This past weekend I presented my newest panel at Ottawa ComicCon called Inside the Tickle Trunk: Mr Dressup. Had a good turnout of people who were enthusiastic to take a trip down memory lane with me.
The article, written by Andre Gagne, talks a lot about the reunion of two classic Canadian shows; Degrassi, and You Can’t Do That On Television. I’ve included the excerpt that talks about my panel below. To read the full article, follow the link below.
“… It may have taken a bit of time to get to know Barth, Moose and Motormouth Ruddy but everybody knew who Mr. Dressup was. Just thinking back to Alligator Al, the Wise Old Owl and, of course, Casey and Finnegan bring up cherished memories of childhoods by the television.
One of these fans was Del Roba who took a packed EY Centre room for a trip down memory lane with an informative presentation on the series and star Ernie Coombs. It was one that affected multiple generations as it ran on the CBC from 1967 to 1996 teaching kids how to sing, dance and use their imagination over a mammoth run of 4,000 episodes.
Coombs, shockingly not Canadian, we were informed, was originally and understudy to Mr. Rogers. Mr. Dressup certainly shares a lot of the DNA from that popular children’s show while still developing its own cast of characters and guest stars.
Casey, we learned, was left gender ambiguous on purpose so the puppet could be relatable to both little girls and boys, something Coombs would leave a mystery. When asked a typical exchange went something like this:
“Is Casey a boy or a girl?”
“What do you think?”
No matter what gender the child would say, Coombs replied with a warm smile and said:
While usually at the Con giving talks on her other childhood hero, Jim Henson, Roba decided to change it up because of the significance of the sesquicentennial. In a blog post, she shared that Mr. Dressup was “the reason many of us love costumes”. Those gathered with handmade attires from every branch of fandom nodded in approval.
A cosplayer herself, Roba showed off what has quickly become one of her most loved articles of clothing. While looking on Kijiji she discovered t-shirt gold (ok, more like yellow) in an original Mr. Dressup shirt signed by the man himself!
“I had to have it,” she beamed.
Seeing Roba’s eyes light up talking about her childhood hero, hearing those share their favorite gross-out moment from You Can’t Do That on Television or tear-filled Degrassi memories reinforced how shows like these go on to transcend the medium. They become more. They become ingratiated in our culture, part of our lives. We want a furry friend like Finnegan, we went through similar tribulations as the Degrassi kids and, yeah, secretly we all wanted to get slimed…”