"People talking in movie shows
—"Boot To The Head"
"And another for Jenny and the wimp!"
—"Last Will and Temperament"
Four-man comedy troupe known for a wild but intellectual style highly reminiscent of Monty Python's Flying Circus, but with a uniquely Canadian flavor. Formed in the late 1970s, the group stayed together until the late 1980s, followed by a reunion in 2004. The core members of The Frantics are Paul Chato, Rick Green, Dan Redican and Peter Wildman, but like their spiritual predecessors, two women can be counted among their unofficial membership -- Mag Ruffman and Carolyn Scott.
Their trademark was off-the-wall and often surreal sketches that took advantage of power of radio and audio recordings to produce imagery that would have been too expensive or simply impossible in a visual medium, such as the tales of their Canadian superhero, Mr. Canoehead, who had had an aluminum canoe welded to his head by a lightning bolt. (Attempts to recreate these sketches on television only reduced their comedic impact.) Their comedy was never dumbed down -- in fact, they respected and depended upon the intelligence of the audience, as seen in their sketches "You Were Speeding" and "Human Race". They were also talented musicians, as demonstrated by their numerous novelty songs. They are perhaps best known for their routines "Last Will and Temperament" and "Ti Kwan Leep", both of which make frequent use of their most famous Catch Phrase, "Boot to the head!"
The Frantics made their mark initially in Canadian radio; their big break was in 1981, when they were given a regular slot on the CBC Radio show Variety Tonight. The following year they got their own series, Frantic Times, which began as a brief summer replacement for The Royal Canadian Air Farce but eventually graduated to its own permanent slot. By the time it went off the air in 1984, Frantic Times ran for 113 episodes of inspired lunacy.
Between 1984 and 1986, the Frantics made several unsuccessful forays into Canadian television, including an unsold pilot (The No Name Show) for TV Ontario, and a CBC series called Four on the Floor that lasted for only a single season. (Four on the Floor would later show up on Showtime in the United States, exposing the Frantics to an entirely new audience.)
After their attempts at television success, the Frantics returned to radio for several short series, including a spoof of Anne of Green Gables in 1987 and 1988's eight-part The Frantics Look at History, after which they appear to have gone their separate ways until their 2004 reunion. In between their radio and television efforts, they released several CDs of their sketches and songs. Several of their tracks got extensive play on the syndicated Dr. Demento radio show in the 1980s, spurring the birth of an American following for the group.
The core members re-formed the troupe in 2004 for a stage show (which was released on CD as The Official Bootleg CD: Live at the Tim Sims Playhouse). This was followed by the Older But Wider stage tour, and several appearances on Candian television. Since then they have focused on live theatre shows.
Not to be confused with any of several bands who also have called themselves "The Frantics".
- Alternative Number System: In "Roman Numerals" a Roman citizen is baffled by the new decimal system.
Customer: How much is "forty-four" in real numbers?
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Mr. Canoehead--Fighter of crime! Defender of good! Brother of Ted!"
- Bait and Switch: Subverted in "Last Will and Temperament", when The Alcoholic brother Hedge is given 3 crates of whiskey and the wine cellar... and then is bequeathed a boot to the head.
- Played straight with Jenny and the Rolls-Royce, Mrs. Mulroy, Mittens the cat...
- Catch Phrase: "Boot to the head!", "Taste gunwale!"
- Comedic Sociopathy: Probably the entire point of "Last Will And Temperament".
- Disgusting Public Toilet: "Gas Station Washroom".
- Finger-Poke of Doom: Boot to the head!
- Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Made by Ed Gruberman in "Ti Kwan Leep".
- Homage: Writers of Ranma ½ fanfiction love referencing, or even incorporating whole, the "Ti Kwan Leep" sketch.
- And YouTube has videos of martial arts classes playing out Ti Kwan Leep. Some versions include an extended slow motion fight scene between the Master and the students.
- Horse Racing: Parodied in "The Human Race"
- Hurricane of Puns: In "You Were Speeding", mixing the terminologies of thought/education and driving/ticketing.
- I Know Kung Faux: Ti Kwan Leep.
- If You Know What I Mean: The "Dirty Words" sketch.
- Jerkass: Ed Gruberman of "Ti Kwan Leep".
- Arthur Durham Muldoon, the late gentleman whose will is read in "Last Will And Temperament," can count as well. Giving the "nasty" family members a boot to the head is one thing. But when the lawyer who read the will and executed the estate, who had nothing to do with the family antics, was given a Tasmanian Devil... to be placed in his trousers... EEUUGGH!!, he arguably crossed the line into this territory. And everyone else who are not in the skit gets a lifetime supply of ice cream... boot-to-the-head flavored.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: Like weld a canoe to a person's head...
- Mind Over Matter: Boot to the head!
- Oh Crap: The second student from "Ti Kwan Leep," who tried to get in the first shot and...
Master: You missed.
- Old Master: "Ti Kwan Leep".
- Passed Over Inheritance: In "Last Will and Temperament:" the late Arthur Durham Muldoon leaves to each of the attendees a boot to the head; he leaves his fortune to "the people of Calgary so they can afford to move someplace decent."
- Pet Heir: subverted in "Last Will and Temperament".
- Place Worse Than Death: "And so I leave my entire estate of ten million to the people of Calgary so they can afford to move someplace decent."
- Refuge in Audacity
- Running Gag: "And one for Jenny and the wimp", in "Last Will and Temperament".
- Sound to Screen Adaptation
- Studio Audience: For their radio shows. They can be heard on many of the Frantics' most famous tracks.
- Summer Replacement Series: Their first radio show, Frantic Times, began as a brief summer replacement for The Royal Canadian Air Farce but eventually graduated to its own permanent slot.
- Superhero: Mr. Canoehead.
- Take That: "The story of Mr. Canoehead is so incredible that only Mormons would believe it!"
- That Poor Cat: Mittens, in "Last Will and Temperament".
- Toilet Humor: "Gas Station Washroom", "A Piece of Pie"
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Appears to be a core value of their comedy.
- The Voiceless: "Bill from Bala" [dead link].
- Widget Series: So very, very wickety.
- Will: "Last Will and Temperament", of course.
- Xanatos Roulette: A burglary sketch on Four On The Floor.
- pronounced "ex-ell-eye-vee"