Brendan Preston sits at a computer in his basement level office on Main Street in Whitehorse.
“He does a good impression,” he chuckles.
The local filmmaker is watching a clip of Yukon comedian Stephen McGovern doing his best Donald Trump voice. It’s part of a sizzle reel for a new TV series the two are working on.
The Yukon Comedy Show, a working title, takes comedians from all over Canada and brings them to the land of the midnight sun. The series features stand up, as well as antics.
“It’s kind of like a talk show, mixed with a travel show, mixed with a comedy show,” Preston told the News. The show includes stand up sets from comics like John Dore, Sterling Scott, Dave Merheje and Byron Bertram. The pair also filmed the comics doing Yukon activities, like shooting guns at a range or having a beer at the ‘98, Woodcutters’ Blanket or the Dirty Northern. McGovern hosts the show and interviews.
Both born and raised Yukoners, McGovern and Preston have known each other since childhood. The two have done some short films together in the past, but nothing that has ever seen the light of day.
In 2022, when McGovern started organizing stand up shows at the Boiler Room in Whitehorse, Preston approached him with the idea of filming them.
“[Preston] does film producing and I do comedy so our artistic sensibilities, as cheesy as it sounds, really connect,” McGovern told the News while on a break between wildland firefighting tours. “He’s a good guy to work with. He’s really good at what he does.”
For Preston, this has been a long time coming.
“I’ve been doing film production for the last 13 to 15 years and I’ve always thought it would be cool for me and Steve to work together,” said Preston. “When Steve started doing the Boiler Room, my idea was to piggyback on that. Then we met up and we were like, ‘what can we do other than just film the stand up?’”
The transition from stand up comic to TV show host has not been easy for McGovern. He’s been on camera before as a contestant on a local show called Garage Sale Scavenger Hunt, but his TV experience is limited.
“I f*cking hate watching myself on camera. It drives me mentally insane,” said McGovern.
McGovern said Preston has tried to get him to bring more energy as a host, but that is difficult.
He said he is not easily excited.
“I don’t have that emotion in my body. Unless it’s like, Creed is doing a comeback reunion tour. If I see ‘With Arms Wide Open’ live before I die, I’ll scream.”
When Dore visited the Yukon to be on the show, he gave McGovern some words of encouragement.
“Jon Dore said ‘you just gotta be true to whatever you genuinely are. If you’re disingenuous and putting on a front, people will see right through it.’”
Besides providing viewers some laughs, Preston hopes the series will showcase the Yukon.
“I don’t think it’s everyday that people get to come to the Yukon,” said Preston. “When [the comedians] come up here, I think they have a lot of energy and they’re excited to be here. I think for the most part, it’s been a good experience.”
The show is still in the pre-development phase, with only a handful of episodes shot. Now Preston and McGovern will pitch the show to broadcasters. They feel there may be some interest already and they are hopeful they will get funding to shoot more episodes.
McGovern is hard at work organizing more stand up nights at the Boiler Room. He is also looking to get more comedians on the show. He said he would love to have Russell Peters. He also said that he’s talked to some people from the Kids in the Hall and they’ve expressed interest. So far, all of the comedians featured are men. Preston would like to involve comics who are women. The two also plan to include more Yukon activities, such as taxidermy and rafting.
Dylan MacNeil is a freelance writer based in Whitehorse.