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Homegrown “Fiction” Charms Crowd

You’ve heard about local food. How about local laughs?

For three years now, Anna Glover and Ellen Martens have been harvesting small town anecdotes and yarns from local people, and creatively processing them into a comedy routine called the “Ellen and Anna Show.”

At the recent Farm Focus 2010 in Boissevain, the pair sat in chairs in front of the crowd and read from a script placed on music stands in front of each.

It was like a radio broadcast – except if you closed your eyes to listen, you’d miss the outlandish facial expressions they used to illustrate the storytelling.

The resemblence to Stuart McLean’s “Vinyl Cafe” is intentional, as both ladies admit to being huge fans of the popular program.

Heard weekly on CBC radio, the hour-long mix of live music and stories has been known to cause grown men working in farm shops to forget what they are doing and temporarily down tools – and some say even cooler-than-you-times-two teenagers have been compelled

“The stories are all based on real interviews. We interviewed at least four people to put this together. And then we embellish – we add a little bit.”

– ELLEN MARTENS

to twist an ear towards the radio at such times, although they may later deny it.

In the past year, the Boissevain women have found time from their busy home schedules to perform for a women’s conference in Russell and at a local bonspiel.

“We could probably be busier if we wanted to,” said Glover.

“But we’re both still running after kids and we both farm,” added Martens.

Their first gig at Farm Focus three years ago was based on research gleaned from women who moved onto the home place, and last year they explored the experiences of “city girls” who moved to the country.

This year, the story was built around a conversation between a cattle rancher and his wife.

The rancher, who decides to run for local council with the ulterior motive of getting his road improved, finds out in the end that local politics is more complicated and pitfall prone than he bargained for.

“The stories are all based

on real interviews. We interviewed at least four people to put this together. And then we embellish – we add a little bit,” said Martens, who does most of the writing for the pair.

Once a rough sketch of the dialogue is hammered out, both go over the material and create the final draft as a collaborative effort.

“There’s no other forum to tell these funny stories. The crowd is great because you know it’s homegrown.”

The hometown crowd is the best, because the people all know each other and their foibles, and are able to pick up on the truth behind the fiction, added Glover.

“They’re really great. They laugh even if it’s not funny,” she said.

The “Ellen and Anna Show”

“However, there was a time on R. M. council when Vic was able to lend his expertise and knowledge. The R. M. had received a concerned call about some cattle north of town. It appeared that the cows were changing colour, and it did not seem natural. Some cows were green, some were blue, others were red. The caller was concerned that maybe the colour was symptomatic of a bad case of mad cow disease.

Herb said, “No, it’s not mad cow. It’s bug spray, or Ivermectin, or something like that.”

George said, “No, it’s not, it’s a colour-coded accounting system. The red cows were bought when NISA was in, the blue cows were bought with GRIP, the green with CAIS money, and the white ones are part of AgriInvest.”

Another councillor weighed in. “That’s not it at all. Since BSE, the red cows belong to FCC, the blue cows to RBC, the green ones belong to the credit union, and the farmer owns the white ones.”

Another councillor, who was hoping to run in the provincial election next year, offered his two cents. “You guys are way off. The green cows belong to the Green Party, the red cows are Liberal, and the blue cows are Conservative.”

Herb thought this might be a plausible explanation. “How do the cows know which party they belong to?”

“Well, the green cows and the red cows lean a little to the left when they eat, and the blue Conservative cows? Well, they’ve prorogued pasture and have left for the Olympics.” – By Ellen Martens and Anna Glover [email protected]

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