The Canadian press has been scrambling since Thursday evening to churn out reports from Alana Johnston’s much anticipated Short Notice Show Birthday Groupon, which rocked the Rearview Mirror, and all of Kensington Market into the wee hours of the morning of Friday, June 4th. I am pleased to announce to my readers that TWISI has the exclusive review of this show for you and just in time before Johnston’s much publicized departure for Halifax to film Season Two of her wildly successful televised children’s sketch comedy show YTV’s That’s So Weird.
Oh, what a Birthday Groupon it was, my friends, everyone is talking about it. The Short Notice Show, which goes on hiatus for the summer, is a monthly comedy showcase show hosted by those illustrious dynamically hysterical monarchs of banter, Alana Johnston, Matt Folliott and Kayla Lorette. Each month these three Improv impresarios assemble an evening of comedy that seeks to bring various sketch, Improv and stand-up comedians out of their customary comedy venues and slots, and to serve them up buffet style to a fresh audience of prospective comedy aficionados. The result is a wonderful way for these teams and performers to hook new audiences into their shows, and also an ideal safe haven to test material and to take big risks.
Of the three Short Notice Shows I have attended, I felt that the comedy showcased in Alana’s Birthday Groupon was the most consistently solid that I have seen. Johnston sibling, Jason, performed this inspired tramp scene about a dumpster rooting cheapskate husband living in a Harbourfront condo which was rooted in its fair share of gross-out humour, but became increasingly Chaplinesque as it unfolded and ended with a joyful display of heart. Sandra Battaligini’s standup comedy never misses. She is continually pushing the boundaries of what is “appropriate,” what is “acceptable” and what can be funny, but the essence of her humour remains in its astute observations of the absurdity of human behaviour and the society we have constructed for ourselves. Not everyone can tell a labia joke, you know what I mean? She’s fuckin awesome.
The guys from Frenzy and Tony Hoe conglomerated their sketch talents and thus, Frenzy Hoe performed a really creative and energetic demon Amsterdam sketch. It was some of the most committed acting that I’ve seen from these guys. Kate and Casey, who have been on the Short Notice Show before, sing these odd, crassly endearing little ditties they have written, accompanied by a guitar. I suspect that there music, such as songs written about the junkie Mable on the Table, appeals to a specific taste, but they have a certain charm that I always enjoy. Standards and Practices proved that action and location in Improv are not necessarily the prime ingredients to a successful set, and that an audience can remain captivated and engaged watching four characters converse, provided that their relationships and interactions remain interesting. This is a difficult feat to accomplish, but something that I think this team will master as they continue to grow as individual performers and as an ensemble. Sex T Rex (officially known as Sexual Tyrannosaurus) had a brilliant Improv set surrounding a bank heist at the Holy Trinity Bank involving two deranged robbers named Salt and Pepper, Justin Beiber and his manager. If you haven’t checked these guys out yet, I absolutely recommend doing so.
From her impeccable fashion advice, to her celebrated shoulders and collar bone, Alana Johnston was certainly the Queen of the Groupon. As an Improvisation coach and a passionate proponent of the Comedy Community in Toronto, Alana Johnston is directly responsible for helping a wide array of performers find their audience, cement their dynamic and strengthen their talents and skills. She works steadfastly with her friends and compatriots to make this city’s Comedy Community the strongest, most vibrant and prestigious place to play. Powerfully passionate, the heart of any party and outrageously hilarious, Alana Johnston is the very definition of too much. And I’m so glad she is.
Happy Birthday, Alana!