Tag Archives: Baroness Von Sketch Show

Carolyn Taylor scores a perfect 10 with Crave’s I Have Nothing

The last project I saw Carolyn Taylor in was Baroness Von Sketch Show. The five-season sketch series for CBC featured Taylor and fellow executive producers/performers Jennifer Whalen, Aurora Browne and Meredith MacNeill playing outrageous characters.

Now Taylor is back in I Have Nothing playing just one: herself.

Available for streaming on Crave, I Have Nothing follows Taylor on a quest to choreograph the perfect, full-length pairs figure skating routine to Whitney Houston’s 1992 iconic hit song, “I Have Nothing.” What first started as a bit of a lark quickly turned into something a lot more daunting and real once legendary figure skater and choreographer Sandra Bezic signed on to not only help Taylor craft the routine but elicited David Pelletier, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Kurt Browning, Paul Martini and Barbara Underhill to help out.

We spoke to Taylor about how I Have Nothing Came about and its journey to TV.

This did kind of start as a lark and then it got serious, right? Once Sandra said, ‘OK, I’m going to connect you with people, figure skaters, and my reputation is on the line.’ So is the realization that we saw on screen legitimately the realization where it dawns on you, ‘Am I really going to do this?’
Carolyn Taylor: Yeah, when she says, this is no longer a joke. Now knowing, of course, it’s still a comedy docuseries, we’re still leaning into funny stuff and having those moments. When I’m working with those skaters, I’m legit doing my best. I’m doing my best, but I’m not, and I am leaning into my own foibles at the same time. It’s real, but it’s not a mockumentary.

Obviously, whenever there’s an Olympics in Canada, I have that certain amount of pride. It was so cool for you to actually tell your personal story about your feelings for Katerina Witt. Unlike on Baroness Von Sketch, for instance, where you were playing characters, this is really you talking about your feelings at the time.
CT: There is such a vulnerability to that because as a comedian and actor, there’s a critical distance and you’re summarizing what you see and you’re observing and you’re assuming characters. But then to sort of strip that away and lean into it and take the piss out of yourself, but at the same time just be yourself, but then sometimes lean into the more absurd parts of your own personality. It was the biggest challenge. It was a huge challenge. It was hard, and it was fun. [Executive producer and director] Zach Russell and I, we would just talk, we were constantly having existential talks about the nature of reality and what are dreams and what is fantasy and what is time and what is it to have something and what is it to have nothing. I think as you get deeper into the series, it keeps tilting and tilting reality, but yet it’s actually happening. It’s happening, but we’re leaning into some quirks and weird shit too.

Sandra Bezic, Carolyn Taylor and Kurt Browning

This is a unique idea to pitch to production companies. How did you pitch it to Julie Bristow at Catalyst?
CT: Well, there was an immediate connection. A friend of mine had worked with Julie and said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to pitch Julie. She just started a new production company.’ And so I met with her, and I wasn’t even sure I was even going to pitch this. It was just like, ‘Hey, let’s chat.’ She’s like, ‘Anything you’re thinking of?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I do have this obsession, this skating routine. I’d like to turn it into a series.’ And she was like, ‘I was obsessed with Katerina too. I was a skater.’ And she got it. And she understands the queer sensibility behind it. She also has connections in the skating world, and she is someone who puts trust in the people she collaborates with. So she and Vibika Bianchi at Catalyst are amazing. They said, ‘We want you to see your vision through, we want to help.’ And they really did have the connections and resources and the niche interest in this very niche project.

And then the same thing kind of happened with Bell and Crave. We talked to a few networks, but it was Bell who understood it. They understood that they didn’t understand parts, and we had to talk it through, and they were, but I am so grateful that they got behind it and said, yeah, this is our kind of weird, and we want to try it and we trust and let’s go for it. So they were great.

And was it Sandra Bezic who opened that door to Kristi Yamaguchi and other high-profile figure skaters? It’s one thing to pitch networks and production companies, but what about getting those names on board?
CT: That was definitely Sandra. Those are all people she’s choreographed, people she’s worked with over the years on Stars On Ice, the Olympics, other competitions, et cetera, and they all know each other. They all like each other. So anything celebrating their sport and their cohort of skaters and Sandra and that world… I mean, they were skeptical. I think some of them were like, ‘What is this?’ Everyone was like that. But we also encouraged them. We said, ‘You’ve got doubts. Lay ’em out.’ So they really played in the world, but the things they’re saying are true. But it was pretty amazing that everyone got on board.

Let’s get a little bit into the writing. My initial question was about the writing and whether you were the sole writer, but it sounds as though there was a lot of improv.
CT: It was unscripted. It was Zack and I working on the beat sheets. We wrote beats and we had a couple of people consult his story editors who came in. Alison Johnson was a story editor on the project throughout. So she was on set and would have ideas, and we collaborated at the end of the day and tried to figure out what the next day and what was going to happen. It really was chaos and control coming together because you couldn’t know.

What do you want viewers to experience when they watch I Have Nothing?
CT: I want them to feel something. I want them to go on the ride and know that I am opening myself up and saying, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, come and let’s go on this ride together.’ I would hope that they do feel also some joy from it. I was talking to Xtra Magazine about that idea of queer joy and, ‘It’s okay, and we can have queer joy and we can have celebratory moments, and it’s okay if things work out and if there are triumphs.’

I’d be happy if it just generates conversation and questioning why we pursue what we pursue and why we don’t. And the 15-year-old who lives in us and who are we now versus who we were then who did we valorize and what would it mean to meet them?

Season 1 of I Have Nothing is available now on Crave.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


From award-winning comedian, producer and actor Carolyn Taylor, the Crave original comedy I Have Nothing premieres on September 23

From a media release:

Crave’s Original docu-comedy series, I HAVE NOTHING, drops Saturday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET with all six episodes, immediately following a special screening event at the Just for Laughs Festival in Toronto featuring star Carolyn Taylor and special guests. Created by Taylor, and produced by Catalyst and Blue Ant Studios, in association with Bell Media, the series follows Carolyn (BARONESS VON SKETCH) on a comical quest to choreograph the perfect, full-length pairs figure skating routine to Whitney Houston’s 1992 iconic hit song, “I Have Nothing.” The series will be available to Crave audiences in English and French.

Motivated by a teenaged obsession for the 1988 Calgary Olympics that also sparked Carolyn’s queer awakening, I HAVE NOTHING begins as a lighthearted nostalgic comedy and quickly morphs into a high-stakes, real-life mission for Carolyn, with a few wild detours along the way. Joining Carolyn on her mission are legends from the world of figure skating including Sandra Bezic, David Pelletier, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Brian Orser, Kurt Browning, Paul Martini, Barbara Underhill, Katarina Witt, Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Adam Rippon, Elladj Baldé, and Elizabeth Manley, as well as award-winning comedian, actor, and writer, Mae Martin. Guest stars include Jully Black, Sabrina Jalees, and Elvira Kurt.

The season culminates in a performance of Carolyn’s one-of-a-kind routine, performed in front of a live audience of figure-skating royalty, die-hard skating fans, and Carolyn’s teen idols.

Episodic synopses are outlined below:

Episode 1 – Package For The Bird
After years of dreaming, Carolyn finally begins her quest to choreograph a pairs figure skating routine to Whitney Houston’s 1992 iconic hit song, “I Have Nothing”. First step: find her skaters.

Episode 2 – Do You Know About The Cold War
Carolyn gets a reality check from some Olympic medalists, but finds her groove with a social media superstar.

Episode 3 – Love is Pain
Carolyn tries to learn everything she can before her first rehearsal, with the help of some 1988 Olympic skating royalty.

Episode 4 – No Longer A Joke
It’s the first rehearsal, and Carolyn is struggling to convince her Olympic skaters that any of this is a good idea.

Episode 5 – Today Is Wednesday
With two days left to choreograph, Carolyn throws the skaters an Olympic curveball. Then, suffers separation anxiety when they leave.

Episode 6 – Buffoon Makes Good
Dream and reality collide as Carolyn and her skaters prepare for the final skate. As the night draws closer and the audience loads in, Carolyn tries to stay calm.

I HAVE NOTHING is produced by Catalyst and Blue Ant Studios, in association with Crave. The series is created, directed, and executive produced by Carolyn Taylor, and directed and executive produced by Zack Russell. For Catalyst, Vibika Bianchi and Julie Bristow are executive producers. For Blue Ant Studios, Laura Michalchyshyn, Aileen Gardner, and Sam Sniderman are executive producers.


Link: ‘Baroness von Sketch Show’ star to lead figure skating comedy for Crave from Catalyst, Blue Ant Studios

From Manori Ravindran of Variety:

Link: ‘Baroness von Sketch Show’ star to lead figure skating comedy for Crave from Catalyst, Blue Ant Studios
“Baroness von Sketch Show” star Carolyn Taylor will front a new unscripted comedy series for Canadian streaming service Crave, produced through Catalyst and Blue Ant Studios. Continue reading.


Casting announced for CBC’s new original comedy Run the Burbs

From a media release:

With production underway in and around Toronto and Hamilton, CBC and Pier 21 Films are confirming casting for new, original comedy series RUN THE BURBS, from award-winning comedian, writer, and actor Andrew Phung and his best friend and collaborator filmmaker Scott Townend (The Secret Marathon).

Premiering on CBC and CBC Gem in Winter 2022, Phung executive produces, writes, and stars in the series as a stay-at-home dad – Andrew Pham – living and loving with his entrepreneurial, executive wife and two kids. The Phams are a young, bold Vietnamese-South Asian-Canadian family taking a different approach to living life to the fullest, while changing the way we think about contemporary family values and life in the burbs.

Joining Phung on screen forming the balance of the Pham family are actor and comedian Rakhee Morzaria (Note to Self, Private Eyes) playing Andrew’s wife Camille Pham; and rising young stars Zoriah Wong (Nancy Drew) and Roman Pesino (Odd Squad) as their children Khia and Leo Pham. The Pham fam are joined in the burbs by a cast of friends, family, and neighbours played by an illustrious roster of Canadian talent including Ali Hassan (CBC’s Laugh Out Loud) as Camille’s father Ramesh, YouTube sensation Julie Nolke (Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self) as Camille’s best friend Sam, Jonathan Langdon (Utopia Falls) as next door neighbour Hudson, Simone Miller (Detention Adventure) as Hudson’s daughter Mannix, Samantha Wan (Second Jen) as local bubble tea café owner Cathy, Candy Palmater (The Candy Show) as neighbour Candy, comedian Chris Locke (Workin’ Moms, Mr. D) as neighbour Sebastian, and Baroness von Sketch Show’s Aurora Browne as neighbourhood permit assassin Barb.

“We set out to make a show that goes big. To showcase a family that truly supports one another while going all out every week. It’s a bit of a throwback to classic family sitcoms in the burbs, but with a family that you’ve never seen reflected on television before,” comments Townend.

“We are so hyped and proud of this incredible group of performers that have joined us on this journey. We are introducing Canada to some amazingly talented new faces they may not have met before – including the amazing Rakhee Morzaria – alongside comedy rockstars like Ali Hassan, Aurora Brown, and Candy Palmater – they are all going to blow audiences away and take on the burbs like no one has before. We’re honoured to have this opportunity and it’s been our absolute pleasure working with CBC, Pier 21 Films, and Endeavor Content as we bring Run the Burbs to life,” adds Phung.

Pier 21 Films Executive Producer Laszlo Barna adds, “We are so fortunate to be working with such a talented cast led by our star and co-creator Andrew Phung. We can’t wait for the world to join us in the burbs and meet the Phams and their unforgettable friends and neighbours.”

“We are so excited to watch Andrew’s deeply personal story about family come to life through this remarkable cast and creative team,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual and Sports, CBC. “RUN THE BURBS authentically reflects how Canadians are building new communities in suburbs across the country, and we can’t wait to share it with audiences this winter.”

A CBC original series, RUN THE BURBS is produced by Pier 21 Films. As announced earlier this year, Endeavor Content has picked up the international sales rights. Executive Producers are Laszlo Barna, Nicole Butler and Bill Lundy (for Pier 21 Films), Andrew Phung, Scott Townend, and Aleysa Young. Shebli Zarghami serves as Executive Producer and Showrunner. Jessica Daniel is producer. Co-Executive Producers are Matt Kippen and Wendy Litner. Nelu Handa is Consulting Producer. Season One directors include Aleysa Young, Peter Wellington, Joyce Wong, Melanie Orr, and Justin Wu.


Cameras roll on Season 2 of Pretty Hard Cases

From a media release:

Cameron Pictures, CBC, and NBCUniversal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, confirm that production is underway on the sophomore season of the highly buzzed-about buddy-cop drama PRETTY HARD CASES. Filmed in and around Toronto, this season features 12 one-hour episodes and new faces joining the all-star cast.

Following the series’ critically acclaimed broadcast and streaming debut on CBC and CBC Gem this year, season two of season two of PRETTY HARD CASES is set to premiere in winter 2022.

Starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) as the optimistic, over-achieving Detective Sam Wazowski, and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is The New Black) as the tough and unapologetic Detective Kelly Duff, PRETTY HARD CASES is a fun and honest portrayal of two radically different Guns and Gangs detectives in their early 40s. This season finds the pair in brand new territory, both at work and in their personal lives. As official partners for the first time, they have never been better at blending their different skills to get the job done. In the spirit of moving forward, they’re also trying to leave their baggage behind. Sam is now an empty nester with a new love life, while Kelly is forging fresh bonds with her estranged sisters. When they find themselves up against a new age gang that doesn’t operate by the same old rules, Sam and Kelly are forced to put their lives on the line as they attempt the riskiest takedown of their careers.

Joining the cast is award-winning actress Sonja Smits (American Gods/Eleventh Hour) as Judy Wazowski, K.C. Collins (Clarice/The Strain) as Detective Len Grierson, and Ben Bass (Rookie Blue/Burden of Truth) as DS Brad Michaels.

Reprising their roles are Karen Robinson (Schitt’s Creek) as tough, sardonic, Unit Commander Edwina Shanks; Al Mukadam (Miss Sloan) as Detective Taai Nazeer, a paragon of non-toxic masculinity who doesn’t have a problem working with complicated women; Percy Hynes White (The Gifted) as Sam’s charming hustler son Elliot Wazowski; Katie Douglas (Ginny & Georgia) as Elliot’s streetwise girlfriend, Jackie Sullivan; and Daren A. Herbert (Kim’s Convenience) as Detective Nathan Greene, Kelly’s on-again-off-again friend with benefits.

PRETTY HARD CASES is co-created by Tassie Cameron (Mary Kills People, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue, The Robber Bride) and Sherry White (Little Dog, Frontier, Ten Days in the Valley, Rookie Blue).

A CBC original series, PRETTY HARD CASES is produced by Cameron Pictures in association with CBC and NBCUniversal International Studios. The series is created by Sherry White and Tassie Cameron, who also serve as Co-Showrunners. Sherry White, Tassie Cameron, Amy Cameron and Alex Patrick are Executive Producers. Wanda Chaffey is Producer and Caledonia Brown is Associate Producer. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; and Sarah Adams is Director of Current Production, Drama. Kelsey Balance is SVP, Scripted Programming for NBCUniversal International Studios. NBCUniversal Global Distribution will distribute the series.

Writers include Sherry White, Jillian Locke, Tassie Cameron, Keavy Lynch, Carina Samuels, Chris Roberts, Seneca Aaron. Directors are Jordan Canning, Sherry White, Samir Rehem, Mars Horodyski, Cory Bowles, Grant Harvey, Madison Thomas, Weyni Mengesha, John Stead, John Fawcett, Gail Harvey, and Winnifred Jong.