Canadians who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s will be familiar with Ed the Sock, the foul-mouthed puppet and VJ of now-defunct music video channel MuchMusic. Known for his acerbic mockery of celebrities and videos, Ed could always be counted on to tell it like it is.
Largely absent from the media landscape in recent years, Ed and his real-life depictor, Steven Kerzner, along with his writer-producer wife Liana K., are looking to make a comeback in a big way. But it’s not just about Ed the Sock — they’re looking to start an entire TV network from scratch.
Called the FU Network (or FUN for short), it lives on its own YouTube channel, and resides at funetwork.tv for viewing online. All content is distinctly Canadian. Kerzner has started up an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to keep the current series going and to develop new ones, and as of this writing has reached 18 per cent of his $35,000 goal.
So why now? In a society absolutely overwhelmed with streaming and viewing options, what makes Kerzner so certain that FUN can work?
While Kerzner doesn’t seek to replicate the MuchMusic model — which often featured VJs (video jockeys for those unaware) out on the streets of Toronto, candid interviews with music stars and celebrities and overall a more grassroots approach to programming — he plans to use elements of it. He’s also banking on society’s nostalgia obsession to attract eyeballs.
“What is nostalgia, really, but realizing things we have lost and still value in our lives?” he asked rhetorically. “I call it the Facebook effect — we remember a friend, check their Facebook page, and if they seem in a good place, we may rekindle the friendship; if not, we move on. Same with media figures and shows that we had a relationship with. In the case of Ed the Sock, the relationship ended abruptly while he was still popular with high viewership. Same with MuchMusic, which changed due to reasons unrelated to viewer interest. So we’re reuniting with Canadians.”
Some of the planned FUN shows will include Ed, like the classic Fromage, but not all. There are at least 26 segments either in production or development, including the already-live Shooting the S**t (celebrity interviews done exclusively in public bathrooms, featuring Canadian celebs like George Stroumboulopoulos) and Lady Bits, an exploration of the role and depiction of women in video games, starring Liana K.
On the Indiegogo page, FUN is described as “a network that feels like you’re hanging out with friends. Kidding each other, laughing together, disagreeing but with respect and friendship — an internet oasis that can make us forget the world for a while and indulge in irreverence and humour with on-screen personalities who feel like friends.”
In other words, it’s attempting to capture the MuchMusic feeling without actually being MuchMusic, and is branching out into multiple topics far beyond music. Shows like Crazy Talk, which examines the notion of mental health, or Black Coffee, a segment dedicated entirely to the black experience in Canada and the world, seem to indicate that FUN isn’t just fluff.
Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thrown his support behind it, writing a letter to FUN.
“FU Network isn’t looking back fondly, it’s taking the foundation of something we loved and building on it with modern tech and sensibilities,” said Kerzner. “With the interactivity possible now, we can actually fulfill the potential of the MuchMusic-style concept and expand it better than was ever possible before.
“We have people participating in shows using their phones from wherever they are in the world. That used to take a satellite truck and a lot of planning. The world is a lot smaller now, and a network that feels like a village is more timely than ever.”