“Just for fun, do you want to print all my brothers’ and sisters’ names in the magazine?” asks comedian Brent Butt, the youngest of seven. “They’re kind of wonky names.” OK, here goes: Elna, Elmer, Velma, John, Della and Lloyd. While obviously fond of his family, Butt admits they’re difficult to keep track of. “I don’t even know what half of them do,” he jokes. “They somehow make a living.” Growing up in Tisdale, Sask., Butt saw a stand-up comic on TV and decided that was what he was going to do. He moved to Saskatoon at age 20, when a comedy club opened in the city. Now he’s starring in his own sitcom, Corner Gas (premiering on CTV on Jan. 22), as Brent LeRoy, the owner of a gas station in the fictional town of Dog River, Sask., population 450. Butt plays the straight man surrounded by oddballs. “It’s an old classic recipe,” says Butt. “Bob Newhart always did that, even Jack Benny was never
really the wacky one on the show.”
Butt plays the straight man surrounded by oddballs in Corner Gas
Comer Gas, which also features Saskatchewan natives Eric Peterson and Janet Wright as Brent’s parents, certainly points out the peculiarities of Prairie life, but it’s not patronizing. “We fight
against the notion that people in small towns are backward hillbillies,” says Butt, who also serves as a producer and writer. “If anybody gets made fun of in the show it’s usually city people who come through town.” Worried about his acting skills, Butt says he made the Brent character a lot like himself, with one major exception—this alter ego is an only child. SHANDA DEZIEL
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.