It takes chemistry, faith and ego control to make a comedy duo work—elements that aren’t easy to keep in check. In improvisational theatre, a duo has even less control over the laughs because it’s all made up on the spot. But that’s the beauty of the form—it’s a high wire act. Me Likey, a combo comprised of Jan Caruana and Rica Eckersley, is one of the city’s most successful comedic pairings. In June, the act will be representing the T-Dot at the San Francisco Improv Festival. To warm up and raise funds for the Fest, Me Likey is putting on a show tonight at the Bad Dog Theatre.
“Me Likey was a kind of an accident,” says Caruana. “Rica got asked to put together a little group for someone else’s show and I was the only one available.” In fact, Caruana is one of the city’s most sought-after improvisers (she performs with Monkey Toast, About an Hour and the Neutrino Video Project), and both she and Eckersley are part of the Sass and the City ensemble. But something special happened when the two got up onstage as a duo. “It was the first time doing two-man improv and we were both scared,” says Eckersley. “But then we had the best time ever and knew we had to keep doing it.” The team works because they push and pull each other. Caruana’s sweetness counters Eckersley’s acerbic side. But it’s even funnier to see Caruana turn into a mean girl or to watch Eckersley reveal a vulnerable side.
Finding humour in the relationships between characters is a hallmark of the Toronto improv scene, and, as a duo, Me Likey can skip the scenic chit chat and dive straight into the interpersonal politics. The improv community is currently a hotbed of experimention. “People are starting to innovate and tinker with the formats a lot more,”says Caruana. “Which is very exciting.” Me Likey’s own style is called the Glenn Gould. “It’s based on the movie 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould,” says Caruana. “We basically try and do as many scenes on the one topic as possible in the span of about 40 minutes.”
The duo is excited about bringing the Glenn Gould to the San Fran Fest. “It’s always encouraging to hear festival organizers say thing like ‘Canadians are so much funnier than Americans,’ ” says Eckersley. “Even if they are just feeding us a line. It still keeps me warm at night.”
The Me Likey Fun Hour 4: Me Likey Takes San Francisco! is tonight at The Bad Dog Theatre (138 Danforth Avenue at Broadview). Doors open ay 8 p.m. and tickets $10 and are available at the door or in advance by calling 416-491-3115.
Photo by Olya Sanakoev.