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Note from the editor: The Mind Diddlers will guest blog from time to time about the business of making Halifax laugh. Get the inside story on what drives a comedy troupe to do what they do.
It was 2010, the Togo National Football Team had been involved in an attack in Angola and as a result withdrew from the Africa Cup of Nations. A group of Halifax comedians met in the living room of Bill Williams to discuss nothing that relates to football or Angola. Being disheartened with the options for local comedians, Bill wanted to open the floor to discussion of how we could organize to make people laugh as a unit and where we could do this.
After a few meetings the group was boiled down to a delicious reduction—we were to be a mixed media show with filmed sketches, live sketches, members' stand up and guest performers. The Mind Diddlers were born. Why The Mind Diddlers? Well, let's refer to Dictionary.com; Mind: The element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges. Diddle: to toy or fool. There you go. We toy or fool with your reasons, thoughts, feelings, wills, perception and judgement. Have you watched our videos? It also means to masturbate your mind but only you real perverts would have thought of that.
How do we write our sketches? Oh dear, that's one hell of a question. The group is made up of members who have similar senses of humor while still differing quite a bit. We have both men and women, straight and gay, tall and short—those are our only differences, everything else about us is the exact same down to our middle names. Normally a sketch idea will be mentioned, usually a pretty vague sentence, and that then bounces around in each of our heads and comes back out with more stuff stuck to it. Kind of like when you accidentally drop a mint you've been sucking on between the cushions of your couch and when you pull it out it's all covered in hair and crud. That hair and crud is our comedy genius.
Bill is the magician who makes our idea into fancy moving pictures that will (hopefully) make our fans laugh. If the videos aren't funny then it is totally his fault which takes the pressure off the rest of us. If the video is funny then it is obviously thanks to everyone—that's just how it works. Don't make me explain the gory details, just trust me, I'm a diddler. That is one sentence I never hope to write again: "trust me, I'm a diddler." Damn it! I wrote it again!
We frequently disagree with each other on what is funny, which is beneficial to our development as it pushes us to do different things and try bits we probably wouldn't have done otherwise. It also leads to many entertaining arguments, such as:
"I just don't see why my character would go down on herself for her sons."
"Do you really think those two characters would decide to try lesbianism at that specific moment?"
"But if we added a stretching montage she could totally go down on herself."
What we're saying is for some reason the idea of women orally pleasuring themselves and each other tickles particular members of our group more than others. We frequently get distracted in meetings and spend as much time making each other laugh as worrying about making our audience laugh. That's OK though, because we are working to earn laughter. What is it the Wealthy Barber always says? "Pay yourself first"? If he was so damned wealthy why is he still cutting hair? If he's not still cutting hair then why are we still calling him a barber? So many questions, so few answers...
The Mind Diddlers have as much fun producing the show as the audience has watching it. We're also lucky to have a great pool of local talent to pull from for our guest stand up.
Catch The Mind Diddlers' foolishness live Wednesday, March 14, 9pm at the Company House (2202 Gottingen, $5)
From many accounts, it was a bizarro start last Wednesday when judge John Dunsworth apparently heckled the host comedian, but Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh Off regional finals recovered and concluded with laughter and no tears. Peter White won, followed by a Picnicface one-two jab, thanks to runners-up Kyle Dooley and Evany Rosen. White, who already holds an exclusive management deal with the comedy club, heads to Toronto at the end of March, competing against 63 other contestants in eight rounds for the $25,000 prize. But he’s shrugging it off in a typically modest way.
“It’s not easy to win,” he laughs. “So much depends on the judges,” who include bookers and reps for The Late Show with David Letterman, Just for Laughs, The Comedy Network and Conan O’Brien (RIP, Coco). But White admits that, in the back of his mind, Mark Little’s win last year makes his own chances “just a little more realistic.”
So kids, here's a story of never giving up your dreams. When Coast writer Mark Black read in Mondo that "When Toronto comedian Bob Kerr tweeted Tompkins in late July and asked him to perform here, Tompkins responded with a challenge: Kerr’s aptly named “I Wanna See Paul F. Tompkins in Toronto!” group reached 300 people by the first week of August."
Could it? Would it work in Halifax? So Black started a FB group and In no time at all, more than 300 Haligonians showed their funny bones, and now Tompkins has agreed to perfom here. The former Mr. Show cast member will be at The Company House, for two shows on March 27. Ticket details, TBD.
You’ll recall that in the summer Shoptalk reported that Yuk Yuk’s was moving from its Westin Hotel premise to the former Club Caliente space on Spring Garden. Then we reported that the move was off. Then, two weeks ago, we reported that Anthony Smith, who had been contemplating buying into the Yuk Yuk’s move, claimed that Yuk Yuk’s backed out so he is instead going solo with his own Nuthouse Comedy Club in the Spring Garden space.
This week, I discussed the situation with Lawrence Morgenstern, who, with partner Howard Wagman, has taken over the Halifax Yuk Yuk’s franchise, and intends to keep it right where it is in the Westin. Morgenstern claims that the former franchise holder was moving forward with the Spring Garden move along with Smith, but that Smith backed out of that deal, not Yuk Yuk’s.
Regardless, now we’ve got two comedy clubs. And, Picnicface will play at both: Tuesdays at Yuk Yuk’s, Sundays at Nuthouse.