Inuvik comedy troupe takes Canada ‘North of Normal’

Inuvik comedy troupe takes Canada ‘North of Normal’
Brandon Larocque, left, Brendan Callahan and Dez Loreen form the trio behind Inuvik Comedy, currently battling it out in CBC’s Comedy Coup with their sketch comedy show, North of Normal.Photo: Courtesy of Dez Loreen.

A comedic trio from Inuvik is hoping to introduce the rest of Canada to its zany humour and score a $500,000 prime time national TV gig in the process.

The collective known as Inuvik Comedy is currently in the running for the coveted CBC Comedy Coup prize with its proposed half-hour sketch comedy show, North of Normal, which creators Dez Loreen, Brendan Callahan and Brandon Larocque hope will be the network’s next big laugh.

“Honestly, I think it’s just a new, fresh approach. We’re some new faces and we’re giving it the honest try that we can, and we have some fresh, original ideas,” Loreen shared with The Journal last week.

Originally up against 284 other entries, Inuvik Comedy made it past the first selection round earlier this month and is now one of the top 110 battling it out over the next 10 weeks of challenges. This week, the trio has been challenged to show what makes them different from their competitors.

“Essentially they want us to show why our product is funny, why we’re bringing a new brand of funny forward,” said Loreen, who does all of the video editing, a good chunk of the writing and acting, and the majority of the show’s filming whenever their fourth member – the tripod – isn’t around.

Loreen said he pulled the group together in August in time for the competition, but has always had a keen interest in the non-sequitur humour provided by sketch comedies, like Robot Chicken, Kids in the Hall and Family Guy.

“With my attention span, I never really could piece things together for more than one scene or two at a time, so sketch comedy was just perfect for me. I could do a quick 10-second joke or two or three-minute joke, and then I wouldn’t have to connect it to anything else,” he said.

“It’s just a quick, fun laugh that’s accessible to a lot of people.”

The crew started out playing with Northern themes for their short videos, like “Meat Bag,” where a black market deal turns up dry meat instead of drugs and “the butter is extra,” and “A True Friend,” featuring emotional bonding over bingo.

But now, Loreen said the group is starting to show that it has more in its arsenal than Northern clichés, and can write random skits that anyone can relate to. Its seven online videos cover a variety of random topics, from wrestling to superheroes to social media.

Since coming online in late summer, the group has collected close to 900 likes on Facebook.

“It’s got a pretty good regional following. A lot of people just identify with the humour and they know us, they’re our friends, so they’re supportive of what we’re doing, and since then it’s just been crazy,” Loreen said.

Voting opens on Oct. 23 to choose the top 55 who will move on, but even if eliminated, Loreen said Inuvik Comedy will keep participating in the challenges in the hopes that one of the producers might bring them back into the competition with a wildcard.

Though the competition is stiff, he has faith in the group’s originality.

“I’m watching these projects and they’re so well-done. These are actually shows that have been pitched before; these are produced programs that they’re repackaging for this competition. So I think in that sense, we definitely stand out in terms of being a homegrown entity,” he said.

“Even if we don’t make it, we’ve already been seen by a bigger audience than we ever could have imagined, so who’s to say there won’t be a producer down the road who will say, ‘Hey, we liked you in that skit. Could you do this for us?’”

The group now has seven videos on its website, www.inuvikcomedy.ca. Follow and vote for them in the contest at http://comedycoup.cbc.ca/inuvikcomedy.

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