15 Minutes with Dan Levy

The Great Canadian Baking Show host weighs in on oven drama, queer characters and working with his dad, Eugene.

Dan LevyPhoto: CBC

In conversation with actor and comedian Dan Levy

You’re already the star and showrunner of the hit comedy Schitt’s Creek. What made you decide to also get involved with a baking series?

I was binge-watching The Great British Baking Show and tweeted that if it ever came to Canada, I’d love to host it. I went to sleep and woke up to a million responses saying it is coming here and I should do it. Then I got the call from CBC asking, “Are you serious?”

Why do you think food reality shows are so popular? 

People like the positivity. It’s a show about trying to improve yourself—the competition is between the baker and their oven. And it’s suspenseful! You might think, How much suspense can you have in a show about baking? But there is high anxiety in finding out if the bottom of your pie has baked all the way through.

How would you rate your kitchen skills today versus before you started the show?

I had no skills going into this, and I continue to have no skills. I have no desire to actually bake. I’m in this to eat the food.

Your first role on TV was as co-host of The Hills: The After Show, where you recapped the antics of a clique of L.A. rich girls. What did you gain from that experience?

I definitely learned to be comfortable being myself in front of a camera, which is more challenging than you might guess. I’d like to think the machine is well oiled at this point.

Who are bigger drama queens: American party girls or Canadian home cooks? 

I would say equal drama, but I prefer this drama. It’s a lot safer.

Schitt’s Creek will air its fifth season in the new year. Why do you think it continues to pick up steam?

Getting on Netflix a few years ago was a big win. Also, there’s this dark political cloud hanging over us right now, and Schitt’s Creek is 21 minutes of joy. The response we got when it first aired was, “It’s really funny. We like it.” But with Trump, it’s, “We need it.”

Your character David is pansexual. Why was that important to you?

Even in 2018 I don’t get to see a lot of stories on TV about queer people, and what I do see is like an after-school special. To have a queer character on our show who’s just living his life, embraced by family and friends and community, and it’s not a big thing or a big lesson—I think that’s more powerful.

Schitt’s Creek also stars your dad, Eugene Levy. What have you learned from him about comedy? 

So many things. Doing the show with my dad and Catherine O’Hara has been a master class. The lesson that really sticks is the idea that great comedy comes from something truthful. Characters can be outrageous, but they also have to be rooted in real human emotion. That’s the connective tissue. People love to laugh, and a lot of what they’re laughing at is seeing themselves reflected back at them.

The second season of The Great Canadian Baking Show premieres September 19.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada