For Regina-born funny man Jayden Pfeifer, performing has always been second nature. “Being a performer was the thing I was doing since I was fifteen or sixteen,” Pfeifer recalled fondly.
Since his departure from his roles co-ordinating the Sandbox Series and teaching at the Globe Theatre, Pfeifer seems not to have slowed down a bit. He hosts and performs in Combat Improv, hosts the monthly variety show Red Hot Riot, and can be seen fulfilling any other number of emcee duties. With a resume this extensive, it’s hard to imagine Pfeifer has much time to do anything else. Yet Mr. Pfeifer’s added a new show to his busy performing schedule that promises to be something completely different.
Talkies is the latest live venture that Jayden brings to the Queen City. It originated as a segment during Red Hot Riot, but, as Jayden described it, “it didn’t really fit the format [of Red Hot Riot]”.
The idea of Talkies is very simple: screen a particularly awful film and provide an improvised and scathing review of the film much to the delight of those in attendance; it was definitely not an idea that Pfeifer could keep quiet.
“I have always wanted to do something like a movie commentary show, since seeing Mystery Science Theater 3000 when I was fifteen, and was thinking it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen in my life.”
While Jayden Pfeifer’s Talkies and Mystery Science Theater 3000 share some undeniable similarities, it’s the differences that Pfeifer believes the audience finds endearing. “I don’t write jokes in advance,” Pfeifer explains. “I’m just reacting to it in the moment along with the audience.”
Reacting is likely the best way to describe the events of Talkies: Pfeifer hasn’t seen any of the movies that he lambasts until the moment they are screened for the audience. “The first time that will change will be for this one coming up in September,” Pfeifer admits. “I have seen this movie one time before, and absolutely detested it.” The film currently awaiting its execution on Pfeifer’s death row is M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water.
“Everyone has had the experience of watching an ill-thought out film, and thinking, ‘Why did this film get produced?' The show is for anyone who wants the catharsis of ranting about a bad movie." – Jayden Pfeifer
According to Pfeifer, the success of Talkies was dependent on the venue. The idea of a casual, intimate clip show didn’t hold up well in a big, involved production like Red Hot Riot; however, it lent itself nicely towards a venue like the Creative City Centre.
“I had wanted another outlet that was a little more casual and this movie idea was still in my mind, so I posed it to the people at the Creative City Centre, and they were excited to do it,” Pfeifer explained.
Being a smaller, more intimate venue, the Creative City Centre certainly helps to recreate the theatre experience. For Pfeifer, the feeling of the theatre experience is an integral part of the magic of Talkies.
“Everyone has had the experience of watching an ill-thought out film, and thinking, ‘Why did this film get produced?’” Pfeifer joked. “The show is for anyone who wants the catharsis of ranting about a bad movie.”
Although Pfeifer is the host of the show, he doesn’t expect that the audience remain entirely silent.
“I have encouraged the audience that, if they have something funny they notice, they should tell me. I’ve had audience members make very poignant, funny observations… It is a very communal experience.”
To find the films to screen for Talkies, Pfeifer once again relies heavily on audience participation. Pfeifer acknowledges that he knew the films of perhaps the first two or three shows.
“Then I asked the audience to recommend movies to me,” Pfeifer said. “The list of movies I’ve been recommended since the show started, I could do for the next two years.”
When asked if he had a particularly favourite bad film moment, Pfeifer groaned with a pain that’s usually reserved exclusively for knock-knock jokes. Apparently it was the aforementioned Lady in the Water, which provided this memory.
“I went and saw it in the theatre, and paid like, twelve dollars or whatever to see it, and the people in the theatre were openly talking. Like, not about the movie, just openly talking to each other. People gave up the convention of being quiet and polite, and I didn’t even care. I’m the kind of person who wants quiet; I don’t even like loud popcorn crunching. I had lost all desire to see the film in any kind of format that was polite. I’ve never gone to a movie and left, and thought, ‘Why did I go see that?’ That is the experience I’m trying to re-create.”
With Jayden Pfeifer’s unique brand of comedy cutting through the worst of Hollywood’s offerings, the experience is sure not to disappoint. The latest edition of Talkies takes place Monday, September 17 at 8:00 p.m.. The show will be held in the Creative City Centre at 1843 Hamilton Street, above Loggie’s Shoes. The cost for the show is $5 at the door.