|This article may be way too Canadian for people who've never heard of Inukshuks, Sidney Crosby, or Timbits. If you don't get it, try a sojourn to the Great White North. In the meantime, let us Canucks relax with our Molsons and laugh at ourselves, eh?|
“George Stroumboulopoulos is the Greatest Canadian! Without The Hour, Canadians would be paying money for a decent Canadian view on world events”
George Stroumboulopoulos (born August 16, 1972) is a Canadian television and radio personality, which is most evident in his role as the witty, somewhat underdressed, but informative host of the CBC Newsworld show The Shower With George Stroumboulopoulos.
For those unfamiliar with the Great Stroumboulopoulos (aka “Strombo”), he has been described as a cross between James Dean and Peter Jennings, A DJ-turned-journalist who puts both the Wolfman and Jim Lehrer to shame. He has proven that it is possible to be simultaneously cool enough to chat it up with Lionel Ritchie and nerdy enough to interview Jimbo Wales in the space of 20 minutes. What a geekdude. Sorry, Strombo - that was a bit of a setUP, wasn't it?
Strombo was born in Malton, Ontario, a love child of hippie parents. He had few problems until the age of six, when he became overly influenced by Anne Murray lyrics. His mother, shocked at his ability to recite "Snowbird" off by heart, tried to make him more hip by forcing him to take disco lessons, which is when he started to rebel. When he said he would prefer to learn ballet he was grounded for a month. Hiding in the dark solace of his room during his imprisonment, he began listening intensely to the radio.
Time Capsule: Times were tough back in the late 70's and early 80's; disco had taken over the music scene, and there seemed little hope for class acts such as Iron Maiden and Boy George. Young George never gave up hope, however, not even when "I Will Survive" hit #1 in Canada. He swore that when he grew up, he would educate the youth of Canada in hopes of a more aesthetic, or at least more rockin', future.
Strombo took radio broadcasting in college because he thought it would reel in the chicks, only to end up on a Toronto sports radio station. He hosted a show called Game, but changed the name when he realized it wasn’t going to help the Leafs win the Cup in his wildest dreams. He re-christened it Dame, but gave it up altogether when he realized it wasn’t going to help him meet the women in his wildest dreams either. Finally Strombo wised up and became a rock DJ, then a video host on TooMuchMusic.
Not satisfied with mere fame, fortune, and the adoration of Bono, George decided to express his intellect, too (despite dire warnings from executives). First, he took on a historical advocacy role on the CBC's The Greatest Canadian, where he had the audacity to get a mere politician voted #1 ahead of the legendary Terry Fox. Then he went prime time with The Shower, which will be described further down the page.
But first, here's Mile a Minute:
Mile a Minute
- StromboisahugeOttawaSenators fanbecausehehasgivenupontheMapleLeafs.
"Somewhat underdressed?" (looks at jacket, opens it up to show the audience) "Would you rather have me come dressed like, Idunno, (snidely) Don Cherry or Something?" (audience laughter). (With a mild tone of disgust for humourous effect): "Underdressed. Can you believe that?" (pauses and looks at audience to a few chuckles) "I'll tell you who's underdressed." (another pause for effect) "Christina Aguilera, that's who."
Strombo’s increasing popularity with women aged 15-39 gave him an idea that would cement him in the annals of Canadian broadcasting history: why not host a program aimed at keeping younger audiences interested in current affairs by combining news with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll? The CBC loved the idea (though they vetoed the “drugs” part, leaving Strombo to sneak in references to illicit substances only when he could pass them off as humour). The show's format has been credited with bringing news to a wider audience, making Canadians more politically aware and subsequently angrier and more depressed.
Strombo interviews both popular musicians (such as Bob Geldof, Michael Buble and Johann Sebastian Bach) and political figures (such as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Joan of Arc). But it is his haunting-yet-adorable sex appeal that has rocketed the show to success. To capitalize on the young female market, Strombo chooses one member of his audience to shower with him at the end of each show. CBC expressed severe concern until they saw the ratings skyrocket, at which point they agreed that such exposure would do him good. Indeed, it won him a Gemini award for uncovering the truth about Mary Walsh (creator of This Shower Lasts 22 Minutes).
The Shower was cancelled at Strombo's insistence after a group of activist feminists kept stacking the audience with 90-year-olds and men in drag.
A new format was used in an attempt to revive the show. Strombo aired segments in which he approached unsuspecting Canadians at newsstands, to talk about current affairs. A typical scene went like this:
George approaches a young woman browsing Chantelaine at a convenience store.
- George: So, what do you think about the situation in Kandahar, eh?
- Woman: The what?
- George: (To camera: Hmmm, that didn't quite work.) Okay, tell me what you think about the environmental policies of Stephane Dion.
- Woman: Who?
- George: (To camera: I guess I should save those questions for Maclean's readers. Now what would a Chantelaine reader want to talk about?) Hey, you look a lot like the woman on that magazine cover.
- Woman (rolling her eyes): That's a new one.
- George: Look, ma'am, you may not know this but I'm George Stromboupoulos.
- Woman: Who?
- George: George Strom - you know, the guy who hosted the CBC Newsworld show The Shower? The guy on T.V.
- Woman: Yeah, right. What you guys will say just to get a fuck. (walks away)
- George: No, really! Look, there's the cameras! Hey, I have no ulterior - damn. Why did I ever call it The Newsstand, anyway? I would be doing a lot better if we'd named it The One Night Stand.
Strombo's top five lists:
- 5. Reasons you don't want to take your new mobile igloo to vacation in southern California.
- 4. Ways to (successfully) ask Avrile Lavigne out after an interview.
- 3. Uses for beaver teeth after the hunting season.
- 2. Things people were arrested for following Grey Cup parties.
- 1. Prayers for peacekeeping forces serving on the Ontario-Quebec border during constitutional crises.
Best Story Ever
So what is Strombo's best story ever?
Well, there was the time he was taking a stroll through one of his favourite places - Yakh, B.C. - and he was recognized by some fans: "Hey, it's that cool guy from T.V.!" Now, that's not an unusual occurrence for George, and he tried to be polite ("Yes, I host a popular show, thanks for chatting, see ya") but they just wouldn't let him go. They said they do their own versions of the show at home, and they'd be more than honoured if he would be a guest with them as the hosts. They wanted to film it with their netcams, and how could he possibly refuse? So he humoured them.
They wanted to do an opening segment in which he jumped into their outdoor pool naked. George was a bit suspicious, but it wouldn't be the craziest thing he ever did to open a show, so he agreed (though, to their disappointment, he insisted on wearing trunks). "Are you going to take the pool cover off?" He asked as they started putting on his blindfold. Blindfold?!? Well, it had to be that way for effect, you know, but they assured him they'd point him in the right direction. He didn't want the nation to think he was a poor sport, did he? "Well, no..." he thought.
So George finally got up the nerve as they finished pulling back the pool cover: he took a breath, and jumped straight it. "I hope it isn't too cold" was his final thought before splashing in, and you know, it wasn't so cold; but that's because it wasn't water, either. It was something very slimy, and George struggled to pull himself to the side, thinking "so that's what that smell was." Finally someone handed him the end of a long, stringy kind of rope, helped pull him up, and gave him a glass of water.
But the drink wasn't water either! It tasted like urine (mainly because it was) and he splurted it out in a long spray the way they sometimes do on television sitcoms, followed by a: "What the #@?%%! are you people trying to do to me!!!"
"Well, we needed something long enough to reach you, Joe."
"Who the hell is Joe?"
...and that was our dear Strombo's
Worst Experience Best Story Ever.
Next week Strombo will get the scoop on Britney Spears from her 17th boyfriend (from back in 2001), plus a feature interview with Joe Clark's ex-secretary-in-law; plus reveal the inside secrets of the Liechtensteinian spy world! Okay, so he's a little hard up for stories and interviews now that CBC has relegated him to the Shopping Network - but if you watch the show Strombo promises you an NHL hockey puck autographed by a genuine National Hockey League stickboy. So tune in next week; for now, that's time. Or that's space. Whatever.