Andrew Alexander reflects on SCTV's legacy ahead of receiving lifetime achievement award from Governor General

The Second City's CEO and executive producer Andrew Alexander reflects on reinventing comedy in Canada, and discusses SCTV's forthcoming Netflix reunion.
(Joe Mazza)
Listen16:51

If you've ever done any improv, you'll recognize the phrase "Yes, and" as the guiding rule of thumb. The approach suggests that you accept anything thrown your way, adding something new each time to push it further. This is something The Second City's CEO and executive producer Andrew Alexander is familiar with. 

You won't see Alexander on screen or up on stage at comedy clubs, but you could still say he practices the "Yes, and" approach to creating good comedy. All you have to do is look at his trajectory.

He was a cab driver and odd-job-man before he took charge of The Second City's struggling Toronto outpost in 1974. Soon after, he convinced some television executives at the Global Network in Southern Ontario to take a chance on a sketch show. That show was SCTV, which became the first Canadian show to be bought by a U.S. network when it moved to NBC. He's produced work with famous comedians like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Bill Murray, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, John Candy and Mike Myers to name a few. 

Now, Alexander is overseeing a reunion of the SCTV gang for a Netflix special directed by Martin Scorsese. He's also being honoured for his contribution to Canada's culture with a Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award for Broadcasting for the 2018 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. 

Alexander joins q guest host Ali Hassan to reflect on reinventing comedy in Canada, and to preview SCTV's forthcoming reunion, which will be out on Netflix next year.

Produced by Frank Palmer

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.