Actual fake news service taps into rich Canadian satire tradition
When you watch a well-done satirical news show like The Beaverton, you realize there’s something essentially satirical about the very nature of TV news itself, with its talking heads, overly serious presentation, and self-importance.
Miguel Riva, the co-anchor of The Beaverton show, laughed when I brought this up.
“I think that’s part of the reason I was brought onto the show, which is that can do a really stiff impression of how uptight news broadcasts can be,” he said.
Speaking to The Beaverton’s Riva and Emma Hunter, who are appearing at this years Just For Laughs comedy festival on Sept. 23, I had a strong feeling that they were my distant Facebook “friends.” And it seems like a lot of us have this relationship status with The Beaverton.
According to Riva, who speaks with the scientific precision of a trained actor, The Beaverton has “something like 8 million views on the regular.” In other words, the leading Canadian satirical news program is social media smart.
In June, Bell Media announced that The Beaverton was picked up for a second season on the Comedy Network. But like its US-based news satire cousins, a lot of The Beaverton’s content is seen online.
Starting off as a website, they have an internet sensibility that TV usually struggles to emulate. The fact that The Beaverton is both internet savvy and on old school cable TV is allowing this multi-media powerhouse to succeed in this weird era of media, with funding models designed for the old world but eyeballs moving into the new.
“TV is something that I think is just going through puberty the way gas-powered cars did,” according to Riva.
Even so, The Beaverton actually represents a grown-up kind of Canadian comedy that’s finally passed through perpetual adolescence. Canada has a long history of satirical TV news, with the classic comedy SCTV giving the start to John Candy, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara among other comedy stars and introducing the world to hosers and toques.
The 90s Air Farce era with its silly costumes is perhaps representative of what Riva calls a “a sort of silly approach to fake news in Canada.”
“At The Beaverton we’re taking more a stark satirical approach to doing the fake news,” he continued.
So no chicken cannons.
Hunter agrees, saying they are trying for something more biting and edgy
Indeed, satirical news is serious stuff these days. The Beaverton’s show launched on the day Trump officially became the president and their initial takes on that went viral. With so many getting their news from shows in The Daily Show family, news comedy has come under criticism for making light of things and for being fake news
I asked Hunter about fake news. This seems to be a frequent question, and she has a snappy answer.
“Lying is bad,” Hunter said. “Don’t lie, that’s a dick move. But satire is something completely different.”
Season two of The Beaverton is set to air in the fall.