Posts from the Other Cool Stuff Category

We love seeing the non-improv side of improvisers, be it art, dance, filmmaking, baking, tuning a bike, or knowing how to fix your Commodore 64. And when we saw Lara Johnson’s paintings, we were blown away by her talent.

“Movies were such an integral part to my childhood,” says Lara. “Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Star Wars…I mean the list goes on. They shaped my sense of humour and are such a huge part of who I am. I love honouring them! My parents should have probably encouraged more books, but hey, you get what you get. No complaints here!

I am also just so inspired by how much my current work is touching people and getting them excited about art. There’s something about it that makes me feel more connected to who I am, what I love and the people around me, like its something/someone we all share love for, and have amazing memories of. We all know the story. It’s such a cool feeling.”

You can see more of Lara’s work at Fan Expo, Table A236, August 28 – 31 at the Metro Convention Centre. Or visit her website at and “Like” her facebook page to stay updated on new works. There are prints available, and Lara also does commissions.

Artwork © Lara Johnson

Artwork © Lara Johnson

Lara has been improvising for six years, studying at Second City and Bad Dog Toronto, UCBT New York, Artistic New Directions, The Stella Adler Studio, as well as Annoyance and iO in Chicago, and The School with Paola Coletto and Jet Eveelth and The Black Box Theatre.

You can see her perform at SoCap’s 200% Vodka show Monday nights with her aptly-named team, A Team Of Improv. She also co-produces and performs War Porsche with Hayley Kellett, now in its third year.

My strongest memory of Robin Williams isn’t a film or TV role (though there are dozens of those); it was seeing him improvise live on television.

I was 12 years old and Williams had just exploded on the scene with Mork and Mindy. He was a guest on The Don Lane Show, and you could tell that neither the host nor the studio audience – nor I, for that matter – had ever seen anything like him.

When Williams came out, Lane gave him the floor and challenged him to make jokes up on the spot. Williams proceeded to walk around the set, riffing off every prop and piece of furniture. (Alas, the only thing I recall is when he gestured to a pointy sculpture and quipped, “Cleopatra told Caesar, “Not tonight babe. I’ve got my pyramid.'”)

I remember being amazed at his ability to create comedy out of seemingly nothing. Little did I know the man in the rainbow suspenders would go on to become one of the most successful actors on the planet.

For all the laughter (and the tears), thank you.

We’ve got a sweet tooth for Strangers With Candy, and someone on the interwebs was kind enough to put together these comedic nuggets from Stephen Colbert’s character, Chuck Noblet.

There’s so much to love here: Chuck’s passion for sustenance, the diversity and specificity of foods, the absurdity of the situations, and of course, Colbert’s trademark commitment to character. Bon appetit.

Have you ever been ill before a show or rehearsal, so ill that you felt you couldn’t go through with it, yet somehow you did and ended up having a great set?

Not me, but the lovely Jet Eveleth with Paul Brittain - Photo © Adrianne Gagnon

(Not me, but the lovely Jet Eveleth with Paul Brittain) – Photo © Adrianne Gagnon

When Paul Brittain offered a workshop in Toronto, I signed up months in advance. I was super excited, and looking forward to learning from the SNL alumnus.

But as the date got closer, I got sick. We’re talking coughing up toxic sludge, sweating profusely, SARS-kinda sick. Still, I was determined to attend. (Who cares if I was carrying the Plague? This was clearly all about me.)

The day of the workshop, I awoke feeling mummified. On the subway ride there, I was sure I was going to pass out.

Standing outside the classroom, I was torn between vomiting or dying. Mostly, I was furious at my body: How dare it get sick, now of all times?

At the last moment I made a decision: I wouldn’t participate, I’d just monitor the class. It was better than missing it altogether.

And then a funny thing happened.

I sat and watched as the first group performed. But when Paul called for four new people to go up, I joined them. My performance was far from amazing, but I enjoyed learning a new form.

I returned to my seat and watched as another group tried a different form. When he called for a new bunch of people, I went up again. This time I was a little more playful.

As the afternoon progressed, Paul switched to two-person scenes.

Standing on the sidelines, I thought of an initiation: I’d go in as Tom Jones, a callback to an earlier scene.

But as I strode forward, my hand cupped like it was holding a microphone, the girl walking towards me endowed me as a computer salesman.

Without breaking stride, I became an Apple Genius, and the microphone became a pen. I saw the store in 3D all around us, and started showing her a MacBook.

With every line my scene partner spoke, words and phrases peculiar to my character (not me) flowed from my lips, and I discovered more things in our environment to play with. I didn’t have to look; they appeared spontaneously.

During the scene I was aware of only one thing: that I wasn’t thinking or anticipating at all. It felt like things were being fed to me, constantly, intravenously.

Afterwards, Cameron asked if I’d seen Paul laughing. I hadn’t, but it was only then with the workshop over that I realized I hadn’t thought about being ill the entire time.

Two hours earlier I wasn’t sure I could stand. My only goal was to get through the workshop without puking. But during scenes, I was like a person possessed. It was one of the funnest, most freeing experiences I’ve ever had.

Maybe I oughta get sick more often.

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One of the things that made Much Music (Canada’s MTV) a joy to watch back in the day, was the fact that so much of it was unscripted.

With live programming broadcast in eight-hour chunks, there was no way everything could be written or pre-planned. And while it was almost entirely music-focused, there was lots of room for comedy.

One guest of those early days was a young and lanky Mike Myers. Before Much Music, he and VJ Christopher Ward improvised and did sketch on an all-night video show called City Limits. (I remember coming home from clubbing and watching their low-tech green-screen antics till dawn.)

Much’s producers also invited Weird Al Yankovic to “take over” the station with his own brand of insanity. And it was always great to find out which visiting rock stars had a sense of humour.

Now that Bell Media has axed all but a handful of jobs from the station, we thought we’d share some nuggets from the past we dug up on the inter webs.



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