Canadian comedy is enjoying an unprecedented global resurgence. This Hour Has 22 Minutes continues a long-standing tradition of combining politics and humour. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has a decorated history of making that mix work. Wayne and Shuster and the earlier years of Codco were among the best examples of politics and humour. While not political in nature, CTV’s Corner Gas remains one of the most popular Canadian comedy series ever run. Kenny vs. Spenny, Kevin Spencer and a few others deserve honourable mentions.
In the present day era of increased political divisions, people have been moving away from political comedy. If anyone wants to read up on politics they can just watch the news. Comedy is meant to be an escape providing an occasional sharp look through the lens of reality. Schitt’s Creek recently concluded a brilliant run with memorable performances and a large global fan base thanks to the boost from CBC Gem, Pop TV in the States and Netflix worldwide. Four hilarious women make the ensemble sketch comedy in Baroness von Sketch Show a hit with a world audience thanks to bumps from IFC and Netflix.
The popularity of play-turned-television Kim’s Convenience is a heart-warming happy story. Like Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s is morphing into a global comedy phenomenon. First, Kim’s does so much to celebrate diversity. The Kim’s story is a story in many parts of the country. Immigrant and non-immigrant families running corner shops in many cities and towns. Each family with their own stories to tell beyond the shop doors. These kinds of family run stores have been in existence in many places. Some of them for many years. They are pillars in our communities. They are meeting places for people going through the doors. Shopkeepers and their families become part of extended families. They contribute to community functions through local churches or other groups. The involvement of the Kim’s with their local church is reminiscent of the many churches and community groups that are the very fabric of urban and rural areas. These stories are not immigrant stories.
They are Canadian stories.
Kim’s is superbly cast with a group that would be impossible to replace. Each actor lends their own life experiences to performances that bring out the best of everyone on screen. It paints pictures of comedic conflict with flares of drama, concluding often with compromise and compassion for others.
The fan base for the show have named themselves Kimbits. There are many and their numbers are growing. As a way to connect with the Kimbits audience, cast members Andrew Phung and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee have been hosting regular video-conference calls with Kimbits from all over. You apply and they select randomly around 20 people to participate. They have brought on other casts members for surprise guest “sneak attacks”. I had the pleasure of being on one of these calls on May 5th. It was on this call that a member of the Kimbits online group told participants that a group of them are taking Korean language lessons. This action alone reflects the positive celebration of diversity that Kim’s is bringing to viewers.
Kim’s Convenience is a virtual vacation away from the restlessness of the real world. Yet, it is a reflection of the real world itself. It shows the best of humanity with humbling moments of needed laughter.