He is an angry cigar chomping piece of wooly footwear. She is the geek goddess of the Great White North. Together, Ed the Sock and Liana K make one of the most unique, and smartest, comedy teams in the history of Canadian media. Accumulating cult followings, both separately and together, via television, podcasts, comic books, YouTube and convention appearances throughout North America, Ed and Liana have become two of the most fearless media personalities in Canada, who cut through the red tape of political correctness, and do what they want and say what they feel. As a result, they have often scared their big business competitors, while creating a loyal and devoted fan base.
When I last spoke to Ed the Sock he was just rising out of the flames of darker days. After being tossed out in the compost by ultra-conservative media forces that have recently taken over Toronto, Ed was deemed redundant by a network that feared his crass, off the cuff and honest humor. Picking himself off the floor, Ed made a valiant run for political office, and he and Liana created their own late night TV program, This Movie Sucks, at the only station in Ontario still brave and free thinking enough to air them, CHCH-TV11 in Hamilton. The result was golden, and Ed and Liana were back on the Canadian culture radar when they won the award for Best Comedy TV Series at the Canadian Comedy Awards to the delight of their fans, but to the shock and dismay of their competitors who learnt that you can’t keep a good sock down.
This Wednesday Ed and Liana come back to CHCH with their brand new television series, I Hate Hollywood. Their first time on prime-time television, Ed and Liana are calling out North American media, and in the process are exposing the manipulations and shenanigans of the media machine. Combining comedy with in-depth research and cultural theory, Ed and Liana both say the things that we think but wont say, and often say the things we’ve never thought of before. The result could be their most intense, and most controversial, project yet.
If you read only one interview this year, this is the one to read. Ed and Liana say the things that the major networks don’t want you to hear, and they are about to change the way you think about media forever.
CONFESSIONS OF A POP CULTURE ADDICT PRESENTS
I HATE HOLLYWOOD:
CATCHING UP WITH ED THE SOCK AND LIANA K
Sam Tweedle: So I want to give you the opportunity to be smug. Do you want to be smug?
Ed the Sock: Smug? I don’t know what that is.
Liana K: It’s like when a video game character turns into a real bad ass and says something quippy.
Ed: I don’t play video games.
Sam: Is that because of your lack of hands?
Ed: Its part lack of hands, and part lack of interest.
Liana: We strapped a Wii controller to his head once.
Sam: How did that work out?
Ed: It was heavy and I had a sore neck. I sucked at tennis.
Sam: So you won the Canadian Comedy Award last year for This Movie Sucks. How did it feel to slap that in the face of CTV, who tried to tell you that you were no longer relevant?
Ed: No. CTV didn’t tell me I was no longer relevant. CTV said that they could not “rebrand me” for the Comedy Channel because I’ve only done comedy for years, and I’m only known as someone who does comedy and they had a hard time figuring out how to rebrand that. This is the same network that takes willowy VJ’s and makes them into news anchors. That they can rebrand, but someone who is known for comedy across the country for a comedy channel…they just didn’t know how to do that.
Sam: So how did it feel feeding that award to CTV afterwards?
Ed: You know, I didn’t. That award came because it was an on-line voting thing and we have an audience out there who likes us and respects what we do. Basically I felt good that the audience helped to democratize the contest by taking the award away from which would have otherwise gone to some other corporate project.
Liana: And you could feel the tension in the room. It was really an awkward experience.
Ed: Yeah, because nobody was happy we won.
Sam: When you say nobody, who do you mean?
Ed: I mean nobody.
Liana: Most of the people in that room were from two or three major network groups. We weren’t one of them, so we had no cheering section.
Ed: I could have dropped a few pins and heard them. They were not pleased that we won. Listen. I’ve been doing this for twenty five years. I started on TV in 1987 and have done national TV and been considered an icon across Canada but I’m still not considered acceptable for polite company. There is still an elite eschalance who do not wish to validate what I do because I did things that blew in their face of what should be done and how it should be done that was more successful then their projects. What I represent is something they can’t understand and they don’t want to.
Liana: And then I doubled down by saying it would be great if there was more women in writers rooms because it is a lonely, loney place. The three women writers in the audience were nodding and clapping, but the rest of the room was stone quiet, because it is so competitive.
Sam: So why did you decide to end This Movie Sucks despite its success?
Ed: I didn’t want to watch bad movies anymore.
Sam: That’s a good reason.
Liana: I didn’t want to sit on the couch anymore. That couch was nasty.
Ed: Liana was convinced the couch smelt really bad.
Liana: It had mites.
Ed: It is possible because it was purchased at Goodwill. It is possible that someone was once deceased on that couch. That’s the kind of couch that someone would be dead for a few days and nobody would have noticed because they didn’t have any real loved ones.
Liana: I don’t know about that, but to me it smelled like someone was conceived on that couch.
Ed: But mainly [we ended This Movie Sucks] because I wanted to go do [I Hate Hollywood]. When I left Much Music I figured that somebody would take over media literacy and media criticism. That somebody would take over pointing out the obvious manipulation and lies and hidden messages that are coming through the media, and unfortunately nobody did.
Liana: Well they think they’re doing it.
Liana: Well they call themselves comedy shows. The Daily Show does it to an extent.
Ed: But that’s the thing. Nobody in Canada picked up the mantle. In fact, it went the other way. Everything was purchased by corporate companies and they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. They’re spending a fortune for these TV shows that I make fun of.
Sam: So you’re saying that Ben Mulroney lies to us?
Ed: Ben Mulroney doesn’t lie to you. Ben Mulroney seems very excited about things that I don’t think he is very excited about.
Liana: I don’t think they give him enough substance to actually manage a lie.
Ed: There is nothing wrong with being incredibly happy about media.
Liana: Some people are.
Ed: But then there’s us. I get offended by the stupidity that I see and the obvious obvert messaging and cultural programming that goes on. There is nothing wrong with that stuff existing. What’s wrong is that there is nobody out there saying “Hey, by the way, this stuff? It’s all crap. It’s okay to enjoy it. It’s okay to like crap, but its all crap.” There’s nobody out there pointing out the problem. So when you’re putting out crap before people and their accepting it as if its actually representative of some kind of objective reality there’s a problem. So I Hate Hollywood is like the tone of Formage, where we took music people to task, but now it’s all of the entertainment business.
Sam: Well you two have been around the block. You two know what you’re talking about. So what do you consider today to be the crappiest crap of the crap?
Ed: To really pick out one thing is to leave out too many other things.
Liana: Well reality shows are too easy, unless it is done well.
Ed: There are good reality shows. I have no problem with Storage Wars. Nobody gets hurt, nobody gets mocked, and its people doing what they’d normally do anyways. See, a reality show that covers normal people doing what they’d usually do is a “reality show.” A show where you change your life because there is a camera there is not a reality show. So Storage Wars – a reality show. The Kardashians in New York – not a reality show.
Liana: I can talk about the shows that disappoint me but I can’t say they’re actually bad. Like modern sit-coms. The art of the sit-com is to make it, at least for me, smart but mass appealing at the same time. Stuff like All in the Family was incredibly well done. Sanford and Son is still a great show. I watch it and laugh my head off. But the shows I watch now are always based on people being shallow and mean.
Sam: Yeah. I never thought about that.
Liana: Everybody says “You must love Big Bang Theory.” No. I don’t. There is no one on that show that feels like me. There is no one on that show who I can relate too. There is the occasional sprinkling of geeky dialogue. There is the occasional comic book reference or computer reference or a Dungeons and Dragons reference. But they are not geeks. They are mean, catty, nasty people.
Ed: Have you been on X-Box Live?
Liana: No. That’s the thing. I live the actual nerd nastiness and you could never capture it on a sit-com because the language is off the charts. But, Penny drives me crazy. The one half way decent character on it, played by Sarah Gilbert…?
Ed: I don’t know. You’re looking at me if I actually watch it.
Liana: Well she was an alright character but they couldn’t make her “interesting enough” so backgrounded her. It’s just a bunch of guys being jerks to each other every episode. That’s not funny to me.
Ed: You sure you haven’t been on X-Box Live?
Liana: There is some funny stuff on X-Box Live.
Ed: Well so far there’s been no tea bagging on Big Bang Theory. It’s probably off camera.
Liana: Every time Sheldon is in a scene there is implied tea-bagging.
Ed: Okay, but does he tea-bag, or does he get tea-bagged?
Liana: It depends on how he’s feeling that day. But Two and a Half Men is the same way. I’m trying to find something not done by Chuck Lorre. Almost all the sit-coms on TV now are done by Chuck Lorre. But it started with Friends. That was the downfall of the sit-com because it was so successful and everything had to model itself off of that.
Ed: There is nothing left. The bite that is in sit-coms now is not a smart bite. It’s the bite of a school yard bully. There is no cleverness to it. There is no art to the joke. Its all blunt objects.
Liana: It’s just not the bite. It’s the authenticity of it. I was always amazed with Roseanne. They used to fight on that show, and I never saw anything like that on a sit-com. Coming out of Full House where everything was awesome and great, [Roseanne] fought and they went at each other, but it was real. It made sense. Sit-coms are too glossy now. Sit-coms are full of pretty shiny people, and you can’t get comedy when everybody’s this close to perfect, but they might be OCD or be geeky. “She plays Age of Conan. She must be a geek.”
Ed: You know, its not just sit-coms. Cop shows, dramas; they are so in love with themselves. They all think they’re doing something groundbreaking and relevant. If you want to watch a cop show or a drama that deals with race relations, for example, then you should put on an episode of The Rookies or Mannix in your DVD player, because they didn’t do special episodes. Just woven into the actual experience was the fact that there was racism in America, and they dealt with it realistically. There was just so much veracity to the stories, and they didn’t carry themselves as if they were doing something that was ground breaking. And with these shows, if you watch them now, they still hold up in so many ways. If you take a lot of the shows that are being made now, give them thirty or forty years and they are not going to be hold up.
Liana: But if you did a show like that today, that would be the big, bad Liberal media. That would be preaching. The Muppets can’t make a movie without someone saying that its left wing because the bad guy was an oil guy.
Ed: Well they didn’t have assholes like FOX News back then.
Liana: But that’s the problem. It’s tilted everything, and it’s made everyone afraid to just tell an honest story.
Sam: Now how are you going to explore this sort of topic on I Hate Hollywood?
Ed: Well, believe it or not, the program is a documentary, as opposed to shows in the past that were driven by whatever we wanted to talk about. This show is driven by a particular topic that is investigated and researched, and Liana makes sure that its triple sourced, and so the facts are there. Its information, but done funny, like how you would talk to your friends about something that was stupid.
Liana: As much as you can on prime-time.
Ed: Yeah. This is our first prime-time broadcast TV show. We were prime-time on Much Music, but that was cable. This is prime-time broadcast TV. A big market. And not only that, it’s being rerun on Sundays at 5:30 pm. When people are done church and finished their lunch they can watch us. The notion of having to do dirty stuff and having to make porn [jokes] all the time is done. Now they make references to porn in sit-coms. We know we broke ground there. It’s broken. We have new things to do with the increased coporatization of media, and the increase synchronization of media that owns newspapers and television shows, and the fact that there are Canadian networks that buy American TV shows, and then they have entertainment shows that they do to pimp the American TV shows. Entertainment Tonight, for example, doesn’t break any scandals. Its all part of the hype machine. It’s all part of keeping people’s faces in the media without being critical. The stuff they point out is not a scandal. They will not end a career and not change the way you look at somebody. We’re trying to do something smarter. I know that it’s terrible to say that we’re doing something smarter because people all of a sudden will start to glaze over, but it’s successful because we speak vernacular. We speak like people.
Liana: There is a lot of inherent humor in this stuff, and some of the things that are interesting are that these are not new phenomenas. Look at, for instance, the circus around a celebrity funeral. You can find instances of that going back to the 1920’s.
Sam: Oh sure. Look at all the mythos around Rudolph Vanlentino’s death.
Liana: So these scandals are not new. We’re trying to place it in a larger context. Hollywood has always been this way. We’re just much more aware of it now because the cycles are shorter. I mean with all the media consolidation that we got, it’s almost gone back to the studio system indirectly.
Ed: Well you know what happens. Apparently all matter gets drawn into a very small center and then it explodes again, like the big bang. That’s what happened with the studios, and I don’t know if it will happen again.
Liana: And then we get massive field technology and massive effect drives and then we get a really awesome video game.
Ed: That’s her video game story.
Liana. I like video games. A lot.
Sam: What are some of the topics that you are covering?
Ed: We’re covering the way that the media will treat a celebrity like a freak and a pariah for years, and the moment their heart stops beating all of a sudden their angels and saints. These are the same people that were assholes to them in life, but now they are weeping. We’re covering how Tupac can have more albums out after he died than before he died, and how that happened and where it goes to. It’s not where everyone thinks. That’s the thing we discovered. We thought we’d know where this information would go, and it went another way. Sometimes people were better then we thought they were. Sometimes they were worse.
Liana: That’s the cool thing that I like about this show. With Formage you had to go hard and you had to go negative. With this we sometimes chased a story and realized we were wrong in our preconceptions. We can use that. There is always a way to turn it around. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Ed: We’re also going to talk about promosexual; celebrities who will use any aspect of their personal life no matter how shameful, use any charity they can exploit, use any political buzz, just to stay relevant a little bit longer. Celebrity religion; the weird religion that celebrities believe in in Hollywood such as Sciencetology and Kabala Centers, and we look at Buddhism, which is not a weird belief system, but the way Hollywood does it is sometimes a bit odd.
Liana: It’s the Diet Coke version of Buddhism.
Ed: Where going to look at court dramas. We’re going to look at body image problems that are projected onto women. It’s always assumed that it comes from men’s magazines, but there is very strong evidence to indicate that they are the smaller end of the problem. I mean you’ve got a skinny, sexy girl on the cover of Maxim. Who’s on the cover of Cosmo? A skinny sexy girl. The stories are Maxim has a picture of a girl, but the story is about how the guy is a butthead, and he does something stupid in motor sports. The stories in Cosmo are “How you can please your man five more ways.” They are very different.
Liana: The beauty industry would lose millions every year if women developed a healthy self esteem. People are injected poisons into their faces in their twenties. That’s crazy. Why? Because someone determined that forehead lines are a bad thing.
Ed: Yeah. Without forehead lines, where would they have come up with aliens for Star Trek?
Liana: But what people have to realize is that what’s beautiful is determined on what is most expensive at any given time. When food is expensive, fuller figure women are in. When cheap food makes you fat, you get the size zero paradigms. I mean, there is no mystery where this stuff is coming from, but it gives people the ability to allow people to go back and watch the stuff they already watch and already like in a more informed and healthier proactive way that allows them to engage or indulge in media without media controlling themselves in the world.
Ed: And we hit all the big names. Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston.
Sam: But are there really stories about these people? I mean there are a million headlines, but no real story.
Ed: Yeah, but that’s the story we’re doing.
Liana: These people aren’t people at this point. Modern celebrities are our society’s version of heroes. Not heroes as in good guys. Heroes as in these larger then life people who went in to do these feats. People don’t realize that the heroes of old were flawed characters and that those stories are very similar to the modern celebrity myths. If you can build people up so that they can fall, and then build them up again, and the story is not interesting if it doesn’t keep going. So you see certain things getting turned into way more then they should be, because sometimes you have to make a story out of very little.
Sam: Let’s turn this around. What do you two like?
Liana: I like video games!
Ed: I liked John Carter. That was a good movie. I like Arrested Development, but that got cancelled.
Sam: Well they are making the movie this summer.
Ed: Yeah, but that’ll be a movie and then it’ll be over. I like a lot of DVDs of old TV shows. That’s mainly what I watch.
Sam: You guys have interviewed so many people. Who were some of your favorite people to interview?
Ed: Stan Lee.
Liana: Stan Lee was so cool.
Ed: Getting to drive one of the actual TV Batmobiles with Adam West was pretty cool. Conversely, going to Burt Ward’s big estate outside of LA…he was one of the biggest assholes we ever interviewed.
Liana: I was impressed by how naturally gifted Christina Aguilera is as a singer.
Ed: Christina Aguilera was always fun to do interviews with. I don’t know how many interviews I did with her, but it was a lot. Christina Aguilera would only do the Much Music Awards if she could get another interview with me. She was always friendly and fun. Hilary Duff was always great to talk to. Avril Lavigne was fun.
Liana: The Black Eyed Peas were fun.
Ed: Yeah, The Black Eyed Peas were fun. You see, people would do an entire day of press where people would be asking them the same question and here I come and I’d ask them not a single thing they were asked all day. [I wouldn’t] put them on the spot but just let them talk as people. It was more fun, and I found the big names rolled with the punches. It was the little people, like Vanilla Ice, who said “I can’t believe I’m talking to a sock.”
Liana: People are not just constructions. It takes a lot of work to get to that level of Hollywood. Just the scheduling is grueling as anything and the media machine is incredibly dehumanizing. You really do need to put your nose to the grindstone and do it day after day after day. As much as we take shots at celebrities, I don’t take that away from the major players. They work hard and they have grueling hours and they are treated far less then people every day of their lives. I tip my hat to that. It’s the machine that we are focusing on and its not necessarily individual players. You just have to go harder for people because their image may be abhorrent, but they may not be completely in control of it.
Ed: Yeah…so….that’s the show.
Ed the Sock and Liana K could be two of my favorite individuals in Canadian media. With fast paced intelligent banter, they not only challenge me cerebrally. I honestly respect their intelligence and the way that they combine media and comedy. And beyond that, they are just good people to know. With years in the business, Ed and Liana have interviewed some of the world’s biggest icons, and seen the highs and the lows of business. That is why they are the perfect pair to bring a program like I Hate Hollywood to television. Although it is only available in Canada now, this is a series that every North American should be watching in order to become self aware of the way that we see media, and to be able to laugh at it, and ourselves. Ed is right. A lot of the media that we current digest is crap, and for better or for worse, we give into it. Ed and Liana are providing a quick and funny way to expose North American media for what it really is. I Hate Hollywood premiers on CHCH TV11 on Thursday May 2nd at 10:30 pm and will be reran on Sunday at 5:30 pm, and for more fun with Ed and Liana, visit http://www.edthesock.com/about/ to access their podcast, videos and more Don’t miss the next stage of the Ed n’ Red revolution.