If you haven’t heard the announcement yet, Jacob Hoggard is hosting the Juno Awards ceremony this year in Hamilton. And here’s to hoping that the Hedley singer has a sense of humour, because the previous hosts set a high standard: After an initial run featuring George Wilson as the host, the Canadian awards ceremony has been MCed by the ever-hilarious Rick Mercer, Alan Thicke, Burton Cummings, and the ever-outspoken Jann Arden. That’s some good company, Jake.
Still, you’d almost expect the Junos to be hosted by Cummings and Thicke. But over the years, the ceremony has been helmed by plenty of other musicians and comedians, many of them excellent (who can forget, for example, the time when Howie Mandell bloodied himself onstage?). And in retrospect, plenty of previous Juno hosts were surprising, too—and here are our favourite under-heralded Juno hosts throughout the years.
In the ’90s, it’s arguable that Paul Shaffer was our proudest export. Aside from being god damn Canadian—Thunder Bay, stand up!—he was a staple on late-night television, making hilarity with David Letterman on The Late Show. (He’d actually served time with the host since 1982.) As Letterman’s side-man and musical director, it only made sense that the Junos would recruit him as their host, and if you can find it, score some awards-ceremony footage from 1991 and send it our way.
For ’90s Cancon revivalists, there were few hosts as iconic as Mike Bullard. (Jonovision’s Jonathan Torrens also has a claim to the crown.) Open Mike with Mike Bullard featured plenty of interviews from across the Canadian cultural world, but it’s also worth remembering that Bullard heavily promoted Canadian music: Sloan, Hayden, Flashing Lights, Big Sugar, and even an early incarnation of Tegan and Sara appeared on his show, and it’s no secret that the host was a big music dude. Bullard hosted the Junos at the peak of his powers in 1999.
Typically, the Junos elected tried-and-true rockers are their hosts, but they didn’t disqualify other genres: Lest we forget, the awards were quick to add the rap category in the early ’90s, once had a live performance from Prozzak, eventually had Drake host the awards, and yes, once gave the keys to the freaking Moffatts. The above video is from 2000—let’s just say they’re better musicians than hosts. Whatever, though, “Bang Bang Boom” still holds up.
These days, Pamela Anderson is best-known for making headlines for PETA, who’ve celebrated her animal activism. But before she was cavorting with those who throw paint on mink coats, she was a major star on Baywatch, where she was the crush of horny tweens everywhere. Anderson, though, has always had an underrated hilarious streak, and in 2006, was a logical Junos host: Check, for example, the commercial above, where she takes time from munching portobello burgers poolside to host the awards.
Thanks to SCTV and Strange Brew, Rick Moranis is a Canadian icon. (Well, that, and Ghostbusters.) When he hosted the Junos in 1992, he was promoting Honey I Blew Up the Kid, the sequel to Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Moranis would leave acting a half-decade after hosting the Junos, so if you get a chance to watch some of the archival footage, don’t miss it—dude was coming off his comedic peak.
The cast of This Hour Has 22 Minutes
When it comes to classic Canadian comedy, there are few with the legacy of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. In fact, the cast would still be a great host today: Their hesher-iffic takes on Fort Mac, lumbersexuals, and Target still hit close to home. Nonetheless, the entire cast hosting in 1995 made for an excellent Juno ceremony—many Jean Chretien, Ashley MacIsaac, and Canadian Bacon jokes were to be had.
Check out more memorable Juno Awards hosts memories in the montage below.