Steve Smith is Red Green, but that fact can get a little confusing.
Upon answering the phone for this interview, Smith says Red Green is “probably trying to fix a plumbing thing with duct tape” and that “he’s not too excited about answering the phone right now.”
Red Green is Smith’s character, though – Smith often introduces himself as “Steve Smith from the Red Green fiasco” – and he’s had a lucrative career: a 15-year Canadian sketch-comedy series, “The Red Green Show,” that culminated into stand-up tours. The show, which parodies outdoors and home improvement shows, still airs in the U.S. on PBS.
Smith’s third and latest book, “Red Green’s Beginner’s Guide to Women (for Men Who Don’t Read Instructions),” is also on the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour 2014 Shortlist. “A lot of the advice is ‘Here’s what I did, and it didn’t work, so don’t do this,’ ” Smith said.
On Monday, he will bring Red Green’s humor to the Century II Concert Hall. The tour, “How to Do Everything (From the Man Who Should Know),” is based loosely on the 2011 book of the same name.
The material will be different from his last show. A few highlights: For the first time since becoming Red Green in 1990, Smith will explain why he fixes things with duct tape, and he will bring slides that are “marginally more attractive than myself” so that the audience doesn’t have to stare at him the whole time. Some of the advice from the book will also end up in the show.
This will be roughly the halfway mark for his 32-city United States tour. “Everywhere I go, I keep meeting the same guy,” Smith says. “He’s kind of like me: generally a person who works hard but is not necessarily blue collar – I met some people working on a particle accelerator, so it’s a wide range of economic backgrounds – and has a resilient, self-sufficient attitude.”
So far, he’s encountered a younger audience than in the 15 years he hosted “The Red Green Show,” which aired from 1991 to 2006. He credits the Internet because the episodes are available on YouTube.
Smith considers himself a bit of an anomaly: His humor is neither obscene nor angry. “I really shouldn’t have a career these days,” he says.
“I think the audience knows I’m all wrong, and they kind of like that,” Smith says. “The other thing is if you like what I’m doing, there’s hardly anywhere else to find it. I’m the only guy selling it.”
Granted, he’s playing to a more Midwestern fan base and not New York or Los Angeles. The Midwest is similar to Canada in that people “have their feet on the ground, they work hard, and they don’t take themselves too seriously,” Smith says.
Perhaps the good reception is because the audience has a Red Green somewhere in their family, Smith says. Maybe it’s a father, an uncle, a son.
And if they don’t have one in their family, it’s probably them, he adds.
Smith says that all of Red Green is in him, but parts of Smith aren’t in Red Green.“It’s like I’m carrying this baby, but I don’t think he’ll ever be delivered,” Smith says. “We’ll always be together.”