Wayne and Shuster’s kids are helping to bring their parents’ classic comedy skits to a new generation

Wayne and Shuster
A Toronto theatre troupe has teamed up with the children of iconic Canadian sketch comedians, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster, to mount a revival of the cultural icons' brand of comedy and introduce it for a new generation. (Photo by Bygone Theatre)

Canadians of a certain age will remember listening to the comedy duo of Wayne and Shuster on the radio—and, later, watching them on television from the 1950s well into the 1980s. The duo met in high school in Toronto’s prewar Jewish neighbourhood around Harbord Collegiate, where they began writing and performing sketch comedy. After returning from entertaining the troops overseas during the Second World War, they joined the television era, with specials pulling in audiences of millions, and worldwide syndication.

Since their fathers’ deaths, Wayne and Shuster’s children have been campaigning to convince the CBC—which owns the broadcast rights to much of their parents’ material—to air it for the first time in years for a new generation of Canadians to enjoy. These efforts have not been successful.

Now, the families are taking a new strategy. They’ve teamed up with Bygone Theatre, a theatre company in Toronto, to mount a live Wayne and Shuster stage show that opens at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre May 25. It will go on a national tour, too. Audiences will get to see high-profile Canadian actors perform such classic W and S skits as “Rinse the Blood Off My Toga” and “A Shakespearean Baseball Game”. Michael and Brian Wayne join The CJN Daily, along with Rosie Shuster and the producers of the play, Emily Dix and Conor Fitzgerald.

What we talked about

  • When the City of Toronto named a lane after Wayne and Shuster, in The CJN
  • For Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, The CJN ran this profile of Wayne and Shuster
  • Watch “Rinse the Blood off my Toga” on YouTube


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.