Marissa Melnyk [Interview]

 

Hey Folks! Happy Friday to you all. I am so damned excited to share this incredible interview with you all. Over the last 3 years or so, I have looked forward to every Thursday for the dropping of the best podcast out there in the digital airwaves today. That podcast would be the brilliant All Fantasy Everything. We’ve talked about it quite a bit here at TWS, especially since I first discovered the podcast through our interview with co-host Sean Jordan! We’ve also had the honor of having fellow co-host David Gborie (who we just talked about last Saturday, actually) on the site a couple of years ago as well. And today we have a third member of the Good Vibes Gang with us here today! It’s the incredible, super producer Marissa Melnyk!

Some of you may know her as the background giggler for AFE, and if you know this, you know that she is an absolute gem of a human being who is adored by the show’s hosts and my fellow fans in the All Family Everything as well. Or maybe from Punch Up the Jam, where she also does some amazing work. Or any other delightful HeadGum podcast she’s worked on! It is such an honor having Marissa with us today gracing our digital pages. While I love all of our guests equally, I really really wanted to learn a bit more about the greatest producer in podcast history! And she does not disappoint! She gave some wonderful answers, and I am so excited for you all to check them out!

So, I will stop my babbling, and just get right into it! Folks, please enjoy some amazing words from the even more amazing person, the great Marissa Melnyk!

 

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What inspired you to get into your line of work? Was production in the world of entertainment you have wanted to do so since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world?

I watched a lot of TV growing up and liked the idea of producing entertainment for others. The idea of working on something that could make a stranger somewhere around the world laugh,  felt very fulfilling to me. I’d always been a fan of technology and the “behind-the-scenes” of production, and I put that in practice through making content for the web.

I never expected to fall into podcasting, but it oddly came full circle in my life. The first podcast I listened to regularly was the Nerdist podcast with Chris Hardwick. My favourite episodes were the “hostfuls”, where Chris, Jonah, and Matt would just gab for an hour. They often would reference their off mic producer Katie Levine, and I always wondered just what her role was on the show. 8 years later, I now find myself working on a show where 3 hosts gab and I sit off mic as a producer. It’s a little surreal that ultimately Katie’s position that I questioned about, I would find myself in years later. 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this project that you still use in your work today?

I used to love attending local anime conventions, where I would bring my DSLR camera to shoot cosplay montage videos. It was a fun way to practice videography, editing, and get a free media badge for the weekend. 

Many of my freelance videography jobs I got were through people watching my videos on YouTube, or seeing me filming in public. This cosplay side project lead to job opportunities, which eventually built to bigger projects. Looking back on it, it taught me that the best way to get into the industry is to just start making something. Just do the thing and learn every step of the production- from planning, shooting, editing, publishing, and marketing. It lead me to understand what roles I was passionate about, and allowed me to be a flexible player in any project. 

Having that passion project was so valuable. It’s a great learning experience and in the end you’ll have a published product online that can be seen and shared. And could lead to the eyes of your next employer. 

I also learned that word-of-mouth is a very powerful tool – if you’re nice and a good person to work with, the word will spread to others, and more opportunities will come your way. 

I am a proud member of one of the greatest families of all time, the All Family Everything. I never miss an episode of All Fantasy Everything. It’s so great, and the work you do on the show shines through. So, what is it like to work on a show like this? Is it as much fun to work on as it is for us to listen to?

Aha, the All Family is the best family. The boys give me too much credit – I just ensure it’s tech’d and published to the web. it’s their amazing personalities, heart, and good vibes that make the show so special. 

When hosts work day jobs, we often record evenings or weekends – but it never feels like work when you’re working with those guys. They are 100% certified good, funny AF dudes.  And the emotionally-open nature they promote has lead to real positive influences on my mental health, and for many of our listeners too. We’ve gotten some amazing feedback from listeners who started pursuing self-care or therapy after hearing it promoted frequently on the podcast, which is nice to know the show has made a positive impact on people’s lives.

AFE’s host dynamic emanates the same magic that drew me to podcast listening in the first place, and now having the opportunity to produce that content for others to enjoy makes it rewarding work. 

 

 

What would you say is your favorite AFE pick thus far?

It was Nicole Byer’s first pick in the “Dating” draft. The stakes were high – It was her first time on the podcast for a very open-ended topic, so she could’ve gone anywhere with it. Nicole was set to draft first, and since the first pick tends to set the tone of the entire show, there was a lot of pressure on what it would be.  I remember waiting with bated breath to see what she would draft as her #1 pick about “Dating” … and her answer was “Being Eaten Out”. 

It made me laugh a lot. She nailed it.

Another wonderful HeadGum podcast you work on that I never miss when it comes out, is the incredible Punch Up The Jam. It’s so much fun, and again, you do amazing work on it! So sort of the same questions: Is working on Punch Up The Jam as fun to work on as it is to listen to?

Demi and Miel are such incredibly talented people, and I’m always blown away by their work every week making the punch ups. That’s another show I felt so lucky just to be in the same room. What listeners don’t get to experience is the amazing energy during the recording – When the song clips play there’s often scream-singing, dancing and head banging. The hype is contagious. 

That show’s format is incredibly fun to edit and taught me a lot about mixing music in podcasting. Fans might notice the latest All Fantasy Everything musical draft episodes (such as Weddings Dance Songs, Disney Songs, and an upcoming Love Songs episode) have musical clips heavily incorporated in the mix, and I thank PUTJ for giving me the practise.

Plus that show has such a killer theme song. Anytime I hear “PUNCH IT” I wanna throw a fist in the air. It’s just so good.

And what would you say is your favorite Punch Up that Miel or Demi have made?

Hands down, it’s the “Sk8r Boi” punch up they did together. They turned my middle school anthem into a hauntingly beautiful musical performance. Having grown up as an angsty Avril Lavigne-loving teen who also loved broadway musicals, this punch up really resonated with me. 

It’s so well produced and truly an experience – an absolute gem of a track hidden at the end of a podcast episode. 

Your Instagram is deifnitely one of my favorites. You get into the BEST shenanigans involving the world of video games, podcasting, etc. I understand you were actually just back in your homeland for the Toronto International Film Festival. Simply out of curiousity, how was your trip? Were you there to promote a specific project, or just because you are dope and you do dope shit?

Aha TIFF was great. I used to volunteer with the festival for years before I worked there freelance. Working there was a very rewarding experience since it introduced me to my mentor, Aaron Van Domelen, who taught me most of what I know today. 

This trip however, I wanted to enjoy the festival instead of work it. I also brought my Michigan-based boyfriend Zach, and it was great to experience the city through his eyes. Would an American love the city as much as I do? Luckily, he loved it! Toronto’s an amazing city, and it really lights up around TIFF’s season. I was recognized twice there from my podcasting work – which is just so wild to me? Most people who listen to podcasts don’t know what the show’s hosts look like. So the fact that people could recognize me who works off-mic on a show is just crazy to me. It’s really magical when it happens though, because it allows me to geek out about my love for the podcasts with a listener.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I recorded my first guest appearance on All Fantasy Everything! We drafted Bucket List Items, which is a topic I’ve been wanting to draft for nearly a year. Just had to wait until I had the nerve to appear on-mic.

HeadGum is also launching a slate of new original shows soon with some amazing new talent. Be on the lookout for it!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Just about every podcast episode makes me laugh, so the last thing that made me smile would be the last thing I edited. At the time of writing, I just finished editing All Fantasy Everything “Scariest Fictional Characters” In the episode there’s a lot of mention of “peepee poopoo” and David had a bit about “cutting off his dumps” which made me laugh a lot. It may not sound like the best sell for the podcast, but it was really silly. 

I’m thankful that I get to laugh a lot at my job 🙂

 

Amos Crawley [Interview]

 

Today’s interview subject is another incredible performer who has been in the world of entertainment longer than he has had full functioning memories. We’ve managed to talk with quite a few of these folks in the past, but it is always interesting how their experiences aren’t always similar. Fortunately for us, one similarity is that it all has worked out pretty well for them. But the main similarity is that they are all truly talented people who have continued to do incredible work through careers lasting over 30 years, yet they aren’t even 40 yet!

Such is the case with today’s incredible performer, the great Amos Crawley. Amos has been working both on screen and in the voice over world on some of the greatest projects you know and love. Some projects that have been reoccurring here at TWS quite frequently would be classic programs like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, and the more recent Netflix Original Series Anne with an E, which features our guest from last week, Helen Johns, and our previous guest Philip Williams!

In the wonderful and inspiring words below, Amos gives us some great words about his beginnings in the world of entertainment, some antidotes about being a teenager on the set of Billy Madison, and so much for great stuff. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the incredible Amos Crawley!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an aspiration you can remember having since adolescences, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I actually just went into the family business. My paternal grandparents, Budge and Judy were filmmakers in the early days of the Canadian film industry, though they both died when I was very young. My parents, Alexander Crawley and Mary Long are both actors; my sister does hair on set and my brother is a post production guy. Which is to say that I don’t remember any particular aspirations so much as the world of film, TV and theatre has always just sort of been… like gravity or something. The story goes that my mother went for an audition and didn’t have a babysitter, casting needed a kid and there I was. From that point on I worked fairly consistently throughout childhood, though to be honest, I wasn’t particularly planning to do it beyond what was then the immediate future. Like all kids I had other fantasies of what I would be when I grew up. The turning point came for me at about 13. I saw a production of Waiting For Godot starring Tom McCamus and Stephen Ouimette and I remember sitting in the theatre afterwards simply stunned. I guess I didn’t know the length, width and breadth of what was possible on stage (and by extension in other entertainment mediums) and seeing the rules as I understood them be broken by a play like that was formative. At that point I took another look at this thing that I had been doing since the age of 4 and decided that I would invest more time, energy and thought into it. That’s what led to theatre school and genuine study.

 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

So because I was so young, I don’t actually remember my first gig. Certainly most of my youth is littered with various memories from film sets and recording studios they way some kids have images in mind from summer camp or working at a fast food restaurant and I would like to think that there have been any number of lessons that were learned that are at least informing me from time to time. Acting, like many jobs is cumulative. You run into an issue on a gig and you solve it– therefore you’ve added a new tool to your kit. The more comfortable you get with yourself too, the better you are as an actor. That said, there is a rarely a point during any creative endeavour where I am not absolutley convinced that I haven’t forgotten everything and undergo a pretty intense bout of imposter syndrome. The lesson that I continuely come to peace with with each passing job is being okay with that feeling and not letting it interfere with the actual task at hand. I have a friend who rather eloquently talks about letting your nerves or your bullshit be in the car with you but making sure that all of that stays in the passenger seat, not letting the jitters take the wheel.  For the past several years, I’ve been doing some teaching and audition and on-set coaching, and getting the opportunity to look at the work from that remove as been wonderful with regard to the mechanics of what we have to do– once those are in place the  intangibles of the work feel less daunting. I imagine that it’s like a pianist knowing their scales cold so that they can improvise, or an engineer figuring out a structural solution because they understand function so well. I can go off on a bit of a tangent from time to time, but suffice it to say, the best lesson I have learned is that the work is ongoing, hopefully evolving.

 

At a pretty young age, you gave a now legendary performance as Rod in the now classic comedy film Billy Madison. I am curious to know how it was working on a film of this nature? Was it as fun to work on this film as it has been for audiences to watch over the years? Any fun on-set stories that you can recall?

It’s funny– between that film and a handful of other things I was lucky enough to be in as a teenager I find that I end up having these conversations with my peers and finding out that I was a part of their adolescence in some way. That movie strikes a real chord with people– I think it has a genuine sense of anarchy about its comedy that’s not really definable but that hits you where you live– though I have to admit it’s been many years since I have seen it.

Certainly it was the biggest project I had ever been a part of and everyone was so gracious to all of us kids. I was 13 and worshipped at the altar of SNL (my generation is pretty lucky to grow up with the casts that we got), so all the behind the scenes stories that I got to hear from Tim Herlihy and James Downey felt like being admitted to a secrect society. Mark Beltzman took my family and me to a Second City show where he jumped on stage with the cast. Josh Mostel told me stories about Henry Rollins (then as now an idol of mine) and Tamra Davis, along with being as formidble a director as she is, was tapped into such an amazing world because of Mike D, and her associations with Sonic Youth. She was super generous with her time telling backstage tales to a dorky young kid. Steve Buscemi was Mr Pink and he introduced himself to me. Norm MacDonald and I talked about Samuel Beckett and country music. And of course Sandler was a total sweetheart to us– way more than he needed to be… does a killer J Mascis impression.

 

Amos Crawley in “Are You Afraid of the Dark”

 

You have done a lot of really great work in the world of voice over projects. We have spoken with quite a few folks from this world, and I am always curious to know how they not only enjoy the work, but how do you manage to project a bit of your own presence into the characters using only your voice? How do you manage to make a character that was already given an appearance, truly come to life in your own personal way?

I’ve been so fortunate to have been able to cultivate something of a career in the voice world. It’s a great gig, as any actor will tell you. To be honest I am not sure that I have ever conciously thought about projecting my own presence into the animated character– like with all acting, I think that your own presence is essentially a given, the only thing you can really do is get in the way of allowing an audience to hear and or see it. That said I do think that there is an art to expressing yourself using only a limited set of tools– in this case, volume and inflection– to convey intention. I personally like limits and boxes when it comes to creating something, I think that it can force you into your best, most expressive choices.

I think the voice is an underutilised tool in general– how many times have you been unable to convey your meaning in a text or e-mail (unless of course you’re a writer who is versed in the nuance of that?) Breath and voice are all you’ve got in the world of cartoons, so you cultivate a wider range of expression and you allow it to be your body, your facial expression etc. At least that’s what we try do do– speaking form myself, it’s not always successful– but if it’s not, at least hopefully it’s funny or something. Plus the animation and the editing on a well produced cartoon do SO much of the work for you– you try your best with your little corner of the project and once in a while everything comes together in an effective manner. I’ve got a new cartoon about to start airing called The Remarkable Mr. King, and though I’ve only seen some of it, I’m very excited because I think everything is in concert, from the writing down and I think it’s going to be a very sweet series, perfect for the preschool set.

 

You have worked in just about every gig available to a performer. From film & television, to voice over work, to the stage, and so on. With that in mind, I am curious to know what your favorite method of performing may be? If you some imaginable reason you were only able to work in one field for the rest of your career, what would it be?

While the delivery methods at play in all the different mediums I have been lucky enough to work in are distinct, I actually think that at it’s core the job is essentially always the same. We play our small role in producing something that allows an audience to disappear from the world for a few minutes. As we do this interview I am backstage before the first preview of a play and while it’s true that the tightrope walk of a 2 hour show in front of living breathing human beings is a welcome scare, the actual work that goes into it is not SO different than the way I would prepare for a scene in front of the camera. You turn the volume down on the stereo and you dim the lights, but it’s still the same song and the same apartment if you know what I mean. But I suppose I am avoiding your question– I would happily work in any medium that would have me for the rest of my days. I don’t really have a lot of real life skills, and am blessed to be able to play make-believe for a living, so any way I can do that and get to spend ample time with my wife and my kids is ok by me.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I mentioned The Remarkable Mr King which will be airing by the time this interview goes live. I’ve got a cameo in a film called The Oak Room that I was thrilled to be a part of– it’s produced by my friend Ari Millen who also stars along with RJ Mitte. It’s based on a play that I worked on in the Toronto Fringe festival about six years ago– I have high hopes for it. I’ll also be featured in this season of Anne With An E, which I think is a pretty remarkable show in it’s own right, but also amazes me in that they’ve been able to breathe new life into a story that has been told so many times. I am very proud to be a part of it. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’ve got 2 amazing sons, so I’m allotted more than my fair share of smiling moments. Corny but true.

Jackie Garcia [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely incredible line up of interviews to share with you all this week, just before we take a short break, regroup, and head into December with a massive End of Year celebration and a smattering of film showcases to round up 2019, before jumping right back into the interviews at the beginning of 2020. It’s all happening so fast, and it is always a pleasure.

Today we have some words from a very inspiring person that transcends any borders in the world of entertainment, and has managed to do some work in some of our favorite fields here at TWS, including what would arguably be the top 2 – Stand Up Comedy & Horror. We’ve celebrated the two always equally here, and the amazing Jackie Garcia has officially become a master of both. Jackie has been entertaining audiences with her no holds barred comedy styling, and recently made her horror debut in a major way, appearing in the Rob Zombie’s latest venture, 3 From Hell, in which she is phenomenal in!

Jackie Garcia is truly an artist who has it all, and we are so stoked that she was able to take some time out of her busy schedule to grace our digital pages today! She’s an incredible human being, and we are so excited that she is here with us today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the amazing, Jackie Garcia!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have always dreamt of doing as a youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day? 

I was always in love with the camera and modeling and singing and acting. I  just loved performing even as a young kid I remember singing Whitney Houston or Madonna songs on top of the washer and dryer with my cousin to the empty back yard. And I really believe that my mother and Lucy Ball were the ones who really inspired me to get into the world of entertainment. Lucy and my mom were just so perfectly crazy and silly. As a young girl I felt so happy watching Lucy. No matter what was going on in my life, she was amazing. I could forget the world watching her. I wanted to be just like her, making people forget their own problems for a while and laugh, just for being my goofy self. Out of all the TV shows that I watched back then, she was the only one that was starring a woman. I’m glad that times have changed and now there’s more funny female-led stories being told on different platforms.

When did you first discover that you were a hilarious human being that you wanted to make people laugh for a living? 

I first discovered that I was a hilarious human being when I kept making all my classmates laugh when I was growing up but it really hit home when my psychiatrist said I should DO that. I had to see somebody after I lost my mom to brain cancer. From some of my life stories about my pain, I guess in the way I worded it, would make him burst out unexpectedly in loud laughter. 

Even though I had been an actress and studied for many years,  I was afraid of comedy. It’s so raw to get in front of people and reveal my true self with my own story  lines. When that doctor asked me what I wanted to be and what would make me happy, I responded that I would love to be a stand-up comedian. He encouraged me to start learning how to become one. That I could do it. I asked an acquaintance on how she got started and she introduced me to a comedy coach in Orange County California, Bill Word.

It turned out that the first day of class was the same date of my mother’s passing anniversary. To me that is another amazing signature moment. I now remember November 18th with bittersweet memories because that’s the day I started my journey in comedy and my mom transformed (RIP). I know she just would want me to keep making people laugh and enjoying life for the beautiful gift that it is. Bill had also told me that he had lost his mom 6 months before so if could teach the class then I could definitely sit there and listen and I did. I definitely cried that first day of class. It went well and I continued to get more bookings for more shows after that.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And where there any sort of lessons learn from this experience that you still utilize in your work today?

My very first private paying comedy gig was for a Facebook comedy fan that wanted to do a comedy/roast show in honor of her late mother. Another monumental signature moment that I am on the right path. It was incredible to me. It was held at the Historical Idyllwild Lodge where Elvis Presley filmed Kid Galahad. The lesson I learned from that experience that I still utilize in my work today is to have fun and just be yourself. If I could put my ass and sit in the same seat that Elvis THE KING sat in, anything is possible. Never give up on my dreams, that’s the best lesson my mom taught me. We have infinite possibilities.

As an actress, you recently appeared in the wonderful Rob Zombie horror film 3 From Hell along with our dearly missed friend and past guest Sid Haig. We LOVE horror around here, actually having just come off a full month long celebration of the genre. So, how was your experience diving into the world of horror?

My first experience in the world of horror with Rob Zombie was honestly like a dream. Working with Rob was super cool! I have always loved his music and White Zombie is still one of my favorite bands. He is also a wonderful brilliant director and writer. I felt so honored to be chosen to be part of his movie. The scenes were so fun to shoot and so artistically beautiful, even though I die.

3 from Hell is a great film, I loved it. It [was] in theaters on October 14th . Its available online. 3 from Hell [arrived] on 4K Ultra HD combo pack, a blu-ray combo pack, and on-demand October 15th. It’s available [now] digital HD from Amazon videos and iTunes.

If you were handed the opportunity to create and portray any legendary figure in American history in their biopic, who would it be? 

Lucille Ball again. Actress, comedian, singer, model, film studio executive, TV producer. Everything that people said I couldn’t be.  Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio. I want to empower other people to believe in their dreams and to follow their hearts. I would want to show all the sides of her from her family life, growing up, marriages ups and downs, and being head of her (first woman ever) own studio. 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? The future holds many things for me. 

I was recently reached out to from a producer I auditioned for 3 YEARS AGO, (talk about patience) for a major cable network starring as myself in a comedy weight loss competition show so I am pretty excited about that.

I’m working with a comedy mentor and he’s helping me produce my first comedy album which is being released on CD Baby, Spotify and iTunes in the near future. It’s really fun to have such a great writer and professional comedian helping me figure this comedy game out. It really is a business and people don’t really teach this side of comedy. It’s not just about the funny. Please follow me on Instagram @funnyjackiegarcia.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

The last thing that made me smile was hearing that you wanted to interview me. Honestly thank you so much! I want you to know you touched my heart in your email to my manager!  Before that smile I had a fantastic time laughing and smiling, performing stand up comedy at the Pacific Palms Resort in City of Industry where I will also be having another show this Saturday night Oct 12 featuring for Comedian Jeff Garcia. The tickets are already sold out for both shows!  My next shows are in Porterville CA, 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Comedy Bash, Sat 11/30/2019 at 8:00 pm and in Fresno CA and at the Rec Room in Huntington Beach California the night before Thanksgiving this year. 

 

 

 

Nicole Dambro [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! And a happy Friday to you all! We have an incredible new interview to share with you all today. It’s the brilliant star Nicole Dambro! Nicole appeared in the newly released and critically acclaimed film Groupers that is being hailed as one of the best films of the year, with great cause. She is an absolutely brilliant performer with a range as wide as the Wyoming plains, only far more interesting consisting of far less bored out of their mind cops. Whoops, little inside baseball there, Folks, my apologies. What I mean to say is that Nicole is wonderful, and we are so excited to have her join the TWS family.

So without further rambling from me, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Nicole Dambro!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have always dreamt of doing as a youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I suppose I had always dreamed that I would be an actress someday, but I had no idea how to go about making that happen. So I got very involved in dance, got a scholarship to a great university, and I tried to get a normal job… but I still had the bug. I just knew I wouldn’t be happy and reach my full potential unless I was in the entertainment business. 

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still utilize in your work today?

Before I made the Miami Heat Dancers, I worked for an entertainment company on South Beach, putting on day shows. We would get together on a Friday evening and choreograph an entire number to perform on Sunday… it was a quick turnaround. It was a lot of pressure! And yes, sometimes we would goof. But you had to KEEP GOING! I think that was the best lesson, that no matter what, you have to keep going.

I really dug your work in the recently released film Groupers. Could you tell our readers a bit about this film, and what drew to the project?

Thank you so much! Yes, Groupers was a very special project for me. Our producer, Max Landwirth, is the one that connected me with Anderson to audition. We had worked on another film, The Axiom, the season before that, so I got to work with a lot of the same crew, which is great. I was also drawn to this project because Anderson had written a very intelligent, strong female character who got to kidnap and abuse bullies to prove a point in defense of the LGBTQ community… uh, I’m in. 

So the film centers around the question, “Is homosexuality a choice?” My character, Meg, seduces and kidnaps her little brother’s high school bullies and ties them up at the end of an empty swimming pool, where she informs them that they can only escape by “choosing to be gay for each other.” Even though it seems like a sadistic kidnapping story, actually has several layers that start to peel back in surprisingly hilarious fashion. In fact, when I first read the script, I thought it was going to be a thriller – until I read the entire thing and realized, OOOOH this is a comedy!  

 

 

One genre of film that you have done some amazing work in is the world of horror, including the hit film The Axiom from Nicholas Woods. We are huge fans of the world of horror around here. With that, I am curious to know what you enjoy the most about working in the world of horror? And what sets it apart from the several other genres you have worked on?

I never planned on specifically seeking out horror scripts, I was just lucky enough to be cast in some pretty awesome ones. The genre itself has grown to become THE most popular genre in the past few years, with horror flicks being some of the year’s biggest surprise blockbusters. What’s fun about horror is that has its own rules and expectations, so it’s fun to either follow those rules or break them completely. And the GORE. Ooooh the gore! Seeing the behind-the-scenes of what goes into making those bloody special effects happen is SO COOL.

You have done so much incredible work in the world of television, film, stage, and more. So with that, I am curious to know what your favorite medium is to work in? If you were only allotted the chance to work in one field for the remainder of your career, which would it be?

 I really feel like I have only scratched the surface in my career, so it’s difficult for me to answer this one. I really love film, but I think there’s something really special about getting to work on a series as the same character for many seasons/years. I would love to have the opportunity to work on the same character with the same people for many years and create something iconic, like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, the Sopranos, etc. 

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure in American history in their biopic, who would it be?

 Ooh this is a GREAT question! Since the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic has already been done, I think I would go with Alice Stokes Paul. She was a fierce feminist and activist for women’s rights, credited with being one of the primary organizers of the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913 (the first large, organized march for political reasons.) Eventually, she became one of the lead strategists of the campaign to implement the 19th amendment, which allowed women the right to vote. Plus, the woman has wicked eyebrows (just like me!)

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Sure! Besides keeping an eye out for Groupers to be released on digital soon, my Christian film fans should be on the lookout for my next film, A Walk With Grace, which will be released on digital platforms on November 5th

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Puppies? Always puppies. 

Oh, and Jodie Cromer in the show Killing Eve. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is my new hero.

 

Helen Johns [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today we have a wonderful interview with an extremely talented actress that I know you are all going to love. It’s Helen Johns, Everyone! Helen has already done some very exciting work in the world of film, television, and in the world of voice over work, which you all know we appreciate greatly around here at Trainwreck’d Society. Whether it’s her work on the hit Netflix series Anne with an E alongside our friend Philip Williams, or her appearance in the brilliant sci-fi film Deep Space with another friend of ours Olunike Adeliyi, or her VO work on the beloved video game Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Helen has worked on some incredible projects that you all know and love.

So, I will forgo the normal babbling and just let you all dig right into the words from an absolutely incredible performer. Folks, please enjoy some words from the brilliant Helen Johns!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have always dreamt of doing as a youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’ve definitely always wanted to do it. I started telling people I wanted to be an actor when I was three. I suppose it must have started with the little plays we did at my kindergarten and then school, but honestly I don’t remember ever not knowing I wanted to be an actor.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And where there any sort of lessons learn from this experience that you still utilize in your work today? 

My first paid job was on a short film written by Malorie Blackman, when I was a kid. It was about a group of young girls who get trapped in a cycle of bullying and telling lies about other people, and my character ended up stabbing one of the other girls. I was very young, and I thought it was so cool all round, especially working with fake blood and all that fight choreography stuff. There are the obvious things you start to learn during your first on-camera job – I remember thinking it was hard to “hit my marks”, which is a way to describe moving into the perfect spot so the camera can focus on you. On a broader scale, I remember noticing how social all the crew were with each other, and observing that it’s important to build relationships with as many people on set as you can. I think there are two reasons for this – firstly, you never know who you’ll end up working with again, and secondly, it’s the best job in the world, so you’d better have fun with it!

One incredible project you have been working on is the Netflix Series Anne with an “E”, along with our friend and past guest Philip Williams. I am curious to know what drew you to this project? Were you a fan of the books growing up? 

Yes, Philip and I have had quite a few scenes together over the past three years. He’s a lot of fun! Although I hadn’t read the books growing up, I was very much aware of what an iconic character Anne is and how well-loved the stories are. I’m always drawn to period pieces, I love imagining what life was like in other times and working in period costumes. I was also excited that it was a Netflix project, because it means that my friends and family across the world get to see it.

And how has your experience been working on Anne? Is there anything about this particular project that sets itself apart from other projects you have worked on?

It’s been fabulous. We have a pretty healthy budget for TV, which means we have a lot of time to shoot, and a lot of attention to detail with sets, costumes hair and makeup. So overall I think the show looks incredible. And the head of our show – Moira Walley-Beckett, and all our brilliant writers, have done such lovely work creating new storylines and scripts that remain true to the spirit of the original novels. I’ve also loved working on the show for all of its three seasons. I really feel like I’m part of something special.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity to create and portray any legendary figure in American history in their biopic, who would it be? 

Gosh. I wish I could play so many. I love reading and researching before starting a project, so when you’re portraying a real person there’s even more fuel for that. I recently saw the musical Hamilton, and at the end of the show they give you a little taste of what Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton achieved in her fascinating life. She worked for 50 years with widows and orphans, founding New York’s first orphanage. There is even evidence to suggest that she had helped draft her husband’s essays too. And she lived to 97, so maybe I could get a series of biopics, rather than just one!

What does the future hold for you? 

I’m just settling into life in California, and starting to audition for new projects. Stay tuned!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My one year old son has started pretending that objects are telephones. Today it was his toothbrush, and he started chatting into it.

Steph Tolev [Interview]

Steph and her puppy Susan.

 

The world of stand up comedy is truly a weird beast, to say the least. I say this merely as a fan and avid listener. Honestly, I don’t get to see as much live stand up as I would like. But in this day and age there are so many ways to follow the world of comedy. In fact, live shows are probably a smaller portion of how the average fan enjoys comedy, which in itself, sucks, because this how they get paid and get to continue doing what they love. But alas, we as fans should appreciate the benefits and make every attempt possible to see live comedy when able.

So what the hell does this babbling mean? First of all, watch your tone. And second of all, it means we have an absolutely amazing comedian to feature on the site today who happens to have appeared on one of those “other” mediums that I enjoy immensely. Which would be podcasts. Podcasts are an almost necessary means of communication for comedians to fans, as will be discussed below. As we have done several times in the past, the absolutely hilarious Steph Tolev was recently a guest on one of the finest podcasts available right now, the incredible Who’s Your God? hosted by our dear friend & past guest Amy Miller, and Steve Hernandez. By my count, Steph is the fourth (fifth?) comedian I learned about directly from this podcast, was able to get them on this very site, and continue to enjoy to this day. So at least in my own manipulative world, the system is working?

No matter how you find yourself enjoying the absolutely hilarious Steph Tolev, I can tell you that you are going to be glad you did. Her new album is HILARIOUS and should be heard by all. There are plenty of videos out there for a Steph Tolev YouTube rabbit hole, and for God’s sake people, get out there and pay for live comedy! See Steph live, especially if you are in the L.A. area. I couldn’t imagine if I lived in that area, the pressure of what to see every single damn night. But, that’s neither here nor there. Or it is there? And not here? Anyway, Folks, please enjoy some amazing words from the absolutely brilliant comedian Steph Tolev!

 

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When did you first discover that you were a hilarious human being and that you wanted to make people laugh for a living?

I think the exact moment was in high school, I was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing Nick Bottom and my teachers got this giant donkey head for me to wear and I got REALLY INTO it. The first night of the play I waltzed off stage in it and walked through the audience, stepping all over people and they were loving it. I remember thinking wow, I’m literally being an ASS right now and people are losing their minds. I didn’t really think I could make it a career until a few years after that, but that was the moment I knew I wanted to make people laugh.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of stand up? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

I honestly can’t recall the VERY first paid thing I did, I’m sure it was a weird stand up show that I had to drive pretty far to get to, most likely in white out snow in Ontario. But I know that the first time I got paid made me really realize I need to work MUCH harder to make this a real career, cause I can’t live off of $50 once a month.Thinking back now I can’t believe someone paid me for whatever the hell I thought was worth getting paid for. Stand up is very rewarding in that sense to see how trash you used to be to where you are now. The biggest lesson I would say is don’t get cocky and think your good 5-6 years in, the more time you put into this the more valuable you will be.

Having been performing in the states for quite some time now, I am curious to know what it is like to go back to Toronto to do shows? Do you feel a different sort of vibe returning home after spending your days in the L.A. area?

I do feel a different vibe but in a good way. Since I’ve been gone so long I feel very out of touch with the Toronto scene, so many new comics and shows I don’t know but I still feel like its home and the I have no stress on any of the shows. I can just go home see my family and friends and do shows with no consequences I guess? In LA you feel like every set is a showcase set, and you never know who’s in the crowd so you want to make sure you are doing a tight 7 IN CASE. But in Toronto I am so laid back and I always feel comfortable at my favs venues around the city like the Comedy Bar, the second I get on stage I feel like I didn’t leave. Also Torontonians are less sensitive then the people out here in LA. I get a lot more groans when I’m self deprecating out here and more laughs back in Canada.

I came upon your comedy from hearing you on our dear friend and past guest’s podcast, Who’s Your God? And I’ve noticed you’ve done a ton of other podcasts as well. So, with that in mind, have you found this to be a trend of sorts? In your professional opinion, do you believe that doing podcasts these days are actually necessary for a carrier to flourish?

LOL my professional opinion! I actually do think its necessary at this point, I never really did but I see so many comics having a way larger fan base because of them. Especially ones with good themes that people can really relate to.  Plus you found me through one, so it helps other comics get their names out there as well! I am currently working on one that will be released SOON with my co-host Daniel Webb called Chunter. Its really the opposite of what I just said, its the two of us plus guests talking about truly anything at all. Daniel and I co-host a show called Hags in LA and we host like two old hags screaming at the audience, but people seem to really enjoy our wild energy and wacky topics. Ignore my shameless plug, but yeah I think its a great platform to hear comics much more candid and off script so you can really get to know them.

Having performed your comedy all across the globe, from your native homeland of Toronto, to L.A., Edinburgh, and back again, I am curious to know what are some spots you have performed at that may be a bit off the radar? What are some rooms you have worked in that many people may not immediately recognize as great places to perform?

I would for sure say Edmonton, Alberta Canada is a really cool scene that I didn’t even know about until I went there a few years ago, lots of great rooms and supportive people in that city. I just went up to Humbolt, CA recently and really liked the show I did up there, it’s a weird place but they love comedy. Victoria BC is also a really nice place, being on an island the room “Hecklers” there is amazing and I just did “Rumors” in Winnipeg, Manitoba CA anther great room, staff, and all the comics make you feel really welcome. I have to shout out the Canadian places no one knows about cause who the hell else will! But also the Toronto scene is VERY VERY GOOD and I do miss it.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

My album is out on vinyl now so I am really excited about that, link is in all my social media crap. Also I am doing my first ever ONE WOMAN SHOW at Dynasty Typewriter on Wednesday December 4th at 8pm called “I’ve Always Been Fucked”. I am nervous/excited for it!! If you are in LA please come! Also my show HAGS at the virgil with Daniel Webb is the last Tuesday of the month!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My puppy SUSAN!!!!! I love her so much and all I do is stare and her and smile, literally all day long and have been for the last three weeks.

 

Steph has a straight up smattering amount of shows lined up in the L.A. area over the next couple of months, as well as a headlining gig back in her homeland, Check her out. To learn more about the amazing Steph Tolev, check out her WEBSITE:

 

Nov 11- Mermaid Comedy @ The Hollywood Improv 8pm

Nov 12- Blair & Greta @ Gengis Cohen 8pm

Nov 14- Deanne Smith @ The Lyric Hyperion 9:30pm

Nov 17- Golden Hour 7pm

Nov 18- Kibitz Comedy @ Canters

Nov 19- Take On L.A @ The Red Lion Tavern 8pm

Nov 20- Super Serious @ The Virgil 8pm

Nov 22- Green Screen Show @ UCB Suset 10pm

Nov 24- Chatterbox in Covina 9pm

Nov 26- HAGS @ The Virgil 8pm

Dec 4-  ONE WOMAN SHOW ” I’ve Always Been Fucked” @ Dynasty Typewriter 8pm

Dec 7-  Good Heroin @ Stories 8pm

Dec 11- Junior High 7:30pm

Dec 12- Hard Times @ The Hollywood Improv 9pm

Dec 13- 14- Headlining Chuckles in St Johns New Brunswick, Canada

Dec 30- Hags @ The Virgil 8pm

Doug E. Doug [Interview]

Douglas Bourne Headshots

 

Hello Folks! Oh, do we have a great interview to share with you all today! Today’s guest is another person that I have been wanting to get on Trainwreck’d Society since the site’s inception. He is an incredible actor who I have been watching on several different formats for as long as I can remember. It’s the incredible Doug E. Doug, Everyone! He iconically portrayed Sanka Coffie in the classic comedic rendition of true events known as Cool Runnings. And with a career spanning 30 years, he has had a lifetime of incredible roles that you all know and love, and we are just so damn excited to have him grace our digital pages today!

A man of several talents, Doug is also a brilliant writer who’s first novel, The Fall of ’87, coming soon! Be on the lookout for that! Below we will discuss his incredible career, Cool Runnings, the new book, and more! So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the absolutely brilliant Doug E. Doug!

 

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What initially inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it a yearning you had since your youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this line work at random?

Initially. I was just trying to cheer people up and stop then from wanting to hurt me. Later I discovered this was a primal form of  entertainment.

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And were there any sort of lessons learned that stuck with you and affect your work to this day?

My first paid gig was as a standup comedian at the Savage night club in NYC . I learned that even if you do well as a performer some people are reluctant to pay you. I show up to get paid like I wont leave without money now.

It would be remiss of me to not ask at least one question about your infamous role in the 1993 film, Cool Runnings. It’s been 26 years since the film was released, but the love for the film has never faded away. In your personal and obviously knowledgable opinion, what do you believe it is about the film that has made it a staple to this very day? As somebody who lived it at the time, what do you believe made the film special?

It is about the little guy persevering and earning respect. All over the world people have this struggle . They root for the bobsledders in the movie because they are deserving of respect. Everyone is.

 

 

On a personal level, your lead role in the 1997 film That Darn Cat is probably the most memorable and most watched roles for me. Well, full disclosure: I was 12 years old and haplessly crushing hard on Christina Ricci, so that may have been a factor as well. Anyway, there is the old saying, ‘Don’t work with kids or animals”, in regards to working as an actor. And I guess Ricci was in her teens at the time, but you get it. So you did both on this project and it turned out great. With that, how was your experience working on a zany and fun family comedy of this nature?

I love making movies for families and children in particular.

That Darn Cat was a lot of fun. Christina had way too much responsibilty at a young age. I treated her like a kid. It scared everyone who was dealing with her like a porcelian doll.  My goal was to respect the kids in the audience and behind the camera.

You have worked in just about every job possible in the world of entertainment. From acting to writing, producing, stand up, voice over, YouTube….the list goes on and on. With that in mind, I am curious to know what you find the most appealing of all the types of work out there? If for some strange reason, you were forced to only work in one avenue of creativity, what would you want that avenue to be?

If I were forced to do one thing I would write . Nothing brings me more joy.

When you look back on your decade spanning career in comedy, film, television, and beyond, what would you say you are most proud of? Doesn’t have to be a specific project (although it could if you wanted), but when you look back on all the great work you have done, what brings you the most joy overall?

I am most proud of the novel I have just written.  I have always wanted to do it. I just didn’t have the time set aside to climb that mountain.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I have a book that will be available soon it is called the The Fall of ’87. I am also in post production on a film I co-wrote and co-directed called Lil’ Girl Gone. (Im in it too.)

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My daughter coming back home from college on a break.