This should be invisible

Spookey Ruben

Variety show spirit alive (and Spookey) in Toronto

Spookey 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.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Music

Someone in Toronto is trying to make it a lot easier for musicians to get gigs

Beyonce to perform in Toronto for her Renaissance Tour

Lil Wayne's Toronto concert is only Canadian stop on new 'Welcome to Tha Carter' tour

Party flyers have come back to life in Toronto in a most unexpected way

Toronto collective is ushering a new generation of queer Asian nightlife

You can get free money thanks to a Ticketmaster class-action lawsuit in Canada

Toronto DJ is helping marginalized people navigate the city's nightlife

People are pissed that Coldplay is not performing in Toronto on new world tour