These days, it seems, anything goes. With the crazy things our president tweets, to the countless abusive acts chronicled during the #MeToo revelations, nothing is shocking anymore. On the comedy side, Sacha Baron Cohen got a GOP lawmaker to drop his pants and shout racial epithets on national television. It’s hard to believe then, that there was once a time when Christopher Guest would nix a joke about “relaxing” a dog before a dog show. According to Catherine O’Hara, the director didn’t think it was funny when she pitched a joke about it for the now classic 2000 comedy “Best in Show.”
Speaking to The New Yorker, O’Hara said it was the only time Guest ever turned down a bit. O’Hara had heard from a friend that dog owners actually do “relax” their dogs before big shows. (Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking.)
“It was based on something I had heard about in real life,” O’Hara said. “So I told Eugene [Levy] this idea, and I said, ‘I’m thinking of doing this…idea, backstage with the dog.’ You never have to run anything by Chris[topher] Guest. We all know what’s supposed to be achieved in the scenes and we do our best. We’re also free to offer anything. But I must have known this was risky enough that I ran it by Eugene.”
When she ran it by her longtime scene partner, he had reservations.
“Eugene said, ‘You might want to run that by Chris before we shoot,'” O’Hara recalled. “I go, ‘Well, he can say no afterwards, he can not use it…’ And Eugene said, ‘No, I think you might want to…’ Never in any shooting of those movies did Chris ever say no, except in that moment. I’ll just say it involved . . . ‘relaxing’ a dog. I kept saying, ‘But I know somebody who does it! ’Cause the dogs are nervous before the show!'”
We may never know what magic O’Hara would have conjured on set that day, but luckily she and Levy are still going strong. Their CBC/Netflix show, “Schitt’s Creek,” written by Levy and his son Daniel, is a huge hit. No dog “relaxation” jokes required.