BIOS Hot Thespian Action



BIOS Hot Thespian Action
September 11, 2014
Local Comedy Troupe Off to Ottawa to Find Out National Comedy Award Results
WINNIPEG, CANADA – Winnipeg sketch comedy troupe Hot Thespian Action is off to Ottawa this
weekend where they have been nationally recognized with their third Canadian Comedy Award
nomination in the category of “Best Sketch Comedy Troupe.” The names will be read in an awards
gala held on the evening of Sunday, September 14th, hosted by Canadian comedian, and Ottawa
native, Tom Green.
“It’s really cool for us to be noticed out here in the Canadian prairies, away from the Canadian
Comedy epicentre that is Toronto,” says Shannon Guile, a member of the Winnipeg fivesome.
“Winnipeg has a ton of improv and stand up, but not much sketch. Where as Toronto, where the
awards are run out of, it’s the home of the Second City and Kids in the Hall, and has a ton of sketch.
It’s really cool that anyone is even paying attention to us all the way out here. It’s always nice to be
recognized by your peers.”
The Canadian Comedy Awards are held every year to recognize comedians in all fields, ranging from
stand-up comics, to television writers, to comedic film actors, to sketch troupes. Winnipeg-lensed
sitcom “Less Than Kind” is also in the running in the category of “Best TV Show” for its farewell
Once back from Ottawa, the group is setting their sights on the US. The group has been invited down
to Seattle Sketch Fest for a headlining performance on September 26th.
“We’ve been dying to dip down into the States for a while,” says Garth Merkeley, another member of
the troupe. “We’ve spread our name pretty well in Canada now, but it’s time to start making in-roads
south of the border too, where there are just so many more humans to entertain!”
Hot Thespian Action has been performing continuously since 2006 when they formed out of a special
studies class at the University of Winnipeg. Since then they have gone on to make a name for
themselves in Winnipeg and beyond, performing yearly as must-see staples of the Winnipeg Fringe
Festival and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, as well as in shows throughout the year. Their entire
run at the Winnipeg Fringe has been continuously sold out for the last four years. Last year they
co-hosted a televised Winnipeg Comedy Festival Gala on CBC with Alan Thicke, performing as his
singing and dancing sidekicks. Recently, they have expanded their horizons, touring around Canada.
Last winter they headlined at the Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival, and the Toronto Sketch
Comedy Festival. They have sold out their shows in every province from Ontario westward.
In 2012 they, along with Winnipeg/Toronto production company Original Pictures met with Canadian
Broadcasters to pitch a TV sitcom concept. Talks are still ongoing. Original Pictures is run by Nick
Hirst and Kim Todd, who recently won an Emmy for her work on Calgary-made mini series “Fargo.”
-30For hi-res photos visit
Contact: Shannon Guile (204) 997 - 4183 Email: [email protected]
Garth Merkeley (204) 612 - 9633 Email: [email protected]
Brief Company Bio:
With accomplishments ranging from being nominated for three Canadian Comedy Awards,
to appearing yearly at the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival, to 5 star reviews and completely
sold out runs at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, to pitching a sitcom concept to Canadian
broadcasters, Hot Thespian Action continues to entertain audiences with their unique brand
of often physical, sometimes musical, always stripped down sketch comedy.
Here’s what people are saying about Hot Thespian Action:
“As rising comedy stars go, there were none brighter at this year’s [Winnipeg Comedy] fest
than local sketch troupe Hot Thespian Action. [...] If what they accomplished at this year’s
fest doesn’t make them huge Canadian stars, there’s something not at all funny going on in
this country’s comedy biz.” - Brad Oswald, Winnipeg Free Press
“This is about as good as comedy gets, at the Fringe or anywhere else: writing that’s
accessible without sacrificing any of its edge, performers whose variety of skills is just as
impressive as the depth of their talents, and a pace that never lags. HTA bring laugh after
laugh until the show ends, leaving you wanting more.” - CBC
“Their uproarious physical comedy, flawless timing and cleverly written subject matter are
utterly bang-on, and the laughs come just as easily as does the craving to see their shows
again and again.” - Uptown Magazine
“The performances across the board are virtually pitch-perfect, and the troupe’s sense of
sketch comedy structure and pacing is extremely strong. It’s almost depressing how good
they are so young.” – Dean Jenkinson, Writer: This Hour Has 22 Minutes, CBC.
“[HTA] unfailingly produces wildly entertaining sketch comedy that gives the genre a good
name. It’s not just the uniformly adroit performances — beautifully timed, with a physicality
that can be graceful or goofy as required — but the bizarre, brilliant territory this troupe’s
fevered collective brain explores.... Somebody give these folks a TV show. - Jill Wilson,
Winnipeg Free Press.
“...Every thoughtfully penned sketch keeps the laughs flowing so consistently throughout the
hour that it’s a shame it has to end.” - Lindsay Ward, Winnipeg Sun.
Hot Thespian Action
Hot Thespian Action began in 2006 when the three
female members of the group (Shannon Guile,
Jacqueline Loewen and Jane Testar) took a special
studies class in Advanced Mime and Improv at
the University of Winnipeg under the tutelage of
Rick Skene. By the end, the ladies had an in-depth
knowledge of physicality and comedy, as well as a
catalog of hilarious sketches.
With the addition of fellow UofW students Garth
Merkeley and Ryan Miller, the group rounded itself out
and began to work on its 2006 Fringe show Hands On. The show featured a stripped
down minimalist esthetic, inspired by the group’s mime roots, along with a penchant for
the physical and witty.
The critically celebrated sold out show gave way to
2008’s massive hit Hands Off which garnered Hot
Thespian Action five stars from the Winnipeg Free
Press and an interest from many parties, including
the CBC, who subsequently asked HTA to appear
in the 2009 CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival.
HTA has performed yearly at the Winnipeg Fringe
Festival since, garnering 5 star reviews, packed
houses and “Best of Fest” designations every time.
HTA’s relationship with CBC radio has grown over
the years, resulting in HTA writing and performing
in an hour long radio play Pitching the Turkey, which aired nationally on Thanksgiving,
as well as writing and performing several sketches that aired on the national radio show
Laugh Out Loud.
The CBC Winnipeg Comedy Fest has invited HTA
back to their festival every year since 2009, upping
the stakes each time, culminating last year in a set
in one of the nationally televised gala performances
alongside a Canadian icon Alan Thicke as “Thicke’s
Kids,” which aired last spring.
The Troupe:
Shannon Guile
Actor, writer, comedian, stunt performer and mime artist, Shannon Guile
is a woman of action… or maybe just has ADD. Shannon fell in love with
comedy while studying Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg.
She was inspired and sought to produce a mime comedy troupe, which
later morphed into the two-time Canadian Comedy Award Nominated
troupe, Hot Thespian Action. Not confining her talents only to HTA,
Shannon has also performed on independent and professional stages
around Manitoba, including Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s Death of A
Salesman, Manitoba Theatre Centre’s The History of Manitoba and this
coming fall, she will appear in the premiere of local playwright Carolyn
Gray’s The Miser of Middlegate with Theatre Projects Manitoba. Always
physical, Shannon spends a chunk of her time toppling over things, tumbling down other people’s stairs, and getting punched in the face, as you
may have seen in Space Network’s Todd and the Book Of Pure Evil and
Fox’s Home Alone 5. When not performing on stage or screen, Shannon
has devoted herself to producing a mime program for members for the
Deaf community and is helping them develop a troupe that will one day
take over the World… or at least perform for it.
Jacqueline Loewen
Jacqueline could not be happier to be spending her days writing and
performing physical sketch comedy, with Hot Thespian Action. But
on those days when she is not, she’s also very happy to spend time
working in other aspects of the performing arts. Like Fight Directing. She
has choreographed violence for multiple shows at Manitoba Theatre
Centre (including Romeo and Juliet and Gone With The Wind), Prairie
Theatre Exchange, Shakespeare in the Ruins, Manitoba Theatre for
Young People, and Manitoba Opera. Fight directing is also giving way to
Theatrical Directing, at U of M’s Contemporary Opera Lab, Little Opera
Company’s The Velveteen Rabbit, 2011 Fringe’s The Fisherman and
His Soul, most recently assistant directing Canadian Stage’s Macbeth
for Dream in High Park in Toronto, and this fall, assisting at Vancouver
Opera. Some day, she hopes to learn to direct her own life.
Garth Merkeley
With a baby face like that, it may be hard to believe that Garth has been
acting for over 20 years, but it’s true. Apart from his involvement with Hot
Thespian Action, Garth’s work has included such diverse endeavours
as TV acting (Taken in Broad Daylight, The Christmas Hope Lifetime
Network, Don Cherry 2, CBC), film acting (Strings, Full Of It New Line),
stunt work (The Haunting in Connecticut, Lionsgate, Todd and the Book of
Pure Evil, Space Network) and professional theatre. If you’re looking for
a REAL laugh, track down a movie called The Plague and watch James
Vanderbeek shoot Garth in the face. Garth is also a founding member of
Foolish Wit Productions which for the last four years has been creating
bilingual children’s plays and DVDs to teach children about our French
heritage in Canada.
Ryan Miller
Ryan is very excited to be spending this summer acting like a buffoon on
a stage in front of Fringe audiences. Having performed with Hot Thespian
Action for the last 6 years, it is clear Ryan has the ability to make people
laugh, but Ryan’s solo career has taken a more dramatic turn. Ryan’s
credits this year include Gone with the Wind (RMTC), Julius Caesar
(SIR), and the critically acclaimed production of Angels in America:
Perestroika (WJT). Coming up, watch for Ryan and his fellow Hot
Thespian Shannon, in Carolyn Gray’s comedy The Miser of Middlegate
for Theatre Projects Manitoba.
Jane Testar
Jane is a multidisciplinary comedian, regularly performing both improv
(with Outside Joke) and sketch comedy with Hot Thespian Action. Jane
is also a member of the theatre ensemble Foolish Wit, who perform
Commedia Dell’arte and have created and toured two original, bilingual
children’s shows for Canadian Parents for French. She has appeared
in productions with Prairie Theatre Exchange (Little Munsch on the
Prairie) and Théâtre du Grand Cercle (De Bouche à Oreille) and Stephen
Sondheim’s Sunday In the Park With George as part of the MTC Master
Playwright Festival. Jane can also be heard every week on CBC Radio
One with her etiquette advice column, Miss Conduct, in radio sketches
for CBC’s Comedy Factory, and as the host for the CBC Comedy Factory
Hi-res versions available on request.