Friday, December 19, 2014

Case Study No. 1752: Shirley Dennis and Verna Howard

Inclusive Holiday Concerts
Two elementary school librarians make sure different religions are reflected in holiday concerts.
Tags: 22 chanukah christmas concert hanukkah has holiday hour kwanzaa minutes ramadan this Comedy This Hour Has Minutes
Added: 6 years ago
From: thishourhas22minutes
Views: 126

[scene opens with a male news anchor speaking directly to the camera]
TUCKER T. BARTLETT: As Canadian schools become increasingly multicultural, more pressure is being put on schoolboards to insure that Christmas concerts are more inclusive.
[cut to a school library, where one female librarian (short grey hair, glasses, blue pantsuit) stands next to another "female" librarian (man wearing a wig, glasses, pink blouse, long black skirt), as "Shirley Dennis, Verna Howard, Elementary School Librarians" appears on screen]
TUCKER T. BARTLETT: [from off camera] We go now to Shirley Dennis and Verna Howard, two elementary school librarians who've taken it upon themselves to make sure every student can feel part of their school's festivities. Hello to you both.
VERNA HOWARD: Happy holidays!
SHIRLEY DENNIS: Multi-denominational holidays, of course!
[cut to a split screen, with the anchor labelled "Halifax" and the librarians labelled "Winnipeg"]
TUCKER T. BARTLETT: So, uh, could you tell us a little bit about your program?
SHIRLEY DENNIS: We have a very diverse student body here, and some parents were upset that the holiday traditions were not reflected in the concerts.
VERNA HOWARD: And we thought if we could just think of some way to include the various different festivities like ... oh, Kwanzaa!
SHIRLEY DENNIS: That's African!
VERNA HOWARD: Or Shawn-ikah, or Ramadan ...
SHIRLEY DENNIS: And then we travel around from district to district, demonstrating how flat-out fun a multi-denominational non-offensive ...
VERNA HOWARD: Christ-light!
SHIRLEY DENNIS: Holiday concert can be!
TUCKER T. BARTLETT: Well, uh, would you mind giving us a sample of your program?
[they both pause, then look at each other and smile]
LIBRARIANS: We thought you'd never ask!
[they rip off their conservative-looking clothes, revealing tight sequin dresses (one black and the other red)]
VERNA HOWARD: Hit it, Marv!
[the lights dim, as they begin singing to the tune of "O Christmas Tree"]
LIBRARIANS: Oh, Hannukah! Oh, Hannukah! How lovely are your candles!
[the "female" librarian starts singing to the tune of "Jingle Bells"]
VERNA HOWARD: Oh, Kwanzaa bells! Kwanzaa bells! Kwan-zing all the way!
SHIRLEY DENNIS: Oh what fun it is to be an African today! Hey!
[the "female" librarian starts singing to the tune of "Away in a Manger"]
VERNA HOWARD: Away in a manger, no crib for a bed! A regular baby lay down his sweet head!
SHIRLEY DENNIS: Could be anyone!
[they both start marching in place, and singing to the tune of "Little Drummer Boy"]
SHIRLEY DENNIS: Come, they told me to Ra-ma-dun!
VERNA HOWARD: Ra-ma-dun-dun!
TUCKER T. BARTLETT: Okay! Uh, ladies ... Uh, excuse me. Could I, uh, could I just stop you there for a second? Aren't you just singing traditional Christmas carols and then sticking in the names of different cultural festivals?
SHIRLEY DENNIS: You got it, Pontiac!
VERNA HOWARD: Pretty clever, we know!
TUCKER T. BARTLETT: [pause] Riiight ... Well, good luck, ladies.
[they both start singing to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"]
LIBRARIANS: We wish you a merry everything! We wish you a merry everything! We wish you a merry everything, and a Chinese new year!



This Hour Has 22 Minutes (almost always referred to since fall 2009 as simply 22 Minutes; the full title is still seen briefly in the show's current introduction) is a weekly Canadian television comedy that airs on CBC Television. Launched in 1993 during Canada's 35th general election, the show focuses on Canadian politics, combining news parody, sketch comedy and satirical editorials. Originally featuring Cathy Jones, Rick Mercer, Greg Thomey and Mary Walsh, the series featured satirical sketches of the weekly news and Canadian political events. The show's format is a mock news program, intercut with comic sketches, parody commercials and humorous interviews of public figures. The on-location segments are frequently filmed with slanted camera angles.

Its full name is a parody of This Hour Has Seven Days, a CBC newsmagazine from the 1960s; the "22 Minutes" refers to the fact that a half-hour television program in Canada and the U.S. is typically 22 minutes long with eight minutes of commercials.

Jones and Walsh had previously worked together on the sketch comedy series CODCO, on which Thomey sometimes appeared as a guest. Mercer had been a notable young writer and performer on his own, touring several successful one-man shows of comedic political commentary.

Salter Street Films produced the series until the 2003–2004 season. Salter Street was acquired in 2001 by Alliance Atlantis, and production of the series was transferred directly to Alliance Atlantis in the twelfth season. Since 2005, Halifax Film, a new company formed by Salter co-founder Michael Donovan, has produced the show.

Recognized with 24 Gemini Awards and 11 Canadian Comedy Awards, 22 Minutes is broadcast on the CBC Television network. It is taped before a live audience in Studio 1 at CBHT in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The series, which originally aired on Mondays for several seasons and later on Fridays, currently airs Tuesdays at 8:30pm on CBC, after the Rick Mercer Report.



He is considered one of Canada's best and brightest comedians – popular for his stand-up character monologues and notorious for his flawless impersonations. From Stuart McLean to Harry Potter's Severus Snape, no one is safe from Gavin Crawford's sharp ear and keen eye.

Best known for his work on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the comic chameleon's enduring characters include nerdy teen correspondent Mark Jackson; naive, cardigan-wearing librarian Verna Howard; and cynical high-fashion designer Uwe Meyer.

Crawford has appeared at the Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, St. John's and Halifax comedy festivals, Just for Laughs, and the Aspen Comedy Festival. He has been honoured with numerous nominations and wins for his work as a comedian, actor and screenwriter, including several for The Gavin Crawford Show. Most recently, Crawford received five Canadian Screen Award nominations for Gavin Crawford's Wild West – a hilarious mockumentary in which he plays six quirky Albertans.

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