- Tonight, 7 p.m.
- Club Regent Event Centre
- Tickets: $58-$81 at Ticketmaster and casinosofwinnipeg.com
For nearly 50 years, Canadian comedian and actor Steve Smith has been cracking up audiences across the continent, most notably while performing as the duct-tape lovin’, Possum Lodge livin’ handyman Red Green.
The Red Green Show aired 300 ep-isodes from 1991 to 2006 and the character became a beloved household name thanks to his wacky antics during sketch segments such as Handyman Corner, Buddy System and The Experts.
The Gemini Award-winning program also allowed Smith, a member of the Order of Canada, to bring Red Green to life off-screen, immortalizing his words of wisdom in books, as well as getting some face time with fans on numerous tours, most recently on the This Could Be It tour, which completed its U.S. leg in the spring and is rolling through a series of Canadian dates, stopping in Winnipeg tonight at the Club Regent Event Centre.
Even though the title of the tour leaves a little wiggle room should Smith ever want to get back on the road again, he assures the tour will be his final one.
"I’m not Cher or the Who, I’m not fakin’ it, this is it. I won’t let you down by coming back," the 73-year-old chuckles.
"There’s nothing negative in this for me. This isn’t me finally getting out of a contract or I’m bankrupt and just doing this for the money. Honestly, I’ve been in show business for 48 years, these live tours have been absolutely the highlight and this one is the highlight of the highlight. So if you come to the show, and I hope they do, there’s at least one guy having a really good time, and that’ll be me."
This tour features brand-new handyman projects, advice to married folks and teenagers, tips on getting old and an apology to the world on behalf of baby boomers. Smith also says there are some new audio-visual elements, a couple of phone calls from other recognizable Red Green cast members and he likes to end the show with a wish for his fans that’s "a little funny but mainly it’s heartfelt and has gone over really well. It makes it feel like, OK we’re done."
There’s not much sadness in this farewell tour for Smith, who says he doesn’t like to dwell on the past too much but appreciates the connection his fans and their children and family members have developed to the Red Green character, and, by proxy, to him. Fans’ appreciation has helped remove some of the bitterness from the bittersweet process of saying goodbye.
"I would say 35 per cent of the comments I get at the meet-and-greets after the show will be women in their late 20s or early 30s telling me this was the program they watched with their dad, and they thank me for that because it helped them understand their dad and was also a bit of a bonding thing. That’s pretty cool," he says.
"I have this thing about people overstaying their welcome on a personal basis and on a professional basis. I think we’ve all had favourite television shows that went one season too many and there are a few artists around who went one tour too many. I ended my TV show to avoid that, and now I’m ending my touring to avoid the second one, so my sense is this is the right time, the audience is confirming that. And I don’t mean being glad to see me go, but there’s definitely a feeling of closure."
Though Smith is hanging up his touring hat, he isn’t ready to try full retirement again. He always has ideas and plans in the works, but he’s not sure what his next project will be.
"I tried retiring before but it didn’t really work out because I think of things that are witty and without an audience I just start saying them to my friends and they eventually get annoyed with that, so I know I need a creative outlet. I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I do know it won’t be nothing. Unless I get hit by a bus or something," he jokes.
"But I will not be touring. I guarantee you, if you buy a ticket to see me in Winnipeg, you’ll never have to buy another ticket to see me ever again and neither will your children."
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.
Updated on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 8:13 AM CDT: Adds photos