James and Jamesy are brewing up a laughter filled evening when they bring their holiday show, “O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy,” to the Sanderson Centre on Friday, December 9.
The multi-award winning Canadian comedy duo, created by Canadian comedians, Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles, take their audience through a journey of imagination and friendship.
“The spirit of this show really transcends any holiday,” said Malkin, known as James. “We nudge a room full of adults to give themselves permission to relax and play a little.”
Malkin said that allowing their audience to connect with their inner child is what elevates the experience at this show.
“It’s very common for people as they grow older to be told ways that they should be and ways that they shouldn’t be,” he said. “”Our show, one of the characters is so peculiar, just his very existence, and I think it helps people feel like they’re not. It makes it easier for them to encourage the character, so there’s this back and forth with the audience. Throughout the show we invite our audience to play, we offer these ongoing invitations into the world of fun we are creating, and for the most part, we’re successful.”
The show follows an unlikely friendship between oddball Jamesy, who doesn’t leave his flat, and James who comes over for tea once a week.
“James is Jamesy’s only connection to the outside world,” Malkin said. “James lacks imagination and Jamesy doesn’t see beyond his apartment. Over the course of the show, James helps Jamesy see the audience and experience the world, while Jamesy helps James into the world of imagination. They cause a bit of a Christmas catastrophe, but the entire journey is a splendid, fantastical adventure.”
The show, described as a classic British Pantos or Vaudeville style performance, is considered family friendly, but the duo encourages adults at every stage of life to dive into the full experience.
“We don’t advertise it as a kids’ show because we feel that adults have the most to gain from it,” he said. “Having kids in the audience is great because they laugh at different things, and the audience gets to enjoy the kids enjoying those things. It is ideal to have all ages, as long as they are able to pay attention and engage. We really want the focus to be on what we are creating together.”
After working together on a community theatre show, Malkin and Knowles knew one thing, that they loved working together. The duo put together their first show, Superhero Boyband, and continued creating shows after its success.
“We were interested in creating the same kind of shows that involved our audience members,” Malkin said. “We worked with physical comedians and clowns in Vancouver and happened upon our characters through improvisation. We toured fringe festivals, and loved touring so we started renting theatres and promoting our shows.”
Since 2012, the duo’s shows have been performed over 750 times across Canada, the United States and the UK, selling over 80,000 tickets.
The performance in Brantford is one of 42 shows across 35 cities this winter. Malkin said he is looking forward to being in cities they have never been to before and hopes the show impacts each audience along the way.
“People often share with us how special the show was for them and how much they needed it,” he said. “The world needs a lot of light and laughter right now, after all of the social isolation for the last few years, we are doing our best to provide that.”