A local sketch comedy troupe, already known for being large, has just added seven new members.
Local sketch troupe The Sketchersons is known for three things: being funny, writing a new show every week, and being unusually large.
The average Toronto sketch troupe has between three and five members. The Sketchersons, in its eight years of existence, has usually had around 10 members. But in the last few weeks, following a recent round of auditions, the troupe has taken things to a whole new level. It’s now up to 17.
According to veteran Sketcherson Daryn McIntyre, it was hard to cap the number of hires.
“You’d have one person who’s great, and another who’s great, and you have to pick them apart and see who’s better,” he says. “You have to see who could fill a role that we need more, who would fit in with the writing style.”
The new members were introduced earlier this month, and so far McIntyre says that they’ve not only brought new energy to the show, but have forced the existing cast members to push themselves to be funnier.
“People are definitely stepping it up, both due to fear and excitement,” he says. “There are seven new colours in the palette to play with.”
Sketchersons co-founder Pat Thornton is also impressed with the new energy. While he hasn’t been active with the group for a number of years, he’s making a temporary return. He’ll fill in as head writer and help break in the newbies.
“I was so excited about this new crop of people after watching their audition show,” he said. “They were so eager. It’s easy to fall into your own pattern of comedy, and it was just so cool to see people who were still crazy about trying everything. When I heard [regular Sketchersons head writer] Jon [Blair] was going to be out of town, I was like ‘I have to get involved with these guys.’” (Blair is away in Halifax, writing for This Hour Has 22 Minutes.)
He adds that balancing stage time was easier than he expected.
“We ran the numbers today, and it worked out pretty well on its own,” he said. “I made one casting change to beef up someone’s stage time a little, but other than that it worked out pretty well.”
New Sketcherson Kirsten Rasmussen has been a fan of the troupe for several years. Rasmussen spent the better part of a decade doing stand-up, improv, and solo sketch in her hometown, Montreal. When she relocated to Toronto, she made joining the troupe a priority.
“Ever since I’ve been coming to Toronto for festivals or just for the weekend, Comedy Bar is such an institution,” she said. “It’s where I would come. Two years ago I was down for the Fringe, and I wound up hosting for them, and it was such a great experience, I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
She adds that, after years of working primarily as a solo performer, she’s happy to be working with a big group.
“It’s great to be in a room with 20 people, when I’m used to just sitting in a room myself being like, ‘It’s going to be great. Come on Kirsten, get your shit together.’”
Overall, after two weeks with the new team, Thornton thinks that the new cast members are already changing the tone of the show a little.
“There’s a lot of silliness now. The show goes in waves, and it can land for a while in a sarcastic place. But I think now, we’re going to a time of real silliness and I’m looking forward to that.”