The Oldest Living Father and Son Cajun Music Duo
day in 2001, while at the Second City, Paul Bates and Doug Morency were
sitting around trying to figure out what kind of sketch they could come
up with using a tuba and a ukulele. The answer was obivous: put on some
hats, pretend to be really old, reminice about people and things that
never existed, and call it Cajun.
Thus the Williamson Playboys were born. Doug plays Cecil Williamson,
Jr., aged 141 years old. Paul plays his father, Rufus. Together they
are the oldest living father-and-son Cajun music duo, and they've
invented every genre of music known to man.
The Williamson Playboys started as an 8-minute sketch in a Second City
show. The current record at Second City is 19 minutes, 30 seconds. Now
the Williamson Playboys perform anything from 7 minute sets to 75
The Williamson Playboys began their career in a simpler, more innocent
America: during the Civil War. Rufus was born in 1839, in rural
Louisiana. His son, Cecil Jr., was born sometime thereafter, the
product of a chance encounter between Rufus and a woman whose name we
can only assume was Cecil. From humble beginnings, playing in county
fairs, community halls and rest stops along the underground railway, it
wasn’t long before they were touring with Indian medicine shows
throughout the country. The farther they travelled the greater became
their influence. Their songs seeped into the collective consciousness
of the nation, although they rarely received credit for their work. For
example, the fact that “Stairway to Heaven” was written by the Playboys
in 1889, and was originally performed as a jig, is known to but a
precious few musical historians.
Over the decades the Playboys have ambled back and forth between renown
and dismal obscurity. They were household names during the influenza
epidemic of 1918-19 with “Cough It Up” and yet were barely heard from
during the Great Depression save for the widely popular and often
imitated depression anthem “Brother Can You Spare Some Pants.” Again
they were barely noticed during the Cold War even though they invented
Psychedelic music and a new fashion style with “Cold War Hot Pants”. In
1955 they staged the biggest comeback of their long careers when they
literally emerged from their graves after being mistaken for dead and
Today, Rufus and Cecil Jr. are as vital today as their over-worked
organs. It is truly a blessing that they are still among us, though
perhaps not for them.
Born and raised in Toronto, Paul Bates studied theatre at York
University and joined the Second City in 1998. There he wrote and
performed in five main stage revues including the critically acclaimed
Sordido Deluxo, Family Circus Maximus, and Psychedelicatessen.
Paul's recent film credits include The Tuxedo and Welcome to Mooseport.
On stage, he most recently appeared in Overlords!, and in the hit
Fringe show SARSical as Mayor Mel Lastman.
Paul has won six Canadian Comedy Awards, most recently for The
Williamson Playboys, and also in the category of “Best Male
Improvisor.” Paul is currently writing and performing in The Second
City’s first revue in its new theatre on Mercer Street.
Doug is an alumnus of the Second City main stage, where he co-wrote and
performed in 7 productions including Sordido Deluxo, Y2K: The Chip Hits
the Fan, and Family Circus Maximus. He has directed two Second City
National Touring Company revues, as well as the main stage revue Good’s
Good, Evil’s Bad.
Selected Stage credits include: Mirvish Productions' The Drowsy
Chaperone at the Winter Garden Theatre, Tale of the Scorpion with
Adrian Truss and The Black Dog Group, SARSical at the Toronto Fringe,
and most recently All Hams on Deck at the Toronto Summerworks Festival.
His television credits include The Gavin Crawford Show on the Comedy
Network, CBC'S Sketch.com, Supertown Challenge for Smith and Smith
Productions, and The 11th Hour on CTV. Doug is a 5-time Canadian Comedy
Award winner, most recently winning for The Williamson Playboys, and
for outstanding male improviser.