Bob Martin and Marty Adams, two cast members from The Second City Project, discuss Carol Burnett, David Mitchell, Alpacas (a type of lama), and voles (what’s a vole?)
What are your favourite Second City Project sketches so far?
Bob: We have to pick our favourite sketches from the show? That’s tough. I really like the first sketch in the show, The Heckler. Which is Steve Waltien’s sketch “What’s The Deal?”. That’s a sketch that takes place in a comedy club, and it focuses on somebody heckling. We asked all the performers to improvise stand up comedy routines. Everybody had their own style. Marty’s was… Everyone took their own angle right. Marty, he was improvising jokes that made no sense at all. But he’s so charismatic, you laugh. And then you think, you say, what a minute, that didn’t make any sense what he just said, made no sense.
Marty: My favourite sketch on the show is the one, Tim Baltz on the show did, and it’s where he plays a parent and a husband, to two children and a wife, and the wife is kind of upset because the kids are running terror, so he takes them to the beach, and then they go on a little treasure hunt. From there it just gets weird. But also, I did this one called “Werewolf”. I play this guy who is quadriplegic, you know in one of these chairs, I had the one with where I could move it with my finger. So I roll up to these ladies, and they’re running, on a jog. I’m like ladies you got to get out of here because things will get bad, I’m going to eat you, I’m going to feast on your flesh. They’re like what are you talking about? And the full moon comes out, and I turn into this wolf, but I’m still quadriplegic, so I’m chasing them in the chair. They go to places where I can’t go, down some steps. It ends up being a PSA for accessibility, and how that’s the real monster. Right Bob!?
What was it like working with the Alpaca?
Bob: The Alpaca was great, I loved the Alpaca, I wanted the Alpaca. I mean it was actually extremely docile, well behaved. I mean it just sort of got bored. Because it takes a long time to shoot TV. Strangely, Alpacas don’t naturally live on television sets, it’s an unusual environment for them. It wandered, it had to be restrained a lot. It was good.
Marty: The best part was the Alpaca came in as a guest writer. We were all kind of, who’s this new writer. So we didn’t play it like it was an animal, we played it like it was a new writer, who we were upset was there. The best part was, when you’re doing one-on-one scenes with it, and you’re trying to hit certain beats, but you’re improvising, it would just move away from you, or look away, or something. In that moment you’d have to change whatever you’re doing and run with it. So in a way it was like improvising with like the worst improviser ever. So like, 18 year old Bob Martin.
What type of animal would you like to work with next on set?
Marty: I got this. Okay, a wolverine. I’d bring it in. Maybe a less interesting animal, because everyone’s like it’s got to be a huge shark, or it’s got to be this or that. Or I would say, a dormouse?
Bob: A vole. It would be really funny to be intimidated by a vole Marty. A vole is a size of your thumb. And just fired by the vole, the comedy is endless.
Who is your favourite comedian?
Marty: This is a good question! I got to say, Carol Burnett for me because she was just a comedic actress. There was a time when you know comedy was sort of, and I hate to say it, a boys club, and it was. She battled and battled and had her own show where she was the star of it, she could sing, she could dance, she was hysterical, she’s an amazing actress, she can do dramatic work. I feel like she kind of made me realize, if I’m going to do this, I need to kind of be good at everything.
Bob: I met Mary Tyler Moore when she said you touched my soul about something that I did. That was huge for me. Someone I really like. Do you know who I love actually is, David Mitchell. He has this online thing David Mitchell Soapbox. He is just fantastically smart and hilarious. He’s who I wanted to be. I was born in England, and if I stayed in England and been way smarter, I could of been him.
What made you want to be part of this project?
Bob: I guess cause I grew up watching sketch comedy, and it’s a really pure short form of comedy. I mean you’re making short comic films. I’ve always really liked that. I did sketch for a long time in Toronto. Second City seems like a natural breathing ground for good sketch comedy. We do a lot of improve there, we create sketches through improvisation on stage. I wanted to find the best talent in Second City and then create sketches for television that were highly produced and cool looking. It was just the idea of really revisiting sketch. When we started working on it, there was very little on television in North America. But now it’s starting to have a little bit of renaissance again. What about you Marty?
Marty: That was a really good answer. It was concise, it was going places, you know? Holy moly, I was just going to say it was fun. I’m an alumni of Second City, and for me that place is the beyond and all of training ground for comedians and sketch comedy, period. I think if you look at some of the best SNL actors that came out of there, you find out a lot of them are primarily Second City performers. A lot of them did ground links as well. At Second City you get like a full training, you’re taught to act well, you’re taught to write well, you’re taught to improvise well, and all those things together make you a great performer. When I heard Klaus Schuller, our producer, was talking about doing that I automatically thought, ‘Oh this is interesting’. You hear people doing sketch shows, and you hear people saying Bob Martin is going to be part of it, and Bob Martin is one of our greatest alumni. He’s up there with George Wendt. No but honestly, when I head Bob was on board – he’s done so many amazing things, he’s someone that you know wont do something that’s not sub-par when it comes to quality. He wouldn’t jump on and go ‘I’ll do this for a paycheck’, he doesn’t do that. So I knew we were in good hands, and I just hoped that I would be chosen. There were a lot of rounds of auditioning and somehow I squeaked through. That for me, that was it. You have Bob, Second City and I was just hoping I could be a part of it.
What advise do you have for future comedians that want to pursue this as a career?
Marty: When I was young I watched a lot of comedy, I watched every different kind. The best thing I learned from Melody Johnson, an alumni from Second City who taught me in school, she said “go see as much live theater as you can, see dramatic theater, see stand up comedy.” I tried to get a lot of a collective taste to find out what my voice was. I think that’s the main thing for performers, actors, writers. To find out what you have to say. You have to say something, everyone has something to say. It’s just a matter of finding out. Sometimes its about getting life experience, sometimes it’s not just studying in a class room, it’s getting out and just living, and experiencing. But finding your voice is the key thing. Failing, you learn the most from failing. Take those risks to fail, because if you don’t take any risks, you don’t learn anything. I found the best times I learned anything is when I did horribly. When I did great I was like, okay I know this works.
Bob: Yeah, I agree with you. That’s what I say to people. When asked that question. I think you kind of have to take a vow of poverty at the beginning too. You have to allow yourself the time to create material so you got to accept that you’re not going to be making money a period of time. You have to foster these relationship early on with other people in the community, because those people you will be working with the rest of your life. You sort of collectively find your voice as he said, with your cohort as you’re rising up. It’s about getting out there and doing it. Improve is free, you can do it easily.
When is The Second City Project on TV? The Second City Project broadcast event special airs Sunday April 19 at 8.30 et/pt on Global TV
Where can I watch The Second City Project online for free? GlobalTV.com/thesecondcityproject streams sketches from the The Second City Project crew for free, or watch with the Global Go app on your iOS or Android mobile device.
To hear the full interview, visit our Soundcloud at GlobalTV.