While reading I’m a proud Brainiac, Roger Ebert’s non-apology to those who call him “elitist” for not liking Transformers 2, I was reminded of one of my favourite moments from this year’s Fringe festival. It was during The NO Show, a nightly “talk show” put on by local sketch comedy group Fully Insured and hosted by scriptoris fecundus palmaris Jayson McDonald. The show is traditionally heavily comedy-oriented, including the interviews, just like the televised versions it springs from, and it’s really funny, due in large part to Jayson’s own ability to quickly riff on what his guest has just said.
What impressed me, though, was his interview with the cast and director of Never Swim Alone (Eva Blahut, Meaghan Chenosky, Tyler Parr and Justin Peter Quesnelle). Rather than play the interview for laughs, Jayson and his guests took the time to have an honest, insightful discussion about the show and their craft. It was a few minutes that demonstrated the intelligence of, and mutual respect between, the five people on stage.
Gene Siskel, Ebert’s partner on At the Movies until his death, said “I always ask myself: ‘Is the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?'” Having now witnessed Eva, Jayson, Justin, Meaghan and Tyler “having lunch”, they’ve set a high bar for themselves and their companies (Passionfool and Stars and Hearts); but knowing the consistently high quality and passion each brings to her/his work, it’s one they’re all easily capable of leaping with room to spare.