Wayne and Shuster’s television programs have had a happier fate. Wayne and Shuster’s first television appearances are on videotapes of two shows from the CBS series Toni Twin Time in 1950, two years before the CBC began its television service. The Frank Shuster fonds also contains many examples of Wayne and Shuster CBC television comedy programs from the 1960s to the 1980s, complementing the more than 75 kinescopes of Wayne and Shuster shows from 1955 to 1970 donated by the CBC. The CBC’s own archives in Toronto has master tapes of more recent Wayne and Shuster broadcasts.
Wayne and Shuster honoured by the Masterworks Program. Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster’s “Rinse the Blood Off My Toga” television comedy sketch was named one of Canada’s 12 Masterworks in a ceremony on Parliament Hill on February 21, 2000. The AV Preservation Trust, an organization set up to promote the archival preservation of Canada’s moving image and sound heritage, selected it as a classic of Canadian television. These images are digital frame enlargements, made from the original 1955 CBC kinescope held by the National Archives of Canada. With the permission of the CBC.
Although more of the television programs have survived, the television scripts nonetheless provide a glimpse at how hard Wayne and Shuster worked at their comedy. The scripts show many handwritten changes made by the comedians to fine-tune their jokes. A comparison of the scripts to the broadcasts reveals all kinds of little changes they made, many perhaps at the point of delivering a line before the cameras. The easy conversational tone and apparent ad-libbing of the broadcast shows were really the product of meticulous attention to the script and years of experience as performers.
With time, Wayne and Shuster, who continued to produce comedy for television throughout the 1980s, began to seem a little tired and were supplanted by a new kind of tougher, harder-edged comedy (exemplified in part by Frank Shuster’s son-in-law Lorne Michael’s Saturday Night Live), but the record is there, in the scripts and recordings preserved in the Frank Shuster fonds, of how really very funny these two consummate professionals were.
The Frank Shuster fonds (MG 31 D 251) is largely open for research at
Library and Archives Canada (although some restrictions on access apply
to the correspondence and contracts).
View description in ArchiviaNet Browse through the Frank Shuster Fonds.