As part of the Second City comedy troupe, Jewish comedian/singer Ashley Botting will perform songs and skits with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in The Second City Guide To The Orchestra Nov. 29 and 30.
The two-act show at Roy Thomson Hall features both music and sketch comedy. The Second City skits include a couple on a blind date at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, how classical music composer Gustav Mahler would have written commercial jingles, and the sexual prowess of a flautist, among others.
Selections from Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky will also be performed by the orchestra to round out the program of comedy and music.
“I have been looking forward to the collaboration for a long time,” Botting said. “The stereotype of the classical music lover is the snob who does not laugh, and that’s not true. The audiences will love to see the humour behind the classical music icons as well as hearing good music.”
Botting has been earning standing ovations and favourable reviews for her performances and writing in sketch comedy, mostly for Second City, for the past decade. She currently is performing six nights a week in Rebel Without A Cosmos at Second City.
The 35-year-old sketch comedian/singer has honed her skills for over a decade, beginning her career after taking courses in comedy with Second City in 2004. She combines her flair for both music and humour in creating funny sketches using satirical songs.
Botting was highlighted in various Second City shows over the years, including It’s A Wonderful Toronto, featuring songs and sketches involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and other local politicians, and Sixteen Scandals performed last March.
Botting has also travelled with Second City for other shows across Canada, and was memorable at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, singing and performing sketches about composer Stephen Sondheim.
Born in Toronto, Botting was the class clown at the Claude Watson School for the Arts.
“I became interested in comedy as a way of being popular in school, as I was a chubby kid and wanted to gain attention. It came naturally for me to tell jokes, and it was a defence mechanism for me to improve my self-esteem.”
Her songs and sketches, many based on Canadian political satire, garnered Botting three Canadian Comedy Awards from 2010 to 2012
She is proud of her Jewish roots (her mother is Jewish, her father is not) and visited Israel in 2004 as part of the Birthright Israel program.
Oddly, Botting has never played an overtly Jewish character on stage.
“Toronto is not New York. If I was based in New York, there would probably be more sketch material involving Jewish characters, but I am not sure Canadians would identify with Jewish characters or humour.”
Although Botting has spread her wings, doing voice-overs in cartoons and comic commentary on Canadian television, she does not intend to leave Canada for opportunities in the United States.
“I am aware that many who starred at Second City Toronto left for Hollywood, but I love Canada and feel comfortable living here for the rest of my life.”
The Second City comedy troupe and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra perform in The Second City Guide To The Orchestra Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 30, 2 p.m., at Roy Thomson Hall. For tickets, call 416-593-0688 or go to www.tso.ca.