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Interview: Daniel Kurland of The Raisin Gang

Posted by art On June - 16 - 2011

Daniel Kurland

By Meagan Snyder

The Raisin Gang’s members are active in Toronto’s sketch comedy community, translating their fast-paced and often absurd sketches into innovative live shows as well as high-quality short films. They will compete in TO Sketchfest’s Sketch Com-Ageddon during Round F, Thursday at 9:30 at Comedy Bar. Raisin Gang member Daniel Kurland was kind enough to answer a few questions for MONDO.

MONDO: Tell me how The Raisin Gang came to be.

DK: We had all worked together previously in various capacities prior to The Raisin Gang, the biggest one being Ryerson’s sketch troupe, RIOT. That would have been our “Groundlings,” I suppose. We started there, and then after getting out of university, no one seemed to think that education was the ingredient that held us all together, so we kept at it. We all have known each other for a gross amount of time.

MONDO: You perform live but also produce many videos. What do you get out of these different formats? Does one motivate you more than the other? Does your work in each format compensate the limitations of the other?

DK: They’re both great formats to play in, and I’m very happy that we do both, but it’s almost like they’re different vehicles entirely. With videos, you can tell stories that you couldn’t on stage. It’s that simple, and that always has me thinking videos are the greatest, because you can pretty much write anything, and more or less make it happen. Not only that, but you can get humour out of filming, by having jokes in the editing, or the effects, or the continuity. There was a solid stretch of time when everyone’s favorite sketches on SNL were the Digital Shorts, and it’s because of things like this. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Doug Benson, Man of Many Pies

Posted by art On May - 1 - 2011

Comedy and bloodshed go together like soybean butter and jelly – just ask any fan of Kick-Ass, Pineapple Express, or the Three Stooges. Maybe this is why so many comedians love UFC. Whatever the reason, as throngs of people – many comics included – descend upon Toronto for the big fight this Saturday night, Toronto comedy nerds stand to benefit as Doug Benson sticks around the city for two shows May 1 at Comedy Bar.

Doug Benson is one of those people you can’t help but love. For one thing, there are just so many opportunities to love him. Into stand-up? Benson has three highly enjoyable albums, now releases a new one every year, and performs live constantly ( Into improv? It’s not exactly a Harold, but Benson injects improvisation and dialogue into stand-up on The Benson Interruption, a long-running live show-turned-Comedy Central series and podcast featuring comics such as Nick Swardson, Sarah Silverman, and Thomas Lennon. Into movies? So is Benson, and he discusses them weekly with his funny friends on his very popular and always entertaining podcast Doug Loves Movies. Into technologically-sponsored humour? @DougBenson is a tweeting machine. And, finally, into marijuana? Benson’s material, while appealing to anyone on the spectrum between straight-edge and junkie (I assume), is definitely stoner-friendly, and he has been a long-time advocate for legalization and the old-fashioned art of letting your freak flag fly.

Ultimately, it’s easy to love Doug Benson because, no matter the context, you very quickly feel like you know him. He’s open, relatable, and engaging, and I’m not being sentimental when I say that I look forward to seeing him at Comedy Bar this Sunday in the same way I look forward to seeing an old friend. Okay, maybe a little sentimental.

Doug was kind enough to answer a few questions from MONDO. Read on! Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Simian Showcase

Posted by art On April - 8 - 2011

MONDO’s art department doesn’t often have the opportunity to geek out as much as its neighbouring departments, Comics and Film. It’s just our luck, it seems, that tonight Monkeyman Productions, the self-described “geekiest theatre company in Toronto,” will present four new plays in its Simian Showcase, running at the Imperial Pub until April 16. Videogames, time travel, LARPing, and steampunk culture—it’s all covered. Art department editor Kerry Freek talked with two of the directors over gmail chat earlier this week.

Neil Silcox

First up, Neil Silcox, director of Camilla Maxwell’s Chun Li.

MONDO: How’s the production going? Are you ready for opening night?
Neil:  Yeah, I’m feeling really good about it. We had our Tech/Dress last night and it went over really well with the people who hadn’t seen it before.

MONDO:  Great! What exactly attracted you to “geek” theatre? I’ve seen you in other shows (Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night) and this seems like a bit of a jump away from Shakespeare.
Neil:  That’s a part of what drew me to it. I found myself in—not exactly a rut, let’s say a groove. The top or my resume just kept saying Hart House, Hart House, Canopy, Hart House, Hart House, Canopy. I really loved working with those people, but I thought I needed to diversify. So anyway, one day I’m sitting on the subway and Marty Choderek [one of Monkeyman’s founding members] plops down beside me and we got to talking about Monkeyman and I asked if they were looking for directors. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Ross Bonfanti

Posted by art On March - 6 - 2011

This weekend, we talked with Ross Bonfanti, one of the artists taking part in The Artist Project Toronto (March 3-6) at the Queen Elizabeth Building on the Exhibition grounds.

What draws you to toy parts? They’re often used as a medium for your pieces.

Toys symbolize innocence, youth and generally in some way prepare us for some aspect of adulthood. The use of doll heads in particular is a way of representing the universal anybody.  The way I distort them symbolizes people’s own particular perception of reality.

You also use concrete. Why?

Not only do I like concrete for its aesthetic qualities, I like to use it as a symbol of an urban existence. It is heavy, cold, and in its liquid form can be manipulated into a multitude of things. Read the rest of this entry »

Owen and Curtis Kill Shakespeare

Posted by Comics On November - 16 - 2010

By Isaac Mills

(Hey Readers, how are you? Good? Good. Listen, we’re going to engage in a bit of nepotism here at MONDOcomcis this week. You see, one of our regular writers (Owen Craig) and one of our once-upon-a-time writers (Curtis Westman) have contributed a short story to the recently-released Kill Shakespeare trade. It might shock you to learn that I don’t pay our writers in the traditional sense so when I get a chance to give one of these good people a leg up I take it. So, without further ado, here is a little bit MONDOcomics incest. That doesn’t sound right. — Miles)

MONDO: I’m here with Owen Craig and Curtis Westman, who have written a back up story in Kill Shakespeare: Volume 1 for IDW this November. What can you tell me about how you ended up doing a story for this book?

Owen: At the Wizard World Toronto (comic convention) I ran into Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, the creators of Kill Shakespeare and I ended up talking to them for a long time about that book. I’ve been sort of a Shakespeare guy for quite a while — I went to theatre school — and so I talked to them for a long time about this book because I was really into it and ended up at one point saying “Hey, maybe I could pitch you a backup story or something” and I was really surprised to hear them say “Sure!”. And after confirming that they weren’t just humouring me I got together with Curtis and we came up with a couple pitches for them and they ended up really liking them. Read the rest of this entry »

By Jen Handley

“He has this vision of leading people towards each other by giving everybody access to low-cost heroin, so they don’t have to dedicate their lives to petty crime, they can go and register for Shakespeare courses, and spend their lives devoting themselves to higher pursuits, instead of robbing people and fraud,” explains Heather Davies, director of The Sad and Cautionary Tale of Smackheaded Peter, which debuts at SummerWorks this week. It’s actually a pretty straightforward premise—young man seeks to better the world with a hopelessly naïve solution—but pumping the would-be messiah’s dream-society full of narcotics both exaggerates the cliché and gives it a stylistic makeover. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: I Was Barbie

Posted by art On August - 6 - 2010

By Jen Handley

“I consider my body the result of a long creative process,” says the disarmingly frank Nina Arsenault, a transgendered artist and the star of I was Barbie, which begins its SummerWorks run on Thursday. “I’ve made a lot of design choices about by body. I made choices to make it look not at all like a body anymore. I sort of pushed the female form to a level of abstraction.”

Arsenault, whose transformation involved over sixty plastic surgeries, is gorgeous, but unmistakably larger than life. Her impossibly tall and slender frame, high cheekbones, even skin, and perfectly sculpted blonde hairdo, each look a like a pointed exaggeration of a feminine ideal: she looks very much like a human Barbie.

“I think at first I just wanted to be a woman,” says Arsenault. “But because of the way my body looked already, as a male, I couldn’t just look like a normal female.  I could either look like a transgendered woman Read the rest of this entry »

An Interview with Bryan Lee O’Malley

Posted by Comics On July - 21 - 2010

Interview by Owen Craig
Bryan Lee O’Malley is the creator of and cartoonist behind the popular Scott Pilgrim series.

MONDO: I’m sorry, I know this is the most obvious question -

Bryan: How does it feel?

MONDO: How does it feel to be finishing up?

Bryan: It feels good. I think it’s starting to feel good. I’m looking forward to having people actually read the book, because I’m not sure if it’s any good. Hopefully it’s okay.

MONDO: Hopefully? I would think that you would have more confidence than that by now.

Bryan: Yeah, well I feel like it’s probably pretty good.

MONDO: Do you feel sad at all about leaving the characters behind?

Bryan: No, not really. I think I was a little bit sad while I was writing it, maybe. Read the rest of this entry »

Diva of Parkdale Takes on Beauty with Miss Toronto

Posted by art On July - 20 - 2010

Miss Toronto, 1926. The picture that inspired the mural at the Rhino.

By Kerry Freek

You may have seen her. Trapped in time, she resides in a weathered mural on the wall at the Rhino in Parkdale. It’s Miss Toronto 1926, holding a trophy and wearing a headpiece and dress made of flowers. She’s flanked on either side by her runners-up. None of them look too happy.

Inspired by the mural, the members of the DitchWitch Brigade have assembled a new show: Miss Toronto Gets a Life_in Parkdale. Last week I had a chat with Eve Wylden and Antje Budde (performer and director, respectively).*

MONDO: From 1926-1991, Toronto celebrated “beauty” with its own Miss Toronto pageant. Your website says that, while researching the pageant, you found “truths stranger than fiction.” What’s the deal here?

EVE & ANTJE (paraphrased, from now on): Well, one thing we discovered is that the Toronto Police ran the pageant. We found out that it ended in 1991 due to “pressure from outside sources.” What does that mean? We have our theories. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: the red light district’s Ted Witzel

Posted by art On June - 1 - 2010

By Kerry Freek

Based loosely on a true story (told through the eyes of dramatist Karl Georg Büchner), Woyzeck tells the sad tale of a man driven mad by societal forces, culminating in the murder his girlfriend and his execution. Since Büchner never finished the play, his study of medical ethics, vast societal change and madness has been adapted and reworked by several other artists.

Ted Witzel, co-director of the red light district (a small but mighty Toronto company with a mandate to make “urgent” theatre), is the next in line to tackle the play. Trained at University of Toronto’s University College Drama Program, Witzel also spent some time studying and working in theatre in Germany. While he was there, he translated Büchner’s raw Woyzeck texts, the result of which is a challenging new production running June 3-19 at Lower Ossington Theatre. Last week I met with Witzel to discuss the show. Read the rest of this entry »

Ruth Kaplan, Brazilian Pentecostal Church, Toronto, 2009

By Kerry Freek

Have you ever wondered what draws people to faith? As a teenager, I was once asked to attend a Pentecostal service with some friends from school. More out of curiosity than any kind of desire to “give my heart to Jesus,” I decided to go. What followed was exposure a different world Read the rest of this entry »

[Pre-FAT]: An Interview with Anahita Azrahimi

Posted by art On April - 22 - 2010

Work by Anahita Azrahimi.

MONDO is ecstatic to be covering Toronto Alternative Arts and Fashion Week [FAT], one of Toronto’s most exciting fashion events. The [Pre-FAT] series features short and sweet interviews with some of this year’s participants. Stay tuned for coverage throughout the week, and click here for current and previous MONDO [FAT] articles.

By Helen Fylactou

Anahita Azrahimi is one of the featured artists at this year’s [FAT]. No stranger to the world of art and fashion, Azrahimi is currently the producer and art director of Sparrow in the Room, an artistic collective. Studying with some Iran’s visual artists, Azrahimi began her art endeavours at a young age. Beginning with drawing Disney characters to eventually painting Monet’s art, Azrahimi has always challenged herself to do more.  Her paintings are complex, dominant, and richly textured — her work demands a constant negotiation between the piece and the audience. Azrahimi kindly answered a few questions for MONDO in advance of the show. Read the rest of this entry »



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