Luba’s Accordion

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been back from the Ottawa/Montreal leg of our Comedy Before the Frost tour and I still haven’t had the time to post any of the photos or videos.  But I’m working on it.  I promise.

… I’ve been busy!

2012 Cream of Comedy

I had my first Level D class at the Second City Training Centre this past Monday (Rob Baker‘s my teacher – So excited! Uh… the comedian, not the dude from The Tragically Hip – although that would also be cool.) Afterwards, I huddled and dodged the hurricane over to the Main Stage to check out the last little bit of the 2012 Cream of Comedy show, where those 5 performers who were selected from Fresh Meat got to battle it out one last time in hopes of winning the Tim Sims Engouragement Fund  Finally, Christi Olson was declared victor and was awarded  $5k & a scholarship to the Training Centre.  Good on her.  She’s hilarious and totally deserves it.  Also, I hear she needs money to buy meds, so… good.  Comedy’s literally keeping this girl alive.

Kudos to the producer Deanna Palazzo for putting for the hard work she put into Fresh Meat and CoC this year.  They were both really fantastic performances, which ran smoothly, professionally and hilariously, just as planned.

I don’t know why, but because I didn’t know Tim Sims, I derived great pleasure out of recognizing him from the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials where he played Rory Tate, the scientist tracking mysterious peanut butter and chocolaty crop circles.  I REMEMBER those! I guess it makes me feel better because I can acknowledge that though I never got to see Tim perform live, some element of his performance has been ingrained in my memory – so I feel better about being nominated to be in a competition for award in his name.  Does that make sense? I don’t care.  It does to me.

You remember this too, right?

IT DOES TO ME!

Anyway, C0C was hosted by Kristeen von Hagen, who is hilarious.  And,  having heard she was in town, the wonderful Jess Beaulieu snagged her up to headline her and Laura Bailey‘s popular CHICKA-BOOM show, on which I got to perform with some other fun sketch and improv comedians and none other than Royal Canadian Air Farce veteran, Luba Goy.

The Canadian Ukrainian Princess

“What? Brie, that’s amazing!”

I know.  You don’t have to tell me that.  I feel it too.

She performed a great little bit of stand-up and included some of the fan favorites, including Kim Campbell & Donald Duck.  After the show, Luba kept us out too late for a Sunday, telling the hosts they need to hurry up, get married and have babies (not with each other…) before their parts dry up.  She then picked up what is probably the Free Times Café owner’s family heirloom, a sweet old accordion, without permission and went to town on it – telling us tales of her own one-of-a-kind childhood accordion, which her friend traded in sans permission.  Tragedy, right?

Who could say anything though? She’s Ukrainian Canada’s sweetheart!

Also, Luba tells me I’m no longer allowed to drink sweet white wine, so… I have to settle for Pinot Grigio these days.

YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT LUBA SAYS!!!!  BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN OTHERWISE.

Luba Goy – more terrifying than Halloween.

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Don Ferguson’s Centennial Project

This post is several weeks in the making – this past January 30th, a Canadian comic icon, Don Ferguson, of the epically successful Royal  Canadian Air Farce came to speak to the students of the Humber School of Comedy.

Here’s what I got out of it:

When I got the music, I got a place to go!

The Air Farce got their start back in old days of r-a-dio…. radio.  Is that how you pronounce that?  Radio?  Ferguson and the late Roger Abbott met in Montreal, where they began performing sketch comedy together in front of live audiences.  They would perform in theatres before they got picked up to do radio, which was advantageous to them because they learned by the reception of the audience what went well, what didn’t go so well and ultimately what worked.

It was then that they understood how much the audience wanted topical, current material. *For those of you who don’t remember, Ferguson took the role of many a politician on Air Farce, including this one:*

(Oddly enough, a similar reaction to that which I had when leaving Ottawa.)

Here’s what you could do with a live audience and with radio vs. on TV with a laugh track:

  • You can hear the audience laughing;
  • You can be plugged in to what they think is funny & relevant;
  • You can go more places (it’s almost like animation the amount of places you can go! But CHEAPER!)
  • Radio gets into people’s head & taps into their imagination;
  • Did I mention how much cheaper it is than TV?  Because it’s cheaper.

Ferguson mentioned how comedy, and particularly Air Farce’s TV sketches, demands precision.  Something can be funny if written a certain way, but then if you re-word it, the message won’t come across quite as clearly.  THIS is something extremely relevant to all aspects of writing for comedy, and probably especially to stand-up.  I’m currently in the process of conducting some massive edits to my stand-up bits.  It’s true, sometimes it hurts to kill your babies, or at least to dismember them, but it ends up with more laughs, then bye bye toesies!

Don Ferguson’s method for making it as a comedian in Canada:

  1. Get a show

  2. Be a hit

  3. Remain a hit

It’s as easy as that!   The pressure, he said, isn’t off as soon as you get a show.

Get a Show

“You can’t let up for a MOMENT.  It’s like being a pro-athlete.”

Crossing the Border = Security

If any of us Humber kids are in the mindset that comedy will provide us with any kind of job security, Ferguson reminded us that his longest contract was one of five years.  That’s it.  Everything else was shorter than that, normally one or two-year contracts with Air Farce.  That might make some people nervous, but Ferguson believes security can breed complacency in a business like this one.  The anxiety, fear and nervousness is what a comedian needs to stay sharp.

How’s that for noble, eh?

Ferguson and Abbott were asked to work on the American sit-com TAXI, but they declined as they’d realized “what Air Farce was doing on Radio was more important to [Canadian] listeners than ANY sitcom would mean to US viewers.”

Writing for Andy Kaufman would have been pretty... fun?

___

At this point, we skipped into a Q&A with Ferguson in which he gave us tips, tricks, encouragement and advice.  Because I pay so much for tuition, I’m going to keep this segment of our Prime Time with Don Ferguson private.  If you want more details, be sure to check this book out; a work that will serve to remind us how relevant; how important Air Farce really was for Canadians ever since their days back in R-A-D-I-O.

... no big deal. (!!!)

(Next on the schedule… Brie needs to dye her hair again!)