New Episode of The Constant Struggle Featuring The Dandies’ Dale Wells

Our latest episode of The Constant Struggle podcast is up and this time, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dale Wells, improviser and co-founder of The Dandies & Holodeck Follies.

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e12-follow-your-passion-with-dale-wells/

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Dale speaks about the benefits and challenges producing live comedy shows in Toronto. We talk about the history of Star Trek improv in the city, about geek culture, and about his show; Holodeck Follies, kicking butt at this year’s FanExpo. Dale and Nick chat about what it’s like to be a Dad artist with a day job. We bring up his love of singing and the various ways in which improv can bring joy to your life.

What a positive guy!

***
With GREAT shout-outs to:
ANDIE WELLS
NATASHA BOOMER
ROB ARISS HILLS
THE 404s
GARY PEARSON
MARK LITTLE
KEN HALL
ALAN LEIGHTIZER
TODD VAN ALLEN (COMEDY ABOVE THE PUB)
GILLIAN ENGLISH &
TODD GRAHAM
***
 Be sure to follow The Dandies on Twitter @TorontoDandies & catch the next edition of #HolodeckFollies at Geek Hard Live!
#StruggleOn everybody!
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Watch Sunnyside, Damnit!

Do yourself (and me) a favour and watch Sunnyside. It premiered tonight, and it was super funny, super original and super Canadian.

It reminded me of that improv game Goon River, except, they weren’t speaking in monologues, but it IS about town filled with fun, quirky characters. Although nobody died… so… maybe not so much like Goon River…Oh no wait. Someone died.  Cool.  Totally like Goon River.

Anyway… I really liked it! And not only because I know the creators, writers and cast personally and am super proud of their hard work not only being produced, but finding a broadcast home amidst a dark period of TV history in which few networks are willing to take chances on new ideas in general, let alone great sketch comedy ideas.

The show is co-created by Gary Pearson (who, if you’re a reader of this blog, directed a sketch show I was in back at Humber called #cliché: based on the novel Push by Sapphire) so… it’s cool, we tight. I think I also reviewed one, if not both of his novels here as well. What I’m saying is, I’m a fan.

The cast and writers are ALL people I’ve seen CRUSH around Toronto’s live comedy scene. Stand-up, improv, sketch. You name it, they’re made me laugh doin’ it. I’m super excited for this show, and I’m super excited for all the talented people involved/responsible for it.

Now YOUR job, reader, is to go watch the darn thing and enjoy it. That way, they can keep making it, and maybe more opportunities will arise for the hardworking hilarious people trying to make a living making YOU laugh! It’s a win win!

Is this too ranty for a post about a silly sketch comedy show?  Meh. I don’t care.

Watch Sunnyside, damnit.

Brieview: Slapshot of Love – Team Geri!

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So, I freakin’ loved this book.  I was so happy that the main character was such a smart (shall we say geeky – but like, the Star Wars kind – not the “good at math” kind), strong yet insecure, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, hilarious and totally ass-kicking.  Geri is all the women I know who are so underepresented in literature and TV and media in general, but Gary Pearson brings this firecracker to life with such charm and compassion, and surrounds her with great supporting characters, some you love and some you’d love to see get hit by a truck.

The contrast between reality (the day-to-day; work, living accommodations, friends, family, Hamilton) and the dream-world of reality TV ($$$, hot babes, hockey stars and more $$$) are so wonderfully contrasted and eventually tangled that you become enthralled in the story and really feel for Geri and think; “What will she to choose?  What would I choose?”

And let’s be honest, anything that has to do with Reality TV that actually makes you think and feel is an amazing accomplishment on its own!  Read this book and feel something!

The Proof is in the Pudding…Mmm… pudding…

This past Tuesday, Humber’s Comedy program held its’ first Stand-Up Gala at Yuk Yuk’s – to be aired (perhaps) (eventually) on Sirius XM satellite radio.  We had a special guest host, Levi MacDougall, who you probably recognize from all those Rogers commercials, but who you should probably learn more about because he’s a lot more impressive than the dude in those commercials.  ANYWAY,  it felt good to perform that night, because I hadn’t had the strongest set in our showcase the week prior, (the one in which a bunch of Humber alumni and other industry people came to evaluate,) and yet I was still asked to participate.  And, I believe I had a better night on the Gala show than I did on the showcase, so Win 1 for Brie!

I’d like to say I’m over the relatively shitty feeling you get when a bunch of people you hardly know tells you what they didn’t like about your performance in the form of a numerical grade, but I’m pretty over it.

Some people had better Showcase nights.  Some people had better Gala nights.  There are good and bad nights & good and bad sets.  I am uplifted that my Gala night went better, because it encourages me to want to go out more, to write more and to keep at it.  Life doesn’t end at the showcase.

Obviously.

It ends at the Industry Show.

No.  Not really.

That being said, we are currently hard at work on our end-of-year Sketch show, which has been TREMENDOUS fun!  Our director, Gary Pearson, is so profesh, organized & on the ball.  I’d aim for an attitude like his if I was ever to be back working in a sketch troupe.  And I am SO stoked that two of my sketches, one black-out and an improv-come-sketch (with help from the very funny Brandon Trainor,) were selected to be part of our show.

There’s something about the collaborative nature of sketch comedy that makes upcoming performances more exciting than the nerve wracking excitation of stand-up.  It’s probably because you have others to play with and fall back on.  It’ll also be a moment to take in because it’ll be the last time us 02s work together as a collective.  Unless we’re all chosen for the Industry Show.  (Fingers crossed.)

Maybe it’s the cough syrup talking sentimental, but I’m sure gonna miss thing gang when clown college’s is all over. 😦

Employed with two major Chicago institutions: The Second City & Oprah

It’s been another one of those crazy-busy weeks where I haven’t had time to post too often, but last night – Friday – I was at Comedy Bar, where I’d been invited to read a monologue as “Thinking Woman” The Panel Show, a monthly show put on by (a bunch) of the guys from the awesome sketch troupe Shoeless.  (Seriously – any chance to see one of this troupe’s shows – leap!) – followed by a delicious tasty gelato with my best pal from the olden days Dina & her sister Jess.

Another big deal of the week was that I was hired to start working at The Second City as a host – which is a totally huge deal.  I know in the past I’ve been like – meehhh, I don’t know if I want a job in the evenings because it’ll interrupt with my abilities to go out and do comedy.  Yeah, ok BUT… working in a comedy club – not just any comedy club, the fucking Second City, seems like a pretty smart move, I’d say.  So many big comics got their start at the Second City.  And, I heard through the grapevine that if you work at SC, you can get discounts on improv classes, which is great, because I was planning on taking the A-E levels after completing my program at Humber.  Anyhoo – I start on Monday and am totally and completely stoked.

I also interviewed for and was asked to help out as an intern on a new show soon to be shot for the Oprah Winfrey Network.  I don’t know that I’m allowed to talk about what it is or whatever, but they were looking for interns and a pal and I from Humber went on down to the Corus Entertainment building down by the lake on Tuesday morning and got ourselves some good old-fashioned unpaid internships!

In addition to that, we met with and pitched sketches to our director, Gary Pearson, for our end of year Sketch show, taking place at the Comedy Bar mid-April.  I’m happy to say two of my sketches were selected to be put into the show – so hooray for that.  Consequently, Gary is the first person to make a comment about the high-concentration of sex-themed pieces the people in my class write.  No big surprise there.  But he’s the only person in this two year program to say: “Uh, enough.  Talk about something else!!”   There go my next three sketch pitches.

Tuesday was Round One of 2nd years’ Stand-Up Showcase at Yuk Yuk’s and HOLY COW was it a great show!  Solid 4-minute sets put on by half the people in my year, in front of alumni, other comics and a few big wigs.  It was great to see some people who don’t go out too often – sometimes they really surprise you.  You think, jeez!  Where have you been all this time?  Why haven’t you been doing this more?  My hope is that Round Two goes just as well, if not BETTER… because that’s the show I’ll be on, and it’s happening on my Birthday, so if it doesn’t go well, somebody’s going to be drinking away her sorrows instead of celebrating that night.

Why you scared?

Also – and nothing really do to with comedy school, Wednesday was “jab Brie in the arm day” at the doctor’s office.  Apparently my veins are difficult to find when I’m dehydrated due to mandatory fasting.  This was the result.  Bask in my pain.

Back to Comedy -> Saturday was the culmination of a project some of my school colleagues have been working on for the past little while.  They were to transform their 10-minute plays into radio plays with help from a pro from the CBC.  After much learning, editing, re-writing and other stuff, they finally recorded the pieces yesterday at Humber’s sound booth.  I still got to play one of the dogs in Ashley’s Dog Wedding: Rated Radio so what better way to spend a Saturday than trapped in a soundproof extremely warm booth?  No, but seriously, it was a lot of fun, even though my 10-minute play didn’t get picked to go on the radio.  Totally not bitter about that.  It’s really not a big deal.  Nope.  Not even a little bit. It’s cool.  I’m cool.  Everything’s good.

So as not to end on a (totally not) bitter note, last night I had somewhat of a high school reunion.  It’s fun to just hang out with people you’ve known from a simpler time – good ol’ Welland high school/cadet friend days.  Except…instead of MT Bellies, now we meet at Okrutny’s upscale downtown condo on Queens Quay and eat baked Brie.  Consequently, that is also my DJ name.

Cheers all!  Bring on next week!