Bloody Immigrants land at CBC

Multiculti comedy with comic Ali Rizvi to be tested with a series of web shorts

CBC will use the Internet to gauge how humorous its viewers find the stereotypes of visible minorities.

Starting next month, the network will run a pilot on its website for Bloody Immigrants, in which a group of culturally diverse comedians play up the common traits and perceptions of their heritage.

Creating original digital programming is new ground for the CBC, but its director of Toronto television feels it’s an avenue worth exploring.

‘Getting airtime on conventional TV is really difficult,’ says Val Boser. ‘So if we can draw viewers to the web, that’s the perfect place [to test-market shows].’

Described as a more culturally diverse Kids in the Hall, Bloody Immigrants is the brainchild of producer Bobby Brown, of The Production House in Toronto, who teamed with comic Ali Rizvi to put together the pilot.

Brown, who is of Sikh decent, says the title comes from his father, who would often use the term as his catchphrase when amused by the actions of a visible minority he’d see on television.

While the premise might not be politically correct, Brown is a firm believer in an old saying: If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

‘We all have those uncles and aunts and relatives and quirks that we make fun of on a daily basis,’ he says. ‘The goal here is not to make fun of other people — it’s to make fun of ourselves.’

The pair have just completed a trio of three-minute episodes, which are expected on by mid-July.

In a clip titled ‘Dueling Widows’, two Italian women embark on a battle of one-upmanship by trying to grieve harder than the other at the graves of their late husbands. In another, Rizvi gets in front of the camera to play a South Asian character who, in a bid to promote his video store, reviews old VHS movies alongside an African co-host. Rounding out the three is a monologue put together by Rizvi, in which he offers his viewpoints on parenting and technology to the audience as he takes a walk through the park.

If the project is picked up, Rizvi anticipates that his monologues will become a staple of the show.

Boser says it has not been determined whether will offer all three clips of Bloody Immigrants simultaneously, or rotate the sketches on a weekly basis. One marketing strategy that is being considered is to upload the clips on YouTube.

Boser says it would be premature to guess whether Bloody Immigrants could find its way onto traditional television if it develops a strong fan base in cyberspace.

Nonetheless, Rizvi feels the web is the perfect medium to promote the show and possibly become a full-time CBC project.

‘[Online] clips get passed around like candy,’ he says. ‘If something good is online, everybody will get a chance to see it.’

Once uploaded, Bloody Immigrants will become the second original digital programming offered on the CBC site. The network unveiled it’s inaugural made-for-the-web show last week with The Canadian Explorer, in which a young woman travels the country in hopes of snapping herself out of a rut.