: Mike Myers - International Man of Mirth; Austin Powers Creator Mike Myers Explains to Peter Elson How His Liverpool Parents Helped Shape His Humour

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), July 27, 2002 | Go to article overview

: Mike Myers - International Man of Mirth; Austin Powers Creator Mike Myers Explains to Peter Elson How His Liverpool Parents Helped Shape His Humour


Byline: Peter Elson

WITH irony now the dominant currency of mainstream comedy, Mike Myers' time has really arrived.

The pint-sized comedy actor hit the big time with his Hollywood film Wayne's World and has cemented his international fame with the Austin Powers 1960s spoof spy movies. After a three year gap, Myers returns, velvet suits and Michael Caine specs intact, with Goldmember, the third instalment in the smash hit series, opening this week.

The irony is that though the films' humour is broad, the essential, ironic gag that audiences must latch on to is that they spoof the 1960s as much as the spy genre. Yet Myers' nerdy time-travelling super spy has become one of the most popular celluloid comic characters in the world and he can pick any star to play the cameo roles.

The fact that so many big names are now clamouring to appear in these films remains a mystery to Myers, who never thought people would get the Powers joke. ``I was blown away when the first two films found the audience they did. The only reason we decided to do a third film was to honour the fact that people followed us through one and two.

``I really didn't know if anybody would get the joke. I thought it was funny, but I didn't know whether anybody else would because this stuff is coming direct from my childhood.''

Myers says his humorous alter ego only came about after the death of his much-loved father. ``My father died in 1991 and I was devastated by that. I was driving home from hockey practice and I heard the song The Look of Love by Burt Bacharach. Rays of great feelings about my father came out and all the great movies that he forced me and my brothers to watch inspired me to write the first movie in three weeks.

``It's an amazing journey for me because it has been therapeutic to say the least. Your heart is broken and you are able to make stuff of it.''

Although born and brought up in Canada with his two elder brothers, Myers, 39, firmly places his sense of humour as being British in general and Merseyside in particular. His parents, Eric and Alice, came from Old Swan in Liverpool. When his father, a former Army cook, lost his job as a rubber technician at Dunlop they emigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto.

He credits his parents for providing him with a love of British comedy, which he says was the inspiration for Austin Powers. The family home was a sort of Liverpool-in-Canada household where everyone spoke like the Beatles and used groovy 1960s English slang. His father watched English First Division soccer matches on an obscure television channel and did the pools every Saturday.

``I grew up watching shows like Benny Hill, Monty Python and The Avengers. We watched Bond movies and all the Peter Sellers films. I remember my dad would wake us in the middle of the night to watch comedies on the TV.

``Our favourites were those guys and Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Somehow we were brought upwith a silly, but prized sense of humour. If it wasn't witty, he'd say, `that's not bloody funny!' and we'd have to try harder.

``My dad was a guy who loved to be silly. When I would bring friends home to play table hockey in the basement, if my dad didn't think they were funny he wouldn't let them in the house.

``Until the age of four I thought that John Lennon was my father as nobody talked like that in Canada. But then Canada is an odd place, kind of like the English but not, kind of like America, but not. It doesn't have a tremendously strong identity. ``You would never go, `You know what, I feel like some Canadian food tonight'. The number one food in Canada is pizza.''

If Myers' father was his inspiration, his mother was the driving force. A London-trained actress, she would allow him out of school to attend auditions for TV adverts, and encourage him from the wings. …

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