Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Peril from Beyond Space!

My friend and fellow former regular at Tequila Bookworm Scott Watkins invited me to be the opening act for the first installment of Peril from Beyond Space,

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,

so when I saw a poster for an open mic comedy night at Brain Wash,

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.

The Bad Dog Theatre is small theatre near Broadview and Danforth — the western edge of Accordion City’s Greektown — with a main stage that seats sixty or so people. I arrived and met the cast,

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

little banter.”

“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

says “Ooh…tough


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!

Photo: Onstage cast of 'Peril from Beyond Space' -- (l-r) Cary West, Nike Abbott, Paul Koster, Scott Watkins, Sam Agro, and Tracy Shea-Porter.

Theatre keeps them off the streets: from left to right

— Cary West, Nike Abbott, Paul Koster, Scott Watkins, Sam Agro, and

Tracy Shea-Porter.

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

Beyond Space!

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!

Photo: Dave Till.

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!

6 replies on “Peril from Beyond Space!”

Gooey, your RSS feed seems to be cutting off your excellent posts after a certain number of characters. (or at least, my Sharpreader on Win2k claims that there aren’t any more characters after a certain [relatively high, >255] number.) I think there’s a buffer somewhere that isn’t big enough.

This particular post ends with the y in “I figure that any…”

I checked and found a little bad HTML in one of my entries (it was a gremlin introduced by the WYSIWYG editor). Bad HTML often throws off RSS readers. It’s been fixed now.

Not fixed for me. The Barong post is also truncated. The point at which that post is truncated is right in the middle of an image URL, so I don’t think it’s a parsing error due to bad HTML. It’s quite possible that the problem is inside my reader (Sharpreader but when I look at the XML source it shows that the XML is cut off.

Yeah — I just found out that there’s a 2000-character limit on entries in the RSS feeds in Blogware. I plan to annoy The Powers That Be into changing that.

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