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Variety show spirit alive (and Spookey) in Toronto

Posted by Dorian Barton / May 15, 2014

Spookey RubenSpookey Ruben, born in Ottawa and raised in Germany among other locales, has become a fixture of the Toronto music scene. Well known for his hit "These Days Are Old," Ruben's continued making music while venturing into the realm of experimental film-making. This led to his current venture, Dizzy Playground Live!, a monthly music-focused variety show involving live bands, semi-improvised skits, and short videos.

Dizzy Playground is a unique event in Toronto - even among other variety shows. "It seems like when people say 'variety show', the comedy is usually the main attraction and the musical elements are the side dish," Ruben explains. "In Dizzy Playground Live! it's the other way round: music is the main dish, and the comedy sections and weird videos are the side dishes."

Dizzy Playground is known for eclectic guests such as Ariel Pink, and some well-known Toronto personalities including Feist and The Bicycles. "In most cases all the special guests on my show are musicians/artists I've become friends with over the years... I remember seeing Ariel [Pink] live on stage mumbling by himself into a microphone when I lived in L.A. almost ten years ago - there were like two other people in the audience. I started collecting his tapes, a few weeks later we started collaborating on some instrumentals at my house."

Spookey's skits and videos are highly creative, with an improvised and anarchic energy. Skits begin with a "heavily art-directed" set location, then come "the costumes, the make-up and the names of the characters - the actual content of the story's action and dialogue is not so much a concern. Once the camera's rolling we just start walking and talking. It's not necessarily supposed to be 'funny,' just 'fun to watch' - I called it absurdist improvisational dance."

Ruben's monthly shows will continue on as he works on his upcoming LP Modes III, slated for 2015 - though he hints at some changes coming. "I'm trying to keep the monthly variety show going, even though it probably will be jumping between different venues (different international cities!)." He advises us to keep our eyelids "scotch-taped to our foreheads" in the meantime.

Spookey Ruben's Dizzy Playground Live! occurs monthly. Tonight (Thursday, May 15), it will feature Man Made Hill and Jay Holy at the Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave.), starting at 9pm.

Writing by Dorian Barton. Photo via Spookey Ruben.



Maureen Cyrenne / May 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm
I have seen Spookey Ruben perform his music live and have also seen his variety shows. Spookey is a talented musical genius and absolutely entertaining!!! Anyone with the opportunity to see one of his shows should definitely do it! I know I do :)
Lori / May 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm
SPOOKEY's Dizzy Playground is easily one of the best shows I've seen in ages. It titillates, engages, and enthralls.
Paco / May 15, 2014 at 08:08 pm
Spookey has no limits. A talented artist with great artistic abilities. Any show he does is a must see. I've never been let down. So underrated!!!
Dylan / May 15, 2014 at 10:35 pm
Spookey Rubens Dizzy Playground is Toronto's most unique and non stop ogling extravaganza. From live sketches, to short films, mad libs, and even live badminton matches. This show will blow your mind, and keep you guessing until the night is through.

Lets not forget about the fantastic musical line up that never disappoints.

Go see the show. You can only gain from this experience. Spookey Ruben is a master at what he does.... Pure unadulterated entertainment.
Mike Magee / May 16, 2014 at 09:57 am
Such a great addition to Toronto's music and art scene. Spookey's Dizzy Playground is a variety show packed with live sketch comedy and a broad range of live musical talent. Make sure you check out the next Dizzy Playground. Guaranteed to be jam packed with great music, laughter and mayhem.
Mike Magee / May 16, 2014 at 10:13 am
If you live in or around the GTA or are planning on a trip to Toronto, please be sure to check out Spookey Ruben's Dizzy Playground. A balls-out live sketch comedy and music variety show, held monthly. Gather up all your buds, and head on out to the next Dizzy Playground. You won't be disappointed.
Ruben / May 16, 2014 at 04:58 pm
What a great concept! Seen some videos from the shows and they are hilarious. I hope to be able to catch one of these in August! Cheers.
Daniel / May 16, 2014 at 07:01 pm
If there was only one reason I'd have to visit Toronto, it would be to see a Spookey Ruben show.
Jan / May 17, 2014 at 09:05 pm
Great music and a great show! Last time I was in Toronto I went to his show at the Tivoli
Jan / May 17, 2014 at 09:08 pm
Rivoli, not Tivoli ;) and it was really entertaining.. Hopefully I can see another show at the Supermarket!
Soda / May 19, 2014 at 09:21 am
Spookey is a genius, plain and simple. If you just realize this, better late then never. Long Live Spooks!
Joey Balducchi / May 22, 2014 at 03:17 pm
Spookey Ruben is a man of many talents, inventing and re-inventing himself on stage no matter where he performs, and the ideas that he comes up with are never ending, and truly genius, long live Spookey Ruben!!
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