Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Have yourselves a very Schemenge Christmas!

I would love to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me with this project this year; Rhys, friends and family that have listened to me whittle on, those who have read my blog, liked my Facebook page, spread the word or given me their time to talk to me about their experience of being friends or working with John. Thank you!

This year I have had the huge honour of interviewing many people including leg-ends Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. Some of my favourite stories however have come from crew members - those who worked with John closely behind the scenes and had so much respect for the friendship and warmth they were shown by him.

Of course I can't mention John Candy and Christmas without mentioning Home Alone "Polka, polka, polka" (and I do have stories about that shoot) but I was wanting to give you another Christmas story...

Rick Lazzarini who built and controlled John's ears when he was playing Barf in Spaceballs gave me a lovely festive memory of John.

John and Rick. Copyright Rick Lazzarini 1986
"John called me;

'So, Rick, you're good with mechanical stuff, right?'

'Yeah, I think so!'

'Well, can you come on over to my office? I need you to build something for me…'

With everything he had done for me, the answer was: 'Of course!. No question.'

So I made my way to his Santa Monica office, where he greeted me warmly. 

'I got this thing for my son Christopher. I dunno how to put it together!'

It was a metal tractor, the pedal kind, nicely crafted, solid, but it needed assembly.  

'You got it!' I said, and immediately started in on putting it together. It was for a Christmas present, and right around the holidays, and so John put on some Christmas music. He asked: 

'Do you want some wine?'


So we chatted, drinking wine, he behind his desk with his feet up on it, me sitting cross-legged on the floor, putting Tab A into Slot B and aligning holes so screw C could thread in.

And so…we talked, joked, laughed, sipped, dished, cozy, the red tractor coming into shape as we shared and joshed and enjoyed each other's company. 

I haven't yet met another actor, much less a human being, with John's capacity to fill the people around him with such joy. God bless him. He was wonderful. I miss him so."

It's only the last few years I have been introduced to the many wonderful characters John played as part of SCTV. The Schemege Brothers are two characters created by John and Eugene Levy, they have a polka band and come from Leutonia. Christmas in Leutonia includes eggs, hats on trees, sock swapping and cabbage rolls and coffee (Mmm mmm good!). Please watch this clip to get you in the spirit and have yourselves a very Schemenge Christmas!

So eat, drink, be merry, love those around you and spare a thought for those not as fortunate. Next year I will aim to be a better person, I will aim to love people and life as much as John did.

Lots of love
Tracey x

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