Last week, Humber comedy fans stepped into a time machine and bore witness to the history of comedy playing out in front of them.
The Humber Comedy Writing and Performance program held its annual Archival Shows to a series of packed houses at the Factory Theatre in downtown Toronto from April 3 – 6.
The shows were a mix a classic and contemporary comedy. The first act of each show was a retrospective of comedy sketches throughout the ages from Vaudeville, Abbott and Costello, Saturday Night Live and The Kids in the Hall. The Second act featured original sketches and stand-up routines from the students.
All the performing students were in their first year with varying levels of experience in front of an audience. Andrew Cholfe, 25, said he enjoyed the challenge of bringing the old sketches to life.
“I think it was more of a challenge to make Abbott and Costello funny again,” he said. “But, debuting our own material was more exciting than performing the famous stuff.”
Christal Bartelse, a professor of physical comedy in the program, directed Thursday’s show. She said the Archival Shows are great for comedy virgins to strengthen their creative muscles.
“It just gives them a huge opportunity to do a show…it gives them a chance to apply everything they’ve learned so far,” she said.
The comedy program has been doing these shows for years. Program Coordinator Andrew Clark said there is a good reason why they choose to do archival material rather than just original sketches. Clark said the students can learn a lot from the great masters of comedy.
“Its like driving in a really good car. Playing in a scene like ‘Who’s on First?’, you really get a sense of ‘this is how a good sketch works,’” he said.
At the end of the night on Thursday the cast was tired and sweaty and despite a few minor hiccups it was obvious everybody was proud of their accomplishment.
“I think it went really well. I’m surprised by everyone,” Chelsea Randall, 24, said. “Everybody just pulled it out of their back pocket and left it all on the stage. It was awesome.”
For Humber comedy fans who were unable to make it to the Archival Shows, don’t fret. The Humber Comedy Writing and Performance Program will also be hosting Year-End Shows at Comedy Bar on Bloor Street from April 15 – 17.