by Tara Thorne
The Picnicface crew is on the move this week, headed to Toronto's annual Fringe Festival for seven performances of The Welcome to the Show Show, but not before testing out its material on the hometown. And even that format will get a little tweak—though the local sketch comedy troupe has made its name at Ginger's Tavern, for two shows only they'll take up residence in the Neptune Studio.
"We periodically do best-of shows and we were sitting around at breakfast coming up with all the sketches that could fill up the best-of show," says Wood, of the November meeting that was the catalyst for the Neptune shows. "And we had an hour-and-a-half of material. We had two 45-minute best-of shows. And then subsequently we did two best-of shows two weeks in a row. And we had a good run where we didn't go under 100 people for four weeks in a row."
So, with the troupe's popularity rising, Picnicface began putting together The Welcome to the Show Show, a multimedia extravaganza ("a really slick thing," Wood notes) featuring sketches, live raps and the videos that have made them viral stars ("Powerthirst," "Hey Africa," "Monster Rap") with a fan in Will Ferrell—his site,
funnyordie.com, has made a deal with the troupe to host some of their videos exclusively. The local shows will be a combination of Show and the group's more laid-back interactive Ginger's set.
While in the beginning—we're talking 2006—the group grew and shrank like Broken Social Scene, the Picnicface core has settled into eight members: Wood, Andrew Bush, Mark Little, Kyle Dooley, Evany Rosen, Cheryl Hann, Brian MacQuarrie and Scott Vrooman.
"Three months ago, if you came to Ginger's and hung out in the back and wrote a sketch and we thought it was funny, we would put it up," says Wood. "Now that we're operating at a higher level, we don't need more actors. But we're always looking for more writers. It's the kind of thing that if you come to the Ginger's show and watch it, it looks like a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work. I don't think people even want to be in Picnicface, they don't know! Everyone in Picnicface does two or three aspects of the job. When someone comes in and says "Hey I'm going to hand out some fliers and here's a sketch,' we love that."
Picnicface throws down at Neptune Studio on June 29 and 30 at 8pm. Tickets are $12, available at the door or, Wood adds, "If you bump into anyone in Picnicface, we have tickets on us. Come up to us in coffee shops, that's what we want!"
Talent without borders
Local breakdancers Luca "Lazy Legz" Patuelli and Illmatic Styles have advanced to the boot-camp round of America's Got Talent, the NBC variety show that is actually less concerned about talent than you might think from the title. (Also, it's hosted by Jerry Springer and David Hasselhoff is a judge. We leave it to you to form your own opinion.)
Anyway, our guys actually fall quite perfectly into the talented pool, and you can check them out at Shows Without Walls (yes, yes, Buskerfest) in August. But get your preview on a major American television network first. (Geez, we've never said that before!) Their audition episode re-airs twice on June 30: at 8pm on CTV and 9pm on NBC.
Bits and blabs
Hey filmmakers! Don't forget your final drop-deadline for the Atlantic Film Festival is Friday, June 29. Hope you didn't pick up the paper on Saturday! ... But you're still safe for another week if you're thinking of finally committing to stretching out your theatre legs with a musical adaptation of a popular TV show, say, or perhaps your tribute to David Mamet? That's right, you've got till July 7 to apply to the Atlantic Fringe Festival and the earlier you do it, the more likely you are to be accepted. ... Run far, far away from Citadel Hill into the wilds of Point Pleasant Park and take refuge from Daughtry with the Shakespeare by the Sea annual Canada Day show. The venerable troupe kicks off the new season at 4pm with its version of Pinocchio, directed by Jeremy Webb. The show will take place in Cambridge Battery unless it's raining, in which case it will go on at the SBTS HQ in the lower parking lot of the park. ... The Ellen Page-starring The Tracey Fragments, from Bruce McDonald, has just been announced as part of this year's Toronto International Film Festival, which will take place September 6 to 15.
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