Posts tagged Kris Siddiqi

One of Toronto’s most loved performers posted a message recently about his struggles as an actor. Anyone who’s played with, watched, or been taught by Kris Siddiqi will tell you that he is hilarious, talented, kind, and generous.

We’ve written before about rejection, and the need to refocus your efforts. While that’s true, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for change. Kris spoke in more detail about his decision with The Backline Podcast. Click here to listen.

Photo © Marcel St. Pierre

Photo © Neil Muscott

Here’s a rant for ya

There’s this feeling I get when I go to pick up my son from school – it’s a feeling of being unwanted, of not being good enough, of never having the right amount of…something. There are times when I stand at the school doors to pick up my son, and upon the very first glance of me, he begins to cry. He cries because I’m not mom. He was expecting his mom. It’s a feeling that hits me so hard in the gut and the heart – to know that I’m so undesired that the sight of me causes my son to burst out in tears. It make me want to burst out in tears.

This feeling is the exact same feeling I get when dealing with the world that I work in. And after feeling this not only from my son, but from the business that I’ve tried so hard to navigate, I’ve decided that I’m done.

After a long time of trying to be part of this machine one calls the Entertainment Industry, I’m finished, I’m done. I’m hanging up my hat and walking away from years of frustration, stress, anxiety, depression and complete and utter hopelessness. I’m done with having to know that I’m not white enough, or I’m not dark enough, or that my complexion is too confusing. I’m done losing sleep over auditioning when I know a role will go to someone who is full white, or full brown, or full black. I’m done questioning my talent level and my ability. I’m done with trying my best and my hardest only to have this ongoing silent rejection rule my life.

And why am I done? Well, I’m done because of you – because you who work in casting, in production, at networks – because you don’t know what you’re doing even though you like to make it seem like you do. You are the decision makers and the gate keepers and you would rather stick to the same old than take a chance. I’m done because you are only tools of a bigger entity that also thinks they know everything: “the client”. I’m done because “the client” rules everything and because they don’t have any interest in me. I’m done because even though I think I could work on your project, you don’t think so because of the complexion of my skin or because I’m just not talented enough. I’m done because all of you make me wish I didn’t have this skin colour – I wish I was all white or all brown, so at the very least you would consider me for your roles as cabbie, or tech help, or delivery man, or whatever other shallow role you’d like me to audition for.

This is the first time ever that I’ve felt like I’ve wasted my life. I’ve wasted time and energy and mental stability on you. I don’t want to feel like that anymore, so I’m moving on.

I apologize for placing such a pompous, arrogant, shameful, cry-baby, feel sorry for me rant on the one place I hate posting stuff like this. I apologize for coming across as ungrateful, or snide, or egotistical…I don’t mean to.

Why then am I posting this? I honestly don’t know.

Maybe I think someone will take sympathy on how pathetic I am and give me a job. Perhaps somebody will read this and think “oh, what a privileged jerk! There are bigger things in this world than your inability to book a show/commercial/anything.” Maybe deep down I am looking for sympathy and want to collect a huge amount of likes and comments on this, but in the end I think really all I’m looking for is to feel wanted, like the days when I go to pick up my son and his face is beaming with smiles because I’m there, no one else, no mom, just me. Maybe that’s the feeling I’m looking for from this industry, but will never find, because the decision makers and gate keepers are not a 5 year old child.

Sorry for the pity party
Krinky Ding-Dong

It’s no secret there are a lot of sci-fi and fantasy nerds – uh, fans – in the comedy community. But you don’t have to be a diehard Thronie to enjoy the improvised parody, Throne of Games. 

We asked Director Colin Munch and fellow cast member Kris Siddiqi about their world of the Seven Kingdoms.


Photo © Paul AIhoshi

P&C: What were some of the challenges in adapting a series as popular – and mammoth – as Game of Thrones for the stage?

KS: Everything.

CM: Yeah, pretty much.

Picking what was important and what wasn’t important was so difficult. What moments we were going to focus on, what characters we were going to include.

KS: Getting people up to speed on a really thick, huge universe. And just being able to sort of skim the top of that, get that basic information out that needs to be gotten out, and still be able to translate the intentions of the character, and their placement in the world.

CM: [It was] probably equally challenging for those who didn’t know the world, as it was for those who do. Because you have to choose between being a know-it-all nerd and actually making choices that are playable, rather than just dumping knowledge.

KS: Totally. I think as improvisers, we always play in genres no matter what. If it’s there, we’re playing in the genre.

But that’s what makes these challenges easier to work with, because we’re all well versed in the tropes and the idiosyncrasies of the genre. And something like this is steeped in every single trope and idiom that a fantasy genre comes in.

CM: Yeah, it’s not just a mediaeval fantasy. It’s a murder mystery, it’s a family drama, it’s a horror story at times. It covers all the bases.

P&C: The cast reads like a Who’s Who of Canadian comedy greats. How did you choose people for each role?

CM: Well, we wanted [Kris] for Ned immediately. It was definitely a bonus that you were already a fan and were available. But you were the first name that was put forward for the cast.

I really wanted [Conor] Bradbury for Khal Drogo right away. I knew I could put him in jean shorts and he wouldn’t argue with me.

KS: Did you choose more on just on physical appearance or…?

CM: Well Paloma [Nunez] and Alice [Moran] did most of the casting, because they’re more familiar with who’s who in the community.

I was really focused on temperament and attitude rather than what they looked like. Rob Norman doesn’t look like a 14-year-old boy, but he plays Joffrey really, really well.

P&C: It’s rare to see costumes used in improv, let alone ones as elaborate as yours.

Does performing in costume help or hinder players?

KS: It helps.

CM: Absolutely. The one challenge it creates is it, in a way, can lock our actors into playing a single character. Which can be detrimental to the show as a whole.

Paloma can’t just toss off her dress and jump on and play another character; she pretty much has to be Cersei for the whole show. Whereas I as Viserys could probably just toss off my wig and come in as something else if I needed to.

KS: But I think really that’s the only difference. Because again it’s being improvisers and being used to like, “Oh, where’s a joke I can drop?” or “How can I help this scene?” We’re not as able to do that in this, again, because those costumes clearly define who you are.

CM: And it lets us act a little bit more than we usually get to. You get to sit in your character more; you don’t usually get that luxury when you’re just guys in t-shirts and jeans.

KS: When you have that pomp, it totally adds to it. Me and [James] Gangl did a show years ago based on Deadwood

CM: Yeah, Dreadwood!

KS: We had a friend who worked at a costume store, and she did the fittings for everyone. And there was the day when everyone saw themselves in costume… The room was kinda silent, because everyone’s gears were turning in their head: “Oh, look at me, look at me!

And then there was a silent thing amongst the guys in the cast where they all started growing mustaches and muttonchops.

CM: It’s amazing the beards that have sprung up in the TOG rehearsal process. Etan [Muskat]’s got a beard. Ken Hall’s been growing that beard for like, six months.

Also, I love how crappy Nug [Nahrgang]’s costume is. We just throw a cape and crown over whatever Nug shows up wearing.

His character is so in contrast to the rest of the players in the show. He’s this super contemporary, 21st century party animal. I haven’t seen him yet, but he’s ordered Stark and Baratheon jerseys for everyone.

KS: That’s what I like; where I’m taking it so seriously and he…not that he’s not, but he’s not, you know what I mean? And that’s the good back-and-forth that we have, is that I have to be so loyal and Nug is just taking the attitude that, yeah dude, Baratheon’s just a party guy. He’s just an old frat boy.

CM: And that’s the advantage that we have, doing parody. Kevin Whalen can take Peter Bealish and just make him, essentially pootytang. Take him to the extreme of this pimp character. And he totally gets away with it because he plays it so well.

P&C: Each show revolves around a different part of the storyline. How much is improvised and how much is true to the original books?

CM: We have a specific series of moments from the first season that we need to hit, but the content of each episode is completely improvised.

P&C: Game of Thrones has a dark quality that’s been compared to Mad Men and The Sopranos. How does that translate to comedy?

CM: I think that you can get away with so much if you tell people they’re about to see a comedy. You can take people to a real emotional place, to a real dark place, if you hold their hand and tell them “Don’t worry, it’s all in good fun.”

That’s my big philosophy with art and theatre, and I do it with Bad Dog and Sex T-Rex.

KS: Yeah. My thing is always when you take the work seriously, then the audience sees you taking it seriously, and they go, we will now commit to their commitment.

Like when Bruce [Hunter] walked in as Tywin in the last [season].

Bruce has been doing comedy and writing and directing in this city for longer than some of us have been alive. So when he walks in with a stage that’s packed with like, Aurora Browne and Paul Bates and Nug, I just remember him taking the piss out of everyone. No one could say anything to Bruce. Just like Tywin.

When he turned to Alice and said, “Who’s this? Has anyone raped her yet?” And just that, that’s a very dark line! It’s very true to the world, but it’s still pretty dark man. But it worked.

CM: For one of your first lines on stage. When you come in as character…and that’s the first thing you say? I can count on one hand the number of people who could pull that off.

KS: I think that’s what the darkness translates to. It translates to knowing when you can take advantage of it.

CM: And we don’t shy away from it, either. Our world is just as dark as theirs is. Bran still gets pushed off that tower. People die.

KS: People fuck.

CM: People fuck. People go to jail.

I’m looking forward to taking that to the next level in the second and third seasons, because the world gets so much worse.  And I know that we’ll be able to pull it off because the comedy is so good.

You can see Throne of Games at the Next Stage Festival, January 2 – 13. 



Image © Alice Moran

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

For years, Chicago audiences have watched scantily-clad men improvise some of the dumbest scenes ever played on a stage. Now it’s Toronto’s turn.

Created by Mick Napier of The Annoyance Theatre, Skinprov is pretty much like it sounds: a bunch of guys do improv while wearing increasingly smaller pieces of fabric. Which makes the non sequitur scenes all the more hilarious.

Audience favourites Adam Cawley, Rob Norman, Wayne Jones, Kris Siddiqi, Dwayne Wilson and Matt Folliott bare their souls, or at least their flesh, next Wednesday, November 21st, 9:30 pm at Comedy Bar.

Ladies, start planning your staggette party.