Entertainment Local

Kathryn Greenwood fully clothed

Rick Wharton

By Rick Wharton, Special to The Daily Observer

EDITOR'S NOTE: Rick Wharton (actor, comedian, radio host, Conspiracy Guy, and Festival Hall director) will be bringing The Daily Observer readers exclusive interviews with some of the big name acts coming or that performed at Festival Hall. Instead of traditional story format, these pieces will be brought to you in the question and answer format in the same way the interviews took place. So let's be a fly on the wall and see what Kathy had to say during her '10 minutes with Rick'.

Kathryn "Kathy" Greenwood is a Canadian actress and comedienne who has appeared on the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? numerous times, and played Grace Bailey on the Canadian television drama series Wind at My Back. Born on March 21, 1962, in Scarborough, Kathy appeared destined for showbiz at an early age. In the late 1980s, she began a five-year stint with the Toronto branch of the famous Second City comedy troupe where she served as both a writer and a performer. Two of her shows won Dora Mavor Moore awards in 1988, and 1992. Other notable appearances in Canada for Greenwood include the popular sketch shows This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Royal Canadian Air Farce.

Greenwood is also a part of the sketch comedy troupe Women Fully Clothed, featuring what Eugene Levy calls "the funniest women in Canada." The group saw great success in Canada and even found international acclaim with their appearance in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Greenwood appears as part of Women Fully Clothed – Older and Hotter on June 8 at 8 p.m. at Festival Hall Centre for the Arts.

* * *

Rick: Kathy it is going to be great to see you onstage and off again. I should tell the readers that we worked together at Second City Mainstage in Toronto. I am going out on the limb here and wanted to tell you and the readers that 'you' KATHY GREENWOOD – were my favorite person on stage and off, EVER, at Second City. Thanks for always being so funny, professional, helpful and kind, to guide a certain young new Second City cast member.

Kathy: Wow, thanks Rob! Sorry, Rick. Kidding, of course. Seriously, that’s so nice of you and it means a lot. I’m returning the compliment because you’ve always impressed me with your skill and passion, consistently producing comedy on some stage in some city in some incarnation and including me and my peers on your roster throughout the years. Plus, you surprised me once with a photo of Maria McKee personally signed to me, which puts me forever in your debt.

Rick: Ten years strong with the (Women Fully Clothed) troupe. How did you all come together?

Kathy: It began as a show for charity. Robin looked through the scene lists at Second City to find strong female, former writers and performers that she wanted to work with for a women’s show. She contacted Jayne, Teresa and me. We’d all worked at Second City, but at different times. It was meant to be a 'one off' of us doing old “female” scenes from Second City. But we had such fun meeting and eating at Robin’s house, that she pushed for the idea to write our own show. Before we even decided to do it, the Sanderson Theatre wanted to book us for a show nine months later. We jumped in. We had no choice now but to write an original show. We’ll never forget standing in the wings that night, waiting to go on in front of 700 people, thinking, “What the hell have we done? We have no idea if this is good!” An hour and a half and one rousing standing ovation later, we were hooked. It’s been a growing force in our lives ever since.

Rick: If people did not know what you do, how would you describe your show and why should people come and see this?

Kathy: It’s really funny. It’s relatable to all generations, it’s male/female friendly, it’s got depth and it isn’t offensive. It’s your life on stage in scenes and music. It’s 10 years strong because our audiences all over North America go nuts. The most important thing to us is that it has to be funny. We have high standards. It’s easy for performers to get up on a stage and regurgitate the same things you see in the media over and over, but we aim higher. We expect our audience members to have stomach aches after the show from laughing so hard, and to walk away happy because of it. I’ll be the first to tell you when something that I’m a part of is lame, trust me. This is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of. It’s a great night out.

Rick: (You) studied at American Academy of Dramatic Arts? Is this true? If so that must have been a big move for you in many ways and must have been daunting for a young Canadian actress?

Kathy: I never thought of myself as courageous or adventurous, so moving out to California by myself pushed my comfort zone in a big way. Truly, there were only a handful of teachers that made a difference, but just pushing myself to do it was the most important part of that experience. I came back feeling brave, and I needed to feel brave to get into this business.

Rick: Could you give any advice to young actors and actresses who are getting into the business now?

Kathy: I’m sure it’s different than when I started. But what remains the same is that the only reason to be in this business is if you have to be, if you can’t imagine doing anything else. If that’s the case, then don’t give up. Meet people, involve yourself, say “yes” when it scares you, “no” when it offends you, read, write, produce, learn the business end (yuck), hold your head high but remain true to yourself and get out there. Even if you’re a wimpy little introvert from Agincourt, you can do it. I like that Gretzky quote, “You’ll miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.”

Rick: You were a member of the main-stage for a good run and hit shows? Thoughts on the five years you were there?

Kathy: I loved every minute of it. It was my favourite thing to do. I had opinions and I loved improvising, what could be a better forum? I also knew how lucky I was. I could learn my craft, nine shows a week. And I could invite people in the business to see me. I couldn’t imagine it getting any better.

Rick: You have worked in television, film and voice overs and live stage. Is there one that would stand out if you had to pick only one?

Kathy: That’s really hard, because I’ve loved just about everything I’ve done. I loved Second City and am so grateful for my voice career (fun, and you don’t have to put on make up), and I just adored playing Grace on Wind at My Back, but, and this isn’t lip service, there’s been nothing more joyfully satisfying than Women Fully Clothed.

Rick: This Hour has 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer Show, Air Farce, The Ron James Show – the list goes on. You have made appearances and your television credits read like a novel. You must have some good stories or have a favorite set to work on?

Kathy: I love Rick Mercer. He’s just as funny and sweet as he seems on the show. And that is one efficient set. Go in, say your lines, laugh with Rick, you’re home in time to make lunch for the kids.

Rick: Wind At My Back. Wow. Congrats on your work there. Your portrayal of Grace Bailey was nominated for a  Gemini Award for Best Performance By an Actress in a Continuing Leading Role. What are your thoughts leaving the stage and going to TV for five years?

Kathy: I loved the show and I loved that character. It was perfect timing for me, right after I left Second City. By the end of the fifth season I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and I was ready to stay home for a while. I think only now that my girls are preteens would I consider going back to a TV schedule. I could not have done that series with small children at home, I would be a complete basket case of a mother. ‘Kay, I am anyway, but whatever.

Rick: Then you hop down to the USA and two tiny little shows called The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway? LA Woman! How did that come about? 

Kathy: Yes, case in point. Ryan and Colin recommended me and Whose Line called me when my daughter was three months old. I know so many cool actors that do series and tote their babies around and look great, but I was not one of them! I knew I couldn’t say no to this opportunity, so I took my daughter and my mom to L.A., and they waited back stage for the four straight hours of improv the show shot. Suddenly I wasn’t super-improv-girl anymore, I was frazzled and my head was all over the place. I have no idea why they kept calling me back. Ok, I do. I was breast-feeding and my boobs were huge. I SWEAR that’s why Drew kept calling! Anyway, I’m not an idiot, I kept breast feeding and saying yes and dragged my family to L.A. throughout the years. Great show, but that one wasn’t great timing.

Rick: Some people don't know you worked with Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie at Toronto's Second City.

Thoughts on you working with those two great talents?

Kathy: Ryan was very influential in my career. He was there when I auditioned for Second City, we did a pilot, “Second City Live” together. So fun. And he and Colin recommended me for Whose Line. He’s a sweet, stoic, reserved kind of guy, not mister hugs and kisses, so, while we’re not bffs on the phone every night, I’m always grateful to him and have great respect for him and would work with him forever if I could. Colin and Deb are good friends who live in town, and I see him much more often. I feel so fortunate to have worked with such an incredible, generous talent, and such a lovely, generous man. Hugs and kisses aplenty.

Rick: Who inspired you as an actress/comedian?

Kathy: Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, Judy Holliday, Doris Day, my family watching The Smothers Brothers, (how friggin’ old am I?), listening to Nichols and May and Bill Cosby and Steve Martin. I have to add all the SCTV actors too. Particularly Eugene Levy and Catharine O’Hara. Now, of course, all my WFC ladies!

Rick: Can't wait to see you Saturday night - people cannot miss this show - it will be one of the finest and funniest ever to hit the Ottawa Valley.

Thanks Rick, this was fun, we can’t wait either! And I can’t wait to see you!


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions