YCDTOTV.com caught up with Eugene, cast member from 1982-1985, and below is what he had to say about his run on the show.
How did you get the job on You Can't Do That On Television?
I was in grade 5 and a paper was sent home from school about "TV Acting Courses". I was into acting at the time - school plays, etc. - and so I went to register on the appointed evening, along with my brother (Roddy) and my mother. The registration was from 7:30 to 9:30 or something, and we got there somewhere in the middle, only to find that the classes were full and registration closed. On our way out of the building, we happened to be speaking Spanish, which was odd. My father comes from Ecuador so we spoke Spanish with him, but my mom is Canadian, and we rarely spoke it when we were just with her. In any case, a guy with an English accent walked up to us and asked us if that was Spanish and we said yes. He introduced himself as Roger Price, and said he could use a couple of Spanish-speaking kids on the show, so he got us into the classes with Carol Hay. A few months later I got a call asking me to go to CJOH, and that was that.
Describe what it was like to be involved in such a popular TV show?
To tell you the truth, I never thought of it as a popular TV show. I didn't watch much TV myself and had never even heard of it before I was on it. It felt pretty cool just being on any show though, when you're 10 - 12 years old, and every once in a while someone on the street would recognize me, which was neat, but seemed pretty weird to me for some reason.
What is your first memory of YCDTOTV? Your best? Your worst?
Two of my first memories are also my best and worst. Best first. I was doing a scene where my back was to the camera and I was talking to Lisa. She kept finishing my sentences and I couldn't figure out how she knew what I was going to say. Finally, she said "It's written all over your face," and I turned to the camera with a perplexed look, revealing my script lines written across my face. The "best" part of it was that after a few takes, Geoffrey wasn't happy with my facial expression. He said something to explain how I was supposed to look, I did it, and he came out beaming saying that was exactly what he was looking for. No big deal looking back on it, but starting off on the show, that gave me a real confidence boost.
My worst memory isn't really about the show, it's about my mom. Of course the read-throughs after school, and taping pretty much all weekend meant I was away from home quite a bit, especially since I was also on my school's volleyball team and in the school musical at the same time, which also were demanding my time. So my mom was a bit worried about me burning out or something. So one night she came to pick me up and we were running a bit late - it was about 10:00 p.m. We still had some shots to film and my mom was getting really upset because they were keeping me so late. I don't remember the details, but she caused somewhat of a scene with Roger about how they could expect 10 year-old kids and parents to just wait around in order to satisfy their adult schedules. It was really embarrassing, even though I kind of agreed with her.
Were any of the other kids on the show also your friends off-camera?
To tell you the truth, I didn't have much to do with the other actors on the show "in real life" just on set or waiting around for your cue, watching TV, etc. But everyone got along fairly well. I always kind of felt like the odd one out in some ways - the other regulars seemed to be buddies too and I wasn't really. Like I said, I had other stuff going on, other friends, etc. The person I spent most of my time with from the show was Marjorie Silcoff while she was on. She and I were in our school play together as well. I was always impressed by Les and Abby though - how they could change characters so easily, and be so patient and easy-going with us kids.
Please describe the process for taping a show. How many days? How long were the shoots, etc?
It actually took me a while figure out how the show was made, because we were always working on about 4 or 5 at a time. The reason was that they'd set up the set for a particular location, say Barth's for example, and then shoot all the scenes for several shows there at the same time. Then they'd set up a couple more sets and so on. So it took about a month to get all the scenes for these various shows taped. During the week, we'd go to read-throughs at CJOH at 4:00-6:00 or so I think, about 3 days a week. Then Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday, we'd shoot. For me, a lot of that time was just sitting around waiting for a call, because I was rarely in more than one or two of the shows being shot at any one time. And they never did seem to be able to stick to any kind of schedule, so if there ever was one, everyone seemed to pretty much ignore it. That was the boring part of doing the show.
What were your favorite sketches to do?
For some reason, my favorite sketches were the locker scenes. Quick and easy, I guess.
Was this true about your relationship with Roger Price? How about Geoffrey Darby?
I never had a problem with either Roger or Geoffrey. My mom did though, a bit.
What is your opinion about the general direction of the show after you left?
I have no idea, I never watched it, except a couple of times when I was on. I haven't even watched most of the ones I was on.
Who was your favorite cast member (acting-wise and to work with)?
I liked working with Les of course. He always had some quip no matter what happened, that kept us all laughing and up-beat. As far as the kids go, I'd have to say Vanessa and Marjorie.
Did you hate the slime scenes?
Not at all! I didn't do many, so I always looked forward to it. What 11 year old wouldn't want to be covered with icy cold green goop?
Why do you suppose the show had such a small Canadian following seeing that it was produced in Canada?
I don't really know. I'd like to say that it was because Canadians are smarter than Americans - ha ha - but I don't think that's true. I guess it's just that Nickelodeon had the children's programming market all wrapped up in the States, and CJOH is a more general station, so not so many kids and parents would turn to it automatically, as opposed to the other channels, to see a kids show.
What have you been doing since your time with YCDTOTV?
Lots, but I'll spare you the details. I went to high school at Glebe in Ottawa. Met the love of my life. Went travelling around Europe and then Ecuador for a year. Went to university at McGill (history and poli/sci, then one year of Education). I had a daughter, Sarah, who's now five. I went to teach up in an Inuit community in Northern Quebec, then came back down South and got a teaching job in Aylmer (this year I teach grade 6). I had another child, Martin, who's now two, and that's about it. Being a father's the best thing in my life, of course, but everything's going pretty well. I also started stone carving when I was up North, and have continued with it since. I just participated in my first show last weekend!