Shortly after I moved to Canada in 1971, someone from the US asked me, "How big a city IS Canada?"
A couple of years later, I was awarded a prize for having come the farthest to an event because I was from Canada (I'd traveled maybe 900 miles) when there was someone else there from Hawaii (what? a couple of thousand miles?).
Canadians, in general, know a lot more about the US than people from there know about Canada. When I first took my job in Canada, I read a short history book about Canada only to be aghast that
- maybe the US didn't win the War of 1812;
- after reading that book, I knew a LOT more Canadian history than many Canadian residents.
From the WaPo piece:
There’s an American joke that Canada is like a loft apartment over the world’s greatest party. It turns out, judging from McCall’s history of Canadian humor, that they might all be chuckling at us up there. The unique national brand of humor is, he writes, a response to — and way of coping with — the oppressive weight of American culture.
Regardless of whether this perception of culture is correct, it is widely held, especially by producers of cultural events in Canada who resent the competition in Canada from the US. But Canadians have been wildly successful in the US entertainment business. The article lists many Canadian comedians:
The list of famous Canadian comedians is long – really long: John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman (all of whom, like many others, came through the famous Toronto branch of Chicago’s Second City improv club), Leslie Nielsen, Jim Carrey, Rick Moranis, Seth Rogen, Eugene Levy, Samantha Bee, Mike Myers, Mort Sahl, and on and on.
and the list includes only comedians. Canadians are quite proud of other entertainers who also got their start in Canada.
It makes sense that Canadian entertainers would head south... that's where the big market is.