Tall Poppy Interview: The Cast of Boygroove
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Tall Poppy Interview: The Cast of Boygroove

BG_7_David_Hawe.jpgThere’s no room for objectivity here – we’ve loved Boygroove since they graced the stage of the Tarragon Extra Space last summer and became the runaway hit of the Toronto Fringe. Our inner theatre student admires the sharp direction and the skill of the performers, our inner musical satire lover thrills to the spot-on songs and dances, and our inner 14-year-old thinks they’re just plain dreamy! Andrew Bursey, Matt Alden, Jon Paterson, and Scott Walters play, respectively, Andrew (the sensitive one), Kevin (the leader), Jon (the bad boy), and Lance (the gay – er, gifted – one). In an exciting new Tall Poppy challenge, we chatted with all four of them at once. It went swimmingly until that hammer drill started. Then it devolved into what may best be read as an absurdist comedy with dirty words and adult themes. We think you’ll love it. You’ll also love the show – call 416-971-5656for tickets. And don’t get confused, the Diesel Theatre is just the old Second City building on Blue Jays Way.

TOist: First things first: where are you all from and how are you enjoying Toronto?
Matt: I am originally from Toronto, but we only lived here until I was 4, so really I’m from Edmonton. I love Toronto, it’s great – a lot of my heroes are from here, the Kids in the Hall, the Barenaked Ladies, all the original Second City people…
Andrew: I’m from Halifax, Nova Scotia. That’s on the east side of Canada.
TOist: Yes, I’ve been there, it’s lovely.
Andrew: You’ve been there? You’re a rarity.
TOist: It’s the best city I’ve ever been to for a pub crawl.
Andrew: Did you hear that, you friggin’ guys? She said it’s the best city ever!
TOist: For a pub crawl.
Andrew: Anyway, I love Toronto, I’m moving here – I’m here!
TOist:: Welcome!
Scott: I also come from foreign lands, also called Edmonton, Alberta. I’ve moved to Toronto, I’m going to lay down some roots here. I love this big city, it’s been very inviting and the community here is quite tight, so I like that.
Jon: I’m originally from Winnipeg, but I’ve been living in Vancouver for the last three years, and now I don’t know where I’ll be…maybe here. Probably here.
TOist: How did you all get involved with the show? You’ve all been in it from pretty close to the start, right?
Andrew: Pretty much – there’ve been a few incarnations of the show. It’s been mounted three times. The first time was a single run at the Edmonton Fringe, in a small theatre, and it had the writer, Chris Craddock, in it, and also another guy, and Matt and myself were in that one for about a week and a half or two weeks. Then Jon came into the picture for our first tour, which was of Western Canada. That was in 2003. Then we took a break in 2004. And last year Scott came on board – he couldn’t do it the first time around because he had a prior engagement, but he was the one we wanted.
Matt: So in 2005 we got the dream team of Boygroove, and we got a few new songs, and some new scenes and we did nine cities. We started in May last year in Orlando, so we went straight to the lion’s mouth, as it were.
TOist: How were you received in Orlando?
Andrew: They loved us!
Scott: We stayed right in this area just outside of Orlando called Lake Mary which is where all the boy bands are home grown, so we went right for the jugular. It was really nervewracking to start there – it was our first American venue for the show, but it just hit the mark. They had a great sense of appreciation for it – there are a few jokes that flew harder there than they have in any other city since.
Matt: Yeah, people know the true history there. We even had a guy come up to us after the show to say he was one of the original members of ‘Nsync!
Scott: They even gave us tickets to go down to the theme parks down there, and they were really inviting.
Matt: Not what we thought America was going to be.
Andrew: No, we were only threatened once. By a drunk, homeless man’s a-hole. EDIT.
TOist: No, I think I need some details on that one. It could be my headline!
Andrew: Contrary to popular belief, The Diesel theatre does not actually run on Diesel gas. Or maybe it completely runs on Diesel gas.
TOist: Do you have to wear Diesel jeans all the time, is that part of the deal of being here?
Jon: My costume does say ‘Diesel’ on it, but I actually bought that for last summer, so it’s just a coincidence.
Scott: But yeah, since they’ve renamed the playhouse we’ve gotten sponsership for our costumes.
Matt: Except for me.
Andrew: And I’m not wearing any clothes, as you can see.
TOist: What do you wear?
Matt: Um, I shop somewhere…I don’t know where my character shops. The costume lady just showed up one day with a bunch of clothes.
Scott: Anyway, after Orlando we brought the show back to Canada. We did it in Montreal, we did it in Ottawa, we did it in Toronto. By the time we got to Toronto, we’d been invited back to Montreal for the Just for Laughs festival, and we also got an invitation to do it again in January 2006 at the Centaur Theatre. The show just speaks for itself. The content has enough resonance to speak to every age group, and everyone across the board just seems to love it.
Jon: I think we should mention our producers, Michael Rubinoff and Derrick Chua. They saw our show in Toronto last summer and they were really impressed, and they wanted to find a venue for us to try to bring it back. So when this came to fruition
Andrew: Yeah, definitely props to those guys.
Matt: Yeah, those guys have been awesome, they’ve been so great to us.
Andrew: Also in need of props, our director Kenneth Brown, he’s our mentor, he’s an old theatre dog from back in the day, graduated from National Theatre School and toured the country and is a big theatre player.
Scott: Also, our choreographer has been wonderful and whipped us into shape.
TOist: Did you all have dance backgrounds before?
Andrew: A little bit, we all went to school.
TOist: For musical theatre?
Andrew: Yeah, we all met there.
Matt: Except for me.
Jon: Well, we met Matt through our school – his sister went there. She’s in the national tour of Mamma Mia right now. So we met Matt at parties and stuff, so he was essentially a part of it. And he was this singing, dancing, stage fighting, Chekhov acting renaissance man.
Andrew: The other people, of course, who need to be mentioned are the writers, Chris Craddock and Aaron Macri.
TOist: Did you know them from school as well?
Andrew: Yup, we knew Aaron from school.
TOist: And was the show created with you guys in mind, were you involved in the creation of the show?
Andrew: What happened is that our director, Ken Brown, wanted to hook us up with Chris Craddock because he had big respect for Chris and he approached Chris and said, hey, think you can work on something with my boys – they’re a tight ensemble and they could use a good writer to coordinate a new piece. And with that Chris wrote Boygroove, and you’ll note that my name is the same as my character’s name, as is Jon’s. Then there’s Kevin and Lance – they’re real guys, but they ended up not being able to do the show in the end, which turned out great because Matt and Scott are far superior!
The boys beat box “My Humps” into the tape recorder. How we wish we could share this with you in a soundbite!
Scott: What you’re hearing in the background is a hammer drill. They’re installing a bank machine, which is going to be great for us-
Andrew: Yeah, at the end of the show there is a new Toronto theatre tradition to throw money at the actors. No flowers, no autographs, just throw money.
Matt: Yeah. That’s just how it goes now. Just like how grandma never really buys anything anymore, she puts some money in the card – that’s how people are appreciating theatre nowadays.
Andrew: You know how when you go out for dinner, people tip, over and above the price of the meal. That’s what we’re asking. But aim for our feet, not for our faces.
Matt: Because our faces are very valuable and we’re not allowed to bruise our faces. That’s in our contract.
We move into the theatre to escape the hammer drill.
TOist: You’ve been doing this show for quite awhile, so how closely do you each identify with your characters? Do you fall into certain patterns just hanging out?
Matt: Yeeeeaaaah…
Jon: I don’t think so – I don’t think of myself as stupid, or angry – at least not anymore.
TOist: You mean, since the shock therapy?
Jon: Exactly.
Andrew: You know, it’s funny when you look at the four personas you have: sensitive, angry, ‘leader’ and gay. Ok. Well, none of us are gay, so take the other personas. Angry: I think Matt, though he plays the leader, in real life he can be angry.
Matt: Don’t tell her that! (Matt goes and hits stuff for awhile.)
Andrew: Scott is more the sensitive one. He’s the hippy with a cause.
Scott: No, you’re more the hippy with a cause!
Andrew: No, I’m just…I’m just shrewd. And Jon’s definitely the gay one.
Jon: Yeah, if there was going to be a gay guy, it would be me.
Matt: Except for the fact that he likes to, you know, ‘procreate’-
Andrew: A lot.
Jon: I like women.
Andrew: He’s gay in every way except for the fact that he loves-
Matt: Just say the P word.
Jon: (Holding his hands apart) If this is gay and this is straight, you guys are here and I’m over there!
Andrew: Jon loves –
Scott: Which P-word are we talking about here?
TOist: I assumed you meant ‘poon’.
Scott and Andrew: Aaaaaaaahhh!
Matt: I meant ‘pussy’, actually.
TOist: For the record.
Matt: For the record. P-U-S-S-Y.
TOist: Well, I that just answers all my questions.
Andrew: Yeah, and maybe a few you didn’t need answered.
Matt: We love doing the show!
TOist: Yes! Right! The show.
Matt: Are you seeing it tonight?
TOist: I saw it on Wednesday night – I loved it. And I saw it at the Fringe last summer, and loved it then, mabe even a little more – the Tarragon BackSpace was packed, and the energy was just great.
Scott: Yeah, we really hit our stride at the Fringe last year. It’s still great, and a lot has changed.
Andrew: We replaced a Richard Simmons joke with a joke about Tom Cruise.
TOist: Oh, Tom Cruise. If you made up gossip from another dimension it still wouldn’t be as weird as how that whole saga unfolded. Sorry, we’re not here to talk about Tom Cruise. Although I could talk about Tom Cruise all day.
Matt: So could we.
Andrew: Well, he’s always been insane, it’s just that his publicist changed.
Jon: And now it’s all Scientology all the time. Oh, and that’s another thing about me: I’m not into Scientology. But last week Matt and I, bored at 2 in the morning, walked down Yonge Street and the Scientology building was open.
Matt: And I tried to buy Dianetics but the guy wouldn’t sell it to me. He told me to come back during business hours. And I was like, ‘so I can get a thetan test? Is that why?’
Jon: He was a little scary.
Matt: He seemed a little level one or level two to me, that guy. Like a new recruit.
Me: What level are you?
Matt: I’m actually a level 9 – they’re scared of me now.
Jon: There are levels?
TOist: Yeah, I think you give them money and they advance you to the next level is pretty much how it works.
Matt: They put your hands on these things and they measure your thetan levels, and if you have ‘high’ levels it’s bad, but if you have clear level of thetans that’s good. Apparently L.Ron Hubbard was level 9, because he invented it. But apparently what they do to rope people in is they say “most people start out at level 1 or 2, but Tom Cruise, man, you just took the test and you’re already at level 5!” And they hook in all these celebrities. Like, “wow, your thetan levels are great – the alien inside you needs to come out!”
Andrew: Sounds like something from the new Star Wars movie.
TOist: You guys are all releatively new to Toronto – do you have any favourite places yet?
Scott: The CBC Museum! That was the greatest. We went to see the Friendly Giant castle.
Matt: And the tickle trunk!
Andrew: I like hanging out on the corner of Spadina and College at, like, 3:30 in the morning.
TOist: After a night at the Red Room?
Andrew: No, just after a night of crack. For more crack, obviously.
Jon: I like Queen and Spadina! Not really. I’ve become fond of Kensington.
Andrew: (singing) They call him the queen…!
Jon: My family lives here, so I come here a lot and I’ve kind of gotten a feel for the city. I like the Harbourfront, it’s very pretty, and I like the farm in Cabbagetown.
TOist: Riverdale Farm.
Jon: Yeah. I always called it Aunt Sally’s Farm – is that what it’s really called?
TOist: Yeah.
Scott: We went to the Toronto Islands last summer.
TOist: That’s the best way to get out of the summer smog.
Scott: Yeah, there’s such a wonderful orange glow to your city.
Andrew: Clean up your city, ya bums!
Matt and Jon: MMHMM!
Scott: Hi there, welcome to Scott!
Andrew: Population: Scott.
Matt: Um, this is devolving into absurdity.
TOist: Best to just go with it, then. Tell me your favourite jokes.
Jon: Mine doesn’t make much sense, and I tried to tell it to a French woman and it didn’t go over at all. I think it may have broken us up because she thought it was so stupid. But if you have a good grasp of the English language…ok. A guy walks into a bar and he has an orange for a head. The bartender says, ‘why do you have an orange for a head?’ ‘Well, I found a genie and the genie gave me three wishes.’ My first wish was for a million bucks. My second wish was for a beautiful woman. And for my third wish I wished to have an orange for a head.’ Tada! It’s funny, see, because you’re expecting a twist!
Matt: Knock knock.
TOist: Who’s there?
Matt: The Gestapo!
TOist: The Gesta-
Matt: VEE VILL ASK DE KVESTIONS HERE! I think that joke’s hilarious, I don’t know why.
Scott: I heard a joke from my 7 year old cousin. She said, ‘did you hear about the first restaurant on the moon? They have great food, but no atmosphere!’
Andrew: Tell her the gladiator one.
Scott: Did you hear about the happy Roman? He was glad he ate her!
Andrew: What does the deaf and blind orphan get for Christmas?
Scott: What?
Andrew: CANCER.
Matt: Ok, an accountant comes home and he’s gotten a tattoo. His wife says, ‘you got a tattoo? You’re an accountant!’ And he says, ‘yeah, I got a tattoo, I thought it would be cool.’ ‘Well, where did you get it?’ ‘I got it on my penis.’ ‘You got a tattoo on your penis, what did you get?’ ‘I got a picture of a hundred dollar bill!’ ‘That’s so weird, why did you get that?’ ‘Well, I like to watch my money grow. I like to play with my money, and next it’ll be no problem if you want to blow a hundred bucks!’ Told to me by my fifteen year old cousin!
TOist: Is there anything I should have asked you?
Jon: Is there anything you’d rather we hadn’t said?
Andrew: Jon’s single. AND LOOKING!
Jon: Oh, thanks a lot.
Andrew: It can be a contest! Win a Date with Jon, the BAD BOY!
Matt: WIN A BAD DATE…with a bad boy!
Jon: Now I’m embarrassed.
TOist: I can edit that out.
Jon: No, it’s ok, leave it in.
Matt: More questions for Boygroove!
TOist: Oh! Like, what are your favourite colours and favourite girls’ name and I hope it’s Alison!
Andrew: My girlfriend’s name is Alison. But I call her Alice.
Matt: I’m a big fan of that book!
Jon: My favourite girl name?
Matt: In Wonderland, that is.
Scott: My favourite colour is blue.
Andrew: My favourite colour is NOT RED.
Jon: I don’t know…Emily, maybe. But then she was my girlfriend. And now I don’t like the name so much.
Matt: My favourite colour and favourite girl’s name are both Jade.
Andrew: Your girlfriend’s name is Jade?
Matt: Nah, I’m just being clever.
Andrew: My favourite colour? PLAID.
Jon: This is getting ridiculous.
TOist: Ok, any good stories from the road?
Jon: Before we went on tour to Orlando we rehearsed in Edmonton and had to drive from Edmonton to Toronto to catch the plane to Orlando. And the day before, I sprained my ankle so bad that it was like THAT FAT. And I got, like, psoriasis, and I had creepy measles type things EVERYWHERE. So here’s me, crippled and diseased. And we had to drive across Canada with me like that.
Andrew: And WE had to drive across Canada WITH HIM like that!
Jon: And that’s my anecdote.
Andrew: Then there are the stories we always have to tell, like we got our van broken into in Toronto.
Scott: How many times do we have to tell that story???
Matt: But a bum found a bunch of our stuff the next day!
TOist: So you spread the word among the homeless of Toronto.
Matt: We seriously did, yeah. I was desperate. There was a bunch of writing in there, Scott’s passport and costume. But we found a bunch of it, including Jon’s phone. Oh, and I slept on a fire escape when I was here last summer because my place fell through. And surprisingly it’s better than the accommodation I have set up for this weekend. Which may be another fire escape.
Laura the Publicist: I won’t let you sleep on a fire escape!
Matt: Whatever – where are we going to stay?
Jon: We did a BYOV in Edmonton at a bar. The Ironhorse Bar. We had to tear it down every night. And the final show we had there was a stag party going on in the basement. And we’re trying to do our show for 130 people, and downstairs they’re really loud and obnoxious. And we are getting more and more angry but not really doing anything, and finally Matt, in the middle of his monologue – perfect timing – said ‘how many people are annoyed with what’s going on downstairs?’ And everyone cheered. So we said, ‘ok, count of three, everyone yell ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP’! And we did. And downstairs they didn’t shut up. Finally I said, “Fuck this!” and I pretty much crawled through the audience and went downstairs –
Matt: With his microphone still on, so we’re getting all the sound up in the theatre!
Jon: And I was doing this in character because normally I would not challenge a room full of stag dudes, right? So first I went to the bartender and gave him shit. And then I went up to some guys and gave them shit.
Matt: And they kind of shut up, and the audience yelled thank you, and stomped on the floor yelling “shut the fuck up” some more. And someone’s grandma was there, and she was all into it, jumping up and down yelling.
Scott: That was a fun show.
Matt: Yeah, especially considering that whole run sucked, venue-wise. That and Ottawa were the two worst spots.
Jon: Oh, Ottawa. Ok, so we had just won a bunch of awards, and were featured in magazines, and we were on top of the world and we drove to Ottawa thinking that we could have a few hours for our tech rehearsal and then open the show. They gave us the wrong time. So when we got to Ottawa we had about 45 minutes before the show. No time for a tech, no time for anything.
Matt: And the stage was, like, four blocks pushed together and when we did any dance moves they would separate.
Jon: And we couldn’t bother with microphones or lights – just a general wash.
Scott: But it was still ok – we had, what, 40 people show up for our first show and we thought, that’s great, and then all these accolades started pouring in and we thought, well we’re on top of the world! Next day: we had to cancel the show because nobody showed up.
Jon: Oh, and in Ottawa we wanted to get a really good quote, like “The Next Urinetown!” or something, so we asked someone from Ottawa, ‘can you say ‘the next Urinetown’? And they said “the next Urinetown,” and we used that as a quote from the Ottawa citizen. Because they were a citizen of Ottawa.
Matt: What?
Jon: You didn’t know that?
Matt: That’s ridiculous!