Still Standing in Vittoria

Filming of TV show episode wraps up with night of comedy

Comedian Jonny Harris, left, host of the CBC-TV program Still Standing, spoke to Charlotteville Coun. Chris Van Paassen about the ups and downs of tobacco farming during filming of an episode in Vittoria this week. Monte Sonnenberg / Simcoe Reformer

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VITTORIA – The shooting of a television series in Vittoria this week did not go unnoticed.

Episodes of the CBC’s Still Standing feature host Jonny Harris delivering a comedy routine in the community the program is showcasing.

Wednesday evening, the line-up outside the Vittoria Community Centre started to form at 2 p.m. It extended from the rear of the building through the parking lot all the way onto Oakes Boulevard as show time approached.

“Did you see the line-up to get in?” said James Cowan of the Raptor Conservancy of Canada, one of the local personalities featured in the episode.

“It’s like a third of the town showed up. I saw that and said ‘Uh-oh, the community centre is too small for this.’”

Still Standing 6 Productions is filming the sixth season of the Still Standing series. The program features small Canadian communities that have confronted challenges in ways that have strengthened them and brightened their future.

In this instance, Vittoria represents the tobacco belt and the changes it has undergone since smoking has dropped in popularity over the past 30 years.

Comedy drives the Still Standing narrative. Harris’ stand-up routine featured puns, word play, gentle teasing about regional differences that make places like Vittoria and Norfolk unique, and other familiar devices from the CBC comedy playbook.

“A lot of farmers switched to the patch when they quit tobacco – the pumpkin patch and the corn patch,” Harris said, noting that “Ontario’s Garden” today is big on healthy foods such as apples, ginseng and the like.

“You went from being Don Draper in Mad Men to Hal and Joanne in Body Break,” he said.

Other aspects of Vittoria and area highlighted include ginseng farming, the Norfolk Quilters Guild, the Catherwood and Kiln pizza shop, and the Good Bread Co.

Harris noted that the latter recently relocated to the historic Baptist church on Lamport Street. As such, Harris suggested a number of names for the bakery that – in his estimation – were more “churchy.” Examples include “Jesus H. Crust” and “The Good Loaf.”

Charlotteville Coun. Chris Van Paassen is featured in the episode, which will air sometime in 2020. Van Paassen served as the production team’s guide on tobacco, its history in the local area, and the transition to alternative crops.

“I hope the whole country gets the feeling of the sense of community we have here,” Van Paassen said. “The crew has been spoiled. They’ve never had so much fresh food.”

The hundreds who crammed into the community centre were treated to a full evening of comedy. Also serving up hilarious routines were show writers Fraser Young and Graham Chittenden. The latter resides in Brantford.

Young riffed on the pros and cons of amputating digits to collect insurance benefits while Chittenden spoke at length on how most do-it-yourself renovators don’t know what they’re doing and are, in fact, a danger to themselves and those around them.

“Everybody’s fallen a little bit in love with the place,” Harris said. “Everybody (on the production team) is looking at real estate around here. It’s the perfect survival story.”

Still Standing 6 Production’s permit from the county said filming was to take place in Vittoria from Oct. 12 to Oct. 16.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

 

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