Brent Butt not fazed by expectations for 'Hiccups'
Brent Butt knows there’s tremendous pressure riding on “Hiccups.”
But the mastermind behind “Corner Gas,” which has been called the most successful Canadian TV sitcom ever made, says he really doesn’t care.
“I know that people are going to kind of use ‘Corner Gas’ as the benchmark and compare ‘Hiccups’ to it, but that’s just the way it is. I don’t have a lot of concern in that regard. And you kind of don’t have time to worry about it, you know?” says Butt, the series’ creator, writer and executive producer.
“You can’t control whether people like it or not. All you can do really is make something that you truly think is good and then hope people watch it.”
“Hiccups” is Butt’s first series after “Corner Gas,” which he brought to a close in 2009 after six successful seasons. It stars “Gas” alumni and Butt’s real-life wife, Nancy Robertson, as Millie Upton, a children’s author prone to emotional outbursts – a dichotomy Butt found very fascinating.
“I just liked the notion of an emotionally volatile children’s author. Normally they’re very together and calm.”
Butt also co-stars in the series as Stan Dirko, Millie’s less-than-qualified life coach.
“I’ve also always been intrigued by the notion of a life coach because I don’t really know what it is and I think it’s one of those things you can just become without ever having to have a license or anything. You can just (call yourself one),” says Butt.
The actor decided not to do any research into the life coach realm when preparing for his role because he feared he would start to understand its validity and lose the comedy around it.
“(Stan) has very little training – basically five Wednesday nights in a row at a nighttime Learning Annex so he doesn’t have a lot of background in this. He’s just one of those guys who feels in his heart he can help people … but his (methods) are very kind of ineffectual really,” says Butt.
“He’s in over his head. Trained psychologists and psychiatrists haven’t been able to stabilize Millie so you would think Stan has no hope.”
And with their characters having a therapist/patient dynamic on screen, did Butt find himself “counseling” Robertson at home?
“No, not at all,” says Butt. “Nancy and I, we have an easy ability to (separate) home life and work life. I think because we started just as people working together … I didn’t really know her before that so we have a working relationship first.”
The comedian notes that it was also nice to film “Hiccups” at his current home in Vancouver, after spending the past few years filming “Corner Gas” in his home province of Saskatchewan.
“As fantastic as Saskatchewan is, we had a great time there, the whole thing with ‘Corner Gas’ was a crazy blessing … it was very exciting to write for new people, create new situations and environments.”
Just like everyone knew a “Brent” or “Hank” from “Corner Gas” in their town, Butt says the characters in “Hiccups” will also feel familiar.
“These characters, the same way as in ‘Corner Gas,’ they were all archetypes to start with … what happens is when you watch it, you go, ‘Oh I know a guy like that’ or, ‘I worked with a woman like that.’”
Butt, who’s also working on an upcoming comedy variety special and his first feature film, says he’s being completely objective when he calls “Hiccups” his new favourite show.
“I’m just really proud of it. It’s a show that makes me laugh and that doesn’t happen that often. I’m almost caught by surprise when something really does tickle me … I really think people will like it.”
“Hiccups,” which also stars Laura Soltis, David Ingram, Emily Perkins and Paula Rivera, airs Monday nights at 8 pm ET on CTV.Watch Episodes Now ►