a005739

Humour and Remembrance

I just wanted to write a little follow-up, albeit a late one, about the First World War themed improv show I held with co-producer Aaron Peever on Vimy Ridge Day, this past April 9th.

One of my huge concerns about the show was that people, especially the performers, would take it seriously. And, I know the reason I was concerned. I was met with a certain defensive suspicion whenever I mentioned the idea to people. I could tell the instinctive reaction was something along the lines of  a “how dare you make fun of people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom?”-mentality, which I think is certainly reflective of the way we’re expected to feel about most military action nowadays. Either you’re you support the troupes, or you hate Canada, right? And making jokes about the War sure doesn’t sound like supporting the troupes!

Here’s the thing. I hand-picked the improvisers to play in this show based on one fact: their knowledge of First World War history. Some of the cast weren’t even improvisers, but were excited by the opportunity to give their knowledge of history a new platform. In fact, most of the improvisers I asked leapt at the opportunity to play in this world, to combine their knowledge with their amazing abilities to create realistic relationships, characters and scenes specifically within the realm of that era. I mean, some of them were pretty stoked to history-nerd out! (Myself included.)

The platform was wonderful. I chose this cast because I knew they would not mock the War. They would create characters and scenes within the very real context of the War based entirely on their historical knowledge of the events in question and their respect and appreciation of its history. The characters they chose were real. The scenarios, likely, given the context. The result; pure unbridled silly awesomeness. NOT mockery.

We’re all so sensitive to political correctness now, I felt like I was walking on eggshells producing a show based on events that took place nearly ONE HUNDRED YEARS ago!  The more I thought about it, the more I came to wonder why people didn’t really get it. And here’s what I came up with.

1) People, in general, aren’t familiar with longform improvisation, or any improvisation for that matter that doesn’t follow the Whose Line Is it Anyway? model they’ve seen over the years on TV. This, to me, is tragic. Longform improv at its core is about playing real, honest characters and having them tell a story and transport you to a place and a time that, when done correctly, will have you in disbelief that it’s all made up on the spot, but also, in stitches. The scenes last much longer than what you’ve come to expect out of Whose Line, which allows for more time to create very realistic world right there on stage.

2) People have short memories. We’re certainly not the first people to make comedy about the First World War (or any war for that matter; look how many movies came out of Vietnam, and what about M*A*S*H, set in Korea? That show was on the air for over 10 years!)

But, specifically regarding  WW1, how about the greats? Here’s some Monty Python for your faces:

Hell, during the Great War itself, Canada had its own group of comedians who would entertain the troops with their vaudeville act, which went onto Broadway after the end of the War!

a005739

The horrors these soldiers faced during the war are not something we want to mock. Quite the opposite. Why not use humour as a way to help people REMEMBER the war, rather than making people paranoid about even talking about it, lest they express some criticism that might make them seem unpatriotic?

If you still don’t catch my drift, come to Toronto on June 6th, and watch this amazing group of improvisers storm the beaches and pay homage, in our own special way, to the Canadians in WW2.

Performer Spotlight – Exit, Pursued By A Bear

Brie:

SoCap gave EPBAB a Performer Spotlight! Check us out!

Originally posted on SoCap Comedy Blog:

dsc_0012It’s another performer spotlight! This time we’re checking in with Brie Watson& Gillian English of Exit, Pursued By A Bear.

How would you describe your group?

Bladder-busting improv duo of classically trained Shakespearian actor Gillian English and classically trained doofus Brie Watson take you on an adventure into the world of the smart and silly; the smilly! Guided by dynamic chemistry and fun and relatable characters, EPBAB delight and entertain with unconventional world-views and stories that’ll leave you in stitches. EPBAB headline a monthly comedy show at the Social Capital Theatre in Toronto every 4th Thursday of the month & have been on NOW Magazine’s “Critic’s Picks” list.

Tell us a bit about the show.

This is a 1.5 hour comedy variety show hosted and headlined by EPBAB. The show features our favourite local stand-up comics, sketch and improv troupes, and a variety of other comedy acts. We try to get…

View original 435 more words

For King and Country – Vimy Ridge Day at SoCap

Tonight, I’m producing an improv show which brings together my love of improvisation as well as my passion for World War One history. For those of you who did not know me before moving to France, I was once (or twice, or four times) a Tour Guide at the Vimy National Canadian War Memorial, in France.

The whole experience had an extremely profound impact on my life and today, on the 98th Anniversary of the Four Canadian Divisions storming the ridge, all together in formation for the first time in our history, I and several of my hilarious colleagues, will be presenting:

WWIMprov

All funds raised will be going to the Vimy Foundation and Wounded Warriors Canada.

It’s a worthy cause, so…

e010695900-v8

Are You Ready For The Trek Of Your Life, Ad Astra?

Brie:

This is going to be fun; and I’m lucky enough to get to play a part in in! Make sure to check it out nerdosphere!

Originally posted on The Dandies:

On Friday, April 10th, 2015, at 9 p.m.,  Holodeck Follies returns to Ad Astra for another silly Star Trek adventure!

ad-astra-2015-holodeck-follies

The 2015 Ad Astra Crew

Dale Wells as Captain Tachyon Field
Andie Leathley as Lt. Cmdr Jennifer Kumquat
Alan Leightizer as Jr Sub-Lt 2nd Grade Guy Guyson
Zach Mealia as Ensign Enson Zach
and Guests
Brie Watson as Ensign Katie Janeway
Adam Ward as Ensign Russell Highlander
Kevin Nunn as Admiral Moore

And stick around for the improv jam, right after our show, to play improv games with the cast!

A not-for-profit, volunteer-run, weekend-long, science fiction, fantasy and horror event with a focus on authors and other creative professionals.

Register (online or via mail) for the full Ad Astra experience!

View original

Birthday Reset

Confession time: I  had a great Easter/birthday long weekend.

It was the perfect reset I needed to help me put things into perspective and refocus my goals, but also celebrate and reflect upon another year on Earth. And despite a slip and fall accident resulting in an incredibly bruised and sore coccyx, I’m doing that thing right now where I might be producing my very own Dopamine and Serotonin. Happiness, folks.

My birthday fell on Good Friday this year, which is great for sleeping in, and not so great for feeling the contemplation and sorrow that are typically aligned with this particular holiday. That being said, I have a commitment to Improv Game Show, a weekly comedy show I co-produce with Cassie Moes every Friday evening, and we typically go strong, even on holidays. This particular rendition was very well attended; the cast was excellent and Gillian English (my very darling friend and the show’s host this week) went so far as to invite my friggin’ improv hero, Rob Baker, to come play the set with us on account of it being my birthday. The following shot I think demonstrates how I felt about the news:

11138076_470277076457124_5532606819525507406_n

:)

The evening continued with drinks and chats at SoCap, which is quickly becoming my home-away-from-home and then across the street for food and more drinks with members of the cast, other improvisers and friends. I’m so thankful to be a part of this awesome community. What a super swell birthday! :D

Speaking of which, the following day, my monthly improv baby; Guess Who’s Coming to Improv? took place at Comedy Bar, and was filled with wonderful audience members and hopeful participants. I got to play a few good scenes, and to watch some that ended up like this:

11024610_939177692773145_8952240762142397804_nSo, pretty good time overall.

I was so lucky/happy/ #blessed to have had Jan Caruana agree to be the Special Guest improviser this month, because she’s such a fantastic performer. She’s got such a great mind for crazy references, and it seems like her brain works so super fast to come up with really great scenes, so it was such a treat/joy to get to play with her, and to watch her play with those who were lucky enough to get their names pulled with hers! That show is so much fun and personally, I think people should make it a priority to attend. (Maybe I’m a bit biased…)

ANYHOO. I went back down to Niagara on Sunday for Easter proper. Spent the day with my family, who surprised me with a birthday cake, even though I’m twenty-nine again and so technically a grown-ass adult. (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.) It was so lovely to be surrounded by the whole fam-damily. I won’t go into too many details, because my personal life is MY OWN BUSINESS DAMNIT! But I will take the time to brag about how awesome my 94 year-old grand-maman is; she was singing songs from back in the day and dancing as best she could; enjoying her chocolate eggs like a champ and chatting us all up. Here look & tell me you don’t think she’s the cutest grand-maman in the world:

Listening to my grand-maman Aurore sing us des bonnes vieilles tunes!

A photo posted by Brie Watson (@brieford) on

With the added benefit of getting Easter Monday off, because I sortof work for the government-ish, I got to get in an important meet/chat and a headshot shoot, both of which helped put my mind at ease on a number of different things pertaining to my life/career at this stage of the performance-game.

This was a wonderful long weekend filled with wonderful people, and I think this happy feeling is going to last a while; at least for the first five minutes of my administrative workload tomorrow morning anyway.

My butt still hurts. But I’m alive.

Thanks for reading. :)