The Shmenge Brothers were a polka duo who, along with their band The Happy Wanderers, featured on the SCTV television comedy program in 1982-1983. They were played by John Candy as clarinetist Yosh Shmenge and Eugene Levy as accordionist Stan Shmenge. Candy based the characters on Czechoslovakian-born Edmonton-based polka cable show host Gaby Haas. The brothers were immigrants from the country of Leutonia; which celebrates its Christmas with a symbolic egg, a feast of "falutniks," and the "exchanging of the socks." Together they played polka for an aging eastern-European immigrant audience, who typically dined on cabbage rolls and coffee (provided by Mrs. Vilve Yachke).
A 60 minute HBO documentary special about Stan and Yosh's last concert, filmed in Toronto November and December of 1984, aired 14 March 1985 (and 15 April on Superchannel in Canada). Highlights include an overview of their early life in Leutonia and interviews with various relatives and friends who speculate on why they are retiring (they don't have a clue). The Shmenges themselves don't really have a good reason for retiring. They talk about their early years in Leutonian vaudeville playing jars. The war and an accident turn the Shmenges to polka. Just off the boat, they get their first big break with Colonel Cohen on his radio show. After the Colonel's mysterious death, the Shmenges start managing themselves. The Shmenges early TV show (Strikes, Spares and Shmenges; 1952) was broadcast from a bowling alley. The Lemon Twins perform, and discuss their start with the Shmenges; a clip from the Polka Variety Hour 1964 is shown. Linsk Minyk appears and does a medley of famous tunes including "On the Road Again." The attempt to expand their audience by attracting kids is a possible factor in their break-up. Footage of the setup and rehearsals for the disastrous "The Shmenges Salute Michael Jackson" concert in Plattsburg in 1984 is seen.
To promote The Last Polka, on February 26, 1985 the Shmenges guested on Late Night with David Letterman where they performed "Cabbage Rolls and Coffee Polka," which included a sing-along with the audience. Their appearance in the 1986 Comic Relief was their last performance.