Tuesday was a warm and sunny October morn, a good day for a treasure hunt. To take advantage, I pointed the Swedish princess down the QEW to the Niagara region in search of comedy gold. My sherpa of silliness: none other than Ron James.

The standup comedy standout is currently shooting the second season of 1 Man’s Treasure for Bell Fibe’s tv1. I know, Bell Fibe — sounds like a bran-based breakfast cereal for ding-a-lings. The cable provider’s tv1 channel, however, is exclusively available to subscribers. I’ve written about Mary Walsh’s series on the same service, The Missus Downstairs.

On 1 Man’s Treasure, a series of short, ten-minute, mockumentary-style episodes, James is basically playing Ron James, treasure hunter. Think The Curse of Oak Island meets Gilligan’s Island.

The first season, Bell Fibe’s biggest draw, was shot in Nova Scotia with Jonathan Torrens directing. The scene shifts to southern Ontario, where Ron scours the Niagara region for lost gold said to have been stolen by deserting soldiers during the war of 1812 and buried somewhere along the banks of the Niagara river.

Adding to the comedy gold is Pat McKenna, who plays Ron’s producer who teams up with him on the treasure search. McKenna, of course, spent 17 seasons as Red Green’s dim-witted but loveable nephew Harold on The Red Green Show.

Turns out James and McKenna go back a long way. They first met in the early ’80s, back when James was part of the main stage at Toronto’s Second City theatre — a class that included Don Lake, Bruce Pirrie, Deb McGrath and others. McKenna at the time wasn’t on stage, he was working the door. (By the end of the ’80s, he graduated to the main stage.)


“My experience in main stage wasn’t exactly a barrel of monkeys,” James confessed Tuesday. “I really didn’t find my voice comedically until I got into stand up and was able to make sense of the world on my own terns without having to filter it through six other people in a politically volatile cast.”

It was fun watching these comedy veterans playing in the woods yesterday, improvising outdoors, doing what they love best. Guest stars in Season 2 will include Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Kim’s Convenience), Jayne Eastwood and Amanda Cordner (Sort Of).

Like his character on the mocumentary, Ron recently reached the conventional retirement age of 65. TV Ron has had enough of working the highways and byways, appearing in theatres across the land. Real Ron loves the stage and the road and goes back to both as soon as Season 2 has wrapped. His “Not Nearly Done Yet” tour swings through the East Coast starting November1 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Other stops include Halifax, Moncton, Charlottetown, Frederickton, Saint John and St. John’s.

The series is produced by Lynn Harvey, created and written by Thomas Conway and directed in Season 2 by Conway and Michael Sykora. Conway, who was a script coordinator on James most-recent CBC comedy special, pitched the idea of this series to Harvey back prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.

“It’s so nice to step into this thing without having to wear three hats, without having to write it,” said James, who wrote and produced throughout the run on The Ron James Show on CBC and several subsequent specials. He was tickled by Conway’s concept for this new series and the way he “married my own ADH-addled absent-mindedness into my passion for treasure hunt. It’s also– the premise of the piece — is really the Campbellian journey; trying to find the sense of purpose.”

It is a road we’re all on, no matter what age. Season one of 1 Man’s Treasure can be streamed now on Bell Fibe tv1, with the second season likely launching early in 2024.

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