Sketch troupe Picnicface tackles the mainstream
- August 31, 2011 5:23 PM |
- By Arts Online
Halifax-based comedy troupe Picnicface (Scott Munn/Picnicface.com)
Picnicface, the self-described "Halifamous" internet sensation, is getting ready for its close up.
The Halifax-based comedy troupe makes its television debut Wednesday night with a preview of the show Picnicface airing on the Comedy Network.
The crew's mainstream invasion is a triple-threat proposition: they've not only been approved for 13 episodes of their TV show, they're also launching a new book entitled Picnicface's Canada and a feature-length movie, Roller Town - not bad for a bunch of twenty- and thirty-somethings best known for an energy drink spoof.
"We really want, like, a two-month-long blaze, and then just disappear," group member Andrew Bush joked in an interview with the National Post.
The Picnicface site presents the comedy troupe as an eight-headed monster, but as individuals, the group is comprised of:
- Andrew Bush
- Kyle Dooley
- Cheryl Hann
- Mark Little
- Brian MacQuarrie
- Evany Rosen
- Scott Vrooman
- Bill Wood
Let's face it: not everything that goes viral can go mainstream. Still, Picnicface shows promise because the group's sketches draw from the boundless depths of absurdist culture. They've also proven that there's an audience for their comedy.
Like a certain pop star from Stratford, Ont., the troupe gained popularity online long before traditional media clued into its appeal. The cheeky Picnicface style has earned comparisons to The Kids in the Hall and Monty Python, and more than 70,000 YouTube fans.
The Picnicface mock ad for Powerthirst energy drink remains a flagship bit. Since being posted four years ago, the video has accumulated more than 23 million views (warning: explicit language). A screaming narrator continues to promise "gratuitous amounts of energy" and "power-running, power-lifting, power-sweeping, power-dating, power-eating, power-laughing, power-spawning babies. You'll have so many babies!"
Their sketches have been featured on American websites like College Humor and Funny or Die, and their popularity boosted by the likes of Will Ferrell and Dave Foley. With this kind of hype, you can bet expectations from both old fans and new viewers will be high.
Continuing in the fast-paced, Powerthirst style, Picnicface's new half-hour TV show will be a "mash-up comedy [series] mixing a contemporary, Pythonesque animation and absurd sketch comedy," according to a network release. Producers have enlisted the talents of former Kids in the Hall member Mark McKinney and veteran comedy writer Gary Campbell.
It's also worth mentioning that Picnicface has kept the 'u' in its humour: much of the material is unabashedly Canadian. The soon-to-be released book Picnicface's Canada is said to be a satirical portrait of the nation that includes a guide to Canadian haircuts and a Stompin' Tom Connors dance chart. Meanwhile, the crew's Halifax-filmed movie Roller Town will kick off the Atlantic Film Festival on September 15.
Of course, it's too soon to say whether larger audiences will take to Picnicface's brand of comedy, but odds are good that the octet from "Haliwood" will have the last laugh.
For a sample of the Picnicface shtick, check out the the group's Aug. 2010 CBC Radio One comedy special.
-- Fabiola Carletti
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