Shoshana Sperling and Lisa Brooke are comedic artists, best friends, and supermoms “ready to party like it’s 1999” at Feel the Burl — a comedy cabaret series that they are co-hosting at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre on Friday, January 31st, 2020 and Friday, February, 28th, 2020. Featuring surprise local guests specializing in musical theatre, stand-up, or drag plus surprise local guests, they are prepared to get totally out of control — but only until 10pm (because … parenting). Shoshana Sperling is a writer, voice talent, and JUNO-nominated musician who has opened for Jann Arden and is a contributing writer for a variety of magazines, including Today’s Parent and Chatelaine. Lisa Brooke is an alumnus of The Second City and recently worked as the show writer on CBC’s daytime series ‘The Goods.’
We interviewed the duo about the highlight of their careers, their friendship, and what inspires their comedy. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
What is Feel the Burl about and how was the idea born?
Shoshana: Well, Tammy Fox, the captain of BPAC asked if Shoshana wanted to host a cabaret with locals and more. Shoshana agreed if she could do it with her writing partner and BFF, Lisa Brooke. The show is really about how we are wonderful women/moms/people with too much going on and we have to do a cabaret to even get together. Crazy, right?
Lisa: Feel the Burl is our opportunity to work together again on something that is just for us. We used to be really funny I hear. Nowadays, our memory (we share one) is not as strong as it used to be, and that can create a lot of fear around performing. But we always do the stuff that scares us because…well, it’s just how we have always rolled. We want to create a space where the audience feels like limitations are only in the mind. We can do it all.
What has you career path been like and what has been the highlight so far??
Shoshana: Lisa and I met in the Theatre Program at York University 109 years ago. We met in residence just like Hermione and Harry. How did you get to where you are today? School, comedy clubs, pasta and lots of laughing with my BFF. Career highlight: We opened for Jann Arden at Convocation Hall for 4 shows. It was nuts. Was that it Lisa? Or was it dinner in the Distillery last week? Guac!!
Lisa: Yes, definitely Jann Arden was up there. But fighting for and getting our own half hour episode of CBC’s Comics! is something I’ll never forget.
We had to push through all the CBC/male opinions about what makes people laugh. And we did it. We did our own episode the way we wanted.
What does your typical day look like as a creative?
Shoshana: Meditation, working out, dog walking, cartoon voices, instant pot recipes, writing, trying to find glasses for close up and for far away, eating, coffee, dog walking, trying to find out where the kids are.
Where do you get inspiration for your comedy?
Shoshana: Our lives. If it makes [Lisa] laugh it’s good. If it makes me laugh…. too much coffee.
Lisa: Inspiration? Ha! It comes from wanting to say the things we think we’re not supposed to talk about. We see people censoring themselves and putting too high standards on their work. We do that too but then we call each other on it and have a slap fight until the winner imposes their will on the other. #friendship
What is your favourite part about hosting alongside one another?
Shoshana: She’s my best friend in the world and I know she’s got my back even when I don’t believe in myself, she’s still got me.
I look at her and either want to cry cause I love her so much or make her laugh and mess up her lines. It’s just the most fun.
Lisa: Shoshana said it all, but the best part is that we’re together. She’s the funniest, best, kindest most magical person I have ever met. Being onstage with her is absolute joy.
How did the collaboration start?
Shoshana: We made one another laugh long before cannabis was legal. Then she wanted to do a monologue and I said, “I’m coming!!”
Lisa: We started collaborating by being really depressed in University. I booked a show where I did an original monologue. Before I knew it Shoshana was onboard to do more. It never stopped being fun, and now that we’re 100 years old it’s gonna be a real gas (ours).
Comedy has been fairly male-dominated throughout history. Can you talk a little bit about your roles in nurturing the female comedy scene?
Shoshana: Everything in the world is “fairly male-dominated” so…. yes, we believe in the comedy that women have for sure. I’ve done not so lady-like characters for a long time, written plays, articles about what it’s like to be a mom/woman/person and Lisa has toured the world with The Second City, produced and written for CBC and Banger films doing the same.
Women are funnier. Sorry. we just know the truth and we’re not afraid to say it. I don’t have time for feeling ‘less than’.
I work with new writing students and performers at Second City every day. Women are fearless in so many ways, and when I think about the funny women in comedy today so many of them are generating laughs by sharing such vulnerable personal stories and experiences. I truly think the more shit you’ve had to survive through, the funnier you will be.
What is your advice for individuals looks to break into the comedy scene and pursue it professionally?
Tell your story. Someone will get it.
Don’t water it down to make everyone happy, they will be happy but they will also be sleeping. Diversify. Do a lot of different things to make yourself happy and pay the kale bills.
Lisa: Turn to your left, turn to your right. One of those people will quit this industry by the end of the year. Oh wait no, that’s just the great advice that York University Theatre gave us all those years ago. I would tell new performers to spend some time investing in figuring out who their audience is and cultivating that relationship. You’re gonna spend a lot of time with these people, play for the ones who get you. Don’t turn yourself into a copy of someone else. Find what you love, and do that.