Sometimes, they make movies where, primarily for budgetary reasons, Toronto stands in for New York. In order to simulate the gritty New York ambience, the set decorators find it necessary to “dirty up” the “location.” The more pristine Toronto street is meticulously “re-dressed”, adding overflowing trashcans, discarded newspapers, random dog poop. Dirt and detritus everywhere, trying to make Toronto look authentically “New York.”
One day, the cast and crew “broke” for lunch.
When they returned an hour later, the entire “location” had been cleaned up.
This story, I heard from a writer named Mike Short. We were both guest speakers at the Banff Television Festival, in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Mike was a writer for the classic comedy series, SCTV, which was produced at studios in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
One day, they’re shooting this sketch, and in it, a boorish character takes a “shot” at another character saying, “Where are you from, Cleveland?”
This is a standard, old-fashioned form of comedy. It’s called a “name joke.” Because of its connotation as a generally acknowledged urban disgrace, merely mentioning the name “Cleveland” is considered to be funny. (Although on SCTV, we’re not laughing at the joke, we’re laughing at the boorish character’s indulging in a standard, old-fashioned form of comedy.)
In addition, the word “Cleveland” contains the “hard-K” sound, guaranteed to elicit a laugh.
Cookie. Cumquat. Coconut. “Hard K”? Always funny.
So they’re doing this sketch, and the character says, “Where you from, Cleveland?”
The scene is taped. They’re ready to move on. Suddenly, the Canadian Content executive (the show is being shot in Canada) comes up and says,
“Very funny sketch. But I wonder. Does it have to be Cleveland? I mean, this is a Canadian program. Why not use a Canadian reference?
The writers confer. They replace the offending American reference with the Canadian reference, and they re-tape the sketch.
Where the line once read, “Where you from, Cleveland?”, the boorish character now says,
“Where are you from, Moncton?”
(Moncton is a city in New Brunswick, Canada. I know nothing more about it, except that it too contains the reliable “hard K.”)
Mission accomplished. The taping of the new version has been completed. And which point, the Canadian Content executive comes up and says,
“What have you got against Moncton?”