Interview with Aaron Malkin : Half James and Jamesy On His Own

James and Jamesy. High Tea James and Jamesy. High Tea

There are a few things in life that can make my stomach do backflips with a magical, transcendent joy: The Muppet Show. That first big drop on LaRonde’s Goliath roller coaster. Aaron Malkin.

Aaron Malkin is one half of the outrageously successful comedy duo James and Jamesy. While Jamesy (played by Alastair Knowles) is rather impish, James (Malkin) is more your gentle giant, in stature and in presence. It seems appropriate then that Malkin’s show in this year’s Fringe is a one-man fairytale about a village dealing with a giant. Thunderfoot is Malkin’s first solo show, and, he says, an opportunity to explore a more diverse performance.

Malkin tends to shy away from the static energy of a script, preferring to develop his shows through sketches, play and exploration. When putting together Thunderfoot, he once more showed faith in his own inner child to lead the way, and found that the story he wanted to tell was a fairytale. As Thunderfoot solidified, Malkin realized that the countryside in his vision was in fact composed of memories of his time in Sweden, and so, the fairytale became more specifically a Scandinavian folktale. This gave focus and direction to the project, and soon, he and Chloe Ziner, Thunderfoot’s director, teased a narrative out of their experimentation.

Chloe Ziner is part of the Vancouver-based puppet company Mind of a Snail, and is known for her whimsical-strange puppetry. When I asked Malkin whether Thunderfoot would contain puppets, he answered enigmatically; “Well, I would say more: finger puppets.” Just when I thought this day couldn’t get any better.

Indeed, Malkin is very excited that this solo show will give him a wider range of characters to play and explore – of all shapes, and of all sizes – hence, you see, the finger puppets. It seems that a folktale is the perfect medium – after all, human characters are just so terribly limiting. Malkin tells me he will be playing villagers, monsters, animals. We, the audience, will get to play a few characters as well! Apparently we’ll get our chance to voice our opinions on giant issues (that is, issues that are giant, and issues on giants) during the village meetings, where audience members will get to be the villagers.

When I asked whether he was nervous about going solo, Malkin answered that yes, but no more than for any other performance. He explained that Thunderfoot’s success during its Vancouver run has given him confidence in his show. “I just hope people connect with it,” he says. Besides which, developing and modifying shows is what keeps things fresh for Malkin, and he looks forward to seeing how the show matures over its run.

So what’s Jamesy up to in the the absence of his James? No, not drowning his loneliness in tea, but working on his own Fringe show, Bushel and Peck, with his significant other Stephanie Morin-Robert. Although working on independent projects will surely be refreshing for the tea-loving friends, Malkin assures me that they have plans for more James and Jamesy productions in the future.

Thunderfoot promises to be a magical, dreamlike experience. “It’s a comedy with heart,” says Malkin. A comedy with heart, and fingers for puppets, and feet that bring thunder.

Thunderfoot is at La Chapelle (3700 St Dominique) on June 12 @ 16:30, June 13 @ 18:00, June 14 @ 19:45, June 16 @ 16:00, and June 17 @ 18:45. $12/10. Tickets HERE.