Mark Little’s contribution to the Halifax comedy scene spread out considerably with Picnicface’s TV (their woefully short-lived Comedy Network show), movie (Roller Town) and literary (Picnicface’s Canada) takeover. Since that boom, some of the members have moved on to bigger, more concrete pastures in Toronto, but home is where the heart is.
Back in town this summer shooting CBC’s Mr. D, Little has been performing on the side, throwing his hat in the Philbin ring with Good Morning Tonight, dubbed “Halifax's newest evening daytime talk show” at The Bus Stop on Wednesday evenings. But summer is winding down and if you want to catch a show, now’s the time.
Since his relocation, Little has gotten accustomed to the Toronto comedy hustle of seven shows a week. “There weren't a ton of shows going on in Halifax, so I wanted to start a bunch of my own. The talk show, Good Morning Tonight, was one of those, and it's been especially fun because in many ways it's like a mini-Picnicface reunion. No matter how many shows I did in Toronto, I missed working with these guys. And having Stephan MacLeod help produce the shows is a dream. And we have incredible tech guys! So actually, on the planning and technical side, it's what I wished the live Picnicface show could've been like. Smooth!”
The shows bring in elements of classic talk show staples, interviews, bits and recurring characters. Picnicface’s Andy Bush acts as the host, with a solid cast of regulars Paul Doucette (Flag on the Play) and Geordie Miller. Little’s characters keep everyone on their toes. The group eventually settled on using a theme (they’ve done “Dads” and “Street Cents” as Andy Bush is a former host of the show).
“Our first two were a learning experience—we started with both Andy and I hosting, and we spent a lot of time trying to find bits that would work and weed out the stuff that didn't. There was a lot that didn't work, although we had one really fun bit called Pizza Race, where Andy and I ordered pizzas from different places at the same time and made the delivery drivers race.
“It'll be sad to leave Good Morning Tonight just as we're figuring out how to make it work. We've said that if we feel confident enough in it by the end of the summer, we might try to pitch it as a web show or a show or just something to tour. I'd love that, especially because I think the two places sketch comedy fits best nowadays are online and in talk shows. So far, the show's been a natural place to take some of the stuff I was writing for a second Picnicface season.”
Like so many rushing delivery drivers, Little thrives on the constant movement of the Toronto comedy scene. “I'm so happy I moved there and got to see some of the mind-blowing comedy people are doing. It's inspiring and it makes me work harder. And I've heard you experience the same thing when you move from Toronto to New York. So it's a great place to be in "phase two" of my career, where I'm a little more confident in my abilities but still totally aware of how much I have to learn. Getting up onstage all the time and watching other comics who make it look so effortless—those are things I never could've had if I hadn't moved.”
The effort has paid off. Both Little and Bush had winning Just for Laughs Pitch Program entries, Bush in the “From Set To Screen” category for “Custodial”, a blue-collar comedy about janitorial staff at at tech company, and Little in the “Pitch Til Your Sides Split” category for “The Amazing Tales of Mr. Evans”, about a substitute teacher who abandons teaching in favour of telling his students outlandish stories.