Comedian Shaun Majumder says he was abruptly fired from the cast of This Hour Has 22 Minutes after sending a letter to producers offering creative input on the Halifax-based parody show.
Majumder was part of the cast of 22 Minutes, which airs on CBC-TV, from 2003 to 2010 and then returned in 2011 after a stint on ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7.
“I’ll be honest, it kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t feel like that was the conversation I was going to have when I had that conversation with the producers,” Majumder told CBC News Monday from his hometown of Burlington, N.L.
Majumder said he’s known of the decision since June, but didn’t want to speak publicly until he had a clearer picture of the circumstances.
He broke the news Saturday night while on stage during the closing festivities of The Gathering, an annual festival Majumder hosts in his hometown.
‘The straw that broke the camel’s back’
It wasn’t CBC’s decision to remove Majumder from the cast, according to the comic. He said it was a show producer who was responsible for his firing after Majumder voiced his concerns in a letter.
Majumder said despite having the funniest cast of characters in the country and the greatest writers, he felt as though that creative team of 22 Minutes wasn’t getting enough of a say in the final decision-making.
“I just felt like we were leaving a lot of funny on the table,” he said.
DHX Media produces This Hour Has 22 Minutes for CBC.
“I kind of felt like Becca from The Bachelorette last year when she sat down with Ari. I said, ‘Wait. What? You’re breaking up with me?’ All I did was write a letter suggesting how we could make the show better. It wasn’t an angry letter. It was a very positive, constructive letter that I wrote. I guess that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
‘I’m not dead’
Family, friends and fans across the country have been quick to offer Majumder their support.
“First of all, I want to say, I’m not dead. There’s a lot of wonderful things being said. They’re like, ‘He will be missed, he’s lost forever.’ And I’m like, ‘No, this is the entertainment industry,'” Majumder laughed.
“Today has been a pretty substantial day of response, and it’s really great to see all the love and the support that, not only fans across Canada have for 22 Minutes, but also for me, and I really appreciate that.”
Majumder only has good things to say about his time on the show. From the behind the scenes crew working in finance, to the hair and makeup team, to wardrobe to stagehands, he says he will miss everyone, including his cast mates.
“I really enjoyed working with Mark [Critch], he’s a good buddy, and Susan [Kent], who I love so much, and Cathy [Jones] and Trent [McClellan] and Meredith [MacNeill] — and anybody new who is going to come in — because the show should last forever, no doubt about it.”
Before Majumder put out his statement on Monday, CBC representative Chuck Thompson confirmed he would not be returning to 22 Minutes.
“Given the nature of the industry, it’s not uncommon to make a change with a cast member,” Thompson said in an email. “This has happened several times over the years with other cast members on 22 Minutes.”
Thompson added that the show “decided to go in a different direction” but “looks forward to the possibility of working with Shaun in the future.”
Majumder said he won’t be stepping away from the spotlight. He’s already thinking about future projects.
“There’s all kinds of stuff, especially in the writing world. I really want to start making my own shows. I want to have the control where I wouldn’t have to get into a situation where I will be fired from a show because I wanted to have more input and more say in how the show gets made,” he said.
“I have a great relationship with the CBC. I love the CBC so much. They’re such an important network, and I’ve been talking to them and we’re going to explore ideas together. Everything is good.”