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Wayne and Shuster met as high school students at Harbord Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1930. They both studied at the University of Toronto, where they wrote and performed for the theatre there, and in 1941 they made their radio debut on CFRB in their own show, The Wife Preservers in which they dispensed household hints in a humorous fashion. This exposure resulted in the pair being given their own comedy show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Trans-Canada Network as Shuster & Wayne.

They enlisted in the Canadian army in 1942, and performed for the troops in Europe during World War II as part of the Army Show (they would also later perform for the army in the Korean War). They returned to Canada to create the Wayne and Shuster Show for CBC Radio in 1946. They first performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in the United States in 1958, and set a record there by appearing 67 times over the next 11 years.

Wayne and Shuster turned down many offers to go to the U.S. permanently, preferring to remain in Toronto. (They did co-star in a CBS-TV sitcom, Holiday Lodge, which aired as a summer replacement for Jack Benny in 1961.) Shuster recounted how one network executive was incredulous that the pair would not accept an offer of their own show on US network television. The duo explained that they had debated it but decided that with friends and family all in Toronto, they would be happier in Canada. The executive apparently replied "There's more to life than happiness!"

After having a weekly television series in the 1950s, they began a series of long running, monthly Wayne & Shuster comedy specials on CBC Television in the early 1960s which continued into the 1980s by which time their comedy was regarded as old-fashioned. However, they were an influence for later Canadian comedians, such as Lorne Michaels (Shuster's son-in-law), the Royal Canadian Air Farce and The Kids in the Hall. In the late 1980s, many of their comedy skits were repackaged in half-hour chunks and syndicated around the world under the title Wayne & Shuster; the comedians filmed new introductions for the series.

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