Pulling back the curtain on ‘This is That’
Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring are bringing CBC Radio hit series ‘This is That’ to the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. Supplied
This is That was fake news before President Donald Trump ever mumbled out the phrase — except Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring have always done it with a wink and a nudge.
The satirical radio news show is coming to the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre on Nov. 16, and will be pealing back the curtain on how their program comes together on a weekly basis.
“I think people are pretty surprised to find out that on the radio 90 per cent of the voices are done by Pete or myself,” said Kelly. “For us to get in front of an audience and show them how we craft a show is real fun for us.”
Being in front of a live audience also allows them to get back to their improving roots. While there is always some improv involved in what is recorded for CBC Radio, they can really run rampant with it on stage.
They met each other as teenagers in Calgary while working at the Loose Moose club. The went different directions as they developed their craft but always wanted to do a show together.
They both grew up with CBC Radio playing on a radio in their kitchen 24/7 and they kicked around the idea of doing their own comedic take on the programming. They were drawn into the plethora of characters public radio produced, whether it was interviews with joe public about an event, or the curator of a music program or any multitude of people. It provided them fertile ground to build their show.
“We thought ‘Well won’t it be funny to do a fake version of this?’” said Kelly. “It affords us the opportunity to not just be married to one set of characters, we can always be changing it.”
They recorded a demo in a basement, sent it off to CBC, and have not looked back since.
The dynamic comedic duo do on occasion get outside news organizations to bite hard on some of their sketches. Perhaps most notably was a bit on the elimination of balls from youth soccer to focus more on fair play and having a good time. Several prominent stations in the U.S. picked it up, believing that it was true, and it still makes the rounds on social media every so often.
“We’ve never made our stuff to intentionally go out there and contribute to the noise of fake news that’s happening,” said Kelly. “The role of satire in society is to challenge people to think critically. If you have a suspicion about a story being too good to be true, the onus is on the audience to do a little investigating and find out it indeed is from a comedy show.”
It usually does not take much investigating, either, as their CBC stories always come with a satirical disclaimer.
A big reason they get people to buy in so readily is their dead-pan delivery, honed over a lifetime of growing up on the Prairies. It is a distinct style which is nuanced from much of the Eastern and Maritime sensibilities that have filled the CBC airwaves for generations. They take great pride in the fact they have been able to sell their brand of humour from coast-to-coast.
“There’s a playful sarcasm in the west and for whatever reason, that tone of sarcasm that’s maybe natural to us and kind of sneaks its way into our show … it connects with people of Western Canada,” said Kelly.
This is That has been in production since 2010, and they are constantly recording throughout the season to keep things fresh. Kelly, Oldring, their producer Chris Kelly and another writer usually meet a few times a week, they collect their best material and then hit the recording studio.
The ideas keep coming, and for their live shows, almost everything will be completely new. It is critical to them that they give the audience something new and relevant every night. It also helps their creative process as some of the ideas they come up with will follow them back to the studio.
“You want to give the audience something new and fresh every night so that they’re feeling satisfied,” said Kelly. “But also for us as performers, it’s a lot more fun.”
This is That starts at 8 p.m. with tickets available at the Lougheed box office or at www.camroselive.ca