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Q&A: Get a Hilarious Casting Masterclass with Naomi Snieckus

You probably know Naomi Snieckus as Bobbi on Mr. D. Or perhaps as a panelist on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight? You may also have seen her in The Casting Room, a hilarious web series that she co-created with casting director extraordinaire Stephanie Gorin (who featured on CBC's Over the Rainbow). Naomi and Stephanie invite familiar names in Canadian comedy (and beyond) to come into their casting room and show you what you really should not do in there - not only are these videos funny, they're informative. The series won Naomi, Stephanie and team the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Web Series.

We got together with Naomi to talk about just how she finds time to fit it in with all of her other duties and Stephanie herself was kind enough to tell us how The Casting Room started:

CBC Live: Tell us about the series, how did it start?

Stephanie Gorin: After doing workshops, and giving advice to college students, parents and new young actors, I went home and thought about how I could get the Dos and Don'ts across in a humorous way. I was doing a film at the time and started to jot notes of all the things that went wrong in the auditions. At the end of the week, I had a page full of advice and asked Naomi if she would be interested in creating a project with me, playing my assistant. We based it on what truly happens in the room but wanted to write it in a fun way, keeping the love we have for actors, helping them at the same time. Thus The Casting Room was born and it's been a joy to work on.

Naomi Snieckus:
Stephanie just makes things happen. She funds it through her own company and we got this first season that everybody said yes to, like Eric Peterson and all these folks who are amazing. Now, we're just on this roll where we got the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Web Series. We're looking to see where it's going to grow to. It's super fun, we shoot around eight in a day... Matt Baram directs it with Mike Fly and Simon Fraser... and Matt helps punch up the scripts. It's a really fun project that's just ours... we're figuring out if it's going to be more and how to make it more.

CBC Live: Congratulations on winning the Canadian Comedy Award, how did that go down?

NS: It was great, we were up against Scott Thompson's web series, and Sexy Nerd Girl, and I was just like, "oh, those guys are awesome and they have such a presence online..." and we won! Stephanie and I were both just like, "what the...?" It's my favourite kind of project because it's collaborative. It becomes everybody's scene, everybody collaborates once we're in the room and makes things funnier. It's great. Eric Peterson came up with some great lines.

CBC Live: The third season's just started, and you have Colin Mochrie...

NS: Have you heard of him? He's a real up and comer... Yeah, we kind of lay out what it was and told him the ideas. Then he turned up wearing that outfit which, to me, is perfect. You'll have to see it online... he's just great. He's so friggin' nice and funny. We launched with Colin Mochrie but after him we've got Matt Baram, we've got Suresh John from Mr. D, Dan Redican, Sheila McCarthy, Jonas Chernick from My Awkward Sexual Adventure and Ron Pederson from MADtv. Everybody just brings so much to what their sketch is.

CBC Live: Most of the webisodes are skits, but you also have short discussions, or tutorials, from other actors...

NS: Those were sort of just like teasers that we had to, when we didn't really have time to shoot a whole season. Usually we build it around... Colin's schedule, for instance. "We've got Colin, let's find out who else is around." Hopefully Jason Priestly is going to do one in the future, as he's doing a play at Canadian Stage and it'll be easy for him to squeeze in an hour. It's only an hour for these guys. Then there are the little stories that Stephanie shot, and they're just sort of informative... a lot of people watch those and go "oh, I've done that before," or "oh, I do that!" which makes them all the funnier. You could kick yourself for the things that you do that you know you shouldn't. It's really fun and it just keeps growing. People are really excited. And it's also fun for people like Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies, he came in. He doesn't do a lot of that stuff but he's super funny and he gets to shine in a different way that normally he isn't seen in.

CBC Live: It's a hard question, or maybe an unfair question, but do you have a favourite episode?

NS: Ennis Esmer's was pretty funny. He's funny and everybody knows he's funny but he got to be super cheeky to me. That's one of my favourites... but it's hard, 'cause there are different little moments in each one. I love the moment when Peter Keleghan rips somebody's resume and writes on their headshot. There are these moments of comedy genius that just come out of nowhere. Deb McGrath, there are some great moments with her... Jayne Eastwood... they're geniuses! I can't choose one! They're all people that are our heroes in the comedy world. We're lucky that people get to see them in this light.

CBC Live: You said earlier that you find it hard to find time to write with Stephanie. You're also with Strombo, you're also with Mr. D you've also got the National Theatre of the World... and you still have to walk the dogs!

NS: I just let them out... "here's the leash, you guys take care of yourselves." You have time for everything that's important, you know? My house is messy. My house is super messy... and I don't do laundry very much. You know what? These are all fun projects and luckily they're on my own time. With The Casting Room, Stephanie and I will write at weird hours, we can negotiate that. We'll edit it using a GMail doc and over the phone. That's how we'll work. Whereas, with something like Mr. D, I have to be there for the summer. That's a different kind of project, but everything finds its way of sorting out. Things do fall by the wayside... I have piles of clothing all over my house and the dishes need to be done, but other than that, things are great!

Check out all the episodes of The Casting Room* on YouTube or Funny or Die

Follow Naomi Snieckus on Twitter // Follow The Casting Room on Twitter

Catch Naomi on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight most weeknights at 7pm (7.30NT)

The new season of Mr. D premières in January, 2013, on CBC

*Make sure you have time. This writer spent far too long watching when he should have been transcribing.

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