Interview :: Cale Bain
June 9th 2011
Nick La Rosa
Cale Bain “…is the funniest man alive”. That’s how my brain automatically finishes that thought. He’s the king of fun, innovative and inviting improvised comedy in Sydney, a sage Canadian who dispenses wisdom while running the best damn show you ever did see (even though you can never see the same show twice).
More than that, after years of running the most confusingly-named show in Sydney in Full Body Contact No Love Tennis, he’s decided to run an improv comedy festival with the clearest name possible. Tom Walker chats to the founder of The Roxbury Festival Of Awesome Improv!!! (exclamation marks included).
FBi: How did you start working in improv?
Cale: My brothers were doing it and I thought, “they're small and I can do anything better than they can.” They quit at 16 and went off to raise families and become doctors and coach kid’s baseball while I’m still stuck competing with them in something they don't even consider anymore but hey, I’m better at it than they are. And I’m part of an incredibly thoughtful and creative community. Can Zach say the same about kid’s baseball? I don't think so. And besides, once a month, he has to bring ice cream sandwiches to the team. I get to buy them beer.
I got inspired to keep working in improv by being in the same theatre that put out Martin Short and Mike Myers and the boys from Whose Line Is It Anyway, which is way better than playing t-ball with 4-year-olds.
What keeps you passionate about the medium?
Constant inspiration. Even though I’ve been at it for more than 23 years, I’m constantly surprised and enthused by what I can bring out of my friends and what they bring out of me. It’s never boring and always hilarious. and every once in a while, I get to see one of my friends earn the success we all hope for and get all proud and shit because they're famous for being excellent.
What do you think of the Sydney improv scene/Sydney's receptiveness to improv? How does it compare to other places?
Weird. In Canada, improv is like second nature. Like gay marriage and legal weed. Sydney audiences are whores for laughter and are up for a good time no matter who's showing it to them, but improv just isn't commonly considered in Sydney beyond some niche groups. It’s incredible, because I can say easily that some of the world's best play here in Sydney, but people just don't know about them. Every show has been a success and we've always had people wonder at amazement that they've never come across it before. Getting them to remember it like it was real and not just a comedy wet dream is the hard part. Sydney audiences are hard to make stick. Like a wet dream.
Why a month-long festival?
Seemed more reasonable than a year. And a week just seemed pathetic.
What are you most excited about in the festival?
That’s like asking, what was the loudest part of the big bang. Maybe it's the improvised English murder mystery, the retelling of Jim Henson 1986 classic The Labyrinth (complete with our own David Bowie), the rom com, the Japanese fable or the improvised James Brown's greatest hits. It’d be impossible to say. I think what's most exciting is the variety. And the free beer (in limited quantities and only available to me).
What do you want people to take away from this?