Canadians better thicken up their skin – and no, not only to keep warm in the middle of winter. Rather, it’s a necessary measure to prepare for a deluge of Canuck-themed jokes and jabs coming up tonight in a Canadian-themed episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”
Airing Monday night on Citytv in Canada and CBS in the United States, the next episode in the comedy series travels back in time and place when Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) discovers an old “Behind the Music” style documentary about the Canadian pop career of Robin Scherbatsky (played by a real-life Vancouver native, 30-year-old Cobie Smulders). The episode will also feature Canadian costars like actor Alan Thicke, Rush’s Geddy Lee, Jason Priestley, k.d. lang, “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, NHL player Luc Robitaille, former Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page, and musician Paul Schaffer.
“From the guest stars to the references about Canada, I’m really hoping that Canadians love it,” Smulders told the press, adding that the show will feature a darker side of Robin Sparkles that echoes an early Alanis Morissette. “My greatest fear, and I’m totally sensitive to it, is that I don’t want Canadians to think that I’m making fun at their expense.”
For a show that has stretched one love story into eight seasons (and a final ninth season on its way in 2014), Robin’s Canadian nationality has been a goldmine of comedic filler. “HIMYM” has never held back on ripping on their neighbours to the north, which Smulders and executive producer Chuck Tatham (who hails from Listowel, Ont.) helpedcreate from first-hand experience. Sometimes, even non-fictional Canadian pop culture icons, like MuchMusic, can seem funny without even trying. Most of the time, though, “HIMYM” is very conscious of placing America’s northern neighbour as the butt of the joke, and nothing – not even Tim Hortons – is sacred.
Here’s a rundown of all the Canadian jokes that have appeared on “How I Met Your Mother.”
On the 2006 episode “Slap Bet,” Robin remarks to Barney, “The '80s didn't come to Canada 'till, like, '93.” In the same episode, Barney takes more jabs at Canada’s two national languages (“They speak French there, too? God, that country's messed up") and Canadian pornography (“Trust me when I tell you that their universal health care system doesn't cover breast implants. If I have to sit through one more flat-chested Nova Scotian riding a Mountie on the back of a Zamboni, I'll go oot of my mind”).
Not even our national holidays are out-of-bounds. In 2007, “Slapsgiving” skewered Canadian Thanksgiving with the following interaction between Barney and Robin:
BarneyL “Did you just say Canadian Thanksgiving was, and I'm quoting, the ‘real Thanksgiving’? What do Canadians even have to celebrate ‘aboot’?”
Robin: “Canadian Thanksgiving celebrates explorer Martin Frobisher's valiant yet ultimately unsuccessful attempt to find the northwest passage.”
Barney: “Why are you guys even a country?”
While living in Canada, Robin appeared on a low-budget TV show “Space Teens” along with Allan Thicke (and The Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger). In the 2010 episode “Glitter,” Robin Sparkles and Jessica Glitter do a rendition of “The Beaver Song,” which could be taken in a much more inappropriate way.
Robin turns the tables on Barney in this 2011 episode “Bye Bye Miss Pumpkin Pie,” after she discovers he’s actually one third Canadian, with this zinger: “You have been ripping on Canada since Justin Bieber was knee-high to a snow blower, so now this Canuck’s going to beat on you like the drummer from Yukon Blonde hopped up on Timbits.” Afterwards, she dares him to dress up as a Mountie at a Halloween party.
Canadian ... Everything
In 2009’s “Dual Citizenship,” Barney lets his indignation over the whole idea of Canada loose. There are too many jabs to list all in one place, so here are a few of the best:
“It's not gonna be easy, like the Canadian citizenship test … Question One: Do you want to be Canadian? Question Two: Really?”
“Attention, Canada! I am Barney from America, and I am here to fix your backward-ass country. Number one, get real money. Don't know what board game this came from, but it's a joke. Number two, and this is the biggie, quit letting awesome chicks, like Robin Scherbatsky, get away. Because, guess what, you don't want her, I'm planting my flag in her, if you know what I mean, which you probably don't, and getting the hell outta here, you may now return to being pointless.”
“Those Canadian doctors bandaged me up, put my shoulder back in its socket, and reset my jaw, and they didn't even bill me. Idiots!”
But in 2008’s “Little Minnesota,” in which Robin finds herself trying to fit in at a bar full of Minnesotans making fun of her fellow Canucks, she explodes in this passionate speech before heading off to The Hoser Hut, a Canadian-themed drinking hole:
“You know what, I’m glad you found out, because I’m proud to be Canadian. We may not have a fancy NFL team, or Prince, but we invented Trivial Pursuit – you’re welcome, Earth! Plus, in Canada you can go to an all-nude strip club and order alcohol. That’s right – from Moose Jaw, to the Bay of Fundy, you can suck down a 20 oz. Pilsner while watching a Coal Miner’s Daughter strip down to her pelt. Jealous?! In Canada, people don’t care where you’re from as long as you’re friendly, and maybe loan them a smoke or hand over a donut. I’m proud to be from the Great White North … and I wish I was there right now.”
Well-intentioned though Robin may be, if this is how “How I Met Your Mother” defends Canada, we’re in for a good ribbing in Monday night’s episode.