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If you can't be handsome be handy

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Red Green to perform at Cross Insurance Center

BANGOR Get your duct tape ready, Red Green is coming to Bangor to talk inventions, women and being handy. Steve Smith, the creator and actor who portrays Red Green is excited to come to Maine and bring his dry wit and handyman tips to the Queen City. He will be taking his handy inventions, marital advice and dry humor to The Gracie Theatre on Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.

'It's always better if they lower their expectations going in. That's given me my career,' said Steve Smith, who seemed to be channeling his alter-ego during the phone interview. '[The show] is 90 minutes. For some, it will seem a little longer.'

Smith is geared up to offer handy-man tips, advice for men on how to get along with their wives and how to deal with all the technological progress that is being made in the world.

But don't let his lack of gizmos make you think he's not media savvy. Red's YouTube following is well over 600,000.

'Some of my fans didn't even know I had a show [on television], they've only seen it on YouTube,' he said. 'We have over 630,000 followers there. We are not technologically advanced at all, but if we can use it to connect to our fans [we will].'

He noted that throughout his career on television, there was always a middleman between him and his fans.

'The network controls whether or not I get through. I never got to connect with the end user and the fan,' said Smith. He insisted on shooting the show in front of a live audience so he could get some of that immediate feedback. 'The network people aren't necessarily my kind of people. But if the audience laughed, I would know we were on the right track.'

Smith and Red Green seem to have a lot in common, not the least of which is a dry wit - something Smith thinks comes from the fact that he created the character of Red Green and didn't just play him on the show. Though Smith pokes some fun at rural lifers (something many in Maine identify with), there is never a sense of nastiness to his humor if anything, it has the flavor of admiration at our absurdities. And it still has a profound following in an age when much of comedy has taken dark, cynical and vulgar overtones.

'It's almost like a throwback. But that's just me. It's what I do. It's the kind of comedy that's timeless. It's funny and a little uplifting and nobody gets punished for it,' said Smith. 'At the end of the work day, you can watch a couple shows and relax. And I can tell that when someone comes up and speaks to me [after a show] that they appreciate that. We were on PBS, and that's educational television. The Red Green Show was recess.'

There was a tendency for highbrow people to dismiss Smith's humor. Smith recalled a time when he was on a spot during a pledge-a-thon for Public Broadcasting live, when the announcer quipped to him, 'People say to me this is a stupid show,' to which Smith replied, 'I've never had anyone smart tell me it was a stupid show.'

And he found that that many people didn't care to understand the show, and it was never for them.

'From very early on I decided I'm not doing this show for people who don't like it. Rather than put any focus on them, we will better serve the customer who like us instead of go after the customers who will never like it,' he said. And this attitude springs from an understanding and fondness for people who lead a rural life sometimes by choice and sometimes by situation. 'I don't think there's anything wrong with being rural. You depend on each other more. You may need to borrow that lawnmower next week.'

He noted that he actually grew up in the suburbs, but that 'rural was right next door.' And growing up, he helped out on a farm, where the farmer had crafted all manner of inventions that helped with daily life.

'I respect that way of life. It's empowering. You control a lot more of your life than those guys in the thousand dollar suits,' said Smith.

Tickets are available by calling (207) 941-7888, or you can visit www.gracietheatre.com.

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