Emmy-nominated comedian Peter Aykroyd is remembered for his absurd and lawless sense of humor
At the ancestral family farm north of Kingston, Peter Aykroyd would gladly take friends for summer rides around the area in a strange car. Eventually, he made his way to the lake and drove the vehicle down a boat ramp at reckless speed.
His friends would be shocked when the vehicle splashed into the water, but the driver would show no alarms. The vehicle was an Amphicar, an amphibious automobile made in the 1960s. Peter had a strong taste for high jinks and highlife.
“I built a terrific log cabin on the farm, but all the best parties were at Peter’s cabin on the cliff by the lake,” Peter’s older brother, comedian and actor Dan Aykroyd, told the Globe and Mail. “He was unpredictable, but once he drank his first cup of coffee in the morning, Peter was warm, friendly and incredibly funny.”
Peter Aykroyd, comedian, actor, writer and musician, died November 6 in Spokane, Washington. According to his brother, he had developed sepsis due to an internal infection precipitated by an untreated abdominal hernia. He was 65 years old.
Known as a human man with an absurd, lawless sense of humor and sharp comedic reflexes, Ottawa native Peter was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Variety or Music Show for his stint in music. ‘a season on NBC Saturday Night Live in 1980. (His brother, Dan, was an original member of Not Ready for Prime Time Players in the iconic comedy sketch series from 1975 to 1979.)
His death was recently pronounced on SNL, who also tweeted a short film by Tom Schiller in which Peter starred for the series. The black parody Junkie java also introduced Teri Garr.
After SNL, Peter has worked with Dan many times, both as a co-writer on the 1991 horror comedy Nothing but trouble or as an actor in feature films such as Dredge (1987) and Cones (1993). A song that Peter wrote for Dredge, called City of crime, was used for a video which unfortunately forced actor Tom Hanks to rap.
Peter had left Ottawa for Toronto at the age of 18. Initially, he stayed with Dan, who, in addition to being a cast member of the Second City comedy troupe in the early 1970s, co-owned an after-hours club at 505 Queen Street. E., called Club 505. A hangout for police officers, comedians, musicians, garbage collectors and downtown patrols, the bustling underground bar has also hosted special visitors such as Jack Nicholson, Paul Shaffer and John Belushi. The members of the Downchild Blues Band of Canada were regulars.
“Peter was a really nice, likable guy who looked like a movie star,” said Downchild bassist Gary Kendall. “He was really supportive of the musicians hanging around that joint.”
Initially, Peter slept under a pinball machine in the club’s basement. In 1976, he joined the Second City troupe himself as a writer and performer with a cast including Robin Duke, Brenda Donahue, Len Stuart and future SCTV member Dave Thomas.
“In the competitive environment of Second City, Peter has always been very generous and supported other artists,” Thomas told The Globe. “I know Dan admired his brother’s sweet soul and feared Peter would get eaten up alive in the competitive environment of Second City and, later, SNL. But that didn’t really happen because others, including me, also recognized how good a person Peter was.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail in 1977, Peter displayed a tone of self-mockery. Speaking of his success at a relatively young age – the comedian was 22 – he offered a warning. “I have a quantum leap to take before I get to where Dave Thomas is.”
Globe writer Bryan Johnson found Peter’s low-key sobriety in stark contrast to his older brother’s more dynamic ways. “I’m a pretty serious guy,” Peter told his interviewer. “I have a fairly philosophical point of view. If people want to laugh, they can always come to the show.
The comedian had thought of a few humorous quips before the interview to liven up his story, but finally decided to play it directly. “I don’t think that saying my ambition is to eat a Volkswagen bus says a lot about me yet,” he explained. “Maybe when I grow up?” “
Peter Jonathan Aykroyd was born November 19, 1955. His father, Peter Hugh Aykroyd, was a career bureaucrat in Ottawa. As chief engineer of the National Capitol Commission, he oversaw the construction of the Gatineau Parkway. From 1964 to 1967 at the Privy Council Office, he was an advisor to the office of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Her mother was Lorraine Hélène Marie (née Gougeon) Aykroyd, a farmer’s daughter who transformed a shorthand course into a career as a senior official that included a position as secretary to Transport Minister Lionel Chevrier and a well-paying job at the Canadian Maritime Commission.
Peter spent his first 12 years in Hull, Quebec, near Ottawa. “I didn’t learn French,” he said later, “I just learned English with a French accent. This accent will serve him well in Second City, where he played the famous French Canadians Guy Lafleur and René Lévesque.
He attended, but did not graduate, Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ottawa. Dan admired the company of young Peter.
“His school friends were the weirdest and most eccentric, in the most positive way,” the actor said. “Where I was introverted, I saw how free Peter was and admired it.”
Before moving on to the main cast of Second City, he first joined the touring company, which was sort of a farming club for the headlining troupe. He had auditioned in front of his brother and actor John Candy. “They laughed and I was in it,” Peter told The Globe. “It wasn’t really like ‘I’m going to crack this nut’, but more like ‘Damn, I’m going to see if I can get my way here somehow.'”
Later, along with the main cast, Peter wrote and starred in sketch magazines such as East of Eaton and Wizard of Ossington.
Offstage, Peter showed an offbeat spirit. In favor of drama and unique automobiles, he would don goggles, a white scarf and a helmet while driving Ontario’s Highway 401 in a three-wheeled Messerschmitt car.
In addition to his comedic prowess, Peter was a punk-style guitarist, outgoing singer, and spontaneous, humorous songwriter. He recorded his demos with famous producers Jimmy Miller and Andy Johns. Along with American guitarist and record producer Jon Tiven, he wrote the songs Rock the house (which appeared on the 1985 soundtrack Spies like us) and Fresh fruit (on the soundtrack of the 1986 comedy Another saturday night).
Mr. Tiven performed in a concert with Peter’s New York band, the Mini-14s, who had been hired to perform at a closing night for the Robert Altman film in 1982. Come back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.
“We showed up with our gear and Robert Altman told us to set up the amplifiers to block the back of the room because he wanted a place where he could drop his pants and smoke a joint.” , remembers Mr. Tiven. “After playing every song we knew twice, Altman’s wife gave us a few hundred dollars to keep playing, because everyone was having so much fun.”
Pierre never married. “But he always had very beautiful girlfriends and he always seemed happy,” Mr. Tiven said.
Leaving New York, Peter moved to California and bought a house in Malibu with his brother. He built an analog studio in the basement and worked as a sound engineer.
In 1996, Peter co-created the Canadian science fiction series Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, which spanned four seasons and was hosted by Dan, who co-wrote and starred in popular supernatural comedies ghost hunters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989). The historical involvement of the family in the spiritualist movement was documented in the 2009 book A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Séances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters, by Peter Sr., who passed away in 2020.
Peter Jr. also took an interest in the homeless, helping them when he could. “He had a sense of righteousness and justice,” Dan said. “He welcomed lost or disadvantaged souls who needed a little kindness and charity. He was almost like a minister that way.
In his later years, this generous spirit, coupled with an enthusiasm for alternative medicine, took him to Spokane, Wash., Where he helped a company that advocated the use of ozone to fight injuries and diseases. It was his naturopathic addiction, Dan believed, that ultimately contributed to his death.
“He died because he didn’t call 911 about a septic infection that developed from an untreated hernia 30 years earlier,” Dan said. “In the end, he just thought he could fix himself.”
Peter Aykroyd leaves his brother, Dan; and nieces, Danielle (known by her stage name, Vera Sola), Stella and Belle.