The Victoria Event Centre has gone classy the last Sunday of the month — extremely classy — thanks to Derwin Blanshard Esq., Victoria’s own raconteur, pundit, gadfly and world-famous talk show host.
The Extremely Classy Sunday Evening Programme is a late-night style, make-believe “world-wide syndicated TV talk show,” complete with a live audience, comedians, musical guests and cheesy commercials. The big difference here is that it’s not really on TV.
Instead, the audience gets to witness both the “on-camera” magic and the magnificent moments during “commercial breaks” where the dysfunctional cast of 20 characters give a glimpse into their turbulent lives.
Derwin Blanshard is a descendant of Richard Blanshard, the first governor of the colony of Vancouver Island. Derwin “is a millionaire, or at least he acts like one,” says producer, director and writer Wes Borg.
“He’s an old-school drinker, cigar-smoking white guy,” says Borg. “It’s not that he dislikes the poor, it’s just that he doesn’t understand their lifestyle choices.”
Derwin is unapologetic, totally self-confident and great with the ladies. He even has a crew of ex wives that are a part of the show. In fact, his first ex-wife Corky — the boozing mother of his rebel daughter — is a regular part of the spectacle. He’s even got two martini-sipping, kung-fu kicking ballerinas, Amanda Gray and Ashley Evans of Ballet Etoile — that pirouette the show to commercial breaks.
The first season had 10 extremely successful episodes, featuring the likes of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Green MLA Andrew Weaver (who played Derwin’s bodyguard); Bob McDonald, host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, Olympic bronze medal rower Mike Lewis and many others.
“Weaver resigned as Derwin’s bodyguard after he was elected to office,” says Borg. “We’ll have to replace him because there’s often an attempt on Derwin’s life during the show.”
Derwin even managed to get Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen to sign a peace accord — live on “fake” TV.
“It was to end the war between Oak Bay and Victoria. We even made a Ken Burns-style documentary about it. The idea was that every year for the last 100 years, because there was no peace, the mayors had to have a bare-knuckle fist-fight in Beacon Hill Park and they were just trying to get out of the fist-fight,” says Borg. “Victoria has this amazing past and it’s not hard to insert something into it. If it seems absurd, it’s not as absurd as the house that a bird owned — we didn’t have to make that up — so when you do something about the war between Oak Bay and Victoria it’s not that absurd.”
Another moment in Victoria’s “history” that was featured was the infamous “Foul Bay of Pigs Explosion.”
“It’s the most fun thing I’ve ever done — ever. And I’ve done some pretty fun shit,” says Borg.
The season premiere features Tal Bachman, performing his global #1 hit She’s so High, as well as restaurateur and actor Howie Siegel, Derwin’s hated actress ex-wife Amanda Lisman, alongside the regular cast which includes Morgan Cranny, Kathryn Popham, Karen Brelsford, Rod Crawford, Paul Oppers, Kelly Hudson, Rian Kelly and more.
The second season kicks off Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). Tickets are $20 or $18 for the overly-dressed. Advance tickets are available at derwin11.eventbrite.ca.
Season 2 Episode 2 is Sunday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m.
Find out more and watch some video clips at derwinblanshard.com.