GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY: The CBC TV special – summaries and video clip – view the origin of Gung Haggis Fat Choy and Toddish McWong


The CBC TV special – summaries and video clip
– view the origin of Gung Haggis Fat Choy and Toddish McWong

Robbie Burns Day meets Chinese New Year. 
Two separate cultures. 
Nothing in common. 
Everything in common.

View this video clip from the CBC television performance
special “GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY.”  The 30 minute show was created in
the fall of 2003 on a small budget, and debuted on January 24th, and
25th, 2004.  It recieved two nominations for Leo Awards for Best Musical/Variety, and Best Direction for Musical/ Variety.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – View Clip

Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Chinese New
Year. Robbie Burns Supper. Gung Haggis Fat Choy fuses the two unique
cultural events in a celebration of music, dance and tradition.
Featuring performances by The Paperboys and Silk Road Music.  A CBC Television production.

It was produced by CBC who hired Moyra Rodger to produce and it was directed by Moyra with Ken
Stewart.  It was amazing to join them on the different sets as
they filmed each segment.  I did get paid by CBC as a consultant, and for
use of the television rights for the name “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”

The show blended together stories, music and dance from Chinese and
Scottish cultures to highlight both Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New
Year celebrations.  I was involved in the planning stages, as well
as being filmed for the “Origins of Gung Haggis Fat Choy”
segment which featured me donning a Scottish outfit, adjusting the
buckles of the kilt, and the “flashes” which hold up the socks.

“Only one student volunteered to carry the haggis for the Robbie Burns
Celebration at Simon Fraser University” says the narrator retelling a
short version of how I first developed the “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”
concept.  Check my version of the origins here:

There was a strong belief to ensure that each segment had something
Chinese and something Scottish in each of the music performance
segments.   Also featured was a cartoon segment about poet
Robert Burns, with Monty Pythonesque animation style.  And on the
serious side… a straight reading of Burns’ “Address to a Haggis” by
ex-Scotsman Neil Gray, a non-professional actor but loyal fan of The
Goon Show, and Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners since 2002.

Every segment was short and quick paced.  Information preceded
each musical performance, giving background on not only Scottish and
Canadian culture, but also on Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  Archival film
footage highlighted a segment about the making of haggis. 
Archival film footage of Vancouver’s Chinatown during its heyday during
the neon nightclub years from the 1950’s and 1960’s featuring long gone
restaurants and dinner nightclubs such as the Bamboo Terrace and the
Marco Polo. Visit

A simulated Chinese New Year dinner featured my
bagpiper friend Joe McDonald, my parents, grandmother, girlfriend,
friend Don Montgomery with his two young children, and friends Ray and
Ula.  Typical Chinese New Year food dishes were served as well as
traditional haggis.  Joe wore his full Scottish regalia outfit
complete with bear skin hat, while I wore my beautiful Chinese
jacket.  This was a fun segment to film.  My father passed
out li-see, lucky money red envelops, to pass out to the children and
young single adults.  We actually had four generations
represented.  My grand mother, my parents, my friends, and my
friend Don and his two young children who are actually half-Chinese and
half-Caucasian.  It was a perfect example of what Gung Haggis Fat
Choy is about… blending Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian
cultures and bloodlines.  In fact, all my maternal cousins have
married Caucasian partners, and our family dinners feature little Hapa
children running around laughing and playing together.

were filmed outside in October at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen
Chinese Classical Garden.  This was the first music video ever
filmed in the gardens, which were designed by my architect cousin Joe
Wai.  This was exciting to watch being filmed because bagpiper Tim
Fanning (aka Constable Tim Fanning of the Vancouver Police Department)
and Chinese flautist Jin Min-Pang were added to Paperboys lineup. 
This segment is an instrumental but filled with lots of great
energy.  The premise is imagining what would happen if a Chinese
flautist accidently meets a Scottish bagpiper in a Chinese Classical
Garden where a Celtic-Canadian band is playing… just the normal
Canadian thing in intercultural Vancouver… happens all the time…

is lead by Qiu Xia He and her husband Andre Thibault, who lovingly
refers to her as “the boss.”  They are joined in this segment by
Willy on vocals, Zhimin Yu on Roan, and a Chinese vocalist.  The
segment was filmed on Vancouver Chinatown’s Keefer St.  It was a
chilly November evening when we filmed at night.  One store stayed
open late so we could film using its contents and site as the props and
the set.  The segment also features archival footage of
1950’s/1960’s Vancouver Chinatown with all its neon lights as
b-roll.  It’s a great segment sung in both Mandarin Chinese and

JOE MCDONALD has been the “Official Gung Haggis Fat Choy” bagpiper
since 2001, when the dinner only served 100 people.  For 2002, he
joined me on an invterview on national CBC Radio with host Bill
Richardson.  It was only natural to bring him into the CBC
television performance special.  Joe performs with his band “Brave
Waves” supplemented by singer Sharon Hung,
performing an uptempo
version of Auld Lang Syne.  Sharon is great singing… everybody
asks “Who is the Chinese girl singing?” Joe has become a good musical
friend since 2001, as has Sharon.  Both of them have performed at
many Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners since our first meeting.  Sharon
also performed with me for First Night Vancouver on Dec 31, 2004.

is the Greek-Canadian who sings in Mandarin.  He is a big hit in
Shanghai, and Chinese women literally “scream” a la Elvis at this mild
mannered statistician from Ottawa.  George was a volunteer
translator for the Chinese Olympic team in Athens 2004. In 2005 CTV
made a television documentary about him titled “Chairman George.” In the CBC tv special, Chinese fan dancers from the Vancouver Academy of Dance
in a spectacular sequence which features the dancers and their fans,
while a male voice sings in Mandarin Chinese.  The fans slowly
reveal the mysterious face of the singing White man.

Links for the featured performers are:

  • PAPERBOYS – Contemporary Celtic-Canadian sounds
  • SILK ROAD MUSIC – World Music fusion, led by Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault
  • GEORGE SAPOUNIDIS – Mandarin singing Greek-Canadian
  • BRAVE WAVES: Joe McDonald & Sunny Matharu – bagpipes + South Asian tabla drumming world music fusion

For more stories about the GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY television performance special click on: 

 CBC TV Special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”

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