Show Reel of the Week: Strange Comedy – Shelly Kastner & Jason McPherson
Give us your elevator pitch of who you are, what you do and what your skill set is.
We are duo Strange Comedy. I’m (Shelly) originally from Montreal, and Jason is from San Francisco but since 2009 we have been based in Germany. My original background is musical, classical and physical theatre, then eventually trapeze arts. Jason started as a juggler then became a hand balancer, he trained in San Francisco. By the time we started working together we both started to learn and use illusions, which is now the core of our whole show. So our mixed skill set is comedy illusions, slapstick with juggling and rolla bolla. The show was created in 2006 in Montreal, where we performed the show on cruise ships. I would say we are most known for original and funny illusions, we have created personally all our props, and Jason himself builds all prototypes but about 50 % of the props are actually his in the show.
What is your ideal role?
So we have different versions of our work, either separate acts for Variete and TV /galas, outdoor theater show and full 1 hour indoor theater show. Our favorite is doing our indoor theater show, this is the most fun and ideal role for us.
Name your top 4 credits.
- The Wintergarten Variete Theater (was our first German Variete).
- The Blackpool Magic Convention (One of the most famous of the magic festivals).
- BBC TV “The Slammer Returns” guest spot.
- A 2 year theater tour of cultural houses throughout Belgium. Friedrichsbau Variete Theater.
Where do you find inspiration?
Our inspiration comes mainly from The Muppet Show. That is definitely the biggest driving force of our show. Very often when creating we would ask each other, but what would the Muppets do in this case or…”wasn’t there something one time they did.”…objects coming to life, the style, the pacing, all our number one source of inspiration. On separate themes, for me, musical theater is always in my head and a driving force and for Jason, Evil Dead 2 and Cartoons.
What motivates you to keep performing/creating?
Motivation/creations, I think this is where Jason and I differ. For me, as far as performing is concerned, it is what I have been trained and driven to do since a young child. It is a part of me that I cannot imagine not being a part of my life. It is the one moment I can be excited, happy and at peace all at the same time. That moment of right now is the best joy I could possibly have, it is an absolute need.
For Jason, he is a challenge driven person, so he feels less joy on stage, but because he loves pushing himself, that becomes his personal motivation. I think the same can be said about creations, it is impossible for either one of us to hear a certain piece of music and not think of an idea, creating just becomes a natural part of us that we don’t switch off. My motivation is always connected to the fact that in my heart I’m a comedic character actress, so I love playing different roles, and Jason is a builder so he loves locking himself up in the studio, building all day.
What should TheatreArtLife readers know about you?
That originally we created this duo to be together as a married couple and not originally because we wanted to be a performing duo. Jason was a solo clown who never really shared the stage with anyone and took some clown workshops, but still was a lone wolf on the stage. I was theater trained and then a flyer in a triple trapeze group so I was always sharing the stage with people.
When we first started putting the show together it was a long and painful process of combining our energies and styles together. Eventually we brought in a director, who not only became the “Mother” of the show, but she also became somewhat of a marriage counselor; we basically had to work on our stage and personal relationship. Now we know each other so well we can pretty much write for each other in a more harmonious fashion.
Recently we are starting to come to different wants, I will soon start working on my solo show, Jason will be there to help and support the creation, but it will be my first venture in a solo theater project. I was starting to feel it was time to create a new story and character for myself, while Jason strengthens the show we have together.
How do we follow you on social media?
We have a website, but our Facebook page is the most updated source to find out what we have just done and will do: