Getting personal

connections! written and performed by Albert Howell and Rebecca Northan, tonight (Thursday, March 7) at the Tim.

written and performed by Albert
Howell and Rebecca Northan, tonight
(Thursday, March 7) at the Tim Sims
Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). $10.
416-343-0011 micetro impro
w/ Howell, Northan, Christy Bruce,
Peter Oldring, Kathleen LeRoux and
others. Tomorrow (Friday, March 8) at the
Victory Cafe (581 Markham). $5.
416-516-5787 Rating: NNNNN

adventurous couple seeks hot,open-minded crowd for uninhibited, voyeuristic group fun.That’s how Albert Howell and Rebecca Northan might advertise Connections!, their upcoming comic spinoff on the NOW personal ads, which debuts tonight (Thursday, March 7) at the Tim Sims Playhouse.

The two comics came up with the idea while chuckling over the personals one day.

“There were so many great characters, or rather great starting points for characters,” says Howell, one half of the Devil’s Advocates and a regular cast member of ongoing improv series Population 282 and Sin City.

“I don’t mean to be cruel, but some of the ads are really stupid. One, in the I Spy or sightings section, read, “I was in a wheelchair. Do you remember me?’ C’mon. On any given day, you’d probably see 13 people in wheelchairs. Another said, “Single white male who will one day rule the world looking for casual weekend fun.’ Now, who’s gonna respond to that?”

Howell and Northan, obviously. Howell plans to play that ruler of the world in one of the show’s sketches.

The two — Howell’s single and Northan’s engaged — met at Calgary’s famed Loose Moose Theatre Company, run by Keith Johnstone. It’s been the training ground for some of that city’s best comic minds, from Bruce Hunter and the Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCullough and Mark McKinney to Peter Oldring, Christy Bruce, Pat Kelly and the Belleville brothers, Jason and Ryan.

Howell credits the Loose Moose — which offers free improv training in exchange for ripping tickets or slinging popcorn — for getting him into T.O.’s Second City’s mainstage troupe in the mid-90s. He and Northan, who moved here nine months ago, now teach improv at Second City.

“We did six shows a week for three years straight,” he says. “In Toronto, you’re lucky if you can get onstage once a week.”

Northan currently co-produces Micetro Impro, the thrice-monthly Friday-night gut-buster where comics battle it out Survivor-style in a series of crash-and-burn elimination improv sketches.

There’s an improv element to Connections!, but most of the 75-minute show consists of penned sketches.

“There’ll be variety, not just a series of scenes of couples meeting for the first time,” explains Northan. “I have a song about the personals. And I’m doing one sketch — about a shoe-fetish guy into ballet slippers and moccasins — that’s set after he and his partner have been together a while.”

Howell and Northan hope to make the show a monthly event. They also hope people who’ve posted personals will attend and see their stories enacted onstage.

Northan says she may even place an ad in this week’s paper to target market the show’s audience.

“I’m thinking of something along the lines of, “Come see youthful brunette make fun of you at the Tim Sims,'” she laughs. “Or “SWF mocks all lonely hearts.'”

“We’re not belittling anybody,” says Howell. “Hey, if someone gets upset, I’ll take them out on a date.”

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