FRIGHTWIG'S INCREDIBLE POPCORN MACHINE with Marcel St. Pierre and Ginette Mohr, with guests Scott McCrickard and Laurie Elliott, at the Bad Dog Theatre (138 Danforth), tonight (Thursday, July 24) at 8 pm. $5. 416-491-3115. And PRND21 written and performed by St. Pierre and Mohr, at the Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way), July 31 and August 1 at 9 pm. $10. 416-343-0011.
From Nichols and may to our own Martin and Johnson, the comedy world's full of funny duos who aren't romantically involved with each other. It makes sense. You spend so much time with your lover, do you really want to get up onstage with them, too? Especially in the high-stakes, anything-can-happen world of improv comedy, where last night's tiff can become today's unfunny scene.
But according to Marcel St. Pierre and Ginette Mohr, their relationship only makes their comedy better.
"We're constantly riffing off each other. There's a lot of trust, so we tend to take bigger risks," says Mohr. "If I take a leap, I know he'll be there to catch me."
"We also don't pull our punches when we're talking about a show afterwards," says St. Pierre. "It's really fast-tracked me as a performer."
The two, who together make up the comedy duo Frightwig, are kicking off a monthly cabaret night tonight at the Bad Dog Theatre, the new home of comedy institution Theatresports, where St. Pierre is co-artistic director. They're also remounting their Montreal Fringe play PRND21 for two nights next week at the Tim Sims.
"Someone in Montreal said we had a nerdy sexual chemistry onstage, which is kind of true in real life, too," says St. Pierre, who's shorter and meeker-looking than the goosy, red-headed Mohr.
"Yeah, the nerdy part is true," sighs Mohr. "He's a big Star Trek fan."
The two met - he's from Grand Falls, New Brunswick, she's from Edmonton - in the Second City National Touring Company, then crossed paths again at Theatresports.
"We're sort of part of the same family," says St. Pierre.
"Um," adds Mohr, "we're not related, though."
Fans of Neil Muscott's Comedy Debate will recognize them from their improvised character turns as George and Jessie, a retired couple travelling the world in a Winnebago, and Klentch and Vulva, a Transylvanian couple with touches of Boris and Natasha.
"They're kind of extensions of our own relationship," laughs St. Pierre.
"Only we take that energy and that dynamic and turn it into a monster," says Mohr.
Their road-trip play PRND21 also draws on their life and many of the conversations they had while driving to comedy festivals like the Chicago Improv Festival and Orlando's Foolfest.
The play, they both point out, is as much drama as comedy. During the Montreal run, one audience member gasped near the end and broke down in tears. A few men came up to St. Pierre afterwards to say, "I've been there."
Even their improv work, the two say, can touch the emotions - especially when the performers remain true to the characters.
"A lot of people still associate improv with comedy," says St. Pierre. "But there's greater potential to do real acting. The more I stay with it, the more I respect it as an art form. The gurus out there doing it for 20 years are doing it for a reason, not just because they're good at it."