he was in—in jeopardy.
“At first, we were just grounded,” Harris says. “And then we were going to do shows, but the capacity was going to be greatly reduced, like 30 people in the audience. I was devastated. I thought, ‘It won’t feel like the show.’ And then, I turned on the TV, and there was Jimmy Fallon telling jokes, basically, in front of The Tonight Show crew. And I realized everyone had to eat some crow during the pandemic.”
Despite crowd restrictions and wildly fluctuating social distancing rules from province to province, Still Standing still looks great. Thanks to creative camera angles and editing, you really can’t tell how many people are in each audience. Those outside, community shots and interviews are still intact, weaving personal and business stories around small communities struggling to make ends meet.
As for the episode filmed in my area, the Wakefield, QC, instalment (just a 10-minute drive from my home) airs on January 19 and finds Harris traipsing around a community embracing its railway past to drive tourism to the area.
“It’s such a gorgeous area, and close enough to Gatineau and Ottawa that it’s accessible but far enough away that’s it’s never going to be a suburb.”
Still Standing airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
Images courtesy of CBC.