If last night’s debate has you eyeing one-way tickets to Canada to enjoy universal healthcare and the feminism of Justin Trudeau, here is one more reason to consider moving to The Great White North: “Baroness Von Sketch Show.”
“Baroness Von Sketch Show” is a half-hour comedy on the CBC performed and written almost entirely by women. (There is one male writer out of 12 credited for the series.) The six half-hour episodes premiered in June of 2016. While full episodes are not available in the U.S., many sketches are on the CBC’s YouTube channel. Ranging in length from one to three minutes, they are ideal for Internet sharing.
Unlike the fattened up sketches of “Saturday Night Live,” which often meander into boring set-up and linger on actors breaking character, the sketches on “Baroness” get in and out as quickly as possible, keeping the jokes snappy and fresh. The “Baroness” writers can parody a LinkedIn notification as deftly as they can a feminist reading group, proving (to those stupid enough to think it) that women can write about more than just woman-things. On the other hand, the dearth of female-led sketch programs has left a treasure trove of untapped material for “Baroness” to satirize, and an audience thirsty for representation.
The executive producers and stars are Aurora Browne, Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill and Jennifer Whalen, all mainstays of the Toronto comedy and theater scenes. Whalen was head writer for the award-winning satirical news show “This Hour Has 22 Minutes,” for which Taylor also wrote on multiple seasons. MacNeill appeared in that series as well. Browne is co-creator of the excellent web series “Newborn Moms” on ABC Digital, and appeared in the latest season of “Orphan Black.”
The women have great chemistry onscreen and play a tremendous range of characters throughout the series. With very few men in the series, the comedians appear often and convincingly in drag to suit a scene’s needs. It’s refreshing to see a comedic tactic so often employed by men for too-easy laughs used in the reverse. Even America’s newest comedy darling Kate McKinnon doesn’t get that much freedom, aside from when she’s playing Justin Bieber.
In fact, there are many times “Baroness” feels so much more advanced than anything available for American comedy lovers. Take, for instance, this sketch about a “queer theory reading group,” and the one girlfriend who just cannot get anything right. While “Baroness” teases the very ideas touted by such a radical feminist faction, it is obvious that the “Baroness” writers have read enough Judith Butler to comfortably skewer Butler devotees. Aside from the feminist bookstore owners in “Portlandia,” no comedy on American television tackles such fruitful topics. “Baroness Von Sketch Show” is the Canadian comedy Americans will never get, but most desperately need.
CBC renewed the show for a second season, which will air in 2017. In the meantime, check out the rest of the sketches here.