Women Fully Clothed presents Older & Hotter, Centennial Theatre, Wednesday, May 9 at 7: 30 p.m.
"MARTY AND EUGENE AND ANDREA AND GILDA."
It may seem like a normal list of friend's names until you realize Jayne Eastwood is talking about comedy legends Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Gilda Radner.
Speaking from her home in Ontario during a recent interview, Eastwood recalls her early days on stage with Toronto's Second City, and casually mentions a roster of impressive performers she calls friends. The list also includes "Danny" Aykroyd and Joe Flaherty, who is also her brotherinlaw.
Eastwood, who has appeared in Canadian stage, film and TV productions for more than 30 years (including the series Little Mosque on the Prairie, and the movies Chicago, Hairspray and My Big Fat Greek Wedding), spent seven months with the troupe, but admits she was shocked when they hired her because improv was definitely out of her comfort zone.
"I'd be better now, I think, but I'm not quick on my feet," she says. "I was more of a scripted kind of actor."
When asked why she decided to audition, she replies quickly: "Because I'm nuts."
She calls the audition "terrifying," noting performers had to go through a revolving door on stage five times and each time come out as a different character.
Despite her relatively short time with the comedy troupe, however, Eastwood says the cast treats her like one of the gang.
"We are Second City alumni till the day we die. Once you're in it, you are so in it," she says.
It's not surprising to learn then that Eastwood is currently on tour with some of her Second City family members in a show called Women Fully Clothed, which also features Robin Duke, Kathryn Greenwood, and Teresa Pavlinek, all known for their work in Canadian comedy, and all Second City alumni.
The current production is a sequel to the group's original and
critically acclaimed first show titled Women Fully Clothed. This incarnation comes with the subtitle, "Older and Hotter."
Eastwood says it was Duke's idea to create the show about nine years ago.
"I think she was feeling frustrated coming up to Toronto from Los Angeles and just seeing the lack of work that there is for funny women of our age," she says. "Men don't seem to know how to write for women of our age, so there aren't a lot of parts."
Duke wrote Women Fully Clothed in collaboration with the other three cast members.
"Everybody's from Second City, so everybody's used to writing except me, I'm not the writer in the group," says Eastwood, but adds about her contribution: "There's some one-liners that I can point to in that show. I seem to be the queen of one-liners."
She explains that Women Fully Clothed is a tightly written show with specific beats, and each scene is connected by an arc. Improv is only used in an emergency, such as when someone forgets her lines, which doesn't happen often.
"We like to say it's like the slings and arrows of everyday life," says Eastwood of the show's content, noting they don't pander to any one age group, so the show appeals to men and women ages 20 and up. "I think because the stuff we do means a lot to us, it means a lot to the audience too. There's some major identity laughter coming from the audience."
Eastwood says the show is sketch comedy for gown-ups. "It's sketch comedy with music, but it's like you're coming to see a play," she explains. "Every night is fun on that stage.
To have people laughing for two hours straight, it doesn't get any better than that."
This tour has mainly featured one-off shows rather than longer runs, so Eastwood says it has felt like being in a band on a concert tour. "It feels pretty fresh every time we do it."
When asked if there have been any memorable moments on the tour like someone falling off stage, Eastwood replies in true comedy fashion with a hearty laugh: "No. I'm always afraid I'm going to fall off stage."
Women Fully Clothed presents "Older and Hotter" at Centennial Theatre Wednesday, May 9, at 7: 30 p.m. For tickets and info visit www.centennialtheatre.com.
To view clips from Women Fully Clothed visit the website www.womenfullyclothed.com.