A Brief History of Time
After that auspicious beginning, where we almost had a beer bottle thrown at us, we soldiered on doing the odd gigs at Innis Hall at the University of Toronto, Yuk Yuks in Toronto and Montreal, Soho at the Metz and lots of other standup clubs that were popping up and disappearing just as quickly. It was around this time that we made our first trip out to London, Ontario, and hooked up with Dan’s friends, the Grindstaffs, who ran a coffeehouse called Change of Pace. A lot of major folk talent frequented Change of Pace. After a thin house the first night, by the end of the week the place was sold out.
We auditioned for work on the Holiday Inn circuit and got the gig. It was an interesting year playing in the Holiday Inn bars as the intermission act for some pretty horrendous, loud bar bands. But by the end of the year the Holiday Inns loved us. Their criteria? More beer was sold while we were doing our thing then any other act. Now, we have no idea what kind of quality measure that was but it made us popular. Luckily, it was at this time we landed a pilot to do a radio show for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) because our timing was going to shit yelling over the waitresses selling beer and bikers playing bumper pool.
Frantic Times was born at Yuk Yuks. We recorded the pilot there some time in 1980 or 1981. With the pilot done we started exploring the Stephen Leacock Comedy Festival in Orillia. We did this for a few years and met some wonderful people such as, Don Harron, Al Simmons, Fred Penner, Steve (Red Green) and Morag Smith to name a few. A couple of porn stars came up to see our act and asked us if we’d like to write for them. You meet the most interesting people in Orillia.
The radio pilot became a radio season of Frantic Times. While it was a challenge to come up with material for the odd live show, it was a REAL challenge to come up with a half an hour a week. During its life Frantic Times grew in popularity, where we were attracting about a half-million listeners a week. It was great fun working with producer David Milligan and the rest of the CBC gang. The result was 120 half-hour radio shows.
Then came our very short television career. 4 on the Floor was the name of our television show. 4 on the Floor’s first season lasted 13 episodes but was not picked up. We were replaced by a sitcom that disappeared quickly. Oh, well, that’s showbiz.
We started to work the Just for Laughs Comedy festival. Of course, being a Canadian event they weren’t interested in Canadian acts. The CBC threw its weight around and we were reluctantly inserted into the lineup. After sold-out, hugely successful shows at Club Soda, we became regulars at the festival.
Our final stage show was, “The Frantics Walk Upright- a Journey Through History.” It was our most successful and most profitable stage show. Without getting into the gory details, we decided that it was time to call it quits. It was 1989. 4 on the Floor went into endless reruns. It was a great ride.
Now 15 years later, it all starts once more. And if you were to ask any of the 4 guys today what they thought of doing it all again, they’d say it’s even better now.