Fans of the classic Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV have reason to rejoice. Two of that shows funniest alums, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, are back together is the laugh-out-loud family comedy “Schitt’s Creek.” The series, now in its second season, is the story of the Roses, a wealthy family that loses it all and are forced to live in a rundown motel in a small town that they once bought as a joke.
Watching these two veterans struggle in the new environment is pure comedy gold set in a riches-to-rags tale. In advance of season 2’s premiere on March 16, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy discussed the show, as did show co-creator Dan Levy and actress Sarah Levy, Mr. Levy’s real-life son and daughter.
Question: Dan, How did you come up with the idea for the show?
Dan Levy: I was playing around with the idea of a family who lost all their money. Playing on the cultural awareness we all have now of how rich people live thanks to reality TV. I thought, “What would that look like as a fly on the wall with a family we all know well and the way they live. What would happen if it was all taken away?”
Q: Did you immediately think of getting your dad involved?
DL: I turned to my dad because I had seen the riches-to-rags story sort of played out in broad sitcom television land. But I had never seen it through the comedic lens of what he does so well, which is really grounded, character-driven comedy. So I brought him the idea and we started talking about it. Next thing we knew, we were shooting a presentation pilot. Now here we are two seasons in.
Q: What is the best part of having your whole family involved in the show?
Eugene Levy: It just makes the whole thing kind of comfortable … that I’m working with my son as a partner and watching him work in front of the camera. Watching his writing and producing skills is giving me incredible feelings of pride.
When my daughter majored in theater in college I was very happy about that. I went to see the work she was doing, and I knew she was really good. She came through in a big way in this show. I’m just one proud dad.
I go to work every day and see my kids while I’m working, and I can’t believe I’m actually working with my kids. Can’t believe they are in a scene with Catherine O’Hara.
Q: Is it also a thrill to work with Catherine O’Hara again?
EL: Absolutely. She was the only choice for the part. The only choice.
Q: Is it great to be working with Eugene again?
Catherine O’Hara: It’s quite lovely. Eugene is a good man. A lovely man. Smart. Very collaborative. He makes me feel wonderful, like I have something to offer. We laugh at each other. I really trust them.
Q: Did your dad and brother make you audition for the role?
Sarah Levy: I was lucky enough that I had a part that was written for me. I would like to say there is a lot of Twyla in me. I think there is and there isn’t, but I was sort of discovering the character as everyone else was discovering the character.
Q: What is like working with your brother and dad?
SL: It’s the best. Because we are kind of all over the place throughout the year, and to be able to spend such a concentrated amount of time together is the best.
Q: When you were kids, did you know your dad was a comedy genius?
DL: No. Not because I didn’t think he was, but just because he was a dad. He made a very conscious choice for us as kids to separate show business from our lives, which is why we grew up in Toronto. He did his work and then he would come home. That was a very separate thing. We knew he was funny.
SL: No. No idea. One of my earliest memories is of somebody stopping him on the street knowing his first name. I kept thinking, “My dad has so many friends. And they all know him by name.” [laughs] I knew he had such amazing, wonderful, talented friends, but I didn’t kinda clue in until later in life.
Q: Catherine, you wear some pretty elaborate costumes on the show. Are they hard to work in?
CO: I love them. When you wear something that you wouldn’t normally wear, it really helps you get into character. It makes me stand and walk differently. I love that. I love the wardrobe.
Q: If you ended up in the town of Schitt’s Creek for real, what is the one creature comfort you need with you?
DL: My phone. Eek. I don’t want to admit that.
CO: New York.
Q:You would bring the entire city?
CO: Or London. I’d bring a couple cities with me. [laughs]
Q: What can we expect from season 2 of “Schitt’s Creek”?
DL: Everything that people loved from season 1 is back, but bigger and better. I think the humor is really strong and on point this season. I also think there is an emotional thread that runs through the second season. These characters are now stuck in this town and they begin to realize who they are to each other in ways they didn’t in the first season.
“Schitt’s Creek” season 2 premieres March 16 on Pop TV.