Special to The Record
What do you get when you combine a Sarah Silverman tweet, a window screen and the Bruce Springsteen song Hungry Heart?
If you’re Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson, you throw those improbable ingredients into a comedic blender and whip up a little dish they call the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Motel.
Carlone explains how the show, which Peter N’ Chris will perform March 12 at the Sid Williams Theatre, came to be.
“Hungry Heart Motel is actually the oldest, or one of the oldest, still-performable shows that Chris and I wrote. What it came out of was a competition called Theatre Under The Gun.
“Here is a prop, a line of dialogue and a piece of music. You have 48 hours to come up with a 20-minute play.”
One of the play’s mandatory elements, the Silverman tweet, listed dirty things including motel bedspreads and dirty pennies.
Carlone and Wilson were already thinking of doing a Halloween-themed show and the lads were inspired by the Hardy Boys, “so that 20-minute piece became the story of a motel and a motel manager who’s a murderer.”
Yeah, he just ruined the mystery, but that hasn’t stopped this spoof of the horror/slasher genre by the three-time Canadian Comedy Award-winning duo from selling out hundreds of times.
“We thought … maybe it could be a mystery, but we never got around to that part. It’s really all about the laughs and having a good time.”
Peter N’ Chris have been helping audiences have a good time since they became comedic partners in 2009. They’re renowned for their narrative, cinematic and physical style.
“Even in our first show it came out of stuff we were doing at the University of Victoria,” Carlone recalls of their style. “When we started writing the first show, we were already basically on the same page.”
While studying together at UVic and learning the many rules of theatre and comedy, Wilson and Carlone also began to mock centuries-old conventions.
“We were … taking it a little less seriously, kind of poking fun at the rules and some of the pomp and circumstance around theatre. What we do is poke fun at proper theatre.”
Peter N’ Chris became popular on the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit, and they have a large following across Canada and the U.S.
They were a featured act at the 2013 and 2014 Toronto Sketch festival, earning back-to-back Audience Choice Awards. They have performed at prestigious festivals such as Just For Laughs, JFL42, the San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival and the Chicago Sketch Fest.
Have they noticed a difference in the sense of humour of audiences on either side of the 49th parallel?
“I think it changes based on community or age; if the audience is younger, they’ll find certain things funnier.”
Their resume includes being contributing writers to CBC Radio’s The Irrelevant Show.
“I think I like performing it better,” Carlone comments. “You have to write if you’re going to perform your comedy but performance just has that real time reaction like everybody laughs and you know that joke went well.
“Inversely, that fear that people have of … going up in front and trying to do comedy is very founded. The risk is there, and it feels terrible when a joke doesn’t go well.”
Audiences and critics have generally been kind.
“The funniest thing I have ever seen.” Uptown Magazine.
“Extremely funny.” CBC.
Peter N’ Chris perform March 12 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay. For details and tickets, visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the box office at 442 Cliffe Ave.