The jour­ney from im­prov to sit­coms

Ac­tress Stephanie Ka­liner on mak­ing her way in the wild world of com­edy

Richmond Hill Post - - Life - by Ju­lia Mas­troianni is cur­rently avail­able for stream­ing at cbc.ca/ter­ri­fic­women.

Stephanie Ka­liner is known for her writ­ing cred­its on sit­coms such as Schitt’s Creek and Mr. D and, most re­cently, her show

Ter­rific Women. She says her pas­sion started with im­prov classes in Grade 7.

“I loved it so much, and I had never con­nected with any­thing like that be­fore, so I think that kind of changed ev­ery­thing for me,” she says.

Go­ing into high school at Langstaff Sec­ondary School, Ka­liner started think­ing about what she could do as a ca­reer and re­mem­bered think­ing, “I can do that!” about im­prov.

She en­rolled in Sec­ond City’s teens classes dur­ing high school sparked by her ob­ses­sion with

Satur­day Night Live, and she also par­tic­i­pated in the Cana­dian Im­prov Games through Langstaff Sec­ondary.

At this point in high school, she knew she wanted to write for tele­vi­sion.

By the time she was at Ry­er­son Univer­sity for the ra­dio and tele­vi­sion arts pro­gram, she had writ­ten a cou­ple scripts that later landed her a lit­er­ary agent.

“I love be­ing in the writers’ room. I love col­lab­o­rat­ing with the showrun­ners and the story edi­tors. It feels kind of like im­prov where you’re cre­at­ing this world to­gether,” Ka­liner says. After her first job as a story co­or­di­na­tor for Al­most He­roes, Ka­liner went on to write for var­i­ous sit­coms, most no­tably Schitt’s Creek (star­ring Eu­gene and Dan Levy), Mr. D (star­ring Gerry Dee) and Work­ing the En­gels (star­ring An­drea Martin).

She also made two web se­ries named Sexy Nerd Girl and Ver­sus

Va­lerie with com­edy friends Mike Fly, Si­mon Fraser, Han­nah Spear and Adam Christie.

Ka­liner cur­rently co-stars in a CBC orig­i­nal com­edy set in the ’70s called Ter­rific Women, which is mod­elled after the live com­edy rou­tine she and co-star (and re­al­life best friend) Sara Hen­nessey pre­vi­ously cre­ated.

“With Ter­rific Women, our char­ac­ters are sort of blown-out ver­sions of our­selves and our friend­ship,” she says.

As for other char­ac­ter in­spi­ra­tion, Ka­liner says most of her per­sonal work cen­tres around peo­ple who are in­vis­i­ble or more of an un­der­dog.

“When I write com­edy, it’s al­ways go­ing to have heart in it be­cause I don’t know how to write some­thing that doesn’t have an emo­tional mes­sage,” she says.

Ka­liner says her love of com­edy comes from a life­time of be­ing a self-de­scribed nerd.

“Start­ing out young and be­ing a weirdo and hav­ing trou­ble mak­ing friends … it def­i­nitely helped to be funny,” she says.

She also men­tions Tina Fey as one of her big in­spi­ra­tions.

“I lit­er­ally have an au­to­graph from Tina Fey on my desk at work,” Ka­liner says.

“There aren’t a ton of fe­male showrun­ners, in com­edy es­pe­cially. Things are chang­ing for sure, but [Fey] never let any­thing stop her,” says Ka­liner.

For some­one still new in her ca­reer, Ka­liner is off to a great start.

She’s al­ready worked with co­me­di­ans such as Eu­gene Levy, who she de­scribes as “re­ally lovely” and “a great lis­tener.”

Ka­liner’s goal for the fu­ture is to be able to run her own show, along with get­ting in­volved with more chil­dren’s car­toons.

Mys­ti­cons, a Nick­elodeon show she worked on last year, re­leased on Aug. 28.

Ter­rific Women

Ka­liner is a co-cre­ator, writer and star of ‘Ter­rific Women’

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