A decade-and-a-half of laughs with ‘Corner Gas’
By Cheryl Minns, Senior Columnist
Corner Gas has been making Canadians laugh since it premiered in 2004 with the first of six seasons. Followed by the crowd-funded film Corner Gas: The Movie in 2014 and animated series Corner Gas Animated in 2018, Brent Leroy and his friends continue to entertain Canadian audiences on Crave TV, as well as international viewers on Amazon Prime Video.
“It really struck a chord with Canadians,” said Corrine Koslo, who voices Emma Leroy in Corner Gas Animated, in a phone interview with the Other Press. “The characters were incredibly well developed and it’s just a lark.”
“I’m proud that it’s a family show that people can enjoy together,” said Fred Ewanuick, who plays Hank Yarbo, in an interview with the Other Press.
The series follows the day-to-day lives of eight residents in the fictional prairie town of Dog River, Saskatchewan. The Corner Gas station and convenience store is run by Brent Leroy (played by series creator Brent Butt) and Wanda Dollard (Nancy Robertson). Frequent patrons include Brent’s best friend, Hank Yarbo, and Brent’s retired parents, Oscar (Eric Peterson) and Emma Leroy (played by Janet Wright in Corner Gas). Next door is The Ruby diner, run by Lacey Burrows (Gabrielle Miller). Patrolling the streets is Sgt. Davis Quinton (Lorne Cardinal) and Const. Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn). Each episode usually includes two to three plots to accommodate all eight characters. “I feel like all of the episodes are really balanced, which is incredible because there are eight main characters and then townsfolk thrown in there as well,” Ewanuick said. “I think everybody gets their moments to shine.”
In keeping with the times, the second season of Corner Gas Animated has a significant focus on modern technology, a noticeable difference from the live-action series. “When I watch the live-action episodes, it’s hilarious because I was involved in something where the technology has shifted dramatically,” Ewanuick said. “When we started, there was no such thing as social media or iPhones.” It’s a stark contrast to Corner Gas Animated’s tech-heavy episode “Tag You’re I.T.” where Davis tags the townspeople with tracker bracelets, Lacey discovers people are exploiting The Ruby’s complimentary Wi-Fi, and Brent and Emma get into a viral video-making competition with their smartphones. Brent tries to convince Hank to do an impossible series of stunts for his video, while Emma tries to prank Oscar for her video. “You couldn’t do half of what we do on the cartoon in a real-life television show. You couldn’t afford it nor would it be possible to even shoot it,” Koslo said. “That’s the beauty of the cartoon. They can really dream up whatever they want because you can draw it and you can voice it.”
The second season of Corner Gas Animated shows the writers are trying to stay on top of current trends and create relevant storylines that are relatable for viewers. “It’s too bad we couldn’t do it weekly like a sitcom, so they could be even more on top of things, but logistically that would be impossible,” Ewanuick said. However, the series got lucky this season with the episode “Paper Sashay,” in which Karen befriends a clever crow that later steals Hank’s pocket-knife. The action is an obvious nod to Vancouver’s famous knife-stealing bird, Canuck the Crow. Coincidentally, the episode aired on The Comedy Network on July 15, the same week Canuck the Crow was declared a federally protected bird and received an official numbered band around his leg.
“We’ll see how well this season does. Hopefully, we get another one,” Ewanuick said. “It would be nice if we could get six seasons out of the animated one, to mirror the live-action one. That’d be fantastic.” Corner Gas, Corner Gas: The Movie, and Corner Gas Animated are available on Crave TV in Canada.