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originally published March 2008

Don’t be fooled by their name, this is no high school dance or some new party and event’s promoter. The boys are back in town. Coming home with their wildly successful and critically acclaimed show, Johnny Harris, Steve Cochrane, Dave Sullivan, and Phil Churchill are all polishing up their acts for the LSPU Hall. They paused the tune up long enough to have a quick digi-chat with me about the performance and some of their shenanigans.

How did you become the Dance Party of Newfoundland?
J: We’d been buddies before. Me, Dave and Churchill all went through Grenfell. Me and Steve had toured a couple stage shows together. Aiden Flynn said we should get together and write a sketch show. He was in our first show, On the Nog.

P: And there was a girl with us as well. Imagine that: a girl!

Where does the name come from?
J: It’s a twist on the old NTV show ‘Newfoundland Dance Party’ but tweaked to sound like a political party. Steve came up with it. We were almost, ‘We Fried Beans’ or ‘Daisy Dude’.

What’s the show people are raving about?
J: Everyone is raving about our upcoming show at the Hall, ‘Low Blood Sugar Sketch Magic’. The poster is a parody of The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic’.

D: Two and a half men. Really great… that young Sheen fella is quite the character… oh the exploits those two go on… will the comedy ever end?

What expectations should I have when I check this out?
S: Expect to laugh out loud, expect a very tight fast paced show, expect to stare in disbelief at some of the things we convinced ourselves to do and if your date is really, really into it, expect to say, ‘I could do this, this is easy!’ Also, expect us to sing.

P: Expect that we’ll be there. I can almost assure you that your expectations will be realized.

I’ve read you boys write when split across the country then “butt heads” when you’re in the same place, how difficult is it to bring four visions together?
S: Honestly we’ve managed to keep it pretty simple. We all write separately and then when we get together, we comment and improve on each other’s material. The person that wrote it still maintains ownership and the rest help to tweak. If it gets to the point where it’s being considered for a show, then the sketch must be pretty solid to begin with.

D: When you’ve worked together as long as we all have, it’s not difficult at all. The endgame for everyone is to make people laugh, no matter how humiliating it is for any individual member of the group.

What defines you as sketch? Is there an improv aspect?
P: The improv aspect usually comes before the writing. We try and stick to the script as best as we can because by the time the sketch has been performed once or twice, we’re pretty happy with it. If there is an idea for a change, it’s usually brought up before hand and sufficiently argued about. And like most, we probably tend to think we’re better improvers than we are.

The fear of your show getting “lost in translation” in New York seems to have been a big concern yet reviews have discounted it, are people really getting references?
S: People are seeing characters that reflect ones they grew up with in their small towns. And sometimes, I think like is the case with Sons of Our Fathers, our Celtic Boyband, that exploits Newfoundland history to make it rock. They are such idiots you can’t help but enjoy yourself. Who hasn’t seen a boy band before and wished someone would take the piss out of them.

Where does the DPN go from this show?
S: We have booking in May; we’re on hold for gigs in October and November. Taking the summer off to do solo projects then back at it in the fall. We could go back to New York in June, but I’m not sure how the schedule is going to work out.

J: I don’t know where the rest of the guys want the Dance Party to go next but I know I would like us to go to Swiss Chalet.

What other projects are you all working on?
S: I have a feature film in development with The Canadian Film Center that should be shooting this year. I am also directing a six part doc series that I can’t talk about until May or June.

J: I’m waiting to see if the CityTV crime drama ‘The Murdoch Mysteries’ gets picked up again. I play a young cop in that show. The first season’s airing now.

D: Dave is learning to read in an after school program.

P: I’m doing some playing with a band I really like called The Once, with Andrew Dale and Geri Hollett.

People want to check out your “homecoming,” tell ’em how…
J: Here is the best way to check out our homecoming; call the Hall, 753 4531 and buy a ticket. Consume at least three ounces of hard liquor. Get there early for a good seat, if you think we are making a joke, laugh really loud. If other people are laughing and you don’t know why, just laugh. If you don’t think we are at all funny, try to blame yourself (tell yourself it’s over your head) and laugh anyway. Enjoy!

One crazy road story …
J: Chicago’s finest. I’m sure the lads have filled you in.

D: In Dawson City we all did a shot of Yukon Gold. No Big deal right? Well, in the bottom of the glass was a severed human toe. They call it the Sour Toe. A human toe packed in salt, they take it out, you have to shoot a shot of Yukon Gold and have the toe touch off your lips for luck. Apparently, they lose toes every once and a while because folks accidentally swallow them.

P: Gotta be the guns and cops in Chicago, but I’m sure one of the fellas has already sent that one, so I’ll tell you this one: when we were in the Yukon, Steve and Jonny and I all went dog-sledding. Dave stayed in the hotel and watched football. Clearly, he’s fucking crazy.

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August 2020
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