| Q&A Baroness von Sketch star Carolyn Tay­lor on hi­lar­ity, temer­ity and the pres­sures of com­edy fame

In 2014, Carolyn Tay­lor gath­ered her fun­ni­est friends and filmed a cheap demo reel. To­day, Baroness von Sketch Show is a global hit. A peek at Sea­son 3, which drops this month

Toronto Life - - Contents - by court­ney shea This in­ter­view has been edited for length and clar­ity.

Baroness von Sketch Show has be­come a rat­ings jug­ger­naut. You’ve also scored two Cana­dian Screen Awards and a deal with the In­de­pen­dent Film Chan­nel. How does it feel to be the new queen of Cana­dian com­edy? The queens—there are four of us. It’s ter­ri­fy­ing! But it feels great. We feel priv­i­leged to be able to share our comedic sen­si­bil­ity with the world.

Sea­son 3 pre­mieres this month on CBC. What can we ex­pect? We con­tinue to push the en­ve­lope on work­place harass­ment, sex­ual as­sault, class, suc­cess. One skit ques­tions rich par­ents and their re­la­tion­ship to suc­cess.

Not ex­actly knee-slap­pers... I don’t want to sound too lofty about it, but we think it’s im­por­tant to start con­ver­sa­tions. Like about what it means to live in this cap­i­tal­ist so­ci­ety, with all of its hypocrisy and con­sumerism. Or about the me­dia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women. Like, what if women ac­tu­ally be­haved the way we are por­trayed?

It feels as if we’ve been hear­ing about women hav­ing a “mo­ment” in com­edy for years. Are we any closer to “funny” in­stead of “funny for a woman”? There is such a strong foun­da­tion of hi­lar­i­ous women out there that I’m like, “Is that still the con­ver­sa­tion?” If so, our job is to keep go­ing un­til it’s not.

How do you feel about “come­di­enne”? No strong feel­ings. Or on waiter ver­sus wait­ress. But I iden­tify as a co­me­dian, not a “come­di­enne.” Ac­tu­ally, the more I say it, the fun­nier it gets. Ac­tu­ally, I love it! “Carolyn Tay­loress, come­di­enne!”

Toronto gets a star­ring role in the show. Which neigh­bour­hood do you love to send up most? Trin­ity Bell­woods, for sure. It’s like, “Let’s just throw down a blan­ket and spend the day drink­ing wine!”

In one skit, you play an anal­re­ten­tive cot­tage host. Is that what you’re re­ally like? Because I’m to­tally the guest get­ting chips all over the couch. I like to think of my­self as the host who says, “Oh, there are no rules! Just kick back and re­lax!” But in truth, it’s more like, “Don’t put your towel there, don’t drink the wa­ter, and please close the win­dows be­tween 3 and 5 p.m. so the shad flies don’t get in.”

All of the stars are ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers, and you’re the showrun­ner. Is creative control some­thing you in­sisted on? Yes. This busi­ness is a real catch-22, es­pe­cially for women. To be­come a showrun­ner, you have to have al­ready been one, whereas for guys, it seems like they work in a writer’s room and soon it’s like, “Oh, it’s time for Johnny to run his own show….”

Is it true you cre­ated the demo reel on a $5 bud­get? More like $5,000, but it was def­i­nitely down and dirty. We had a crew of two, the ex­tras were our friends, and we used a wheel­chair to move gear. We brought it to CBC and went into pro­duc­tion pretty much the next day.

You’ve man­aged to make the CBC al­most cool, which, with re­spect to Mur­doch Mys­ter­ies, is a rather im­pres­sive feat. I think CBC was look­ing for cre­ator­driven projects. It was a risk but also a safe one. We’ve all been in the busi­ness, in var­i­ous ways. We weren’t in­genues.

What have you been up to since shoot­ing for Sea­son 3 wrapped? Spend­ing time with my mom. And swim­ming in lakes and drink­ing cae­sars up north.

Were you al­ways the funny one in your fam­ily? No! My brother was. I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I acted in Les Li­aisons Dan­gereuses at univer­sity and told my mom I wanted to be an ac­tor. She was like, “Noooo.” I went to Sec­ond City, and here I am. But I’m still in­ter­ested in law.

Carolyn Tay­lor, lawyer­ess. Ha! Right.

Do you feel pres­sure to be al­ways “on”? God yes, and I hate it. Even right now, I’m think­ing to my­self, Am I sup­posed to be funny?

When was the last time you laughed re­ally hard? The other day, my friend and I were at a cof­fee shop and the barista knew our or­der. I said, “Oh, you must have ESP.” The barista was like, “What’s that?” It was so fash­ion­able in the ’80s to talk about ex­trasen­sory per­cep­tion, and we started laugh­ing hys­ter­i­cally about how that’s to­tally gone. So we’re try­ing to bring it back. ESP is go­ing to have a mo­ment. Just like fe­male com­edy.

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