The State of Theatre: Julie Bot
Julie Bot is a founding memeber of The GTO's (Girls Together Outrageously, courtesy of Pamela Des Barres' all-girl 60s rock group), Toronto's first all-female sketch comedy troupe. Since their debut in the summer of 1997, they have appeared at Toronto's ALTdot COMedy Lounge, Sketch COMedy Lounge, Pirate Video Cabaret, Tim Sims Playhouse, Second City's Midnight Howl, twice have been invited to the Chicago Improv Festival (1999 and 2000) and once to Sketchfest Vancouver (2003).Canadian Comedy Awards nominations include Best Screenplay and Best Female Performance in a Film for The Bloor Witch Project (2000) and Best Troupe (2001).
What is your opinion on the current state of theatre in Toronto?
"Speaking specifically as a semi-underground sketch comedy troupe, who've been around for almost 10 years, we're sometimes frustrated by the availability of venues and therefore stage time. Pretty much any bar can clear a corner of the room and put up a microphone one night a week and be a stand-up comedy room. If you are a in an group of more than two people, with costumes changes, props and light+sound cues, there are fewer opportunities to play. Especially now as opposed to a few years ago when sketch and "alternative" comedy was more in vogue."
What mostly needs to be improved upon
"Live comedy needs a live audience: passionate people willing to come out and support live performance. There is no shortage of acts and talent, or bars willing to book comedy shows if their drink sales are guaranteed. We are competing mainly with television, DVDs and video games: stay-at-home entertainment, which is cheap, plentiful and easy."
Where do you see yourself in all this?
"The GTO's are veterans at this point. We were always too obscure to achieve mainstream success and never really palatable for television consumption. For a brief time we wanted to be, but it didn't suit us. We keep finding ways to play live because we love it and it's who we are."
Is your current show representative of that?
"We are producing "The January Show" on Sunday to see some of our favourite performers and to give ourselves time to play. When other producers invite us to do a 10 minute set in their shows, we are always thrilled to do and discover their audiences; it's like going to someone else's home and trying their dishes. This Sunday is our party where we get to serve up our own style of treats, for our audience and for ourselves."
Julie and the other GTO members can be seen in the The January Show, this Sunday January 7 at Clinton 's Tavern at 8:30 PM. The show is hosted by Mark Forward and guest stars Sandra Battaglini, Paul Irving Trophy Wives, Andy Boorman and the music of Mary Milne.
The State of Theatre in Toronto is a weekly series where theatre artists and affiliates, professional and emerging, will be interviewed on their thoughts on the subject.