Rating: NNNNNHere's the thing about the fabulous Belleville boys, Jason and Ryan.In less than two years, they've shaken up the.
Here’s the thing about the fabulous Belleville boys, Jason and Ryan.
In less than two years, they’ve shaken up the local stand-up comedy scene.
Since moving here from Calgary, they’ve killed at pretty much every room in the city. The Rivoli? Of course. Clinton’s? Yes. A clown show? Why not!
“We’re comedy whores,” jokes Jason, the taller, older one, dipping into a plate of designer nachos at the Rivoli, where the pair are performing their first full-length duo show Wednesday. They’re also part of the ALT.COMedy fifth-anniversary show Monday at the same venue.
The two ultra-likeable brothers do it all: writing, stand-up, improv, sketch.
Jason just scored his first beer commercial, the one where the guys wear rubber tube tops. Ryan, who’s barely old enough to drink legally, is in an electronics spot directed by Clerks’ Kevin Smith.
“Oh yeah, I can juggle,” begins Ryan, the shorter one with the carefully mussed hair. “I can eat fire, I can ride a unicycle….”
He’s not kidding. The two are like modern-day court jesters — their silly bits are gently satiric, smart without being showy. It’s not a stretch to imagine them in bells and caps.
“Hey,” says Jason. “This is not going to help in the potential bride area.”
Oh yeah, the bride thing. The two are gettin’ lonesome. They want to meet a couple of nice women with well-developed senses of humour.
“We’re both single, desperately, desperately single,” says Jason. “Um, can you take out that first “desperately’?”
“We have our serious sides,” says Ryan. “We can be brooding. We’re not unlike those sad clowns with the tears on the inside. And giant pants.”
Jason points out that women are always after Ryan, but he’s oblivious to it all.
“I keep hearing, “Oh, your brother’s really funny and cute,'” mimics Jason. “I’m like the Beau Bridges or Billy Baldwin of comedy. The older, fatter one.”
Both honed their improv skills at Keith Johnstone’s Loose Moose Theatre Company in Calgary, the training ground for some of the funniest folks in the country, like Mark McKinney, Bruce Hunter and Albert Howell.
Ryan apprenticed there first, busing tables to perform improv. At 17, he convinced his 23-year-old bro to join in. The atmosphere, they say, was laid-back and encouraging. And unlike Toronto’s Second City, you didn’t have to shell out cash to learn your craft.
“In Toronto,” riffs Ryan, “it’s “I can teach you in 75 easy instalments of $100, in 2,000 hours of classes, and one day you, too, can become a half-assed improvisor.'”
Toronto, they point out, is a product city.
“Everybody’s on the go,” says Jason. “You do improv to get something else. In Calgary, there really wasn’t anything to get. You did it because you loved it and you wanted to get better at it.”
For the Flying Bellevilles show, the two are introducing some rare sketch.
“Our favourite show is The Simpsons,” says Ryan. “We love quick, in-your-face, absurd gags.”
“Mixed in with longer things,” adds Jason. “A lot of the pieces will begin, “And now Jason Belleville drives a cat…’ or, “And now, the number-one news broadcast from Brazil in 1974….’ Snapshots into our minds.”
Later this month, the two — who have dual citizenship (Mom’s an actor at Shaw Dad’s a writer/director/actor) — are heading down to L.A, doing showcases, shopping scripts.
It’s hard, they agree, to build a body of work in Canada, where one project doesn’t guarantee another. And it sorta sucks that Canadians have more clout when they’ve scored that pilot, even if it’s bombed.
“If you work in the States you’ll be seen throughout Canada,” says Ryan, who’s taping a pilot in Halifax this month for a new improv game show called Rhymes With Canuck. “But if you work in Canada you might be seen, say, at 2 am in Regina.”
If they move south, the two even have the U.S. housing situation sorted out.
“If one of us makes it big there, the other gets to live in the pool house,” says Jason.
“Yeah,” chimes Ryan, “he’ll have to call in advance if he wants to come to the main house.”
the flying bellevilles with jason belleville and ryan belleville hosted by Paul Haywood, at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Wednesday (April 24) at 9:30 pm. $8. 416-596-1908.