Everyone has their pop touchstones. It could be a film, a television show, an album, a nostalgia-invoking song. Or a fondly remembered comedy sketch, be it from a record album, a live revue or something from an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, Kids in the Hall, Baroness Von Sketch Show or Saturday Night Live.
On Dec. 6, a star-studded cast of comedians and musicians including Gavin Crawford, Ron James, the Pursuit of Happiness’s Moe Berg and members of Second City and Women Fully Clothed unite in benefit for the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, an annual happening of live sketch facing financial challenges. The show, Laugh Rally, takes place at Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre.
In celebration of the art of sketch comedy, The Globe and Mail asked three participating comedians to talk about their favourite sketches.
Teresa Pavlinek (of Women Fully Clothed) on Second City Chicago’s landmark 1995 revue Pinata Full of Bees: “It was the show with Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Adam McKay, Scott Adsit and Kevin Dorff. One sketch, I don’t remember the name of it, had Tina Fey getting into her car at night during a storm. Adam McKay was a big guy, daunting in his presence. Every time the lightning would flash, you would see what Tina imagined Adam was doing. It just got worse and worse. It was a perfect combination of real and funny, which is what makes an ideal sketch. You feel other things, whether it’s connectiveness or a little bit of fear, and laugh at the same time.”
Bruce McCulloch (of The Kids in the Hall) on Get Some’s The Baby Sketch: “I don’t believe this sketch has been on television or recorded. It was by a group called Get Some, led by Mark Little. A male rapper and young woman are singing, and he can’t quite understand what she’s saying. It’s sort of baby talk, and she ends up turning into a baby on stage. I first saw it at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival about four years ago. I think it was the slow transition to realizing that they took a universal truth, which is that sometimes women in certain types of music act infantile for whatever reason. In the sketch they took it to the nth degree. The audience couldn’t believe it was happening, and it just kept happening.”
Aurora Browne (of Baroness Von Sketch Show) on Monty Python’s Argument Clinic: “I was about eight years old when my sister bought some Monty Python records. One of them was Monty Python’s Previous Record, which had the Argument sketch on it. Michael Palin comes in and wants to have an argument. He’s paying to have one. It’s such a simple premise. Palin and John Cleese take up their positions, with Cleese as the contrarian. They go back and forth until they get to a part where they reverse positions. What gets me is the graduation of Palin’s frustration. The acting is great, and there’s nothing extraneous.”
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