By Chris Brown on November 10, 2017.
Getting a behind-the-scenes look at something comes with its perils. Few people really want to know how sausage is made, and Dorothy and her friends being told to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz” is as oft-quoted and meme-ready line as there is in cinema.
Peter Oldring is happy to reveal some of “This Is That” though.
“One of the things that often surprises people about the actual radio show is that the material itself is improvised,” Oldring said last week. “(Co-host) Pat (Kelly) and I play most of the characters and we have these improvised conversations, we improvise interviews and fake documentaries and such and so the live show in many ways is kind of a pulling back of the curtain to show basically how we make an episode and so it’s a comedy show, the stories will be improvised and you kind of get a sense of what goes into making an episode of ‘This Is That.'”
Oldring said the 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 performance at the Esplanade will contain some “best-of” content from the CBC Radio show, some content created specifically for the performance and the cast and crew are working on a new audience participation part of the show.
“We’ll have to see when we get to Medicine Hat what kind of incarnation the show takes,” Oldring said. “I know for us we kind of like to get into the space and have fun with each other. It gives Pat and I chance to let loose a little bit, be very playful, kind of throw one another off a little bit and have some fun.”
The two Alberta boys are excited to get back to their home province.
“It’s where we started cutting our teeth in comedy and it’s a treat to be able to go back there and hope our fellow Albertans will join us,” Oldring said.
It should be easy for people in the live audience to tell the show is a send-up of public radio, but that’s not always the case when people are flipping through the dial and find the radio show. Oldring says the show often gets calls from irate listeners who’ve had the joke go over their head. Sometimes they call back to eat a little crow, Oldring said, but adding he thinks sometimes the irate callers are actually trying to one-up Oldring and Kelly.
“Maybe they are calling in and trying to pull one over on us which is pretty fun.”
What’s not fun for Oldring is that while “This Is That” is upfront about being satire and a 100-per-cent fabrication, others are not so truthful when it comes to “fake news.” The show began eight seasons ago purely as a comedy show with no ulterior motives from anyone involved and no intention of being a ‘gotcha’ show.
“Our intention is to give someone a laugh,” Oldring said. “‘Fake news,’ it can be dangerous with people trying to maybe sway elections or do fake stories that can actually harm people. I think that satire plays an important role. It asks people to think a little bit, engage the critical part of their mind a little bit and I don’t think that’s a bad idea.”
Tickets, $29 plus service charge and GST, are available at http://www.tixx.ca, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk.
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