A comedy legend and star of this
summer's blockbuster Pearl Harbor takes a humorous
look at his favorite city.
In 1974, Dan Aykroyd was living the good life in Toronto, doing
comedy at the famed Second City and on Canadian television, and
living above his own bar. "I had a '63 Chevy, flush six, and I had
just bought a police Harley, so I had a beautiful life going
there," he remembers. But then an American comic named John Belushi
came to town to raid talent for a TV version of The National
Lampoon Radio Hour, and neither Aykroyd nor television comedy
would ever be the same again. At the time of Belushi's visit,
Aykroyd was already a Canadian standout stand-up. He had landed on
the stage after being expelled from Catholic seminary and attending
college in his native Ottawa. But while he couldn't resist
Belushi's suggestion to head south to the U.S., he never appeared
in The National Lampoon Radio Hour. Instead, on October
11, 1975, Aykroyd and Belushi raged with other young stalwarts of
insanity in a revolutionary new series called Saturday Night
Live. Aykroyd became the superstar impersonator of presidents
Nixon and Carter, the father of the Conehead family from the planet
Remulak, and, along with Steve Martin, a "wild and crazy" guy. He
also paired up with Belushi in an act they'd hatched on their first
night together in Toronto: the Blues Brothers, a franchise that,
Aykroyd says, "has lived on in two movies, eight House of Blues
clubs, seven records, and Blues Brothers road tours that continue
today." After four years on SNL, Aykroyd moved on to
cinematic comedies such as Trading Places, Ghostbusters,
and Dragnet. His dramatic role in Driving Miss
Daisy won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. This
month he stars in the blockbuster Pearl Harbor, which he
predicts will be "the biggest movie in the history of film." Here's
a weekend with Dan Aykroyd on his first stage, his adopted hometown
LODGING "The Four Seasons Toronto feels like home to me. I've been
staying there whenever I go into the city. I love its spectacular
high-pressure showers. Isadore Sharp, who developed the chain, is
just so smart about what people like. I'm a great
admirer of his. Toronto is where the Four Seasons began. The hotel
is in the middle of everything."
"For your first night, Centro up on Yonge Street is incredible.
They go over to Italy and get Tuscan wines. It's a huge, airy space
with pictures of Italy and great hosts. There's also Sotto Sotto, a
little place that I love, between Davenport and the Four Seasons.
There are lots of celebrity pictures on the wall. Everybody has
been through there because the food and wine are so great. The
owner, Marisa Rocca, and her two brothers keep the place open late.
They serve big platters of grilled shrimp, big bowls of garlic
potatoes with rosemary, and country-style chicken all hacked up and
cooked with rosemary and lemon. Very simple, clean food. There's
great tiramisu and coffee afterward."
"Here's a great night: Dinner at Centro, then, of course, Second
City, the famous improv sketch comedy theater where everybody -
Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Martin Short, myself, and many, many
others - began. It's so popular that it outgrew its original venue
and has relocated to a much bigger, 300-seat space in the
entertainment district, just up from the SkyDome. Have dinner, go
to The Second City, and then go dancing to some live music."