Beginning Friday, June 14th, performers Dave Cave, Heather McCullough, Rebecca Bloom, and Miranda Warren come together to present Code of Conduct: A Sketch Comedy Revue at Lindsay Little Theatre.
A night of awkward laughter and poking fun at the human condition, Code of Conduct is the first outing for the foursome, who are determined to forge a different kind of sketch comedy in the Kawarthas.
Code of Conduct was conceived by popular comedic performer Dave Cave, whose previous successes include Lindsay Lohan’s Speak: A Classic Album Comes to Life and Almost Falling Off a Couch for 45 Minutes. According to Dave, what differentiates Code of Conduct from many other sketch comedy shows is that the sketches are inspired by real-life events and the show eschews wacky characters and gimmicks.
“We all draw from real-life experiences as part of the writing process,” Dave explains. “It’s not improv, such as yelling ‘Tell us a funny job you might have.’ We’re not asking the audience to come on stage. The acting process is more about realistic reaction.”
“We are not doing characters. We are not putting on funny glasses or doing funny voices. We’re all just variations of ourselves. If the content is already funny, then you don’t need to act it in a funny way. Acting it as normally as possible is what is funny.”
“The title of the show is Code of Conduct because most of the scenes deal with some sort of societal norm or some kind of normal situation that somehow gets violated in each scene,” adds Heather McCullough. “It’s maybe somebody not going along with something, or somebody not behaving properly and they think it’s not a big deal.”
“A lot of the themes we are drawing on are things that are awkward or embarrassing or shameful,” Dave continues. “Things that happened to us and we couldn’t retaliate at the moment, but now we are able to live out that fantasy of what we could say to those people if we could go back.”
“A lot of my scenes are about really awkward dating mishaps, and miscommunication of who I am as a person,” Rebecca Bloom says. “When I’m doing comedy, I speak a lot about myself to make other people laugh, but in this environment I wanted to put it out to the audience to see if it works.”
“I’m a mother of two little kids and this is my way back into theatre after a break,” says Miranda Warren. “It’s always cool to come in and feel the energy of other people and get into someone else’s mindset.”
Working together for six weeks, the four performers’ process for creating the sketches was not only taking inspiration from real life but, most importantly, not trying to be funny.
“Dave keeps telling us not to be funny,” Miranda points out.
“What I’ve asked everyone to do is to not watch comedies, so you can be more aware of the humour around you,” Dave explains. “I find that people who don’t try to be funny are the funniest people.”
“The biggest thing we’ve taken from this is don’t try to be funny,” Heather agrees. “Just do whatever and don’t try to be funny. Don’t even think about being funny. Sometimes it feels like we’re not doing anything, which in itself becomes funny, but scary at the same time.”
“It’s freeing and risky all at the same time,” Heather continues. “You get to live outside the box and try something crazy and off the wall, but it’s also terrifying because you don’t know if it’s going to connect with the audience. Every time we come on stage there is a real risk to that, but there is also this cool kind of freedom to make it up on the spot between the four of us.”
“The amount of preparation that we collectively put into shows, for a character or a scene or emotional depth as actors, is the complete opposite for this show,” Rebecca notes. “I think that’s the scary part. We are just trusting ourselves and our humour and hope it gets out to the audience.”
So is it funny?
I’ll admit that I’m traditionally a hard sell, because comedy is generally not my favourite genre. However, in the two sketches the group showed me, I was delighted by the offbeat nature of the sketches. As promised, they don’t rely on wacky characters or zany hijinks.
Instead the comedy is subtle, clever, and uncomfortable. Dark yet relatable situations are combined with the natural chemistry between the performers, creating something original and engaging to watch.
Oh … and I laughed until my face hurt.
“Laughter is such an important thing in life, and while going through this process I’ve laughed more than I’ve laughed in a long time,” says Heather. “I mean belly laughing, tears-running-down-your-face kind of laughter, and it feels so good to do that. So I hope that contagious laughter is what the audience will experience.”
Come laugh your own face off at Code of Conduct: A Sketch Comedy Revue which runs at Lindsay Little Theatre (55 George St. W., Lindsay) on Friday, June 14th and Saturday, June 15th and on Friday, June 21st and Saturday, June 22nd. Performances starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door.