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The Eh Game

Dan O’Toole and Jay Onrait get a warm welcome from Fox — but will it last?

It was all smiles, shouts, cupcakes and waving Maple Leaf flags as the stars-we-didn't-know-we-had arrived in Hollywood on July 8.

Network PR staff rolled out the welcome mat big time for TSN anchors Dan O'Toole and Jay Onrait upon their arrival at Fox Sports 1, a new channel that Rupert Murdoch hopes will further his plan for world domination when it launches in August.

And while all seems rosy for the latest Canadians trying to crack the big American market, you can't help but wonder if U.S. sports fans are willing to embrace the latest Crazy Canucks. No doubt Onrait and O'Toole are wondering, too, and here's a name that might cause them to wake up screaming in the middle of the night: Strombouloupolos.

The CBC golden boy's early showings at CNN have been somewhat less than spectacular, drawing an average audience of a little more than 200,000 viewers. That's about 20,000 Canadian -- similar to Littlest Hobo reruns or LeafsTV.

We all like to see Canadians succeed south of the border -- they like us, they actually like us -- and we all wish them well. But it won't be easy.

Canadians and Americans speak the same language, but not always. What's considered good TV up here isn't always embraced in the land of cheap booze and cheaper guns.

What Onrait and O'Toole do is definitely different, a mixture of sports highlights and both high and low comedy. Viewers either loved it or hated it. I leaned closer to the second camp, finding some of their stuff amusing but usually switching channels as my desire for information overcame my tolerance for shameless mugging and basement humour (i.e. ``Regina, the city that rhymes with fun.")

But they had a cult following of adoring fans here who turned them into YouTube stars. They've also been endorsed by Stephen Harper, which is probably the kiss of death in this country but of little consequence in the USA where 99 of 100 respond to questions about Canada's Prime Minister with, ``What's a Canada?".

How Americans will accept them is anybody's guess, though Fox is convinced they can challenge sports giant ESPN. The key may be making sure nobody knows they're Canadian -- Americans tend not to cotton to strangers -- while maintaining their Canadian style.

They could be the next Wayne and Shuster (if you're under 50 you can look them up) or the next Strombo.

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