Toronto has long been home to some of the biggest names in sketch comedy. Second City alumni including Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Candy and Martin Short, along with troupes like Kids In The Hall have established the Canadian city as one of comedy’s premium sources for sketch performers.
Two more names that could soon become part of the conversation on Toronto’s legendary sketch scene are Jay Wells L’Ecuyer and Eytan Millstone. The comedians were founding members of the award-winning troupe The Boom, where they worked with the likes of Scott Thompson and Colin Mochrie.
As the comedic rap duo, Rick and Chuck, Jay & Eytan performed at the Vans Warped Tour, King of the Dot and NXNE. The pair has since relocated to New York City where they can be seen regularly at New York Comedy Club. This past spring their short film, ‘Meat Pie’ won the audience choice award at the New York No Limits Fest.
Friday, Jay & Eytan released their full length LP, All Growed Up and despite over a decade of experience the two found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Removing the crowd for the privacy of a recording booth created some new challenges for the pair. Jay & Eytan recently sat down to talk about the biggest differences between performing sketch comedy in a studio verses in front of a live audience.
Atmosphere & Energy
Eytan: One of the biggest differences for us is the energy at a live show. As a comedian, we have to harness it or else the buzz, booze and butterflies can turn us into an out of control mess, like an excited puppy on his first trip to the park. Our delivery becomes faster and louder, we stumble over words and even forget lines we’ve said a thousand times.
Jay: Control is the entire reason the studio exists. We could pitch this next line as a Geico ad… ‘If you want control, you get a booth. It’s what you do. The booth is isolated and quiet, so we have to generate all that energy ourselves for the listener at home to feel it. You feel me?
Setting the Scene
Jay: This audio album of ours just took away your eyes! You can’t see the little pink thong I’m wearing so I guess I’ll just describe it for you. I won’t get that shock value laugh, but if I use a sultry voice to paint that picture, it could tickle you in other ways. In any sketch, live or studio, we ’set the scene’ by letting the audience know who we are, where we are, and what we’re doing so they can settle in and get to laughing. It can be tricky either way, but we use sound effects on the album like props & costumes on stage.
Jay: On that stage… You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow… This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo! (Been listening to a lot of Eminem and eating a lot of spaghetti lately). But yes, clearly there’s no reset button on the stage, whereas the booth offers as many takes as the hard drive will allow.
Eytan: By doing multiple takes, on the hunt for that one perfect line, we sometimes strayed from the original idea and needed to bring it back down to earth. When we did a dozen takes, we usually chose the second or third one anyway. Oh, and we had to keep that energy up each take. Hot Fiyah, hot fiyah, hot fiyah!
Eytan: That ‘what’s he gonna say next’ type moment that hits us and we just blurt out some craziness. Sometimes it works perfectly, but sometimes it throws a wrench in the written sketch. On stage, it’s a piece that comes and goes, and if it happens to get a huge laugh maybe it’ll get written in the script for future shows! In the booth, we try to stick to the script, but if there seems like a lull or a joke isn’t hitting, improv becomes an on-the-fly rewrite!
Home & Away
Jay: Time for a sports analogy: Our live show is ‘Our House’! The audience has left their home with the hopes of some chuckles, so we have home-field advantage. The studio album is on their turf. We’ve invaded their cars and their homes, where it’s much harder to make someone laugh. They’re distracted and, especially with an audio album, have to use their imagination to meet us halfway. Live, you share the same space and feel the same energy, and trust us; comedy clubs use that science stuff to help keep you chuckling. We all know laughter is contagious, so they’ll seat you nice and close to every other stranger in there. You’d have to be a real curmudgeon to sit arms crossed and stone-faced while every other human is laughing. Then they’ll pump the A/C to keep you perky and send a server to keep you drinkin’ (TIP YOUR GODDAMN BAR STAFF)!!!
Jay & Eytan, All Growed Up is available now on iTunes and Google Play through Comedy Records