In my first year, I went with a guy from residence and joined a sketch comedy troupe. I was really nervous and I suspect he was as well, though he never showed it. He was from Waterloo and performed on Improv teams and was starting to do standup comedy at Einstein’s open-mic.
Anyway, we auditioned and we were cast, and then something changed. We were no longer just students. We became members of The Bob.
The Bob is Canada’s longest running sketch comedy revue, hosted by Victoria College. There have been some pretty famous people in The Bob, over the years, even including Margaret Atwood. Any student, from any college, can audition, and if comedy or theatre or writing is your passion, I’d highly recommend it.
It was during a casual, September 2009 stroll with my dad, actually, that I happened to find a poster calling for auditions. I ripped the poster right off the wall, fearing I’d forget all the details otherwise. When I got back to residence I walked past my room and knocked on a door four rooms down from mine. The student who answered had shaggy brown-blonde hair and a cheeky, curious quality in his eye that gave me the idea to speak with a phony British accent.
“Good afternoon,” I said.
“Yes, hullo, and how may I help you?”
“I was wondering if perchance you possessed a fondness for performing comedy.”
“Yes, I may have such a fondness. What of it?”
I showed him the poster. His eyes scanned it from top to bottom. Then he looked up at me.
“Tonight’s the last call for auditions,” he said.
“It is,” and I could feel a flutter in the chest.
He looked me straight dead in the face and said, “Let’s do it!”
We barely knew each other that first night. But at the audition something clicked and it seemed we’d been joking around together for a long time. Maybe it was a shared comedic sense, or maybe it was that we had both eaten the same meal-plan lasagna for dinner, but I like to think it was the realization that we had both just made our first real friend at university.
After that we were a regular duo. We wrote sketches together, went to shows and open-mics together, met different people, we were even the MC’s for the New College Mosaic. It was a much needed, and much appreciated, support-system for first year, though it never exactly seemed that way.
It was merely being a part of something. We were Bob’ers. We were friends. The name or size of the association was irrelevant, as long as it gave us a sense of place and purpose. U of T is really big, it offers a lot of options, finding something that speaks to you is, well, priceless.
I know it was my friend’s encouragement and enthusiasm that allowed me to audition for The Bob in the first place. And I’m much indebted because it led to a crazy-fun comedy ride throughout my second and third years. Not to mention a really great friendship.
Now, the time has come for The Bob to grace the stage again. The show is 7:30pm November 14, 15, and 16 at the Isabel Bader Theatre at Victoria College. I’ll be watching from the front row this year. But it gives me great pleasure that my friend, who inspired me to act, to be bold (and silly), is one of this year’s co-directors. Congrats, man!
‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond!