Joleen Ballendine

Joleen has been improvising since 2007. As a high school student, she won several awards and competed in Ottawa at the National Improv Games. That year Joleen won Most Valuable Improvisor. Shortly after she was asked to join world renown improv company Rapid Fire Theatre. Joleen is the associate director of Education with Rapid Fire and is a senior player performing weekly in Theatre Sports, Maestro and Chimprov (a long form show). Some of her notable troupes include DotDotDot, Rå Power, and Z-Said. She is also the creator and lead instructor for the At-Risk-Youth Project, and recently started a program for kids called the Kidprovisors.

Teaching and performing has made a traveler of Joleen. She has been all over Canada, The US, and Europe. Recent trips include Toronto, Vancouver, Arizona, New York, Berlin, Würzburg, Munich, Vienna, Ljubljana, Zurich, and Oslo.

When Joleen is not improvising she can be found acting and writing. She just finished writing and starring in Edmonton’s award-winning television show, Caution: May Contain Nuts. The show will be airing on APTN come spring of 2017. Joleen draws inspiration from Rock and Roll, dogs and high kicks, so watch out!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE:

TV show: Golden Girls
Actor: Bette Davis. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is my classic Halloween staple. All About Eve is also a go-to.
Food: Cold Chinese food.
Video Game: Mario Kart.
Book(s): Disgrace by J.M Coetzee
Website: www.rapidfiretheatre.com of course!
Piece of clothing: My cowboy boots.
Local bands: For the record, this is an unfair question! Ill feel bad about the ones I dont say. Christian Hansen, even though hes since moved away. The Malmo Boys, thats my brothers band so I have to give them a shout out. And anything with the Old Ugly label because Im their video vixen and have to represent!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST EMBARASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?

During Halloween Theatresports, two or three years ago, the last punishment we were dealt was Zombie McDonalds. They blended a Big Mac Meal together and made us drink the sludge. The moment I took a gulp I puked on the Varcona stage in front of a sold out theatre. The worst part is that Tim Mikula didnt see that I had puked in the cup. He was being all cocky drinking the goop and serving himself seconds, and then he took my cup and drank my vomit! It was pretty bad.

HOW ABOUT YOUR GOLDEN MOMENT?

Some of my best moments have been with DOT DOT DOT, Jesse McPhees and my long-form CHiMPROV group. Theres nothing like creating a 45-minute story and having the audience scream and cheer at the ending.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT LONG-FORM VERSUS SHORT-FORM IMPROV?

Long-form gives me more of an artistic thrill. Long-form is more challenging in the way that story is the most important and you need to make your characters really matter, because youre going to be with them for a very long time. Storytelling is one of my strengths.

Short-form took me longer to get good at it. It relies on making joke after joke after joke. My sense of humour can be very different, so figuring out your audience quickly is the key to short-form.

WHATS THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL IMPROV SCENE?

Heart. I know thats really cheesy, but I tell my young students, youre not a character. Youre care-actor. The audience has to care and believe you. As much as we love getting laughs, its always better to have the audience go, awww. Thats a lot harder to get out of them. Theyre there to laugh they dont expect to have their heart broken.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEACHING ENDEVOURS?

I do a ton of teaching. Im a freelance artist so I make my living off this shit. Thats a good quote eh? Through RFT Im the head of the At-Risk-Youth Program, and Ive taught classes with students as young as six all the way up to the GeriActors a senior theatre group. One time at the Nosebowl there were three generations of people that I had taught sitting in the audience. They were a whole family. I had taught the mom in an adults workshop; the grandfather in the GeriActors and the granddaughter was actually on stage performing. We took a picture together it was sweet, and goes to show that improv truly is for everyone.

CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING THAT NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT YOU?

I have two toothbrushes. One lives in my shower, and the other lives by my sink. This allows me to brush my teeth in both locations. I always make sure I have two.