Vest of Friends (L to R): Reid Brackenbury, Marc Hallworth, Evan Richardson and Morgan George.
Humber College grads Reid Brackenbury, Marc Hallworth, Evan Richardson and Morgan George are truly “invested” in sketch comedy. Vest of Friends won the Steam Whistle Brewing Producers’ Pick Award at the 2011 Toronto Sketch Festival, and will perform with Falcon Powder and Peter n’ Chris at Second City on April 12 for the Best of the Fest Encore Show. Here, we find out more about this funny foursome.
Theatromania: Tell us about Vest of Friends. How did the four of you get together?
MH: Morgan George and Evan Richardson knew each other from Cobourg, Ontario and have been best friends since grade eight, but they both went to study at Humber College’s Comedy Writing and Performance program for different years (Evan graduated in 2010 and Morgan graduated in 2011). While Morgan was studying there he met Reid Brackenbury from London, Ontario, as well as myself (Marc Hallworth) and Damian Rudiak who were both from Alberta. In August of 2010, Morgan, Evan and Reid had their first show as Vest of Friends and then Damian and I joined in September, but in 2011 Damian’s effort started to peter out and he told us he was moving back to Alberta. He left in May of 2011 and the troupe has just been the four of us ever since.
Theatromania: How would you describe your comedy style?
MH: We don’t really feel we’re here to change how you feel about society or start a revolution – we just think some things are hilarious and we want to share them with everyone. We have a few satirical points now and again, but most of our thoughts are just crazy situations where a guy’s trying to convince someone that his son is a bear. We’re not even very theatrical or character-based, it’s just us trying to make each other laugh. The important thing to us is the writing – we figure out props, effects, setting, whatever, in minutes. But we slave over the writing.
Theatromania: Who or what inspires your material?
MH: We’ve got a variety of different influences from each of our youths, different movies or shows like The Simpsons and Seinfeld, and sketch shows like Saturday Night Live, Kids in The Hall, or Monty Python. But right now we’re finding that our favourite influences are the comedians and troupes that live and work in Toronto, people like Hunter Collins and Tim Gilbert, and other sketch troupes like LadyStache, Parker & Seville, and Cheap Smokes. In terms of where ideas come from, I’d say most of it comes from conversation or banter between the four of us. Nothing’s funnier to us than some of the rapid fire conversations we have very loudly on public transportation.
Theatromania: Funniest performance memory to date?
MH: Probably one of the funniest shows was a sloppy drunk-fest we did hosting and headlining this stand-up open mic that we run on Dundas Street West. It was a Christmas show called “God Vest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and we were so drunk by the time we got to headlining the show that we were just giggling the whole time. I don’t think Evan got a single one of his lines right.
Theatromania: What’s next for Vest of Friends?
MH: We’re saving up some money to do a tour of Ontario, visiting the home towns of Reid, Morgan, and Evan, and that will hopefully happen sometime in October. We’re also saving up to do the Canadian Fringe Circuit for the summer of 2013. In the meantime, we keep doing any show that comes our way. We feel it’s important to get as much stage time and exposure as we can, and we’re trying our hardest to not let any of the people that book us down. We also run a Humber-based show at the Comedy Bar every month that will hopefully continue to grow, and we’re definitely excited about Best of the Fest at The Second City on April 12th!
Visit torontosketchfest.com for more information and to buy tickets.