The most exciting two nights of the summer, Kevin Sorbo Garbage Weekend, are almost here! Tonight (Friday) and Saturday, the legendary Kevin Sorbo will be performing at Comedy Bar in four hilarious and sure-to-be-mythical shows put on by some of Toronto’s most popular improv and sketch groups.
Some of the busy performers took a moment to talk to TOSketchFest about their upcoming shows. Rob Norman and Adam Cawley of MANTOWN, Matt Baram of Impromptu Splendor, and Gary Rideout Jr., Artistic Director of Comedy Bar and driving force behind Catch 23 and The Sketchersons, all offered their perspectives on what is literally the most herculean labour their groups have undertaken.
TO Sketchfest: Aside from the fact that Kevin Sorbo will be in it, will there be anything different from your regular shows? What can audiences expect?
Rob Norman: This will the first time an actual “man” will perform in MANTOWN. From what I hear, Sorbo has huge muscles, can grow a beard, and has armpit hair. That’s pretty different from the guys I normally play with.
Matt Baram: To be honest, WE don’t know what to expect! We really have no idea if Sorbo has improvising chops. He’s obviously a good actor with a great deal of professionalism. I’m not sure if he fully grasps what he’s in for either. We mentioned to him that we’re going to be improvising a play in the style of David Mamet and he said it would be a breeze since he’s met the guy several times. Not sure how that will translate.
Gary Rideout Jr.: Last time we had a big name come and play the bar’s “regular shows” it was Tim Meadows. The local acts all gave outstanding performances. Everyone treats it like a big night and puts their best foot forward to try to have a great performance. The houses are packed and there’s a lot of excitement, so although they are shows you can see other times, they feel like “openings”.
TO Sketchfest: When writing with a high profile guest host in mind, what changes for you? Anything?
Adam Cawley: MANTOWN is a fully improvised show. We will just provide Kevin with one sword, one hair tie, and seven beers. He’ll cause some shit, we’ll improvise a solution.
MB: Basically everything. It often means that we need to be a bit more mindful of narrative and plot. We just need to be careful not to put a guest into a position of power in the play. If we do, they can often derail things quite fast. Not that it would be a bad thing. Things get ridiculous when we get off the rails. And it seems like Sorbo’s a man who lives his life pretty close to the rails.
GRJ: It’s better to keep it simple and put the guest in a position to get maximum laughs. You also have to think about what people are expecting to see. For example, people will be expecting some references to Hercules, so yeah, we have to do that.
TO Sketchfest: Do you think this will change your fan base? Are you hoping for hardcore Kevin Sorbo fans who may return?
RN: “Hardcore” and “Kevin Sorbo fans” is redundant. There are no weak Sorbo fans. If one does show weakness, they are eaten by the stronger ones. But yes, I hope like Xena’s metal frisbee, the Sorbians come right back to us.
MB: This question is funnier that any answer I can come up with.
GRJ: I don’t know if it will change or add to our fanbase. If it does, that would be great. It’s okay if that’s not the case too though, the whole Sorbo thing came out of Pat Thornton’s 24 hour stand-up show for charity which raised $11,000, and will be happening again this November. So the fact that he was willing to come and is being such a great sport about it is really incredible and it’s kind of a reward for all the hard work of all those writers.
TO Sketchfest: What kinds of thoughts do you hope will be running through Sorbo’s head on Sunday morning after the shows?
AC: Sunday morning, I hope Kevin calls his lawyer and says. “I don’t know where I am. Friday at 10:30pm I went to a place called MANTOWN and I did some things, things I can’t take back. You need to take care of it.”
MB: I can see him reflecting on Mamet’s keen use of language to create conflict and his skill at reproducing the speech patterns of various social groups while at the same time wondering if this use of the vernacular might lend a stilted, unrealistic quality to his work.
GRJ: When he gets home I hope he thinks it was worth it. I hope he thinks it was a ton of fun and that we are a cool community of talented artists, and I hope he’s proud of doing a great job. Also he might feel weird about kicking all our asses.
The Kevin Sorbo Garbage Weekend is presented at Comedy Bar, this Friday August 26th and Saturday August 27th. www.comedybar.ca