To cheer up Fort McMurray, teacher rhymes some social-media spoofs
'We just want people to know there are still ways to have fun'
A Fort McMurray teacher is using two things he loves — nostalgia for the 1980s and wholesome memories of summer camp — to try to create social media smiles.
Armed with an iPhone and a sense of humour, 37-year-old Keith Muise, originally from Stephenville, N.L., makes skits and parodies of popular songs, then posts them online.
The goal is to flood Fort McMurray, trying to rebuild after one of Canada's largest wildfires, with content that makes people laugh.
His Facebook page, 80s Summer Camp, is like a sketch comedy, or a variety show, optimized for the social media world. Think Saturday Night Live or This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
"We just want people to know there are still ways to have fun," he said. "If you do some of these goofy things we used to do when we were younger, it is going to make you feel good."
He just finished spoofing the opening song to the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
In the minute-long rap video, the Catholic school teacher rhymes about moving to the oilsands capital from Prince Edward Island.
The rap lyric goes: "A couple of times, I was up to no good. Driving people crazy in my neighbourhood. My future didn't look bright, and my mama sick with worry. And she said you're moving with your uncle, up to McMurray."
The video has more than 100,000 views and 1,000 shares.
Just started making jokes
The idea for the Facebook page was born in May 2016, during the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation.
Stuck for 15 hours in gridlock traffic with his wife and two-year-old son, Muise got a call saying his father-in-law was losing his battle with cancer and had days to live.
Already numb from the trauma of fleeing a city in flames, Muise decided to do the unlikely.
"I've got to make a choice now," he recalled thinking at the time. "Either this is going to be the worst day of my life, or this is going to be the turning point."
Laughter, he said, became a reminder that no matter how bad things got, there was always a bright side. Days later, he decided to start uploading his funny bits to Facebook.
Most of his posts don't actually refer to the '80s or summer camp, but he hopes they evoke a sense of those times.
"I'm a child of the '80s, so that kind of enthusiastic energy-burst is something that I lived through, and I kind of want to bring back," Muise said. "Really it's a metaphor, because I want people to come to camp. Like the camp is everywhere."
Muise now has a group of friends who help with the videos. His buddies have matching T-shirts and even a handshake, reminiscent of summer camp. They hope to spread their upbeat message.
"It's the mistake we all make," he said. "One negative thing will decide the rest of our day. Why can't we make one positive thing decide the rest of our day."