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August 22, 2014

Picnicface Ready For Primetime With New Sketch Comedy Show

by Adam Miller, posted Sep 21st 2011 12:00PM


With a sketch comedy show premiering on the Comedy Network this week, a new film showing at the Atlantic Film Festival this month and a comedic travel guide to Canada out in November, Picnicface has officially surfaced on the nation's funny radar... again.

"Most people are finding out who we are now. I mean right now. It's strange," says Mark Little, impromptu front man for the eight-person comedy group and winner of the Yuk Yuk's Great Canadian Laugh Off in 2009.

"We're just getting introduced again and again to slightly more people; it's like going to a party," he adds.

If the troupe's name sounds familiar, you've got a good memory: Picnicface exploded onto the international comedy scene in 2007 with the release of "Power Thirst", a low-budget viral video that won more than 20 million views on YouTube and even prompted praise from Will Ferrell.

"That was what was so scary," says Little. "It seemed like we peaked."

"But we just kept at it," says Kyle Dooley, who continued to perform weekly marathon live-comedy shows for audiences in Halifax as their career took shape, even in the face of armchair critics.

"One thing people kept saying to us is that we'd had the "Power Thirst" video, but why did it take so long to get a show? As if people who give shows out in Canadian comedy didn't do us justice by not giving us a show earlier," Little says.

"I don't think that at all. I don't think we were ready... that's not humility, that's honesty.

"We would have made the s----iest show," Dooley adds.

Then things started to pick up. In 2009, on the backs of their minor comedic fame, Canadian publisher HarperCollins went out on an unprecedented limb for the group and offered a book deal.

"They wanted a comedic guide to Canada, like the book 'Jon Stewart's America' – but they said we could do anything we wanted to. So we thought, 'Okay, this will be a fun challenge'," says Dooley of the 200-page Picnicface's Canada, a comedic tome set for release in November that combines little-known facts with nonsensical historical fiction.

Next came RollerTown, an independent film the troupe made about a small town caught up in a rollerskating craze, which was later funded by Telefilm Canada and filmed in late 2009. The flick premiere earlier this month at the AFF in Halifax, and will be available online through the Picnicface website.

And let's not forget the show: 'Picnicface' premieres Wednesday night on The Comedy Network, for a 13-episode run filmed in just over a month with the help of legendary Canadian comedian Mark McKinney of 'The Kids in the Hall' fame.

"Most of the sketches in the show were pulled from stuff we did live and a lot of it has got the same style as the Internet videos we made ... there is definitely a weird energy in the show," says Little, adding that some of their more outrageous sketches didn't make it past the cutting room floor, including a musical take on school shootings called "School Sucks."

"The show has that fun, ADD, Internet sensibility," Dooley says.

But while Picnicface seems about to enjoy a moment in the proverbial sun, they are also aware of how quickly things can change in the entertainment industry.

"To a certain extent, almost anyone can make a movie or a book, but that doesn't mean it's going to be good or anyone's going to watch or read it. Right now we're having a lot of people congratulating us – but for what?" says Little.

"We have no second season, no second movie, nobody's read the book," adds Dooley.

"Even if it was funny on stage it's just so different; there could be zero funny moments in this show," jokes Little.

A little self-effacing humour? How very Canadian.

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