George Stroumboulopoulos Tries Too Hard

You know, it kind of troubles me that this guy has become the default spokesperson for my generation. I really don’t want “George Stroumboulopoulos” to be the answer to the question “who are Canadian thirty-somethings looking up to these days?”

Why’s that? Because he tries too hard. He seems, at any given moment, to be dabbling in opposites–“I’m tough yet sensitive”, “I’m erudite with street cred”, “I’m hip to be square”. To me, his performance always ends up somewhere in-between, middlebrow and wishy-washy. I think his job is tricky, but I see plenty of other hosts establish a more genuine on-air persona.

I suspect The Hour’s producers are as much to blame as the man himself. Tonight’s a classic example. His guests on the show are legendary pornstar Ron Jeremy and former Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney.

First off, that’s just inappropriate. You shouldn’t book a pornstar and a former Prime Minister on the same show. I have no love lost for Mr. Mulroney, but that’s just not on. One can be hip and edgy, and still have respect for one of our nation’s more important institutions, the office of the Prime Minister. I’m guessing Mr. Jeremy’s free another night this week.

I wouldn’t bring this up, but Stroumboulopoulos made so much of it in his opening bit (after the tragically unfunny sketch comedy schtick, which ought to be dropped like a spoiled beaver tail). He protested way too much, emphasizing the juxtaposition between the two guests and that his show was big enough to accommodate them both.

The show’s counter-cultural, edgy vibe is about as thin as the ice on Lost Lagoon in November, because why’s Mr. Mulroney on the show? To pimp another show on the CBC, of course (which actually looks pretty fun).

What’s Stroumboulopoulos’s ultimate message? “We’re so cool we’ve got a pornstar and a former head of state on the same show. But we’re not too cool to sing for our supper.”

Written by

Darren Barefoot is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He’s the co-founder of Capulet Communications, and co-author of “Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook”.

72 comments

  1. OUCH.

    Speaking of trying too hard, that was my problem with vlogger Amanda Congdon. She was a terrible host–her timing was always off, her delivery forced, and jokes were replaced with mugging for the cameras.

  2. I think one of the reasons you (and perhaps most other people over 30) find him less than appealing is because of the fact that he really doesn’t speak for your demographic. I’m not sure if this is always true but I’ve noticed that the age of the entertainer to generally be about half a generation older than the age of the target audience. If that’s true, then Mr. Snuffleupagus here is trying to attract a late teen to 20 something crowd.

  3. who’d you rather? Rick the temp? What about the lovely Vicki Gabereau? Just how many places can Rick Mercer be at once?

    I think George is the only fresh faces on the CBC. Their union producers that have been creating the same show in the same box for far too many years is what needs to be shook up.

  4. Joseph: Hey, there’s only room for one pedant on this site, and that’s me. Heh.

    Chris: True, but who’s my role model then? Vicki Gabareau.

    Wade: Fresh face? That dude’s been on television for at least a decade. Have you forgotten his stint as a VJ? And apparently before that he was on popular Toronto radio stations.

    I certainly don’t think we need to pick from the current stable of nationally-visible hosts. If we want truly fresh faces, then show us some people we’ve never seen before.

  5. When I did a radio pilot for the CBC two years ago, they were shocked that I didn’t sound like George S. I guess they thought all 30-somethings would sound more like him. If they’d told me that, I would have tried to sound less like, oh, Barbara Bud.

  6. Thanks for this — if anything you’re too easy on this clown. I’ve never been able to actually watch his show, the relentless promotion of his insulting image is enough to convince me that he is the second-worst thing on the CBC.

    The very worst being the attempts at comedy on Radio One that occasionally come wafting from my speakers, as stinky as day-old roadkill.

  7. I honestly think he’s really quite bright, and probably quite funny and interesting when he’s unscripted and allowed to do his own thing.

    But I think that show tries WAY too hard to be something edgy yet credible. The Ron Jeremy/Mulroney thing probably would have made good Mercer schtick, but to me it seems like way too obvious a joke and a juxtaposition for what The Hour is supposedly trying to accomplish.

    Any show can book a couple guests that are from radically different worlds and mug about it. But what do we learn from that? Where’s the interest? How am I better informed or more savvy?

  8. (Could get picky about your spam protection – shouldn’t it read “Sum of 7 and 8”?)

    I listened – as I tend not to watch the news – The Hour a couple of years ago and never turned in again. Gosh, he’s so annoying and not representative of this late-twentysomething.

  9. I think George is okay (heck, I even met him), but I agree that he’s been getting a little annoying recently. I enjoyed the first season of the Hour (and his hosting jobs on Greatest Canadian, Loud, and the Punk Show), but recently it seems that he’s trying to hard to maintain his cred.

    Also, cowboy-chic doesn’t ever look good 🙂

  10. I’ve tried watching The Hour and I just don’t find George particularly entertaining or enlightening. I’m okay if a show isn’t funny, so long as it’s interesting and/or insightful. George is neither.

  11. Darren, you’re going to be even more disappointed when George Stroumboulopoulos becomes Governor General. It’s a well known secret that the CBC has become a breeding ground for upcoming GGs. If only Rick the Temp had gone with them instead of ET Canada, he’d be on the fast track to living on the public purse!

  12. can someone tell me what ‘tries to hard’ means? he tries to be cool, but isn’t, he isn’t cool but tries to be?

    it’s much easier and safer to shit on the guy than to give him props, but who else is even in his league.

  13. I definitely think Strombo’s not targeting your demo, Darren. His “trying too hard” is probably symptomatic of trying to stay with it in order to speak to the concerns of the people just under my age who are only semi-engaged with their university classes, if they are able to attend post-secondary at all. The show’s look and feel, with quick cuts and bite-sized summaries, is definitely trying to make a dent with the YouTube generation. As a veteran of MuchMusic, whose demo is very much in the 12 – 19 segment, I’m willing to bet that this was the intent behind having him host at all.

    If we’re gauging his success in that realm, then, can we get some 12 – 19 year olds to comment?

    Also, I second the Evan Soloman love.

  14. Karen (and others): Yeah, I guess you’re right. Though I remember when he was on MuchMusic, and I’m 32. Mind you, I may have been slightly old for the demographic when he was on MM, too. The next time it’s on TV, I’ll check out how old the audience members are.

    Arianna’s comment may be, uh, more reflective of the demographic they’re after.

  15. Celia: Margaret Cho, Bobby Lee, and John Cho are all Korean, not Chinese, and for whatever reason, I despise Lucy Liu. Out of that list, I like John Cho the best. He was terrific as Harold.

  16. Ethnicity aside, John Cho’s a good dramatic actor as well. I dug him in “Better Luck Tomorrow”.

  17. I agree with your assessment of Strombo. I feel that he kisses the butts of the people he interviews, and tries to hard. I can handle the bit sized information, but I cannot handle the sycophancy that seems to be his trademark.

  18. I don’t need a “hip” lardass in a seat to bring issues to me.

    Give me Bob Mckeown Vs Ann Coulter anytime.

    He didn’t need earrings and a missed shaved spot under his lower lip to get his point across.

    Intelligence trumps a flake anyday.

  19. and what’s with the monochromatic outfits?
    i’ll tell you what – people who have no sense of fashion, always dress in a single color
    all black all the time

  20. i hate george strobolopoulos! this guy is seriously fucking obnoxious, the biggest posing weasel on tv (so no big surprise he’s on cbc)

  21. George likes himself to much, his image is something between a person at a funeral and the person in the casket. CBC is a horribly bias network (what can you expect after 12 years of Liberal rule?) and George fits in well. I am in the 18-24 demograph and George does nothing but either pisses me off or bores me.

  22. I am in the 18-24 demograph as well – I’m confused becuase he doesn’t claim to speak for anyone but himself and I think he had to fight hard for that. Seems it would be “boaring” if everyone had the same opinions/backgrounds.
    There are other horribly biased networds on the far right. Balance 🙂
    No BS about George – that’s rare and probably threatening to some.

  23. Whoever’s dissing George, I’d like to see you go up there and do what he’s doing. I think he’s doing a great job…so what if it looks like he’s trying to hard. It would be hard for anyone to go into a position like that with known figures, and carry on a coherent conversation, which he’s doing quite well. Maybe he does need to relax abit, but if the network wants ratings to be good, that’s a bit of pressure on someone’s shoulders, especially if he’s the central figure of the show! You have to know your shit to do what he’s doing. I think he’s intelligent and much more talented than some of the interviewers/VJ’s etc, out there today! Good for you george!

  24. First of all, George seems like the last person on earth who would want, or claim to be speaking for anyone, let alone a generation. Those of you who believe that have simply swallowed what the CBC’s marketing campaign is feeding you. And isn’t this generation of which your speak supposed to be media savvy?

    Second, well-respected individuals from all walks of life publicly admire George, and respect his work. Bono is a fan, for the love of God. He is well-versed in everything from politics and history to music and film, and his interviewees notice and respond. If you doubt George’s ability as an interviewer, and think that he does nothing but “try too hard”, watch his interview with June Callwood – her last before her death (http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/video.php?id=1551). This interview reflects his respect for her as an influential journalist and activist, and his compassion and sensitivity towards her as a women in her final days. As June herself says to George in this clip, “you are awfully good at what you do.” Who are we to argue with such hard-earned wisdom?

  25. Hey what’s with all the George hate here! Yeah the show is bent by all kinds of marketing forces, but that’s the show, and not the man. In the past year he’s become the most interesting thing on Canadian TV on the strength of his interviews. Always this relentless earnestness, which is even naive at times, always very in touch with the emotional core of an interview. He makes every single interview interesting and stand out from what you’d see in a Press Kit (I’m looking at you other networks).

  26. In the past year he’s become the most interesting thing on Canadian TV on the strength of his interviews

    WHAAAAAA? You mean when he gets uber-geniuses like Dawkins and barely gives him 5 minutes. Zuzuki and makers fun of him about hybrid cars? Yeah great interviews. The great-I-don’t-to-talk-about-britney-but-I-will-anyway-strombo. I still remember his no bullshit promise on his very first episode’s mission statement. Strombo can suck it. Just another TV whore.

  27. Nah, he doesn’t try too hard. He just is who he is. And if that means that he is tough but still cares about the issues, then so be it.

    I wouldn’t judge him unless you’ve met him. If you meet him in person, you’ll see what I mean.

  28. I hate his show.
    On some nights that I need background noise to continue working, I keep the TV on but with the volume turned so low that the voices are just murmurs. Otherwise, I can’t endure listening to GStromb’s delivered-in-a-monotone-no pause between sentences-endless rambling. It’s just too painful. In fairness, I just hate people who talk nonstop for miles and miles.

  29. With his Make Poverty History wristband, George is the ultimate political hipster. I see them everywhere now. People who are ‘hip’ to politics but only talk in the simplest terms. Don’t take action except for the most simplistic (bracelets, petitions).

    What bothers me most about George is that he completely patronizes his viewers, believing them to be ignorant twats. It’s not true. Remember the show that had George’s time slot before on CBC? Counterspin. An intelligent show that dared talk to young adults like they were adults. Debates raged which were more intellectual than the ones on other Canadian political panel shows. It was a shining light of Canadian activism in the early 2000s. George has brought this generation of 15-35 year olds back down to being cool, hip and ironic while truly being nihilistic.

    I think George is an airhead.

  30. Man, you and I really have such opposed opinions on this subject… Perhaps it’s that, like George, I haven’t slept well my entire life and it affects attention span and alertness. I don’t know how extreme the symptoms are for him, but on last night’s show he was telling Tony Robins that his life is a mess because of these concentration issues, and his job is the only area of his life that he is happy with “because it doesn’t feel like working”. I don’t think he was lying. He seemed really relaxed and candid, and I appreciated that. I could identify in a major way, and it highlighted that he’s just another human being.

    If I had to do his job, I think I’d look like I was “pushing myself” even more than he lets on.

    As for the interviews: while I personally don’t care for Ron Jeremy at -all-, there have been so many AMAZING guests on that show that I think this is forgivable. Yes, it was controversial to place a former PM and a porn king on the same episode, but I would rather The Hour do this than decide for me what is or isn’t “too dirty to associate with”, or further: ignore that Mulroney has himself already disrespected this nation and is himself also only a person, underneath his former station in our government.

    -Ah well; can’t win ’em all.

    Oh, as for target audience: I don’t believe that George is actually targeting teens — but rather, those who were teens or in their 20s, while he was developing the basis of his public repor. This would place his main audience as being now in their 20s and early 30s — my age range.

    Cheers!
    ~Ms. J. Brown
    (in Saskatoon)

  31. first off, it shouldnt matter if a porn star and the former (also former being a key word) prime minister are on the same show togther, there both just people. and i have to differ greatly from your optinion, ive achully met the guy and been on his show. the whole atmosphere is really cool, very relaxed, and the way hes on the show is the same way he’s like with you face to face. what you see is what you get with him. lastly your only showing an example of one show, have you even watched any of the others?

  32. I don’t know of anyone else on Canadian tv who gets to editorialize as much as George does. Peter Mansbridge can’t do this. (As far as I know, CBC news-readers still don’t write their own scripts.) Last night he dumped on the War in Iraq. I guess he prefers Saddam to oil. He should bring back someone like Christopher Hitchens and debate him on the war.

  33. He his a typical, self important, out of touch, CBC darling with no idea how rediculous he looks. The contrived bad boy image is at best nausiating, and at worst, insulting. On top of that, he’s a terrible interviewer, with irritating delivery, firing out vapid questions that sound more like they belong in an MSN chat than network TV. Then obviously not caring about the answer as fidgets and interupts his guests with fake laughter. He doesn’t even sit on his chair properly. Sorry for the rant but I find this guy to be the most annoying thing on TV in recent memory.

  34. The bottom line here is that CBC programming is shoddy at best, and always has been. I find Strombo incredibly fake, but is he really any worse than the rest of the clowns on CBC?

    (excepting the HNIC crew + Randy Bachmann)

  35. George should give up trying to be funny – he sucks…GEORGE, YOU ARE NOT FUNNY. NOT FUNNY…

    I can listen to him when he is trying to be serious, but the guy IS NOT FUNNY

  36. The funniest thing about George’s attempt at being funny is when no one in the audience laughs at his jokes…

    I laugh all freakin’ night…

  37. It’s not that he tries too hard, it’s that he has no personality and every effort is desperate overcompensation. He’s just not cut out for this job. Somebody got the wrong impression of this guy when he was talking about alternative music. We have to get this guy off the air. There must be someone more deserving.

  38. I’m surprised that there are so many people here who dislike him.

    When the show first got its start, I couldn’t get into it. But over time it began to grow on me.

    I don’t tune into it on a regular basis.
    More often then not I watch it when there isn’t anything else ton TV that interests me.

    I think he does his job pretty well. I don’t think he’s trying to be a bad boy, I don’t even think that he comes off as being or trying to be one.

    And I disagree with some of the posters here who think he’s an airhead. The people who claim such, clearly have not seen enough of him to understand that he’s a fairly intelligent man.
    It seems like he is familiar with almost every subject that his guests bring up.

    I’m also quite surprised that he reads a lot of the books that his guests have written before having them on the show. Most other talk show hosts would never bother doing so.

  39. I can’t believe people can stand to look at him for longer than 5 minutes. ew.

  40. This guy is so disingenuous I can’t watch the show.

    His intense leaning in, head tilted and eyes squinted in deep understanding of his guest is just painful to watch.

    I haven’t met him but if he really does have a good personality then he should just relax and be himself.

    Even if his personality is bad I’d still find that easier to stomach than whatever it is he’s doing now.

  41. i think i’ll speak better to your generation when i have my own show on CBC. Topics: hockey, literature, travel, theatre and social change.

    Any day now …

  42. My opinion of George’s show sways but tends more towards the positive the more I see it. I feel like trying too hard is a hallmark of many CBC personalities.

  43. I greatly enjoy Strombo’s interviews. I like how he puts his guests at ease and often asks very real questions. I don’t watch any other part of his show, just the interviews, via the podcast. I also like the variety of guests.

    I am kinda surprised by the amount of Strombo-hate on here. I don’t watch TV really, so I am usually astonished when I actually find something worth watching. And I’ve enjoyed Strombo’s interviews pretty consistently.

    Re: ‘trying too hard’ – he’s a TV talk show host! What do you want him to be like? Charlie Rose?

  44. Strombo’s is a gay environmental wacko like Gore and Suzuki i dare him to bring the other side in for a interview.

  45. Halleluja! I thought I was the only one who thought that this guy was a downright putz! I would rather be forced to watch Carrot Top ‘s lame ass Vegas routine than watch this a-hole’s show any day of the week. The guy thinks he is uber cool when in fact he is uber nerd. If he had any talent at all, he wouldn’t be working at the CBC. Canada’s national network is so pathetically weak it makes me cringe. Can someone please get this guy off the air? His mere presence on air offends me.

  46. I really don’t have any opinion as I have never been able to stand him long enough to form one. If I can’t get him out of the room then I have to get out of the room myself, quickly.

  47. I met him years ago. I interviewed
    him as a class project. He was honest
    and forthcoming with his opinions and
    life story. He’s not so much fake
    as much as he is perhaps armoured
    and for good reason. Have a little journalistic
    empathy (all those who judge).
    Do you expect that you could face the audience and
    cameras AND be flawlessly “yourself” (appeal to everyone)?!.
    Because you don’t know from fish bowl.
    P.S I don’t see anyone here that is more
    of a success- so…. BITE ME!!

  48. Hi. George is on TV right now. I can’t stand him.
    I hate to be sour grapes. If the guest talks about anything older than 6 months, George switches subjects. He hates cold. He’s left wing and I hated Much Music. So somebody please give him the hook.He aint Candian. He aint kewl like he thinks he is. He seems like some T.O Degrassi Jr High Immigrant wanna be different Cdn. F.O. George

    Cheers

  49. I agree with Jack. I mean he REALLY goes on the whole left wing thing. I get it. I get it. To be young and hip you have to be left wing. But please don’t assume that’s the only way to be and the only way to be if you’re young. Its misleading and stupid.

    He had some global warming guy on now –a pro Gore author who couldn’t name ONE professional climate scientist that doesn’t agree the earth is going to be a boiling bowl of hot lava within 50 years. Pullleeease –not one? There are 30 000 scientists who signed a petition in the us that they do NOT believe in global warming or believe that its just a natural thing (an ebb and flow like the ice ages). The thing is whether you agree with them or not don’t pretend they dont exist. That’s George’s problem –he brings on guests that he agrees with and together they agree to ignore a WHOLE huge group of people over here who don’t agree with them on any postiion (you nameit politics, economics, arts, etc etc).

    I don’t think George is trying too hard.
    I think he isn’t trying hard enough–if you understand my meaning.

    oy.

  50. Strombopopodopolopmopomus is a simpering idiot. He asks the most inane and idiotic questions of his guests that you can see them squirming in their seats. Sure he gets “big stars” because everyone of them are pimping a movie or a book or a video or a cause. Due to the hatred of success in Canada truly talented people leave for other places and we are left with this simpering idiot and his patronizing questions who sends international stars of literature, politics, stage and screen off wondering to themselves “if he is the most popular tv presenter in Candada, as my publicist has assured me, this country is truly full of dummys.

  51. I agree totally. He just doesn’t seem to do this with heart but with his head. He is just not peaceful person, not directed anywhere, jumping from one thing to another and has no concept. I mean the host should allow himself to say something stupid occasionally but should have personality and not just adjust to his guests. I really don’t know who told him to go in this business. He even made it to make K.Minogue look almost dull in his show, the only such interview she gave in her life I believe.
    He should watch Urban rush and learn, but these things you just don’t learn.. you have them or not.

  52. This guy sucks. The show is not entertaining. The last 10-15 minutes is WHAT. How did this guy get prime time? He knows Ben Mulroney! Put something entertaining on!

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