Tag Archives: Jennifer Whalen

Preview: Baroness von Sketch Show deals more hilarity in Season 3

Hot on the heels of Baroness von Sketch Show‘s well-deserved Canadian Screen Award wins and continued kudos from American attention thanks to IFC picking the program up, the funny Canadian ladies are back for Season 3 on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Once again, writers, stars and executive producers Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen simply nail it with hilarious characters and dead-funny views in sketches both timely and evergreen. While some Canadian periodicals write lazy columns decrying a lack of funny at the CBC, I say the network has never been stronger because of Baroness, Still Standing, Schitt’s Creek, Mr. D and Kim’s Convenience. (The jury is still out on 22 Minutes, thanks to behind the scenes shakeups.)

The return episode, “Is that you Karen?” bursts out of the gate with immediate laughs, as two ladies who haven’t seen each other in 20 years reconnect in the oddest and most ludicrous of ways. And that’s before the revamped opening credits roll. Then, in the rat-a-tat roll out of sketches, viewers get reflections on the rites of spring (with three of the four ladies dressed as dudes), the dangers of accepting a ride home from a co-worker, rogue cops and what could happen when the barista gets the name wrong on your coffee cup.

Whenever I speak to folks about the television shows Baroness von Sketch almost always comes up. There’s a reason for that. With tight writing, stellar performances (MacNeill’s over-the-top physical comedy is a standout) and truly relatable topics, the baronesses are hitting a comedy home run every week.

Baroness von Sketch Show airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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Baroness von Sketch Show lands on CBC

“We didn’t want to make a thing that would sit on a shelf. We wanted it on TV as soon as possible.” Carolyn Taylor certainly got her wish: after being greenlit last March by CBC, Baroness von Sketch Show is hitting the air, a rocket ride by Canadian TV production standards.

Debuting Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on CBC, Baroness von Sketch Show stars Taylor and fellow sketch comic veterans Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen, who turn a lens on society and present a satirical take on life. Like City’s cancelled-too-soon Sunnyside, Baroness is shot on-location, though the settings are everyday spots like restaurants and office cubicles rather than the Third World War.

“We wanted the characters and situations to feel relatable,” Taylor explains during a break filming in an empty corner of CBC’s Toronto headquarters. “There is no laugh track and it has a single-camera vibe.” Taylor took her series pitch to Frantic Films over two years ago; after bringing on MacNeill, Browne and Whalen, a sizzle reel was shot and shopped around. Taylor always envisioned Baroness broadcast on CBC, saying the aesthetic fit best there. Production moved at a quick clip, with guerrilla-style filming across Toronto in locations like Woodbine Racetrack, Queen St. West, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Dundas St. and Scarborough. They’ve also had to make changes on the fly: a wedding chapel was converted into a massage parlour for one skit.

“It’s all been a bit of a blur,” Whalen recalls. “We had a great writers’ room with air and light and shelves and snacks. And then we’ve had wonderful, funny people that we admire come in and play with us. I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Would you like to come and put on your space suit now?’ ‘Yes, I would like nothing more than to do that!'” She notes Jon Dore, Ennis Esmer, Craig Brown, Ann Pornel, Alex Tindal and Toby Burner among those guest-starring in sketches.

How did the quartet come up with the title of their show?

“A baroness is not even the lowest level of aristocracy,” Browne says. “You can actually buy it for yourself. There is a whole swath of women who might have been widows and it gave them a license to go a little kooky. It seemed to have a nice mix of self-entitlement and weirdness. It just felt right and it’s a nice contrast to the stupidity that occurs on the show.”

Baroness von Sketch Show airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.

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