After portraying his humourous handyman on stage and screen for 40 years, Steve Smith is taking Red Green on the road for the last time.
“I’ve grown into him,” Smith said of his alter-ego. “He was a lot older than me when I started.”
Smith’s This Could Be It Tour comes to Vancouver Island for three shows later this month. While the name of the tour suggests there’s a chance he might be back, Smith is adamant that “this is it.” He said he doesn’t want to “stay too long at the party.”
“Throughout my career I’ve always had a sense of when it was time to stop,” Smith said. “I stopped doing the television show before the broadcaster wanted to. I just felt it was time to move on … You know TV shows go one season too many, or performers go one tour too many? I don’t want to be in that category.”
Smith, who hails from Toronto, first portrayed Green in 1979 on Smith & Smith, his old sketch comedy show he wrote with his wife and produced for a TV channel in Hamilton, Ont. Green was a parody of outdoorsman Red Fisher, who had a long-running program on CTV. The Red Green Show followed in 1991 and ran for 15 years.
Smith said the character was a hit right from the start.
“We got mail right away and about three or four years later I was offered a TV show based on that character,” he said. “I didn’t do it, but there were indications that for whatever reason that character was striking a nerve. But even when I decided to do the series it was supposed to be a summer job in 1990. We had no illusions of adequacy.”
Smith said Green was a character that filled an unexplored niche and was easily relatable. He said everybody seems to have a relative like Green. And even as the world has changed a lot over 40 years, Green’s philosophies remain relevant.
“Often I say to people, ‘If you don’t have a Red Green in your family, it’s probably you,’” Smith said.
Smith said the This Could Be It Tour features all new material, including recently-shot video and characters from The Red Green Show phoning in. As it is a farewell tour, Smith said it “wraps up a lot of loose ends.”
Smith said he’s been holding meet-and-greets after his shows and it’s been gratifying to listed to fan feedback. He said The Red Green Show has helped people through tough times and has “meant more to them than some little television show they watched.”
“I had a guy in his mid-20s say to me, ‘You make me look forward to getting old.’ A mother of five said, ‘You tell us what we need to hear and make it funny so we’ll listen.’ I thought that was a pretty good one,” Smith said.
While Smith won’t be taking Green on tour anymore, he’s not completely retiring the persona. He said Green may have more to say in the future.
“I know myself well enough to know I need a creative outlet,” Smith said. “And Red Green is a great friend of mine to help me have that platform.”
WHAT’S ON … Red Green performs at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Sept. 28, Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre Sept. 29 and Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse Sept. 30. Click here for more information.