Interview: Naomi Snieckus is doing it on CBC

On the small screen, Naomi Sniekus can currently be seen playing Bobbi Galka, one of the offbeat teachers at Xavier Academy on CBC’s Mr. D.

Bobbi’s secret relationship with vice-principal Robert Cheeley (Jonathan Torrens) just went public in awkward fashion: she ran up and kissed him full on the mouth near the front office. It’s a relationship that has been simmering all season long, but while Robert wanted their sexual dalliances to evolve into relationship mode, she didn’t. And why would she? Bobbi found him gross to look at but incredible in the sack.

Turns out Snieckus is doing double duty for the CBC, starring alongside her husband and comedy partner, Matt Baram, in Doing It! With Brian & Darla, an online comedy series they co-wrote with Gavin Crawford for CBC Punchline that spoofs life hacks. Brian and Darla peer self-consciously into the camera as they offer helpful hints like placing a kiddie pool of warm, soapy water under your dining room table to put dirty dishes in, or creating a tunnel in a weiner to pump in mustard for a cleaner hot dog.

First of all, did you meet Roberto Alomar when he was on the set of Mr. D this season?
Naomi Snieckus: I didn’t. How do I put this? I like baseball and I enjoy live sports but I’m not like, ‘Oh my God! It’s Roberto Alomar!’ I’m no Gerry Dee. He was crying because he was so happy.

I feel like Mr. D is just an opportunity for Gerry to meet his favourite athletes.
NS: I don’t think you’re far off.

Is it tough when all of your are in the staff room filming scenes for staff meetings?
NS: It is hard to keep it together when we’re in those scenes. And it’s hard for the director to handle it but it adds to the energy of the scene, so it’s worthwhile to have those jokes. You want to be ready so that you’re not warming up after they call ‘Action.’ They always give us a little room to play, but the writing is so strong that we don’t need to. It’s all there. You might discover something in the moment and that’s always welcome.

What’s it like filming in Halifax? Everyone is there, so does it feel a little bit like summer camp?
NS: Total summer camp! We’re all so excited to get there and then on the last day we’re like, ‘I’ll write every day…’ If we shot in Toronto we would have busy lives outside of the show. We love it because we’re all in the same hotel, I bring my dog. It’s lovely.

How many sweat suits do you have in wardrobe?
NS: I have two pairs of track pants and I rotate tops. We have three changes in a day and I’m done my change and having bonbons at the craft table before everybody else. It’s great. And the rest of the girls say, ‘Oh, my shoes are hurting,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, my running shoes are really uncomfortable!’ It’s a joke now that once a season I get to curl my hair and put on a skirt.


Let’s talk about Doing It! With Brian & Darla. How did it come about and how did it get on as part of CBC’s Punchline?
NS: We have this company, The National Theatre of the World, and we’re creating and developing more and more sketch. We started developing these characters and the CBC gave us a call and asked if we had anything we could turn into a web series. We always have 10 things in our pockets that we can pitch or work on. We had this idea and it was originally called How To with Naomi & Matt, but it was us as ourselves rather than characters. We pitched it and then we thought it would be a lot more fun to be characters. We re-vamped the pitch and took it back to them and they still liked it. They gave us a little bit of money and we shot it in three days in our house.

That really is your house.
NS: Every room of our house was used. There were holes in the walls and spaghetti splattered on the walls but every shot looked great.

Matt, can you talk about Punchline? This is yet another outlet for comedy teams like yourselves to get stuff out there that isn’t on YouTube.
Matt Baram: It’s a really great entry-level opportunity for somebody with a great idea that doesn’t cost a lot of money to make. I think CBC is coming around to the concept of getting folks online and then driving them to the TV. Most major networks in Canada are doing this; they can develop new talent. I think we were the first original content on there and I think people are seeing the possibilities. I think they’d love for something on Punchline to translate to something on the network.

If CBC came to you, could you turn Doing It! into a TV series?
MB: We didn’t go into this without the idea of having a half-hour pitch. Brian and Darla would be one aspect of what that show would be.

This sounds like it has the possibility of being something like Smith & Smith.
MB: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know if we’d have an original duo song at the end of it, but yeah. Brian and Darla would fit perfectly into something like that. I would love to do a variety show in front of a live audience and have that live feel and also the sketches. That would be a dream.

Did you base Brian on anyone?
MB: Naomi and I have an imaginary friend named Brian that we blame all of out life missteps on. If someone didn’t take out the garbage, for instance, Naomi will go, ‘Ugh, Brian!’ There is a lot of weigh on his shoulders. He’s kind of there so that other people can blame him.

It must be pretty fun to skewer these life hack sites.
MB: As you satirize these people you realize there is a lot of self-satirization going on. How much time does it save you to blow the centre out of a hot dog weiner? And most of these things in attempting them was detracting minutes from our day.

I feel like this is a natural for a coffee table book.
MB: That’s a great idea. The books would be, How to Do Lovemaking, How to Do Cooking With Brian & Darla … a bunch of garbage ideas to make your life more complicated.

Mr. D airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC; Doing It! With Brian & Darla can be found on CBC Punchline.