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Alex Newborn as "Leaf / Bob McKenzie" for Huntsville Channel Cats

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Published on Oct 10, 2011

Based on my love of SCTV characters, Bill Barnett cast me as "Bob McKenzie" in this spot for the Huntsville Channel Cats hockey team.

On my toque, I wore a Canadian maple leaf button which I bought on a bus trip from Alabama to Canada in 1984 or so. The rest of the costume was all out of my own closet, except for the jacket, which was Bill's.

I chose not to wear my contact lenses for this shoot, allowing my own near-sightedness to inform my re-creation of Rick Moranis as Bob McKenzie. (In their 'Great White North' comedy album, Dave Thomas as brother Doug McKenzie says that Bob's expression is not because he's so dumb, it's because he can hardly see.)

I'd played Bob McKenzie before, covering their Twelve Days of Christmas song for a high school skit with my buddy Doug Young as namesake Doug McKenzie. We had hoped to get Doug, who then lived in Memphis, to come down and costar, but he was unable to make it, so I found myself in the awkward position of playing one half of a duo... and in my opinion Bob is the second banana, now thrust into primacy.

It was an interesting exercise to synthesize new dialogue in an established character, especially since this was being done as live interviews with a very unruly crowd of professional hockey players. This was one of the projects that gave me a great deal of confidence when I later began doing improv comedy.

But for all of their locker-room antics, the hockey players, all transplanted Canucks, were really great guys. When they first saw me in costume as they came off the ice, I was told "Nice toque, eh!"

When Bill explained the concept of the commercial, saying that we were big fans of the McKenzie Brothers, the player seen in this clip named Dubois pointed at me in costume and said, "We thought you was one, eh?"

I was kinda disappointed that Bill changed the character to "Leaf" McKenzie during the editing phase, but I guess he wanted to avoid a lawsuit (the Disney/Mickey Mouse legal ramifications notwithstanding!)

Camera work by Daniel Wright.

Also check my upload of the original shoot tapes, with several jokes we just couldn't use on the air.

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