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Comic brings one-man Red Green show to Fairbanks

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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 12:09 pm | Updated: 10:37 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — Steve Smith may not have the same gravelly voice or penchant for multi-colored suspenders as his most famous character, but you don’t have to dig far to find hints of Red Green in the Canadian comedian.

Smith loves a good one-liner, often at his own expense. He’s not afraid to poke fun at men and their often-skewed approach to work, marriage and home repairs. And yes, he’s a fan of duct tape and the endless possibilities it provides.

His character Red Green was the fictional leader of Possum Lodge, a backwoods outpost filled with odd characters and even odder handyman tips. “The Red Green Show” ran for 15 seasons in Canada, where Smith’s character became an iconic spoof of northern resourcefulness.

“I say to guys, ‘If you don’t know the Red Green in your family, it’s probably you,’” Smith said during a telephone interview.

That humor also made the show a cult hit in parts of the U.S., where the import was carried on PBS stations. It found a particularly enthusiastic fan base in Fairbanks, where it continues to air on KUAC-TV six years after it stopped taping new episodes.

Local audiences will get to see the character in person Sunday, part of “Red Green’s Wit and Wisdom Tour” that is spanning the U.S. this year.

Smith vowed to leave Red Green behind when the show stopped airing new episodes in 2006. He’s learned since then, however, that the character “gives me a great vehicle to project my warped sense of humor.” Since his attempted retirement, a book and a pair of tours spanning the U.S. and Canada have followed.

“I spent my whole life trying not to be a cliche, and it’s coming back and haunting me,” he said with a chuckle.

He did 118 shows on his last tour, including a stop in Fairbanks, and said the experience was the best he’s had as a performer.

“A couple of them weren’t bad, too,” he said. “I’m either lowering my standards or getting better.”

In its 15 seasons, “The Red Green Show” evolved into a weekly sketch comedy show filled with manly advice, film clips that spoofed outdoor shows and semi-competent handyman tips. The use of duct tape as the ultimate all-purpose tool became a running gag.

“We decided to take men’s idiosyncracies and expand them,” Smith said. “When men do anything, their main consideration is ‘how soon can I get this over with,’ whether it’s making dinner, going to church, anything.”

His live show continues that theme with a different recipe. Smith said his performance style is a blend of stand-up comedy and Mark Twain-inspired storytelling. With a backdrop of the mythical Possum Lodge and a touch of audience interaction, he said, it’s an ideal formula for Red Green to offer his unique brand of wisdom.

The tour also has served as a long, thrilling road trip for Smith and his wife. He drove through the U.S. with his wife, doing 30 shows in 35 days at one point. He said it’s far preferable to air travel, which he reluctantly is using to get to Alaska.

“That’s no fun,” he said. “I always end up sitting by the fat guy, and so does he.”

Even so, Smith said he’s excited about bringing Red Green to an audience of kindred spirits during a Fairbanks summer.

“Let’s have fun,” he said. “I’m not going to bed until the sun goes down.”

If you go

What: Red Green’s Wit and Wisdom Tour

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Hering Auditorium

Tickets: $51.50 at www.alaskatix.com, Grassroots Guitar or 490-2858

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.

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