It may be a slow Sunday night elsewhere, but upstairs at GingerÕs Tavern on Barrington Street thereÕs hardly a chair to be found. Over the next two hours, the small army of 20-somethings gathered here Ð coffee and KeithÕs by their side Ð will see more than their share of ridiculous costumes, felt moustaches and cutting-edge humour.
The occasion is the Sunday Night Comedy Spectacular, a weekly showcase put together and performed by two Dalhousie students who love their comedy spontaneous. Mark Little, who is completing a masterÕs degree in English, and Kyle Dooley, a psychology and theatre student, go by the stage name Picnicface. Both got into improv comedy in high school before meeting at an improv camp in Regina and eventually ending up at Dalhousie together.
ÒThere really isnÕt much of an improv comedy scene in Halifax versus other major cities in Canada,” says Dooley, noting that their show is the only sketch and improv show in town. ÒSo we saw an opportunity to do something different.” At first, the duo performed an improv showcase each week at the University of KingÕs College. This summer, they added a sketch comedy segment with some of their fellow members of HalifaxÕs Comedy Dawgs and moved the show to GingerÕs, where they will perform most Sundays through to Christmas.
The first half of the Sunday Night Comedy Spectacular is devoted to sketch comedy, the troupe of five performing skits that are short, snappy and full of outlandish characters. In the second half, Picnicface take centre stage and perform a half hour of completely spontaneous long-form improv comedy. Some of the characters that come out of any nightÕs show may re-emerge in a future skit, but Little and Dooley pride themselves on avoiding repetition and treating their audience Ð mostly their fellow university students Ð with respect.
ÒStudents these days have seen so much comedy that weÕre bored with much of it,” says Little. ÒYou always want comedy that is, in some way, not really obvious. We donÕt do just straightforward jokes. A lot of it is meta-comedy, making fun of itself. And a lot of it just comes out of nowhere.”
Picnicface were invited to participate in the Toronto International Improv Festival in August, the only troupe this side of Montreal to receive the honour. For them, itÕs a chance to garner some serious national attention. TheyÕre also hopeful that at some point they can find a career with their comedy. ÒWeÕre not quite sure how to do it yet,” says Little, Òbut hey, we can dream.”
Visit Picnicface on Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/picnicface
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