The Happy Wanderers
From the sketch comedy series SCTV. This band first appeared in the May 21, 1982 episode hosting their own show within a show, also called The Happy Wanderers. Playing easy listening polka in the Lawrence Welk mold, it was fronted by the Shmenge brothers, Yosh (John Candy) on clarinet and Stan (Eugene Levy) on accordion. The pair sported the thick eastern European accents of their fictional home country, Leutonia. They made several appearances after that, playing polka tributes to film soundtrack composer John Williams and New Wave (22 November 1983).
After SCTV ended, the characters were showcased retiring in the 1985 HBO special, The Last Polka (a spoof of The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese's documentary of The Band). It delved into their history, showing clips from their first TV show, the 1952 Strikes, Spares and Shmenges, and their mid '60s TV show, Polka Variety Hour, where they launched (and were possibly romantically involved with) singing group The Lemon Twins. To promote the special, Candy and Levy appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in character and performed their signature tune, the "Cabbage Rolls and Coffee Polka." Their last appearance was on the 1986 Best of Comic Relief album.
At some point, John Candy appeared on Sesame Street in character as Yosh Shmenge to teach Oscar the Grouch a clarinet lesson.
- Looking Back, 1982 (2 record best-of compilation)
- New Wave Schmenge, 1983