Canada’s duct-tape loving handyman may be ripe, but he’s not ready to retire.
The thought of Red Green sitting by a beach sipping a mojito in his trademark plaid shirt is unimaginable to the man who created him.
It’s been around 40 years since the character of Red Green was first dreamt up by iconic Canadian comedian Steve Smith, and 10 years since The Red Green Show signed off the air. However, both Smith, now 70, and his alter ego are still robust and brimming with new ideas.
“I don’t think Red should have reason to retire. He chooses to be happy and live life,” said Smith, who is back on the road this fall with Red Green’s third live stage show, I’m Not Old, I’m Ripe, which arrives in Vernon Sept. 20 and Kelowna Sept. 21.
“I really enjoy this way more than anything I’ve done as a job. I have the kind of mind that keeps thinking this stuff up and I’m not done generating thoughts. I think people still want to hear my new stuff, but if a tour bombs, then I just won’t do it anymore.”
I’m Not Old, I’m Ripe follows Red Green’s How To Do Everything from The Man who Should Know tour, which came to the Okanagan in Sept., 2013.
With this new show, Smith says Red Green has matured, but only slightly, as he reflects on the twists and turns of his life, the insights and wisdom he’s gained, along with the people he’s met along the way.
“When I’m doing a new comedy show, my thought, in the broad sense, is what is he thinking about now. You have to be in the present. It’s daunting as you’re not going to reap the rewards if you go back in the past. It’s not like a musician who has to play their hits over and over. I couldn’t do it,” said Smith.
Audiences have shown no indication they want the duct tape to cover Red Green’s mouth. In fact, Red’s mind is so sharp, he’s even thought of a way to store green power, said Smith.
“Batteries are just as bad for the environment as coal, so why not turn energy into water using a reverse turbine that pumps water up a mountain? That’s how his mind works, even if his ideas have been done before.”
That’s perhaps why Red Green attracts fans of all ages.
Some of the handyman’s fans were not even born when the Smith and Smith comedy show, where Red Green first made an appearance in 1978, was on the air. Others have had to rely on YouTube to see repeats of The Red Green Show, which appeared on TV for 15 seasons, ending in 2006.
“I see a lot of young people out there,” said Smith. “The average age of my audience is going down… At a meet and greet, I had a guy come up to me, who was 21, and say ‘you make me look forward to growing old.’”
And although Red Green is undeniably Canadian, American audiences have also connected to the man in plaid.
Smith first toured I’m Not Old, I’m Ripe to 25 cities in the U.S., from the east to the midwest, in the spring.
“Honestly, what the Americans don’t get in the idiosyncrasies, they make up for in enthusiasm. They don’t hold back and have a high opinion of their own opinion, which I am not knocking,” said Smith. “Canadians are just much more polite, but you never know what they are really thinking.”
For now, Smith and Red Green are content to keep doing what they have been doing for the past four decades, making people laugh.
“I have a filter that helps me know to keep doing this: 1/ They still know who Red Green is. 2/ They gotta buy a ticket to see me… For this show, I think people will walk away smiling and if you are not aware of Red Green, then you probably shouldn’t go.”
Tickets for Red Green’s I’m Not Old, I’m Ripe at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., are available at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 250-549-7469 or order at www.ticketseller.ca.
The Sept. 21 show at the Kelowna Community Theatre starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are at the Select Your Tickets office at Prospera Place or call 250-762-5050 or order online at www.selectyourtickets.com