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Open Relationships, Improv, Edibles & Racoons: A Chat with Alice Moran about CBC’s New Comedy, Crawford

Brought to you by the people who gave us Trailer Park Boys, the CBC recently launched Crawford (available to view now), an original comedy shot in Toronto that celebrates the charming character found in a family’s “dysfunction.”

With a father (John Carroll Lynch) who has lost his voice and communicates exclusively through a smartphone, a mother (Jill Hennessy) who satisfies her sexual needs by having an open relationship with a young buck named Bryce, and three grown siblings, each with their own set of eccentricities who haven’t quite figured out adulthood, we’re presented with a family that has just the right amount of bizarre peculiarities as average families do. (Really, what is normal?)

A few weeks back, we spoke to Alice Moran (who plays elder sister Wendy) about her new role, the importance of improv, and Canada’s evolving show biz. 

SDTC: What was one thing about Crawford that was different from anything else you’ve worked on?

AM: We were shooting with baby raccoons; it was very adorable.

Trailer Park Boys is a legend to so many Canadians. What was it like working with director Mike Clattenburg?

Mike Clattenburg is the most collaborative director I’ve ever worked with. He’s really great at seeing what you’re good at and creating opportunities. I’ve never worked with a director who has understood me so much as a performer. It was a real joy to work with him!

Tell us about Wendy. What did you like about playing this role?

Wendy is the probably the most normal one in the family, but she acts as if her problems are the biggest and most insane. I feel like she’s always 8 out of 10 on the annoying scale. Playing her is like indulging your own worst self.

Playing your “worst self” actually sounds like a lot of fun. Tell us about how you first broke into the industry.

I always wanted to act as a kid, but there weren’t that many opportunities in Alberta. I did community theatre and then when I moved to Ontario as a teen, I had a very difficult time making friends, and one of the things that came out of it is that I ended up joining the improv club, which was probably the weirdest club at school. I loved it and started taking it seriously. I studied at Second City as a teen and then was hired to work for them. I never really entertained any other life other than doing comedy.

I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about improv. Why should everyone consider an improv course?

The most important thing you can learn from improv is how to enjoy failure. We’re often taught (in society) to be ashamed of messing up, but messing up is the quickest way to learn anything. Improv is all about finding ways to enjoy yourself when you’re failing and to not get damaged by it. 

You’re an established actor in Toronto. Do you still work on developing your craft in between productions?

Always. I often take acting classes where I’m the least good person. I recommend taking classes where you are out of your depth, where you have to struggle to get through that. I’m also part of a theatre company and they routinely give me opportunities to play different parts.

I do think it’s a very exciting time to be a woman in the arts. When I first started out, every part descriptor was about what the character looked like physically, like “very pretty” or “most perfect body” and I would think, “Well, I’m not going to get this; this is going to go to someone beautiful. Lately, more and more, when I see descriptions of characters, it is about their inner life, and what they are like as people as opposed to what they look like.

Bravo to that. If you haven’t checked out Crawford, Season 1 is now available to download. We hope you never look at a Toronto raccoon the same way again.

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