22 May 2006 | animal_8_5
We Hope That You'll Be A Booster...For Wayne And Shuster
Every Canadian comic talent has just two people to thank for any success they enjoy: Frank Shuster and Johnny Wayne of the comedy duo, Wayne and Shuster. In 1930 Frank Shuster, cousin of the famous "Superman" creator Joe Shuster, met Johnny Wayne in the Ooola Boola Club of Toronto's Harbord College and the rest, as they say, is history.
Canadian Austin Willis, himself possessed of a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor, was actually part of the early war-years act, but went on to a strong career as a dramatic actor. The duo went on to play on radio with Jack Benny and many others, finally attracting the attention of early TV icon, Ed Sullivan.
Wayne and Shuster developed a close relationship with Sullivan, who was a huge fan of their high-brow, literal humor. They actually fit in well with an entertainment world that included MAD Magazine and the legendary Ernie Kovacs. As the Sullivan show had been losing ratings, they signed the twosome to an unprecedented contract which basically amounted to them appearing on the show at any time, under their own terms.
Once the boys were already household names in the U.S., Canada typically took sudden notice of their talented native sons and offered them a weekly series of their own on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Aware they were risking over-exposure with their Sullivan gig and a weekly series in Canada, they instead produced a number of hour-long specials for CBC, going from one show per month in 1952, to 2 per year by the late 1980s.
With both Wayne and Shuster now gone, their legacy lives on in domestic Canadian TV series such as "SCTV," "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," "Royal Canadian Air Farce," "The Red Green Show" and "Corner Gas."
W&S Trivia: Shuster's daughter Rosie is married to Saturday Night Live icon, Lorne Michaels.