Very intimidated by the gods that be, I never attended improv
club in my first year at Canterbury, despite mad urgings to and
repeatedly walking back and forth by the open door of the room it
was held in. For some insane reason though, I was able to muster
the courage to attend the BOFA and CanCam auditions. Perhaps realizing
it was my last shot at improv that year, or perhaps being literally
propelled into the room after agonizing about it outside, by a friend,
it really all started there for me. I think back to the
audition now, and cringe at the performance I gave, but it must
have made some impression as I made it onto CanCam.
CanCam was what one might call the little sister to BOFA. Being
the video improv team, CanCam competed in the video competition,
which was exactly the same as the regular games. The exception was
that it was filmed in front of a live audience and then a tape of
the performance was sent in to the Games for adjudication. The winning
team of the video competition would then have the chance to compete
at the National semi-finals in Ottawa. Though the video competition
was more aimed at schools located in remote Regions of Canada, it
was still an opportunity for Canterbury to storm the games with
its powerhouse improv.
I was on CanCam for two years - 1994/95 and 1995/96. In the first
year we were more or less left to our own devices with special coaching
sessions with Ms.Moore when time allotted with her hectic and mad
BOFA rehearsal schedule. In the second year we were coached by Ms.Blanchette.
We rehearsed diligently, and would argue and nitpick for hours
over scenes and what games we should perform, a lot of the time
being our own hardest critics. Rehearsals were held a lot at Michelle,
Tamila or Duncan's houses out in the West End. I have memories of
waiting many a time at Baseline Station in snowstorms with Josh
Byer and Bruce Dale, waiting for Jon and Michelle to pick us up.
In the interim we were usually amused by Josh's antics and harassing
of cab drivers.
It was most likely during the drive to get us that the idea of
a silent film style game was conceived. We engrossed ourselves in
silent films, analyzing basic plots, characters, the music, expressions
and all other elements of the genre.
The game was incredibly fun to play, and as fun to watch. Since
the style of silent film naturally lends itself to such wonderful
physical expression and heightened drama, it was wonderful to play
with, using improv. Much to our delight we found out one of the
studio cameras at our school could be switched to black and white.
So for the actual filming, not only did we have live improvised
music accompanying our silent film game, but we were also able to
tape it in black and white.
Another game that was created but never was played, was 'the Hull
Game', set in none other but Hull, Quebec. It was quite topical
for our viewing audience but tended to get a bit raunchy, one of
the reasons hence why we didn't play it for competition.
The idea of the Hull game centered around 'the strip', a street
of bars that teenagers in Ontario would cross the border for, in
order to go for underaged drinking. It was infamous for recycled
beer, violent fights, trashy people, and horrible techno music.
Here the action would take place and various characters one might
meet on a night out in Hull would appear as well.
The game was a great laugh for us to play, but as well would easily
get quite gross. We were never able to really get it to work right
or place it into a proper game category.
I really enjoyed being on CanCam; not only were we able to open
shows for BOFA, but it was also a good preparation for those wanting
to continue and attempt going for BOFA (which Michelle, Christie
and myself later did). But it was also a good alternative for those
wanting to have a laugh and do team style improv without the huge
commitment, time and dedication needed for BOFA.