Build a wall. Arm the teachers. Rake the forest floor. Do you ever get the feeling that the proposed solutions to American challenges are more of a problem than the complicated issues themselves? That’s the premise behind Big Questions, Huge Answers with Jon Dore, a satirical one-hour special starring the Los Angeles-based Canadian comic. Developed for Comedy Central and set to air on the Comedy Network in Canada early next year, the show falls somewhere between Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America? and CBC Radio’s This is That. On it, Dore proposes outlandish remedies to the real problems of cyberbullying and inappropriate student-teacher relationships. Hoping for answers ourselves, we spoke to the Ottawa native about how the special came together.
IN HIS WORDS
I’ve been working with my friends Dave Derewlany and Adam Brodie for the past 10 years or so. They’re incredible directors who I met in Toronto, where they’re from. It was a long process putting Big Questions, Huge Answers together.
I had a good relationship with Sarah Babineau in New York, at Comedy Central. She’s been a fan. Originally, we pitched a sketch show concept. They liked it, but then they decided sketch wasn’t where they wanted to go. I believe they were thinking that sketch was being watched more online, where as they were trying to draw viewers to the network with more narrative.
So, we came up with an idea for a show that explored contemporary topics and satirized the VICE News deep-dive approach to journalism. We thought of having an arrogant outsider who thinks he has all the answers, but when he reveals his work at the end of the show, it’s clearly flawed. It was a simple pitch. Comedy Central liked the concept.
Then they suggested that instead of us doing a pilot, we should do it as a special. We could get a bit more money, and it would be guaranteed to air. We thought about it, crunched the numbers and were able to make it work.
We decided to explore two topics under one theme, the youth of America. It came together during the early days of (U.S. President Donald) Trump. He’s a strange man who thinks he has all the answers. I’m not playing a Republican. I’m just playing an ignorant person who thinks he has real solutions. We’re seeing a lot of that in the world today.
We had a lot of ideas under the theme of the youth of America, but settled on cyberbullying and predatory teachers. These are serious issues that kept popping up on the news. We’re taking the problem seriously. The solutions, we can have some fun with. We pitch those solutions to real people, who see the error in our ways and the obvious flaws in our work.
So, that’s done. I recently did four shows of stand-up in Alaska. I try not to get too political on stage with American audiences. It’s not that I’m not interested in politics or that I deliberately stay away from it. It’s just that I feel overwhelmed with anxiety when it comes to the internet and Trump and all this aggression. Every time I put on the television or check my Twitter feed, I really feel it.
No matter which side you’re on, it’s just one big fight. It’s a brawl, and I just have to escape it.