Morgan Brayton is an anomaly in the field of sketch comedy

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Elderly vaudeville star Mabel gets to tell more Hollywood secrets in an appearance as part of Morgan Brayton's new show at the 2014 Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival.

After a half-decade absence, the Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival gets a re-boot with three days of laughs that includes Vancouver’s funniest lesbian, Morgan Brayton, in a new one-woman show.

The beginnings of what she says will soon become an expanded full-hour show called Flibbertigibbet, Brayton’s appearance at the Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival includes a series of monologues with a number of new characters and the return of an old favourite.

“For people who saw my show Raccoonery! [which was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award in 2011], Mabel is back,” says Brayton.  “She’s an elderly vaudeville star who can still hold an audience with her tales of old Hollywood and her shocking secrets. Yes, she has more secrets.”

Also included in the line-up of odd characters is the proud mother of an egg toss champion, an operator at a help line for white people and Darren, a guy with ambitious plans for his bodyguard business.

“Darren is based on a guy I saw on a bus years ago who has stuck with me ever since,” says Brayton as to how she pulls ideas together for her show.  But while some come from her own real-life experiences, others like the mother of the egg toss champion, come from the dark reaches of her imagination.

“Often it’s that: I encounter someone who I want to play, to flesh out in a comedic way, but sometimes I just get these stupid ass ideas for characters out of nowhere–like the egg toss mom,” she explains.  “No idea whatsoever. Just one day, there she was and I knew exactly what she had to say. So dumb, but there you go.”

For other bits, like the operator of the help line for white people, Brayton uses a premise-based device to bring together a number of characters.  “… usually I find these snippets of people in my everyday life that make me laugh and I want to figure out more of their story and, hopefully, make other people laugh too.”

Elderly vaudeville star Mabel gets to tell more Hollywood secrets in an appearance as part of Morgan Brayton's new show at the 2014 Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival.

Elderly vaudeville star Mabel gets to tell more Hollywood secrets in an appearance as part of Morgan Brayton’s new show at the 2014 Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival.

For the uninitiated, Brayton says the best way to explain sketch comedy is to give examples, leading her to a list of shows and troupes like Saturday Night Live, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and French & Saunders.

“Of course, my sketch isn’t really like any of those so they are entirely unhelpful examples I’m afraid, but they do let you know what we’re talking about: short, scripted, comedic pieces,” she explains. “What I do is solo sketch and I guess it’s more like comedic character monologues. If you’ve ever seen Whoopi on Broadway, that’s maybe closer to what I do, without the successful show on Broadway, of course. Or like British performer Catherine Tate without the successful TV show.”

As a solo performer, Brayton is considered a bit of an anomaly among traditional sketch comedy which is usually group based, a bias Brayton has had to overcome over the years. But with a sketch comedy pedigree that includes work with the popular sketch troupe 30 Helens and performances at previous incarnations of the Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival, Brayton isn’t afraid to push that envelope with her solo show.

“I sort of gave up applying to sketch festivals because I got told too many times that they didn’t book solo shows,” she laughs.  “When [Producer] Alistair Cook asked if I was cool with them resurrecting the festival, I was thrilled and I’m really happy to see that it went ahead. So, I guess they were obligated to give me a spot on a show. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself and make them regret their decision.”

Sharing the stage with comedy troupes Suspicious Luxury and SNAP, Brayton is looking forward to being part of a diverse group, saying it is a great way for audiences to see groups that they might not otherwise see.

“There are so many different approaches and styles of sketch so it’s great to kind of throw together some different acts and show off the diversity of the form,” she says.

The 2014 Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival plays Granville Island January 23-25, 2014.  Visit http://www.vancouversketchfest.com for tickets and information.

Brayton performs her one-woman show on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at Studio 1398.

Mark Robins on Google+

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