Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre, August 14 – 22
More information: hipbang.ca
An interview with Tom Hill.
Describe your show in five words.
An expectation-melting comedy ripper.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
WHITE PANTS is a sketch comedy show dedicated to white pants, yes, but we also go well beyond traditional sketch comedy – in fun, accessible ways we deconstruct what it is to watch live comedy. There are no breaks between scenes, you will be laughing through the entire show, and the ending will blow your mind.
White Pants is your first written comedy – Hip.Bang! is known for their improv work – how is mounting a scripted show different than what you’ve done in the past with your improv shows aside from having a script?
It’s very different! We have been doing written comedy almost as long as we’ve been doing improv, with a larger group (Pump Trolley Comedy in Vancouver). We’ve been developing this sketch show for the past year, writing intensively to create about ten times as much content as we are actually using in the show. So it’s a lot more work, but we can also be much more selective about our final product because…we planned it.
Also, it’s worth mentioning: we are also doing improv at the fringe! Our improv show Hip.Bang! Improv is also in the festival, at the Sugar Swing Ballroom. We still love doing improv. You might call us polyamourous comedians.
What instincts have you brought across from improv to scripted comedy?
Too many to count. As improvisers, we attack the stage, try and play fast, stay ahead of the crowd’s expectations, and keep things real funny.
WHITE PANTS does those things too (that’s just how we like our comedy) but I think where we really used our improv experience was in twisting how we present the ideas we think are funny.
I’ll explain. In improv, it’s the moments when performers are obviously struggling that can be so fun. As an audience, we fear they will fail and when they don’t it is amazing (and funny, and relieving) that they’ve succeeded. With a written show, we tend to expect more – the show is planned so we can prepare to judge it as something the artists believe to be good work, we say, crossing our arms.
In WHITE PANTS, we try and blur that line relentlessly. We fail a lot, or seem to a least. It looks the show is breaking… regularly. Some of the show is deliberately improvised. All of it, we hope, creates a feeling that this comedy is a little dangerous, and very unexpected. Ultimately, surprise is what makes us laugh, so having an audience feel like anything could happen is an incredibly fertile atmosphere within which to present jokes about, say, white pants.
We wouldn’t have been able to cook up any of this crazy approach to written comedy without years of experience understanding what makes audiences tick, and that’s what excites us so much about this show.
White pants are certainly majestic and beautiful, as you’ve said in your press release, but where did the idea of doing an entire show dedicated to them come from?
Have you ever worn white pants? It’s like putting on a cloud and forcibly demanding that the world show you some damn respect. You feel good, you look incredible, and you get noticed. All while being deeply vulnerable to all condiments, birds, and stationary. It’s a fine balance and we thought it was the right tone to set for ourselves and the crowd, right as we set off on a big hilarious ripper of a comedy show.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
We want them to know they will absolutely laugh if they come. If you’ve seen our improv show, you know we like to get wild, playful, and to sabotage each other. Go see that, but then come see what happens when you bottle that, boil it down to its most powerful essence, and then add some very fetching pants. It’s a great time.
Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?
The music in the show was composed by Daniel Maslany, an incredible comedian and sound designer who lives in Toronto and composed the music for the show Tom and Ember Konopaki did in 2013 (REMEMORY at TACOS Space).
And if you like fancy stuff, the very very funny Peter Carlone of Peter n’ Chris called WHITE PANTS “a side-splitting show that I can’t recommend enough.” So that’s pretty fancy. Thanks Peter! Thanks for nothing, Chris.
The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.