Mike Robertson has been improvising for the past eleven years, the last seven of which with Rapid Fire Theatre. Mike is a regular performer at RFTs Theatresports and Chimprov shows, as part of This is the Dawning of the Age of Hilarious with Joey Lucius and the video game inspired madness of PRESS START. Mike works doing freelance video/audio editing and videography for assorted arts and education organizations all over Canada. Mike is one of the co-founders of HighWire Films and within the company works as an writer, director, producer, editor, and cinematographer. His films have screened in Canada, the United States and Europe. HighWire Films Beartrap was nominated for best film and best writing at the 2010 AMPIA awards. Mike formerly found success in the band Hot Panda. Check out some of his work at http://www.highwirefilms.ca.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE:
TV show: The Simpsons, Wonder Showzen, South Park
Actor: Michelle Williams, Michael Keaton
Food: Sloppy Joes
Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sherlock Junior, The Guatemalan Handshake
Director: Buster Keaton, Woody Allen, Werner Herzog
Book(s): The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Author: Chris Ware (comic book artist)
Album, song, artist: 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields
Place in Edmonton: The Garneau movie theatre
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE IMPROV GAMES?
I love Dinosaur Office. I don’t remember the origin story of that game, but I think I was one of the inventors, and it always makes me proud when I see others playing it. Its this whole thing of taking cliches and making them really big by adding dinosaurs.
The Forehead Game is great too. Well start doing a scene then periodically put our hand to our forehead which is the audiences cue to shout out the next line. I love audience participation. The audience knows just as much as we do as to where the story is going. I like putting the power into the audiences hands.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE VIDEO SIDE OF RFT?
Well, RFT is an improv company, but we haven’t really done any improvised videos. The original idea for the video things was to do sketches, and the video aspect helps brand RFT as an all-around comedy company. It takes it beyond straight-up improv. The videos really connect with a wider group of people.
WHAT DOES YOUR VIDEO WRITING PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
For RFT stuff we actually had a writing room and get everyone to submit their ideas. For my personal work, like the stuff I do through High Wire Films, I come up with the seed of an idea, and sometimes we write it down, but often we just workshop the idea through improv. Working with improvisers on videos makes it easy to come into a video meeting with very little and flesh out the concepts. A lot of time I wont even know
what location well be shooting at, but we always figure it out when we get there. You have to trust yourself to be able to pull something off no matter what the situation is. That’s definitely a big part of the way I work.
TELL US ABOUT HIGHWIRE FILMS:
Myself and (former RFT player) Arlen Konopaki started HighWire Films when we came to Edmonton. We were about 18 or 19 and wanted to make movies, and this was our outlet for that. Since around 2003 we have created lots of comedy sketches, short films and we have even three feature films. Of course, our
films are littered with RFT members, they are the funniest people in town and they are so easy to work with.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE VIDEOS YOU’VE PRODUCED?
For RFT I really like The Berry Farm is another good one. And style=’mso-bidi-font-style:normal’>Nicky Nicky Nine Doors is also excellent. I’ve heard a lot of people say it isn’t funny it’s just weird, and those people will one day realize that they are wrong.
YOU’RE ALSO A STAND-UP COMEDIAN. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THAT?
I’ve wanted to do stand-up since I was a kid, but I never really made a commitment to pursue it. I was always writing jokes, but I never got on stage. I took a back door approach to doing it eventually though. It started with Hang Time at the Black Dog a few years ago. That was me and Arlen hosting and we mainly stuck to improv and riffed off each other and the audience. It was great way to build a rapport with the stand-up community. Once I finally started to perform I found that I didn’t bomb. It was a smooth
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ARTISTS TRYING TO GET INTO THE COMEDY SCENE?
Anyone who wants to get into comedy should do as much stuff in as many ways as possible. I realized that it wasn’t that difficult, and if you learn the principles of the disciplines youll be able to
become a more rounded performer and comedian in anything you do.