by Amanda Lee
“Two Weird Ladies Bomb the Fringe” recently rocked the Toronto Fringe and has moved west to ‘The Hammer’ for a run at the Hamilton Fringe Festival.
Written by comedy duo Laura Salvas and Mandy Sellers, the sketch show is a labyrinth of eccentric comedy spun from reality, insanity, awkwardness and rage. As it says on the packet, it’s a “fun, fast-paced show designed to self-destruct in 60 minutes”. Toronto-based Salvas and Sellers have been performing together for two years now in over 50 shows, after meeting at Toronto’s Second City Conservatory program. The comedy pair are relaxed and casual in their interactions, playfully teasing each other like sisters. It’s not hard to imagine Salvas is the more uptight, organized big sister; while Sellers is the younger sibling who goofs around and considers Salvas to be ‘the pretty one’. (Seller’s headshot on their website credits her as, “Mandy Sellers, uglier than Laura”).
Before forming Two Weird Ladies, Sellers and Salvas both have an impressive amount of experience in stand-up comedy, having performed in a number of other sketch troops. Sellers was also nominated for the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Female Improviser in 2011. The pair had already created some of their material that went into “Two Weird Ladies Bomb the Fringe” when they entered the Toronto Fringe lottery. Unlike a typical sketch show, Sellers and Salvas structured their show with some cohesion. The duo says they decided to write the show with an overarching story line, in with the sketches flows seamlessly. Salvas said, “We decided early to create a beginning, middle and end to their show.” Two Weird Ladies played with ideas such as Sellers being a terrible sketch partner and literally ending each scene with a bomb. “Which is so cheap,” Sellers interject. “And everyone dies!” At that point Sellers thought, “Wow! That’s the through-line for our show.” Sellers admits to being of an improviser in the duo, who would happily improvise an entire show, while Salvas is more the writer. In “Two Weird Ladies Bomb the Fringe” the pair struck a happy medium – though there isn’t a static script, there is a structure and flow in place.
Two Weird Ladies say their sketch comedy often originates from an idea based on their own experience, such as the skit ‘Blind Date’ where in the show the Two Weird Ladies stress out preparing for a blind date together.
“I did go on blind date once and had a roommate who was beautiful,” says Salvas. “I was so worried that everything was wrong with me. And when we did meet, he was hideous,” she laughs. The couple exaggerate the situation in their writing, asking, “What things can we list that are wrong with us?”
Unlike other comedy troops the couple have performed in, Salvas and Sellers write their material together. They can be found sitting side-by-side in a coffee shop over their laptops, rifting back and forth. Salvas says, “If it makes us laugh, it goes in.”
Salvas and Sellers’ own comedy partner heroes are Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. The Two Weird Ladies’ first experience of working together was on a Fey and Dratch sketch at Second City. “We got to play people we respect,” says Sellers, who is also a big fan of Fey’s ‘Bossypants‘ and cites what Fey has to say in her book about improv. The couple attribute their successful partnership is due to sharing a
comedic sensibility. “Similar, but different enough,” says Salvas. And the Two Weird Ladies admit they have a similar work ethic, are driven and ambitious—which is evident given each of them hold down full time respectable jobs by day, while creating their Fringe show by night. They also organized a unique fundraiser, ‘Two Weird Ladies Sell Out!’ where they duo auctioned off the opportunity for people to use their name as the “whore-faced bride” or “the guy who got banged in the bathroom at prom”.
Two Weird Ladies say they’d like to take their show to other fringe shows around Canada, as well as to their hometowns, and their goal is to write another show together. “Our next show will be ‘Two Weird Ladies Go Shopping’,” Salvas says deadpan. “Where we just going shopping. Just shopping. No jokes.”
Salvas and Sellers don’t set out to write specifically with a female audience in mind, but a lot of their material is inspired from their lives, “and inherently things women can relate to,” says Salvas. Two
Weird Ladies admit neither of them is “super girly” (but do confess to being “very nerdy”). Sellers is a self-confessed ‘comedy nerd/ music nerd/TV nerd’ “Just nerd,” she admits. “I know a lot of obscure facts about things.” While Salvas has an impressive knowledge of ‘Saved by the Bell‘. The couple throw quirky popular culture references into their work, such as a nod to ‘Back to the Future‘ and ‘Star Wars‘.
“Two Weird Ladies Bomb the Fringe” the first Fringe experience for both Salvas and Sellers and their first time receiving so many reviews for their work. “In so many episodes of ‘Murder She Wrote‘ where someone gets terrible review, they die,” says Sellers. “It felt like that.” Sitting there and hitting the refresh button on their computers obviously paid off. The talented comedy duo have not only received positive reviews from the critics, but also found themselves on this week’s cover of Hamilton’s weekly newspaper, View.
Saturday July 28th – 7:00pm
Sunday July 29th – 1:00pm