NETWORK NOTES starring Evany Rosen and Kayla Lorette, Friday (December 11), 11 pm. $10. And THE PAGEANT, directed by Rosen,.
NETWORK NOTES starring Evany Rosen and Kayla Lorette, Friday (December 11), 11 pm. $10. And THE PAGEANT, directed by Rosen, with Lorette, Aurora Browne, Alistair Forbes, Tess Degenstein, Craig Anderson, Colin Munch, Miguel Rivas and Andy Hull, to December 19, Fridays 8 pm, Saturdays, 9:30 pm. $10-$12. Both at Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor West). baddogtheatre.com.
When Kayla Lorette and Evany Rosen dress up as the Network Notes women, which theyll do Friday night at Bad Dog Theatre, be prepared to laugh. And maybe shrivel up in fear.
With their big, teased hair, severely contoured makeup, power blazers and expensive skinny jeans, the two comics outsized personas will be familiar to anyone whos been at the mercy of the misguided souls who often occupy powerful positions.
Theyve modelled the women on the kind of faux-friendly, air-kissing TV and film exec types who listen to creative pitches and then proceed to puncture them with their sadistically pointed heels.
Oh, sometimes youre at the whim of people like that, says Lorette. Someone whos judgmental and doesnt always have the best taste. But thats not everyone!
Were speaking theoretically, of course, pipes in Rosen.
The funny thing, continues Lorette, is that in real life were very floppy, casual and low status. So its fun to become these women, to skewer the whole pitch process. It can be painful as an artist dealing with bureaucracy or networks.
Were sitting in the rehearsal room of Bad Dog Theatre, where the two have spent many hours as performers and teachers. They decidedly have not had to deal with any red tape or stonewalling from artistic director and improv den mother Julie Dumais Osborne, whos known them since they were teenage improvisers.
In a country bursting with funny women, theyre hands-down two of the funniest. Earlier this year, they were the standouts in Cult Wayward, Becky Johnsons ongoing weekly improv soap set at an all-female cult.
In it, the sad-eyed Lorette, whos as good an actor as she is a comic, played Glorm, a smug, toga-clad character with delusions of grandeur who wore a strategically wrapped and potentially culturally offensive towel on her head. Rosen, meanwhile, an alumna of Canadas last great sketch troupe, Picnicface, morphed into Randi Booth-Savage, a soccer mom who anxiously wanted to leave the compound.
Were obsessed with movies like Sunset Boulevard, Mommie Dearest, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? says Lorette. We tend to love severe, foolish women.
Thats a key to understanding where their comedy comes from. But the two are anything but foolish themselves, which is evident as soon as they start talking about The Pageant, the other Bad Dog show theyre currently involved in.
A spoof of sitcoms very special episodes (Rosen points out the ultra-creepy Bicycle Man episode in Diffrent Strokes, which deals with pedophilia, as an example) and pageants, it takes a sitcom family with all their trivial issues and has them perform in a musical pageant for a made-up holiday chosen by the audience.
Thats my favourite type of comedy, says Lorette. Having a character trying to act or tell jokes. Its such a funny way to explore character. If youve established a mother figure, take her and see how she would act having to be, say, a bearded wizard in some fictional holiday.
Rosen, who directs, explains how The Pageant will play out.
Therell be two acts worth of family drama, and then right at the moment when all the shit in their lives is going to come out, they get a call that theyre supposed to be at the community centre to perform in this pageant. So ideally all their lies and issues will emerge through the analogy of this made-up holiday parable.
This is comedy for an audience who didnt just grow up on sitcoms, but knows the conventions of the medium.
Instead of parodying, say, Mad Men, a show like this draws on our deep understanding of how act structure works, the cliches of sitcoms, says Lorette. These are all things weve grown up with. So it honours TV, but in a theatrical way. These things are just ingrained in us.
Listening to them talk and its no surprise that both are currently developing TV and film projects its sad that they werent around during the glory days of SCTV and The Kids In The Hall, two other shows that played with the audiences knowledge of TV.
Were living in a different landscape, says Lorette, who recently co-wrote and starred in the TIFF short She Stoops To Conquer. You have to be able to self-produce, write, act, do everything. Weve talked to Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch about Kids. Scotts the first person to say their opportunity couldnt happen now. It was very specific to their time, and its not a model anyone now can follow.
The Kids Mark McKinney was a big champion of Rosens former troupe Picnicface, which became an internet sensation before getting a short-lived CBC show.
He was the reason we got that show, says Rosen. He fought tooth and nail for us, and still we only got one season, even with him at the helm.
Rosen and Lorette met at an improv festival in Edmonton Lorette recalls being in a washroom with Rosen when news of Michael Jacksons death broke and then solidified their bond when they worked on Roller Town, the Picnicface spinoff movie, in Halifax.
When I moved back to Toronto, says Rosen, it was, immediately, Do you want to just skip the preamble and be best friends now?
I think we have a similar sensibility and taste, says Lorette. Were both the same age, both only children. We kind of look alike….
They both laugh, as if at an in-joke.
People have had entire conversations with one of us and think theyre talking to the other, deadpans Rosen.
The fact that theyre so similar might mean theyd be competitive, because there are only so many jobs to go around.
We disengage from that, says Lorette. Weve partnered up, and wont be separated.
And it helps that we didnt become friends by working together, says Rosen. We became friends first. Network Notes is one of the first things weve done together.
One day, theyd like to create and star in their own series, perhaps inspired by their friendship. Network Notes be damned, what would it be like?
Itd be nice to have a show that explores female friendship, thats sort of existential and has women questioning where theyre going, says Lorette.
Im so tired of women written as the smart one or the bitch or the woman whos got everything under control. Id love to see a show about women being confused about their place in the world, having relationships with other people while having tenderness for each other. That would be exciting and politically charged.
Theyre both fans of Broad City and HBOs Girls. They tell me a story they heard about a Canadian network exec who wanted something like Girls but with none of the swearing, having the actors be a bit older, and using multicam.
So, like, what part of Girls do you want, besides the fact that some of the characters have female genitalia? laughs Rosen.
Thats so Canadian, to want a softer version of an American hit show, says Lorette. We want Broad City, but, oh my heavens, not so rude!
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