Host Gavin Crawford on why Because News quiz show is killing it

The Calgary edition of CBC’s Because News quiz show at the Central Library is sold out. In fact, the Thursday recording was sold out in about 40 minutes of tickets going online, and there’s hundreds on the waiting list.

Calgary taping of popular quiz show sold out quickly and here's why, according to Alberta-born host

Gavin Crawford loves those British quiz shows, so when a producer asked if he wanted to be part of a Canadian version, he jumped at the chance. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

Bad news first.

The Calgary edition of CBC's Because News quiz show at the Central Library is sold out.

The good news? The show is so popular, it sold out in 40 minutes of tickets going online and there is a hundreds-long waiting list.

Host Gavin Crawford says his family tree may have something to do with the strong demand for tickets for this particular taping.

"That was mostly just my huge family, and then we had a few other tickets for regular listeners," Crawford told The Homestretch with a laugh.

Crawford, 48, was born in Taber, where his parents still live, raised in Lethbridge, and Calgary remains the home of three siblings.

After eight years on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, another opportunity caught his eye.

"A producer contacted me and said, 'We are pitching a news quiz, is that the kind of thing you'd want to be involved in?' I am a big fan of the British-style new quizzes, like Mock the Week. So I said, 'We should have a format like that in Canada and we don't,' so we just went in and copied the Brits," Crawford said.

The now Toronto-based comedian says 22 Minutes forced him to keep up with current affairs, but he tries to strike a balance today.

"These days, I would rather be looking at just about anything else," he said.

"This election has been full of many surprises, 'Well, I never thought I'd see that.' At this point, if Elizabeth May turns out to be 100 per cent robot, I am not even going to be surprised."

Mix of script and improv

Crawford says keeping the show fresh — it's recorded Thursdays to air Saturdays — can be a real challenge with the current dynamic political landscape.

"Yes, we basically have to," he said, of writing the show right up until it airs.

"If you even dip your toes into America, you have got to keep rewriting, literally as the show is going on. You think, this is the craziest thing that Trump could possibly have done, and then another minute goes by."

The show is a mix of script and improvisation.

"It's probably about 50/50. All the questions are scripted. The show is about 27 minutes on air, but we tape about a 90-minute live show. That's the fun of it. The best jokes are just the ones people come up with in the moment," Crawford said.

Rick Mercer, Ali Hassan and Ashley Botting take the news quiz with host Gavin Crawford. 27:00

"We get a lot of Second City people. Improvisers are always my favourite core panellists to work with because they just know how to keep the ball up in the air, and then you just go down some crazy roads."

Calgary's Thursday taping at the Central Library is set to include an Alberta-centric panel.

"We've got Calgary-boy Andrew Phung from Kim's Convenience, from Dragons' Den Arlene Dickinson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi — you might have heard of him as well."

With files from Ellis Choe and The Homestretch


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.