What Former ‘SNL’ Writer’s Suicide Reveals About Canadian TV

Dec 28, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The apparent suicide of Joe Bodolai, a Canadian television producer and former writer for “Saturday Night Live,” shines a light on the darker side of Canadian comedy television, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Bodolai was found dead Monday in a Los Angeles hotel room, as previously reported. His death is being treated by authorities as an apparent suicide, with the investigation continuing.

Bodolai left behind a long blog post, headlined “If This Were Your Last Day Alive What Would You Do?,” which is now seen by many as a suicide note. In it he expresses regret at his decision to leave Canada for Hollywood after missing out on the opportunity to run CTV’s Comedy Network in 1996. Bodolai had been instrumental in launching the cable network, the piece notes.

The story reports: “The veteran writer, who died at 63 years of age after apparently drinking a concoction of Gatorade and antifreeze, came up against the harsh reality of Canadian comedy: You get to be creative north of the border, but you need to go to Los Angeles to get down to real business.

“And that didn’t sit well with Bodolai.”

The U.S.-born Bodolai wrote in the blog entry: “I moved to LA as it seemed I was totally fucked by Canadian television. So … did some great work as a ‘show doctor’ on helping people with their pilots and sales tapes with a great company called LaunchPad. I got to work with Ryan Seacrest and Ray Romano and others. I kept an NBC strip daytime reality series on the air by just basically taking over and taking their material and re-visioning it.”

But his heart remained in Canada. He wrote: ”I love Canada. I love Canadian comedy, the POV, the sweet pomegranate seal meat mixture of it, the lack of mean with the Robin Hood arrows, and now I created the opportunity I dreamed about … gone?”

While Canadians have fared well in the U.S. comedy market, the THR story notes: “Few homegrown sitcoms or sketch comedies manage to connect with Canadian critics and audiences. But for the CBC, which gave early career boosts to Leslie Nielsen, Rich Little and Michael J. Fox, Canadian comedic talent might never have been able to labor in the wings before heading south to find American sitcom and celluloid success.

“If anything, it was the ability of homegrown talent like Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Howie Mandel and Martin Short to parlay their on-stage Canadian comedy roots into starring Hollywood movie and TV roles that got them eventual international stardom.”

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