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All about my super-satire friends | Jo Caruana

As the Comedy Knights prepare for the fifth instalment of their sell-out show, we take a trip down memory lane with Lady Jo Caruana

20 December 2017, 7:20am
Jo Caruana (centre) and her fellow ‘Knights’: “We’re all really good friends and enjoy spending Christmas together... which is handy!”
Jo Caruana (centre) and her fellow ‘Knights’: “We’re all really good friends and enjoy spending Christmas together... which is handy!”
Over the past four years, the Comedy Knights’ shows have swiftly and surely become one of the most anticipated and attended events of the festive season. Now, the ensemble – made up of Sir Chris Dingli, Lady Pia Zammit, Sir Marc Cabourdin, Sir Thomas Camilleri, Sir Colin Fitz, Sir Steve Hili, Lady Chantelle Micallef Grimaud and, of course, Lady Jo Caruana – is back.

Through the help of wit, humour and satire, and under the direction of Wesley Ellul, the Comedy Knights are looking to dish out even more culturally-relevant sketches that make us laugh, cry-laugh and even realise our faults as a people and a nation… And with 2017 now practically behind us, there’s no knowing what could come out of that.

Before, however, Jo Caruana reminisces about the Comedy Knights’ humble beginnings, her favourite moments, and the birth of the Sliema Girls.

How did it all begin?

I can still remember the exact moment Wesley called me and suggested I join the show – I was flattered, but so sceptical (Wesley often has ‘ideas’). Pia and I were travelling together a few days later – just days before starting our first-ever set of rehearsals – and we were both terrified, wondering what we’d let ourselves in for. That first edition was absolutely nuts, but such fun. Although we’ve all known each other for years (two decades actually) we got to know one another better than ever before and developed a fantastic synergy.

Still, it’s had its weird moments. Steve Hili almost ended up naked on a table with food scattered on top of him for one sketch that first year! Luckily it got vetoed at the last minute… I did end up singing the Halleluiah while ‘farting’ though – something that my mother hasn’t quite got over… All in all, we had such a fabulous time that we couldn’t wait for Year Two.

 

You’ve had four successful shows… Which one’s your favourite so far and why?

Each year has had its moments and I have really enjoyed playing a number of characters in each one, but Year Two was probably my favourite. Thomas Camilleri – a dear friend – joined us that year, and I think it’s safe to say that his all-singing, all-dancing talents raised the bar a bit!

As for my favourite moment ever, that would probably have to be listening to Thomas sing ‘I Believe’ from the behind the curtain – he smashed it every night and brought the house down. From my own perspective, I loved our first-ever ‘Uwejja?-Mela!’ moment, which was also in Year Two. Pia and I could barely get through the sketch at the time and we would often just give up and laugh along with the audience, which simply resulted in more laughing.

What is it like bringing the characters of Ciks and Bex to life?

Pia and I have always ‘played’ Ciks and Bex. The characters are inspired by a few people we’ve known over the years but, particularly, someone we both worked with, and the characters’ voices have been around since then. So, when Ciks and Bex were born in Comedy Knights, we both fell into the roles really easily and love playing them. I have to say, it comes pretty naturally! It’s nice that other people enjoy them as much as we do.

What’s the best part about being a Comedy Knight? And what’s the hardest?

The team, definitely. We’re all really good friends and enjoy spending Christmas together (which is handy). The banter during rehearsals and backstage makes all the long rehearsals and late nights 100 per cent worth it. That said, it is hard giving up so much personal time around the holidays – we always end up missing out on the family events, parties, dinners and get togethers… So much so that people have stopped inviting me! Still, I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

What do you think the Comedy Knights have brought to the table which wasn’t there before?

The great Maltese pantomime (which I was proud to form part of many times before the Comedy Knights started) provides a wonderful opportunity for us to laugh together at the end of each year, and I think CK does that too – but it takes things to another level. Laughing at ourselves – as Maltese – is so important. As a team, we love holding a mirror up to the mad little society we love so much, and poking fun at the nuances that make us, us. Life would be very sad if we couldn’t laugh at ourselves.

If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would change?

I’d probably refuse to do that farting scene… I honestly haven’t heard the end of it!

What’s going to be different about 5how Me the Funny?

Last year’s show was the prequel to election year, so it was very political. This year is much less so. In fact, we’ve shifted the focus much more onto social commentary – so expect more sketches like the Sliema Girls, Balluta Boys and so on. As things are very political in other ways at the moment, I think CK5 will give people an opportunity to take a breather away from that, and just laugh. And long may it last!

 

The Comedy Knights’ 5how Me The Funny will be on at the Salesian Theatre in Sliema every night at 20:00

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