Artist Profile: Sam S. Mullins – Storyteller of Fatherly at the Next Stage Theatre Festival
Interview by Hallie Seline
SM: So many silly hats.
I spend the largest portion of my creative time writing sketch comedy for CBC’s The Irrelevant Show. This is my first year as a full time writer on that show, and it’s been a really terrific experience. Also radio-wise, I’m a regular contributor to the CBC storytelling program Definitely Not the Opera, and I was fortunate enough to get a story on NPR’s The Moth Radio Hour recently, which was always a dream of mine.
So. I work in radio, I suppose, which is really exciting for my Grandmother. She tells me that radio used to be a thing.
In the summers, I tour my one-man comedy monologues on the Canadian Fringe circuit. This will be my 4th summer doing the Fringe, and I’m currently trying to decide whether or not I’ll be touring with a version of this current show. I might want to write something new, but then of course, I’d have to go through the agonizing process of premiering a brand new show all over again – which is not for the faint of heart.
So simply, I write sketch comedy and am a storyteller.
What draws me to storytelling? Hm.
I guess I love the simplicity of it. I like the idea of taking something completely stripped of all artifice and theatricality and mounting it in a theatrical space. Of watching something that doesn’t feel like theatre as if it were theatre. I like that I can be funny or poignant or dark or light all at the same time. It doesn’t have to be heavy handed. It doesn’t have to be hilarious. It just has to be true. Theatre is very much a pursuit of truth, so what makes me love going to see a storytelling show, is that it isn’t even a pursuit of truth. It can just be the truth. That will always be captivating to me.
Also. I wasn’t a great actor. And in storytelling, I don’t have to act.
HS: Can you speak about Fatherly and where you found the inspiration to write it.
SM: The main story around which I built the show has been my favourite “over beers” story to tell people for a few years now, and it was only a matter of time before I wrote it into a show. It’s a crazy story. Also, I’m a big fan of real-life characters, and the man who raised me is one of those real-life character with whom I knew that audiences would want to be acquainted.
HS: If you could give me 5 words to entice someone to come see Fatherly, what would they be?
SM: You must meet Bill Mullins
HS: What song should someone listen to before coming to see Fatherly?
SM: Yikes. Maybe “The Greatest” by Kenny Rogers. My mother recommended it to be my curtain call song, and thematically, it’s pretty perfect. Maybe too perfect.
HS: Where do you look to find inspiration?
SM: My heroes: Ira Glass, Marc Maron, Woody Allen, Judd Apatow, Mike Birbiglia and David Sedaris.
HS: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
SM: I used to work in this busy restaurant in Vancouver, and our staff mantra was “Keep doing things. Keep doing things.” The theory behind it is that there’s always something to do in a restaurant. Polish cutlery. Sweep. Clear some plates. But now I’ve kind of extended that mantra into my creative life. Theoretically, if I keep doing things, everything will run more efficiently in my career. It helps me kick myself in the ass.
“Aw shit. I’m watching hockey highlights again. I should be doing a “thing” instead.“
Also, I’m a fan of this Louis CK quote:
“Everything you do should be better than everything you’ve done before. That, to me, is a guiding principle.”
HS: What’s your favourite place in Toronto/in Canada and why?
SM: Favourite place in Toronto is the outdoor skating rink by Bathurst and Dundas. I love playing shinny, and with the city skyline as the backdrop, it’s just stunning.
My favourite place in Canada is the lake on which I grew up – Kalamalka in the Okanagan. Google it. You’ll never see a more beautiful place.
HS: What is you favourite beer in the Next Stage Festival beer tent?
SM: When I’m at a theatre festival, I’m all about the Apricot St Ambroise. I only drink it in the context of a theatre beer tent, so it tastes like I’m having the time of my life.
Written and performed by Sam S. Mullins
Where: Factory Theatre Antechamber
Mon Jan 13 8.30pm
Wed Jan 15 8.15pm
Thu Jan 16 6.15pm
Fri Jan 17 6.15pm
Sat Jan 18 8.15pm
Sun Jan 19 6.45pm
Tickets: $10 www.fringetoronto.com/next-stage-festival/
Follow Sam’s blog: http://samsmullins.com/