At the time of writing, the answer to the titular question of this article would be Studio 1398 on Granville Island. On March 9, I had the pleasure of attending the 1 year anniversary of sketch comedy duo, Carmelahhh, comprised of Carla Mah and Racquel Belmonte.
Joined by performers Brett Skillen, Rae Lynn Carson and Maarten Bayliss, who have appeared in other Carmelahhh productions, Where Are They Now? was a loosely connected production of comedy sketches, celebrating the past year’s worth of Carmelahhh productions.
The show featured original sketches with a largely improvisational quality which included callbacks to other Carmelahhh productions, such as Lifetime of Damage, Birthday Night Live and Blockbuster World.
Where Are They Now?, as a celebration of the young but promising career of the Carmelahhh duo, was so far their most ambitious production to date. Hosted in Studio 1398, the show had a much larger audience than their usual venue, Little Mountain Gallery. The change of venue was not without growing pains in the form of some minor technical hiccups at the beginning of the show. This can largely be attributed to communication issues between the venue and the production during the busy JFL Northwest Festival.
Those hiccups were overcome and soon forgotten due to the charismatic improvisational skills and crowd work of the performers. Before learning of the reasons behind the technical issues after the show, I and other audience members were unaware of whether the missing sound cues were even a mistake at all and not just a well rehearsed skit.
Mah and Belmonte possess the rare mix of similarity and opposition of style that make for a compelling comedy duo. Their undeniable chemistry on the stage is offset perfectly by the duality of their respective performative personalities; Mah playing the gentle, wide eyed optimist to Belmonte’s world weary cynic.
The sketches were well rounded out by supporting performers Skillen, Carson and Bayliss, whose adept character work complemented each scene without stealing the show. I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground for any spin off comedy trios featuring the three.
Carmelahhh have announced that they will be performing a sketch comedy show every month this year. I recommend following them for details on the next show. You won’t be disappointed