CBC’s ComedyCoup accelerator project is underway and, not surprisingly, a number of teams have their roots in Humber’s Comedy Writing & Performance program.
In the lead-up to voting, we’ll be running Q&A’s with those teams – vote for your favourite to make it into the top 50!! Voting for this round closes on Sunday, October 26.
Set in Welland, Ontario, Phoning It In is a show is about “the gritty reality of not making it in the big city and having to return to a small town with your tail between your legs.”
Brie Watson, 30, a production coordinator originally from Welland, Ontario
Nick Watson, 36, Brie’s older brother, an employee in the risk department of a large financial services company in Toronto, originally from Welland, now living in the Mighty Mississauga
Dan Dingwall, 27, an almost-wholesaler from Mississauga, Ontario
HOW DID YOU MEET EACH OTHER?
Nick: One morning I woke up and my Grandparents were there instead of my regular parents. Turns out it was because I was about to meet Brie Watson. I remember her internment in the playpen. I met Dan at, probably, a Humber event that Brie was running, or taking part in. He looked like a guy.
Brie: Dan is my boyfriend, we met when he was taking classes at the Second City, and I at Humber College. We were brought together by the powerful forces of the Toronto comedy community.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK TOGETHER?
Brie: I found out about ComedyCoup, showed it to Nick, and we thought it would be really fun to work on something together. I write and perform comedy regularly, and Nick has been working on writing stuff recently (but of the novel/graphic novel variety) so we thought it would be great to try our hand at writing funny stuff together. The project required a 3-person team, so we asked Dan to join the fun! He’s more of our punch-up man in terms of writing. Nick and I do most of the writing, Dan adds a few good zingers here and there. He's also got a good eye for directing, and has composed a lot of music for the show so far.
HOW DID EACH OF YOU GET INTO COMEDY?
Brie: I was working as a tour guide at the Vimy Ridge National Historic Site in France, and one night after drinks, I was talking about how much I enjoyed making people on my tour laugh, in spite of the serious nature of this particular historic site. My friend told me I should go into comedy; she told me Humber College had a Comedy Writing program, and I thought to myself: “There’s no way that’s a thing!” But it was! And is! I looked into the program when I came back to Canada and enrolled in 2010. I’ve been writing and performing comedy whenever possible ever since.
Dan: I started taking improv courses at the Second City in 2009 and have made several short comedic films, which used to be screened at the now-no-longer "7-Day Shorts" shows at the Second City Training Centre.
Nick: I grew up on A&E’s An Evening at the Improv. Then I really got into Seinfeld. The Simpsons made me go to university so I could pick up additional references which were going over my head in high school. In grade twelve and OAC I worked on some school videos and sketch shows with friends; they were really [Monty] Pythoninfluenced. It was making those videos that gave me the spark to do this, to work creatively. So I went to University to douse that spark and prepare me for a life in desk jockeying.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT.
Brie: Phoning It In is about a brother and sister who both lose their jobs in the big city and have to move back home to their parents, take a job at one of Welland’s fine call centres, and do whatever it takes to get their lives back in order.
Nick: It’s about the collapse of a myth, that to succeed you have to move away from home, to the big city, and make it. The prevailing feeling growing up was that there would be nothing for us in Welland, career-wise. We want to challenge that, in a funny way!
Brie: It’s a workplace comedy, and it also explores the home life of these characters. Nick’s character, for example, has a family to look after and my character, well, let’s just say she’ll have a lot of things she’ll be working on. Dan plays our boss, who has never left Welland – ever – and has worked his way up the call centre ranks.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA?
Nick: Corned beef, beer and a shared upbringing birthed this show. We brainstormed and had our own little pitch session at The Corned Beef House. The show came from that meal. We wanted something we knew about, something that could keep us close to Dan, as he’s the third member of the team, and something set somewhere other than a big city.
Brie: We have always thought Welland was a funny place. Even if you aren’t in Welland, you’ve heard SOMETHING about Welland. We have this reputation around the province. We also both worked at call centres in Welland, and we remember how painful that job can sometimes be. Working with those fundamentals, and our current lives in Toronto, we stuck with the old saying: “write what you know.” We know Welland. We also know this is the first generation who believe they will not be better off than their parents. We’ve been in the situation where we’ve had to ask our parents for help and we thought, what if we take that to the extreme? A lot of people are moving back in with their parents, or rather, never leaving, but what if these two came back after the parents already thought they’d gotten rid of them and were getting used to the happy life of a couple retirees. It’s painful for everyone, but it’s also hilarious to think about the kinds of real-life scenarios that would come from that.
Thanks Brie, Nick and Dan, and GOOD LUCK!