Meet the Fun Palace Players for November 2015

A live edition Fun Palace Radio Variety Show was Monday November 2 – at the lovely Burdock Music Hall and on Facebook, I've been introducing the Fun Palace Players. And I wanted to share that here. Since Facebook doesn't own us, Man.

No offence to all the other people in the world, but Kayla Lorette might be funnier.

The first time I saw Kayla was in All Our Happy Days Are Stupid at Videofag during which I may have cried for laughing. And then it was like that thing that you didn't notice and suddenly, delightfully, is everywhere: in Henri Fabergé's shows, on webseries, and most often and specifically with Becky Johnson in The Sufferettes - who I even got to bring to The Banff Centre for a summit of Hope and Hopeless, because they're the only improv duo that I thought could possibly do that - and they did it and it was great.

They were also repeat guests last series of The Fun Palace Radio Variety Show - and the Palace could have no one we'd rather improvise legal advice or play Nancy Reagan.

I met Camila Diaz-Varela for reals this summer, though we had met before through shared many colleagues, friends and overly ambitious dreams for intimate performances and social justice.

In Small Wooden Shoe projects, it's important to me to mix folk I don't know well with regular offenders - and so, on a hunch that's turning out fantastic I asked her to join the Players.

Not "only" acting, discussing legality and the history of everything, she'll also be singing in the in the new radio drama. And I suspect her eyes will be open. At least some of the time.

Rick Campbell is not only a lovely human and actor for VideoCabaret and Driftwood Theatre.

He was in the first show I ever made in this city. I moved to Toronto (the first time) in 1999, knowing almost nobody (thank god for Monashee) and with $75 to my name (never do this) and applied to Rhubarb! and Franco Z let me in with an over-serious assemblage piece entitled ...Open Wound (a Clarice Lispector reference - get it? No? Oh.) In those times any Rhubarb director could sit in on the generals at Buddies to cast from, which was an amazing opportunity for a person who didn't know anyone - and Rick was one of the folks -- along with Dylan Trowbridge, Megan Dunlop and Michelle Horacek -- who agreed to do the show more about "process than the action" (Ricks' words at the time.)

Since then we've kept in touch and it's been a delight to have him on the Fun Palace team. We may even get to hear about the Deadhead days.

Asking Richard Feren to help on the Fun Palace Radio Variety Show was a bit of the flyer. He is, deservedly, one of the busiest sound designers in the city (I only qualify that because I don't want to spend the time confirming that he's more than "one of the") He has enough Doras to sink a small water craft (also unconfirmed.) He was also, at the time, doing important work with @TOMayorFrod (unqualifiedly) the best satire twitter account of the Ford era.

But I had heard about the eccentric vaudeville performances he used to do and so... what the hell. And he said yes (this is an important lesson for all "emerging artists" and everyone else too -- ask for god's sake.) Since then he's helped shape the Fun Palace Radio Variety Show, both live and in the podcast. (We will not confirm or deny that he is related to podcast host Cedric Littlewood.)

And he plays the theremin. Lucky us.

I found out Jonathan Adjemian played piano when the Call of the North had me looking for a new music director for the Fun Palace Radio Variety Show and many many people I talked to about my needs suggested him. Before that, I thought of him as the guy with long hair and beard (before, and, I suspect, after, all trends) and Amelia Ehrhardt's boyfriend who seemed nice and smart. All of which is true. (Husband, technically.)

Turns out that, yes, he's a perfect fit as a musician and collaborator. A lovely improvisor, he is comfortable with playing 3penny tunes and suggesting alternative history writers. And as that kind of polymath, the perfect person to be the voice Walter Benjamin if your variety show needs a ghost voice of Walter Benjamin, which ours does.


Last but but certainly not least: Ladies and Gentlemen, our Fun Palace Player director, Becky Johnson.

I'm pretty sure I met Becky the way maybe lots of people did: buying buttons from her at Trampoline Hall. I think we ate sushi after a show. Then she invited me to do my own not-professionally-expert lecture (at Fort York!)

After, we'd see each other around and I'd see her organizing craft fairs and in shows being funny and smart and, well, weird. In the best possible way. Uncommon. This world requires so much more this mix smart, funny and weird. It's what makes funny a force for good.

Last year she was a Fun Palace Player, making all of our bits better. This year, while performing at Second City, she's directing us. She is, uncommonly, but not surprisingly, letting us be funnier, smarter and weirder. Plus she asks all the good questions when the thing I say make no sense (not uncommon.) And that's what happens when you buy a pin at a lecture show.

(Individual results may vary)

Me? Blessed. As they say. Join us?