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Canada's comic success may come from 'sidekick mentality'

Canada is famous for its hockey teams, red-jacketed Mounties and comic performers.

Jim Carrey, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Leslie Nielson, Howie Mandel, Michael J. Fox, Lorne Michaels and dozens of other successful comedians and comic actors are from the Great White North.

Steve Smith, who will perform Saturday as Red Green at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, is a Toronto native -- the big city in Canada, not the tiny town in Deuel County, S.D. During a phone interview, he offered thoughts on why so many funny people come from the United States' neighbor to the north.

"I have some idea why. I think it's like the guy who's the sidekick, the sidekick mentality," Smith said. "Canada is the sidekick to the U.S. We can't be as strong, as powerful, or as big.

"We try to make Americans laugh. And we start with trying to make ourselves laugh."

He said Canada has great actors, singers and musicians, but it seems like comedy is the country's trademark when it comes to the arts.

"It seems we're more competitive in the comedy field," Smith said. "We might have 100 great singers while you have 1,000. But we have 100 comedians equal to your top 100."