Dear Pork Filled Productions (née Pork Filled Players) AKA “The PFPs”,
Happy 20th Birthday from your Canadian cousins!
Twenty years is long time to be doing anything – not to mention doing it well. For the past two decades, through the vehicle of comedy, the PFPs have been an industrious, energetic and inspirational megaphone for diversity, amplifying stories that need to be told and gleefully staking out a place for the marginalized. And they’re not even old enough to drink yet.
If we had to pick three words to describe the PFPs, they would be “Yummy”, “Funny” and “Generous.” The next three words would probably be “Important” followed by various sloppy, kissing sounds and then finally “Generous” again, because that’s important enough to mention twice. You simply cannot tell the story of the PFPs without talking about their generosity – the generosity of their spirit, the generosity of their talent, and the generosity of their mission.
We first encountered the PFPs at a sketch comedy competition held a long time ago in a faraway land (well, actually 2003 in Vancouver, Canada). We were a bunch of rookie upstarts in khaki pants with the ridiculous name, Assaulted Fish. They were the polished veterans. They sang! They danced! They ate fire! We were immediately struck by two things: number one, “Holy Cow, these Americans are really funny!” and number two, “Wow, they’re super nice people, too!” And also a third fleeting thought, “Who’s this Roger Tang guy who seems to be lurking around in the background all the time? He doesn’t ever seem to be doing anything…”
Ah, what fools we were.
It could have ended there but it didn’t (and this is where the generosity part really starts). Unbeknownst to us, the PFPs were keeping tabs on us; not in an obsessive, creepy way, but enough to know that we had lasted longer than the usual two-year mayfly existence of most sketch comedy troupes. And here’s the thing: they invited us down to Seattle to perform with them. Not once, not twice, but year after year after year. They shared their stage with us. They shared their audience with us. They even shared their living quarters with us, despite the fact that not all of us are regular bathers. But more than anything, they shared their mission with us. Watching the PFPs in action confirmed for us that it was possible to use comedy to tell powerful, inclusive, entertaining stories through our unique perspective as Asian North Americans. We all have stories to share, and they’re valid and worthy and most of all, ours to give voice to.
Over the years, it has been thrilling to watch the PFPs evolve from a sketch comedy troupe to a full-fledged theatre company. Similarly, it has been exciting to see the individual members change and grow in their artistry even if their paths eventually led them away from the main group.
Little did we know on that day so long ago, when we first saw them march across the stage dressed like Dim Sum, that this would lead to a personal and professional friendship that has so far lasted for 15 years. Congratulations PFPs, and thank you for the memories, the opportunities and the comradeship.
Here’s to 20 more years!
With love from
Diana, Marlene, Kuan & Nelson
AKA Assaulted Fish
Thank you again Powell Street Festival for another year of inviting us out to play. Incredible kudos must be given to Kristen Lambertson and her administrative team who managed to relocate almost the entire festival at very short notice. Also what would the festival be without all of the other fabulous staff and volunteers who do everything from building the venues to making the sure the recyclables are correctly separated. We cannot stress enough how much we love to be a part of one of the few festivals that truly reflects the community and the people who participate.
Big thanks again to Jamie Burns at the FireHall Arts Centre for his technical wizardry and his previously unknown baking skills; to our director Dawn Milman, who wrung amazing performances out of us and our indefatigable stage manager Ann Chow, always cool under pressure (she’s the woman in the corner quietly solving your Rubik’s Cube).
Finally of course, thank you to our fans, old and new. We were a bit nervous debuting all of those brand new sketches but your warm reception and ready laughter soon took care of that. Without you we would just be a bunch of strangely-dressed people emoting into an empty theatre.
See you next year!
What do you call a sold out show with a rocking audience and two other fantastic sketch groups to play with? A really, really, really good way to spend Friday night. How great it was to see Jackie “The Hardest Working Person in Sketch Comedy” Blackmore, Mike Unger and Darren Williams reunite as The Skinny. (Just a brief eight years ago we were all crammed together into the tiny stage at the Media Club, featuring a single wing created by the strategic placement of a movie screen. Clearly we are moving up in the world.) And how great to share the stage with Jackie’s new group Strapless Sketch Comedy, featuring our old friend Lauren Martin (previously of the Crawford Twins) and new friends Megan Phillips, Sidika Larbes, and Iva Kapsikova. And to cap it all off, Morgan Brayton, the Queen (or at least the Duchess) of Sketch Comedy was in the audience. I’m pretty sure we could hear her laughing even from backstage.
The Skinny – We’ve known them for 8 years and they can still actually fit into the same costumes (damn them).
Big, big thanks to Lola and Broden, the crack tech team at Studio 1398, who made our show run extra smoothly, our lovely and amazing host Brad McNeil, and to Peter Carlone and Alistair Cook and the rest of Sketchfest organizers and volunteers inviting us to play and for making this all possible.
Our show is done but Vancouver Sketchfest continues tonight! Hope to see you there!
Our Fringe run is now officially over and what a way to end it with the final shows being completely sold out!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the wonderful people who helped us, beginning with the Vancouver Fringe Festival staff and 600 volunteers who make the festival run if not like exactly like clockwork than like a reasonably priced and waterproof digital watch. We would also like to thank the fabulous Fringe Artists that we got to meet or see perform. Truly the Fringe is one of the few opportunities to celebrate independent theatre in Vancouver and we have been blessed to perform here three times so far. Thank you to Studio 16 for being such gracious hosts; we’d love to play here again someday and in the meantime maybe check out the restaurant.
We would like to thank the fabulous Assaulted Fish team; thank you to our unflappable and resourceful Stage Manager Ann Chow and our cheerful and conscientious technician Katja Schleuter who made sure our show was running smoothly every single night, thereby reducing our stress level exponentially. Thank you too to our incredibly talented director Laura McLean who finally had the opportunity to strut her stuff with this show earning rightful mention in the Vancouver Province review. Big thanks to Linda Ong Chan, our intrepid publicist who stood in the lobby and welcomed fans and sold t-shirts every night and also pulled off the astonishing coup of getting us profiled in the Globe and Mail. We’d also like to thank our official sponsors, Raz Chan Fitness and Schema Magazine.
Finally, a heartfelt thanks to you our fans both old and new who came to see the show, including some who made the trip from another country (the US is still officially another country, as far as we know). You are the wings that make these stupid angels fly, make the astronauts orbit weightless and make us feel sexy on a budget (and several other equally forced and mixed metaphors). Thank you for helping us celebrate our 10th anniversary in style. Hope to see you all really soon! Be good!
Diana, Marlene, Kuan and Chris
P.S., does anyone want a watermelon (slightly rolled)?