Toddish McWong meets Peter Mansbridge: Gung Haggis Fat Choy on CBC TV's The National

Peter Mansbridge meets Toddish McWong.  Gung Haggis Fat Choy on CBC TV's The National. Picture of me with Peter to come soon…

Roland has already provided a table of contents for new readers listing the essentials of Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  The topics on the left column is something I am just learning to use, it will become more complete as the weeks progress. 

The film clips: 

We filmed some shots last Monday – myself with accordion and lion head, performing music with Joe McDonald on bagpipes, and Harish Kumar on drum + eating haggis wun tun and haggis spring rolls at the Floata Restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown.

Also shown were clips of a musical variety special titled “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” – yes, CBC TV in Vancouver bought the rights from me to use the name, and produced a stunning multicultural tv special.  It was a greatly entertaining 30 minute show produced by Moyra Rodger of Out To See Productions, that had Monty Pythonesque touches with cartoon sequences.  It was so good that it was nominated for two Leo awards for best TV work in BC:  Best Musical/Variety and Best direction for Musical/Variety.

Rae Hull, CBC TV regional director, was the executive producer who invited me in for a meeting in July 2003 and said, “Todd, I think it's time to take Gung Haggis Fat Choy up to the next level.” And voila!  A script is written, studios are booked and music videos are made.

Anyways… from the TV special, clips featured The Paper Boys, Vancouver based celtic folk-rockers, Chinese flautist Ji Min Pan, bagpiper Tim Fanning – all shot in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Gardens in Vancouver.  Other segments not shown on The National featured Silk Road Music, George Sampoudis, and Joe McDonald's band Brave Waves, as well as the origins of Toddish McWong and Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

The Chinese New Year Dinner featured Joe McDonald in full kilt dress with bear skin hat (or is it ostrich feathers), singer Ula Shines joining my parents, grandmother, and friends.  That was a shot of me holding a plate of a large haggis.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy, the tv special, was proposed to the Toronto CBC head office to run nationally for January with an expanded format, but sadly it was turned down.  If Canadians would like to see the award nominated Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2004 tv special, then please call your local CBC station and ask them to play it for Robbie Burns Day on January 25th, or for Chinese New Year which will fall on Feb 9, in 2005.

It's good.  It is so good, that I believe all Canadians will absolutely love it.  Everybody I spoke to had real positive things to say about it, and it made them LAUGH!  It really captured the spirit of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners.  It pokes fun at stereotypes, it shows how Canadians borrow and cross cultures easily.  And most importantly, it shows some of the history of Scots and Chinese cultural traditions in Canada, as well as how we can laugh at ourselves (very important Canadian trait).  The next version would push the boundaries further… We came up with so many great ideas, that it is a shame not to see them realized. Imagine Sara McLachlan performing with her husband/drummer on Indian tabla drums… Loreena McKennit performing with Silk Road Music… hmmm… more dreams….

It was good to get the Gung Haggis Fat Choy voice on national TV.  It was a lot of work, I think we did about 3 hours of filming etc at Floata Restaurant last week in addition to about 4 hours in conversations, meetings and e-mails.  All for about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes on air.  I will try to put a transcript on this blog – hopefully for tomorrow, as well as answer questions that readers may have.  Special thanks to National producer Sarah Quadri and reporter Eve Savory for all their hard work.

Oh – before I forget…  My kilt is made by Terry “Bear” Varga of Bear Kilts.  He started up his company only two years ago.  It is a synthetic polyviscose material – light, inexpensive and perfect for dragon boat paddling.  The tartan is called “Maple Leaf” – we are adopting it as the official Gung Haggis Fat Choy tartan.  And… instead of buckles, Terry uses… (dare I say it?)… velcro!

How is Gung Haggis expanding?  In every way possible, and never before imagined!

We will be featured at First Night Vancouver at the QE Plaza, Dec 31.  Performing with me will be Silk Road Music's Qiu Xia He and Andrea Thibault, Dragon River Shadow Puppet Theatre's Karen Wong and Zhongxi Yu, and hopefully Battery Opera's David McIntosh and Lee Su-Feh.  We promise a night full of family entertainment, featuring audience singalongs, storytelling, music and fun.

We will be at the Vancouver Public Library on Jan 17, Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night – hosted with my friend Ariadne Sawyer and Alejandro Mujica – featuring poet Fred Wah, bagpiper Joe McDonald, Dugald Christie, and Shirley Sue-A-Quan.

So… thanks for tuning in and checking our blog.  Please make your comments and we will do our best to address them and answer your questions.

Slainte, Toddish





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