What is the Canadian EGOT, and Why is it the Two-Can-Ju-Do?

June 14, 2021

With the Candys (or Canadian Screen Awards) in our recent rear view, and the 50th edition of the Juno Awards just days away (now with the kind of excellently designed trophies that they should have had all along), it’s a pandemic-pushed Canadian Awards Season! Even with the pandemic with its many difficulties assuring an especially low-key award season in 2020 and 2021 the nice round number belonging to this year’s Junos makes one wonder… does Canada have its own version of the EGOT?

Let me be one of the few to venture the idea: Yes.

Two-Can-Ju-Do.

Your follow-up question is likely, why I’m talking about a martial art you learn to protect a box of Fruit Loops, but don’t worry the inherently ridiculous naming convention for this series of awards is part of the fun. Let’s just make sure we’re all fully caught up by quickly explaining what an EGOT is.

The Atlantic did a fantastic job explaining this in 2016, so if you haven’t reached your article limit there then give it a full read, but suffice to say Philip Michael Thomas was all about manifesting his dreams into existence. He was riding high playing Tubbs on Miami Vice and so he created an acronym that would not only outlive the outsized cultural cache of Miami Vice in the 80s, but sadly for Philip Michael Thomas would also outlive his own outsized dreams. A friendly reminder that even before it was a thing, The Secret doesn’t work.

EGOT is an acronym that stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, the four “major” entertainment awards in the United States, one in TV, Music, Film, and Theatre, respectively. Philip Michael Thomas had EGOT engraved in a gold necklace that he then wore for several years, though never won even one of those awards. A few decades later though, it inspired a gag in a 2009 episode of 30 Rock, a gag that not only had legs for future stories within the show but also for entertainment writers, bloggers, and Wikipedia editors.

No Canadian has ever won the EGOT, though Christopher Plummer came the closest, having won the acting triple crown of an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony, while never winning a Grammy (as you’ll notice, an especially tough thing for actors to accomplish, no matter the country of origin).

As Leah Collins of CBC Arts noted in her 2018 article about the possibility of a Canadian EGOT, “If the whole concept of an EGOT began because some dude wanted to make himself a 24-karat vision board, then the Canadian version can exist, too.”

Thus, “Two-Can-Ju-Do”. Let’s unpack that. 

Canadian EGOT from left to right: Two Canadian Screen Awards, a Juno Award, and a Dora Award.

Two Candy’s, or Canadian Screen Awards. Why two? The Canadian Screen Awards celebrate the best in Canadian Film and Television (like the MTV Movie and TV Awards before it was cool!) which makes them the equivalent of Canada’s Oscars AND Emmys. Prior to 2012 the Canadian Screen Awards (something that Norm McDonald and I are still trying to convince you to shorten to Candys as a nod to Canadian TV and film icon John Candy) were the Genie Awards for film, and Gemini Awards for TV, and thus have a dual history that branches back further than their recent rebranding. Since the EGOT is a four-award honor, a true grand slam of entertainment, to win the Two-Can-Ju-Do you’ve got to have both a Film AND a TV Candy, or their past equivalent.

For the film portion this includes prior winners of the Canadian Screen Award for film since 2012, winners of a Genie Award from 1979 to 2012, and winners of Canadian Film Awards from 1949 to 1978 (yes, the film award is secretly our longest-running award in its many iterations).

For the TV portion this includes prior winners of the Canadian Screen Award for TV since 2012, and winners of a Gemini Award from 1986 to 2012.

And the “Ju” stands for Junos? Naturally.

The Juno Awards are an easy stand-in for the Grammys in this thought exercise. We’re going to include the RPM Magazine Golden Leaf Awards that ran from 1964 to 1970 in this as well, as they were the precursor to the Junos and the more winners, the slightly better chance at a crossover. Just like the Grammy award portion for most EGOT will prove the most difficult win. This difficulty is only compounded thanks to a lack of Spoken Word Award for actors to shoe-horn themselves into, or a Theatre-associated Best Cast Album for composers to double up on.

The Juno Awards do have an award for Comedy Albums, but the only problem is that between 1979 and 2017 it was awarded four times, twice to Bob & Doug McKenzie. (Yes, Dave Thomas is still criminally underrated.) The Juno Award for Video of the Year could also allow for some crossover.

Speaking of Theatre… what about “Do”, though?

Tony Awards don’t have a good one-to-one in Canada. Shockingly the Mirvish Awards aren’t broadcast every year on the CBC, in honor of noted theatre booster "Honest" Ed Mirvish. What Canada does have however, is a lot of consistently awarded regional prizes. As Leah Collins also did in her wonderfully helpful 2018 article, I will show my regional bias and go with the Toronto-based Dora Mayor Awards, with added hope that it will have greater cross-over with the communities involved with the film and TV awards, if not the music awards as well (though the Dora’s opera awards leave open possibilities). Also, a big plus for the Dora Awards is a well managed database on their website that will make the next part of this exercise a whole lot easier. Finding out if anyone has ever won the Two-Can-Ju-Do. Never underestimate making it easy to find winners and nominees!

So, has anyone won the Two-Can-Ju-Do?

That’s the all-important question, initially asked in the title to this article and finally answered a thousand words later. To put it bluntly: No.

Goodnight, everybody!

...

Wait, wait… no, not yet! Let’s unravel this because it’s just as much “not yet”, as it is “no”. Let us look at who is closest, who is one win away from becoming the first winner of Canada’s Grand Slam of Entertainment Awards, while also celebrating the under-recognized winners of a Triple Crown of notable wins within their respective field.

If you look at the sixteen EGOT winners, which of them would have won a Two-Can-Ju-Do if only the categories of the Canadian awards were available? Rita Moreno (with the power of kid’s albums), Mel Brooks (by the power of music videos, and long-form music video is what the Juno’s short-lived DVD award should have been since the beginning), Mike Nichols (proving the power of a long-running Comedy award for your Music show), Whoopi Goldberg (because host awards are important to actors getting all four awards), Andrew Lloyd Webber (based off of his non-theatre Grammy), Tim Rice (because Aladdin won Song of the Year?!), John Legend, and Alan Kenkin (both proving that coming at this as a musician shooould be easier). Half, eight of the sixteen, keep their EGOT. This includes the two theatre-loving directors who are comedians, three song-writing composers, two generational performers who worked on the right variety/talk shows at the right time, and John Legend who turned an impressive career in the music industry into perfect storm of projects and awards for those projects in the past five years. Timing is everything (Lights music video?). Just ask Philip Michael Thomas.

Final ground rules: Lifetime Achievement Awards, or other non-competitive awards, do not count towards a Two-Can-Ju-Do. If Barbra Streisand isn’t an EGOT winner (she isn’t) then we can’t let that fly here. If it happens, Canadian Screen Awards for Digital Media projects will count towards the “TV” quarter of this Grand Slam of Canadian Entertainment, think of them as our version of the totally viable Daytime Emmy portion of an EGOT.



R.H. Thomson
R.H. Thomson garnered three of the four awards in six years, and then won a second TV award and technically his first “Canadian Screen Award” thirty years after that third award. He is also the first performer to win Canada’s Triple Crown of acting.
How could R.H. Thomson win a Juno Award? Spoken Word Album Award needs to be instituted, no? Audio Books have never been bigger, and there’s even potential for a Podcast Award. The chaotic side of me also wants the Fan Choice Award to be open to write-in choices, and for Anne with an E stans to take it over in the name of R.H. Thomson.
 
Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 1983: Best Supporting Actor – If You Could See What I Hear
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 1989: Best Actor (Drama or Mini-Series) – Glory Enough for All
  2. 2019: Best Supporting Actor (Drama) – Anne with an E
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 1983: Outstanding Lead Actor – Hand to Hand


Gordon Pinsent
Gordon Pinsent is the only person to have won the Dora Award as their third award. He has also won the most total awards, with 11 awards, as well as the most Canadian Screen Awards in both Film and TV, with five each. His 1972 Best Actor Genie for The Rowdyman is also the earliest win (you can watch the film here, it features a great performance from Linda Goranson as well). The 39 years between his first award and most recent is the longest.
How could Gordon Pinsent win a Juno Award? Hear me out, but someone like Chilly Gonzales or Kevin Drew needs to do their best Rick Rubin and pull a Johnny Cash with Mr. Pinsent. It would no doubt destroy us all emotionally, and win Gordon Pinsent a good four or five Junos in one night.

Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 1972: Best Actor – The Rowdyman
  2. 1980: Best Supporting Actor – Jack London’s Klondike Fever
  3. 1987: Best Actor – John and the Missus
  4. 2008: Best Actor – Away from Her
  5. 2013: Best Supporting Actor – The Grand Seduction
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 1989: Best Performance in a Guest Role – Streeet Legal
  2. 1996: Best Performance in a Guest Role (Dramatic) – Due South
  3. 1999: Best Supporting Actor (Dramatic) - Power Play
  4. 1999: Best Writing Drama/Mini-Series – Win, Again!
  5. 2013: Best Performance in a Guest Role (Dramatic) – Republic of Doyle
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 1991: Outstanding Performance by a Male – Anne of Green Gables


Sheila McCarthy
Sheila McCarthy is the first person to win three of the four awards twice each, or a double Triple Crown in Canadian performance.
How could Sheila McCarthy win a Juno Award? Aside from the immediate repetition of “Spoken Word Album Award, please!”, either establishing a Original Cast Recording Juno for musical theatre performers like Sheila McCarthy was earlier in her career, or by casting her as an ace on a Children’s Album feels like the way to go.
 
Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 1988: Best Actress – I’ve Heard the Mermaid Singing
  2. 1993: Best Actress – The Lotus Eaters
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 1998: Best Actress (Drama) – Emily of New Moon
  2. 2000: Best Performance in a Pre-School Program or Series - Sesame Park
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 1983: Outstanding Musical Performance (Female) – Really Rosie
  2. 1985: Outstanding Musical Performance (Female) – Little Shop of Horrors


Martha Burns
Martha Burns is one of three performers who have won seven awards total, second to Gordon Pinset overall, from the available awards. Burns and Paul Gross are also the only couple to be on this list. Martha Burns is the second person to win a double Triple Crown in Canadian performance.
How could Martha Burns win a Juno Award? Spoken Word Album Award instituted? Check. Children’s Album, because of her youth outreach? Totally. Experimental instrumental album alongside Paul Gross so they can co-win their Juno? Tell me more…
 
Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 1996: Best Supporting Actress – Long Day’s Journey Into Night
  2. 2010: Best Supporting Actress – Love & Savagery
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 2004: Best Actress (Drama) – Slings and Arrows
  2. 2006: Best Actress (Drama) – Slings and Arrows
  3. 2007: Best Actress (Drama) – Slings and Arrows
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 1984: Outstanding Lead Performance (Female) – Trafford Tanzi
  2. 1986: Outstanding Lead Performance (Female) – The Miracle Worker


Paul Gross
Paul Gross is one of three performers who have won seven awards total, second to Gordon Pinset overall, from the available awards. Gross and Martha Bruns are also the only couple to be on this list. Gross is one of three people to have won one of their three awards in a non-acting category. Paul Gross has the most Canadian Screen Awards in television.
How could Paul Gross win a Juno Award? In the mid-2000’s it kind felt like he was going to win a Juno, the guy was RED HOT! But I digress. Of course there’s the Spoken Word Album potential, if there was one. I’m still holding out hope for the Gross/Burns instrumental album.
 
Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 2008: Best Motion Picture - Passchendale
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 1995: Best Actor in a Continuing Dramatic Role – Due South
  2. 1996: Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role – Due South
  3. 1998: Best Writing in a Dramatic Series – Due South
  4. 2004: Best Actor in a Continuing Dramatic Role – Slings and Arrows
  5. 2007: Best Actor in a Continuing Dramatic Role – Slings and Arrows
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 1988: Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Featured Role (Drama/Comedy) – Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme


Kristen Thomson
Kristen Thomson is the fifth winner of the Canadian acting Triple Crown. Her four Dora Awards is the most of anyone in this list. Her two Dora Awards and one Gemini for I, Claudia is the only instance of winning multiple kinds of awards for the same kind of project.
How could Kristen Thomson win a Juno Award? I would almost say she should roll the dice on an album based on I, Claudia. Though the potential for a Music Video directing Juno is there as well.
 
Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 2008: Best Supporting Actress – Away from Her
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 2005: Best Actress (Drama or Mini-Series) – I, Claudia
  2. 2020: Best Supporting Actress (Drama) – Cardinal
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 1998: Outstanding Principle Female Performance – Problem Child
  2. 2001: Outstanding Principle Female Performance – I, Claudia
  3. 2001: Outstanding New Play – I, Claudia
  4. 2013: Outstanding New Play – Someone Else


Measha Breuggergosman
Measha Breuggergosman is the only winner of three of the four awards, to have won a Juno Award as one of those three. The two-year period to win the three awards is the shortest amount of time. She is the only person in this list to have won only one award for each available award ceremony. She is the only person to have won her three awards in non-acting categories.
How could Measha Breuggergosman win a Canadian Screen Award in Film? Original Song seems like the most direct option, but while I advocate to her vocal talents in more Canadian films why don’t I also advocate to have her cast in more roles. Start writing meaty film roles for Measha Breuggergosman!
 
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini Award (TV)
  1. 2007: Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series – Words to Music: The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 2008: Outstanding Performance (Opera) – Idomeneo (Opera Atelier)
Juno Award (Music)
  1. 2008: Classical Album of the Year (Vocal or Choral Performance) - Surprise


Don McKellar
Don McKellar is the most recent person to have gained three of the four awards. His Dora Award for Outstanding Touring Production was awarded to DanCap, though it was for the Musical Within A Comedy in which Don McKellar and Bob Martin won the Tony Award for.
How could Don McKellar win a Juno Award? This is where either the Comedy Album or a Song Writing Juno could really work out for McKellar, based not just off the strength of The Drowsy Chaperone (an underrated all-time musical in the history of Canadian theatre) but Don McKellar’s entire body of work. Speaking of which, throw the potential of a Music Video directing Juno too.

Canadian Screen Award/Genie (Film)
  1. 1994: Best Supporting Actor - Exotica
  2. 1998: Best Screenplay – The Red Violin
Canadian Screen Award/Gemini (TV)
  1. 2015: Lead Actor (Comedy) – Sensitive Skin
  2. 2015: Direction in a Comedy Program or Series – Sensitive Skin
Dora Award (Theatre)
  1. 2008: Outstanding Touring Production – The Drowsy Chaperone


Though he did not meet the criteria for the Two-Can-Ju-Do, Graham Greene stuck out as a singular performer if you cross-reference both his Canadian and American performing awards. He is a Dora Award winner, a multi-time Gemini winner for his TV work, an Oscar nominee, and a Grammy winner for a Spoken Word Album.

It's the 50th Juno Awards on Sunday! Apologies for making writing this to correspond with your big anniversary and then bugging you about not being inclusive enough to actors. Is there a Juno nominee this year, or past winner, who looks best positioned to win this Grand Slam of Canadian Awards? Aside from Measha Breuggergosman, it would make sense to give a nod to Drake as a potential Two-Can-Ju-Do winner (even if I'm not convinced that Aubrey is going to win a Dora in the next decade). If I was a betting man I'd put my money on Caribou, also known as Dan Snaith, as a continually interesting electronic artist and composer. Jann Arden winning a Candy for film, and a Dora, for the Grand Slam wouldn't be a shock either.

With that, it’s time to wrap up this thought exercise. Please tell me if I missed an especially prodigious writer, designer, composer or engineer who has won three, if not all four of these Canadian awards! Putting together this project gave me a greater appreciation of notable Canadian performers. It’s rare that we dive into listicles and thought pieces of Canadian pop culture, so I’m glad to have done my part when it comes to appreciating Canada’s cultural history just a little bit more.

Enjoy the work from all eight of the people listed above. Now you can cheer for any and all of them to win the fourth of the Two-Can-Ju-Do Grand Slam, or keep tabs on any and all other Canadians or people working in Canada, to do the same!


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