Blind Date, comedian Rebecca Northan's popular solo improvised show, is back at Toronto's World Stage after a stint at Calgary's High Performance Rodeo.
Northan plays Mimi, a sexy single thirtysomething with a big red nose who each night invites one (un)lucky male in the audience on stage for a date that heads in unexpected and hilarious directions. No two shows are alike, but to give you an idea of what a blind date with Mimi is like, J. Kelly Nestruck attended Tuesday night's performance and filled out the following online dating profile of her.
Location: York Quay Centre at Harbourfront, Toronto. Originally scheduled to move on March 6, her lease has just been extended to March 12.
Mother tongue: English with a questionable French accent.
Education: Graduate of the Loose Moose School of Improvisation under professor Keith Johnstone.
Looking for: Random play; one-night stands (though an entire lifetime might take place in that one night).
Turn-ons: Really serial monogamy; being watched, preferably by a sold-out audience.
Favourite colour: Red, the colour of her dress, her big, round nose, and the carafes of wine she's prone to guzzling on a date (wine also available for her audience to take to their seats).
Smoker: No. Mimi is French, yes, but she would not be legally allowed to smoke on stage even if she wanted.
Her idea of a fun date: A Blind Date with Mimi usually begins with her getting stood up in a French cafe on the banks of the Seine. At this point, the plucky clown will pluck a new beau from the audience, a non-actor who will join her for dinner and drinks, then follow her back to her apartment and into the bedroom.
Her last relationship: Was with Scott, an audience member and gentle comic-book illustrator possessed of plenty of nerdy charm. Began and ended on Tuesday night. Though the relationship only lasted about 90 minutes, it got pretty serious - including a marriage proposal and a baby being born on stage.
Favourite topics of conversation: Relationship histories, so be careful if you end up on stage with her - in the case of Scott, after learning about his trepidations regarding commitment, she - and performers Jamie Northan and Kristian Reimer, who briefly join her on stage - exploited this knowledge mercilessly, hilariously.
Bad relationship habits: Checking her e-mail while on a date; twisting her date's words into sexual innuendo; over-sharing about her fears that she's unlovable; saying whatever pops into her mind at any moment - for instance, while offering Scott a bowl of chips, she caught him off-guard by saying: "We'll both have the same taste in our mouth."
Best quality: Mischievousness. Mimi likes to put people on the spot. In one uproarious moment, she brings Scott onto her bed and then simply lets him squirm, uncertain how far the improvisation would go. Adding to the cringing comedy of the moment, he'd earlier confessed that his ex-girlfriend was in the audience (there's a "safe spot" on the side of the stage where participants can go when things get too heated or they need advice).
Mimi's friends would describe her as: Funny and spontaneous, but also genuinely adorable. Blind Date conjures up all the heart-mushrooming glee of a brand-new romance, even as it gently lampoons sexual politics and courtship anxieties. Near the end of her date with Scott, Mimi time-travelled into the future with him in a sequence that both brought the house down and, more surprisingly, brought tears to eyes as she listed the qualities of Scott that she loved. Northan has come up with a clever concept for a long-form improv, yes, but her warm, human execution of it is brilliant. Mimi's definitely a keeper. Four stars.