My 90-Year-Old Roommate Digital Series Launches On CBC Today

Popular Funny or Die series becomes an actual series on CBC Comedy.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

Have you heard about a new hilarious digital series from CBC Comedy, My 90-Year-Old Roommate? It co-stars Ethan Cole and Paul Soles as a grandson/grandfather duo – the series is based on Ethan’s recent hit digital reality series for Funny Or Die, Explaining Things to My Grandfather, in which he taught his own grandfather about contemporary relationships and slang terms. The reality series has over 3 million hits to date.

All of the episodes are available as of today, September 9th on cbc.ca/comedy. The episodes (10 x 7 minutes) share funny, daily life vignettes about the experiences of an entitled millennial Ethan (Ethan Cole) who lives with his 90-year-old grandfather Joe (Paul Soles) and introduces him to modern-day dating and society, including the concepts of one-night stands, Uber, and ghosting.

His co-star, Paul, has had a successful career as a film, television theatre and voice actor that spans 65 years, including winning a Gemini Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Dramatic Series, for Terminal City (2005), nominated for a supporting actor Genie for Falling Over Backwards (1990), and is known as the voice of “Hermey” in the stop-motion classic Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He’s also known from the popular children’s drama Beethoven Lives Upstairs (1992), series Riverdale (1997) and The Jane Show (2006), for which he was again nominated for a Gemini. His face and voice are instantly recognizable to generations of Canadians.

Ethan and Paul gave Crave readers a glimpse into their unique relationship.

CraveOnline: Paul, tell us about how you and Ethan came to work together?

I did an audition and apparently I did alright. This is my first digital series, even though I’ve been at it since 1953. And I act like a curmudgeon but I only play one on TV.

What about yours and Ethan’s dynamic?

The normal relationship between grandfather and grandchild can be all sorts of things – things that festered or were never resolved could come out. There is an undercurrent of, what is the relationship between a man of my generation and of his? We can get along and learn from each other without killing each other, but on the other hand, none of us takes anything for granted. It wasn’t spelled out in the original proposal but it’s evident in the way that Ethan structured the audition, which is, like the show, entirely improv.

Given this is your first digital series, Paul, were you familiar with technology, the internet, etc.?

I spend far more time on the internet than I should because I have a certain curiosity and nothing is unavailable (except the occasional movie I want to see). There’s so much available free. Two years ago I got unlimited internet, so I take advantage of it. I’m just sorry there aren’t more hours in the day. It makes me think of the thesis behind “how many times do I have to buy the white album” – technology keeps advancing, and every 30 minutes they have a new technology. And here we are doing this piece for the internet. I don’t do social media and I don’t have any of that, and what I’ve realized is that you’ve got to have a son or grandson to handle all that. They’re like built-in help.

Ethan, why do you think your videos with your real grandfather were such a hit?

The comedic videos with my grandfather did well online, and one comment we received a lot was that it resonated with people because I treated my grandfather like he was my friend. I always had the dream to make a scripted comedy, so maybe there’s an interesting show here about a grandfather and grandson getting entwined in each other’s worlds.

What was it like working with Paul?

He is such a professional and the most encouraging, warmest human to work with. There were a few moments where I was like, I’m not an actor, where things would get a little dicey, and Paul would always be the first one to encourage me.