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Comedy troupe invites us to come out and play

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Matt Goldberg
Matt Goldberg

What games transport you right back to childhood? Twenty questions? Tongue twisters? These games and more are all part of sketch comedy troupe Uncalled For’s original production, Playday Mayday.

Matt Goldberg wrote the show along with other members of the Uncalled For crew, including Mike Hughes, Dan Jeannotte, Jacky Lalonde, Colin Munch and Anders Yates.

“It’s a show all about the nature of play, why we play, what creativity is, where creativity comes from, and a sort of return to childhood,” says Goldberg, describing the theatrical sketch comedy production, which runs from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3 at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto.

“But it’s through the lens of five friends in their 30s who are reunited after a certain amount of time apart.”

And that’s kind of what he and his writing mates were going through while working on the show.

Right now, Uncalled For’s members are split between Montreal and Toronto. Some are full-time actors, but Goldberg also works as an English teacher at a college in Montreal. The show, not surprisingly, also explores the process of growing up and the responsibilities that accompany these life changes.

“This is really a show that celebrates that we still have that life and creativity and still have that fun inside of us,” Goldberg says.

Along with Uncalled For, Goldberg started the true, live storytelling series Confabulation in Montreal six years ago. It’s his other creative outlet, and it has since expanded to Toronto and Victoria and also includes a podcast that’s currently on hiatus.

But Goldberg sees similarities between Confabulation and Uncalled For’s work –it’s all about narrative. And no matter how zany or ridiculous Uncalled For’s comedy gets, for Goldberg, it always has to be rooted in strong characters and story lines.

“Something is only funny for me if the narrative holds together, if it has a story you can empathize with and follow,” he says.

Goldberg describes Uncalled For’s comedy as optimistic, rather than overly cynical or sarcastic, a style that’s popular among comedians today.

“We’re silly, we are fun, we are thoughtful, and we read probably way too much – and I think this is all stuff that you feel when you see an Uncalled For show,” he says, noting that their productions are often considered brainy.

For their last two shows, Uncalled For focused on cerebral themes, such as the physics of the universe and dreams.
Playday Mayday seems much more down-to-earth.

Uncalled For has been together for more than 17 years. Goldberg met one of the founding members, Dan Jeannotte, as a teenager, nearly 20 years ago while they were working on a production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Over the years, Uncalled For has become more than just a sketch comedy troupe for its members. “They were my groomsmen at my wedding, and they have been such a central part of my life for that time, beyond just collaborators,” says Goldberg.

Since they’re now in different cities, they started writing Playday Mayday via Skype, but ended up working better in person. To help fund their Toronto run, they raised more than $10,000 on Kickstarter.

Now, the show is making its way to the city for a full two weeks. And it couldn’t bring a timelier message for audience members to be hopeful and to never give up, regardless of their age.

“It’s not over. There’s so much space for life and fun and creativity,” Goldberg says. “And I hope people decide to come play with us.”

For tickets visit artsboxoffice.ca, at the box office four hours before the performance or call 416-504-7529.