a four-part play that spoofs those old 50’s black and white sci-fi
serials. I used to occasionally provide the music for his improv shows
when he was with Theatresports and miss performing with comedians, so I
accepted his invitation.
My musical/stand-up act is simply a more staged version of my street
musician schtick. The story behind the accordion and the busking act is
here; as for the stand-up, I got into it on a whim while living in San
Francisco. At the time, I was working as OpenCola’s developer
releations guy and shared a small but incredibly cool office with Cory
Doctorow. You could’ve counted the people I knew in town on both hands,
the cafe/laundromat across the street from the office, I saw an
opportunity to both meet new people and try something new. My act went
over quite well, and the event’s host, Tony Sparks
(a wonderful guy who gives the best introductions for the newbies),
invited me to do some other gigs at comedy clubs in the city.
I’ve done a little local stand-up — by accident. While hanging out at the bar at the Bovine Sex Club
with the accordion strapped to my back, a guy by the name of Bert
approached me and said “I figure that anyone who carries an accordion
at the Bovine has got
to be funny. Do you do stand-up? Would you like to?” Bert turned out to
be part of a sketch comedy troupe called Slap and Tickle, and I did a handful of shows with them, even getting incorporated into one of their skits. I believe my last gig with them was sometime in 2003.
all of whom showered me with “thanks for coming” and “hey, I love your
blog”. Then, we started discussing the schedule for the evening’s show.
“The show’s about forty minutes, and we need to fill an hour, so if you could do twenty, we’ll be fine,” said Cary.
“My act is seven minutes, eight if I do it like David Carradine,” I
said. “I was under the impression you wanted just the music and a
“Hmm…can you, uh, stretch it to twenty?”
Nearly three times as long?
“If we need to fill more time, I can do my ‘Beat Poetry of Ricardo Montalban’,” offered Scott.
“Crap,” I said, thinking about it. “Oh, what the hell. I accept your challenge!”
I mornally don’t get stage fright — a very embarassing gig in high
school, complete with TV cameras, cured me of that — but this time, I
was a little worried.
After a brief introduction, I walked on stage with the accordion and
did my bit, fattened up with a couple of stories from the old stand-up
routine. It went pretty smoothly. I got laughs for most of my gags and
I avoided the nightmare in which everyone goes silent and the comic
After thanking the audience, I went offstage, where the cast said they
liked it. Cary looked at his watch and said “Thirteen, maybe fourteen
minutes. I think we can work with that. Thanks!”
My thanks to the cast and crew of Peril from Beyond Space for inviting
me to open for their opening show, and also to the audience members who
came up to me after the show and said they loved the act and will never
look at the accordion in the same way again. Your taste is impeccable!
Theatre keeps them off the streets: from left to right
— Cary West, Nike Abbott, Paul Koster, Scott Watkins, Sam Agro, and
Here’s the description of Peril from Beyond Space:
The year is 1947. The forces of democracy have triumphed. Millions of
Americans are raising families, buying refrigerators, and wearing
nearly identical suits. Now that fascism has been eradicated, Mr. and
Mrs. Average Homeowner can look forward to a bright new era of peace
and prosperity. Or can they? Little do they realize that a malevolent
alien race has targeted the planet earth – a race of demon monsters
that threatens every single person in the entire world…a Peril – from
Peril from Beyond Space
shamelessly savages those old Republic and RKO Pictures “science
fiction” serials, which were often just gangster movies with a
poorly-applied gloss of atomic age/space age paint. There’s plenty of
Buck Rogers pseudoscience hokum, what with the aliens’ anti-gravity
ray, the dashing scientist hero’s energy-damping null ray and
cheese-tastic props. They also poke fun at the old movie conventions
with Dave Till’s stentorian narration (complete with breaks for ads,
such as the coffee featuring “the ingredient that won the war”), the
beautiful fiancee who actually knows more than her scientist betrothed
or his dad even though “science is men’s work” and the best
father-to-son advice ever: “Good grooming equals good science!” My
favourite bit has to be the chase scene; somehow, with only four chairs
and solid thespianism, they pulled off the best one I’ve ever seen in a
stage play, complete with stunt jump!
Dave Till is the announcer.
The well-done show ended with a doubly-literal cliffhanger (the
car went off a cliff, and the dashing scientist’s name is Cliff), as
will episodes 2 and 3 of this four episode series. I had a ball
watching this show, and were it not for the fact that I have to pick up
Wendy from the airport this Friday, I’d catch it.
Peril from Beyond Space will play at the Bad Dog Theatre (138 Danforth,
at Broadview) this Friday, March 18th, as well as the subsequent two
Fridays (March 25th and April 1st). Tickets are a mere eight bucks
(five for students). Go support some live theatre and be entertained by
some really funny people too!