Montreal's English preforming arts community is growing and one of it's more recent growths is The Sketch Republic. Inspired by all the great things they're up to we chitty-chatted with co-creator, Erin Hall.
You are one of the Sketch Republic producers. Why?
Danny Belair and I co-created the concept after multiple conversations surrounding our love of sketch comedy, and a distinct lack of regular opportunities for sketch troupes to perform for enthusiastic audiences in Montreal.
I personally love sketch comedy, It's my favourite format because it is so flexible and collaborative. As one of the principle organizers of the Montreal Sketchfest, I've gained a good understanding and appreciation of the way it can make a whole room erupt in contagious laughter. We wanted to create a cool monthly night that shares the same electric vibe that happens during sketchfest. And also create workshops and other opportunities for artists to collaborate with one another.
Why do you think sketch is so great?
You can do anything with sketch.
It can be music, storytelling or really weird character work. You can do it alone or with a group of 10. I've seen good sketch that is polished and rehearsed, as well as fantastic sets that appear to be almost completely improvised.
But for me very specifically, it allows for the exploration of really weird characters. I have always enjoyed comedy that leans towards the slightly bizarre. Think Ana Gasteyer & Molly Shannon doing the "Delicious Dish" radio hosts on SNL. Or Will Farrell as Gene Frankel who just wants more cowbell. These characters can exist outside of a larger storyline in sketch and that's just perfect because that's all we need them to do.
Also the collaborative aspect of it is interesting and adds an overall joviality that I seek in comedy. I like the light stuff!
It's almost 2016. That's a lot of time and minutes and seconds. Why hasn't Montreal had a larger sketch scene until now?
I've only been in Montreal for five years, so I can't really speak to before 2011, but there are some great sketch troupes that have come from Montreal, specifically Uncalled For.
I think that community is an extremely important element needed to create good comedy. There are very strong stand-up and improv communities in this city and a lot of that is a result of multiple schools and venues set up, allowing people interested in these formats to try out new material. But there isn't a lot focused on sketch. If you're the only sketch troupe in the village it's no good. You need some other troupes to bounce ideas off of.
I think if you put effort and attention towards something, that thing will flourish and grow. I am pleased you said that there hasn't been much of scene for sketch in Montreal "until now" - I do feel like some leaps have been made over the past year to encourage more troupes and more of a community in Montreal. The Sketch Republic is one thing, also, D.J. Mausner and the gang at Theatre Sainte Catherine are doing great things organizing the monthly JOKETOWN which puts some of Montreal's funniest performers into teams, giving them 48 hours to create new 15 minutes sketch plays based on a common theme. We are putting attention and effort towards something and it's flourishing! Hurray!
This has accidentally turned into a serious and thoughtful interview. Can you please write something to undercut the sincere tone of this discussion?
Ummm. Come to The Sketch Republic tonight 7PM! And come monthly (alternating between TSC and Montreal improv). Also....Dick jokes!