Meet a Comedy Troupe: The Templeton Philharmonic

The Templeton Philharmonic might initially sound like a hoity-toity musical collective, but it’s actually a comedic duo composed of Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton. The actors-writers have taken their critically acclaimed comedy shows from Montreal to New York to Italy. Now they’ve just been nominated for the Tim Sims Encouragement award, which is tonight. We chatted with the ladies about eating Sarah Silverman’s pizza, making The Senior Times and Ron Jeremy.

How did The Templeton Philharmonic form?
We studied theatre together at U of T, and had performed in a few plays together. Last year, we created a show together for the Fringe festival in Montreal. Originally, we were going to make a very serious, avant-garde piece about dreams. We developed the piece with Second City Tour Company member Kevin Matviw and he advised us that what we were creating was comedic. So, we scrapped our original vision and created a sketch comedy show instead. It received a great response and we had so much fun that we’ve been writing and performing comedy ever since.

How did you come up with such a fancy-sounding name?
Our last names are Templeton and Phillips and we wanted to combine them in an interesting way. We thought “Templeton Phillips” sounded like a snooty law firm, so we ran with snooty and decided to go with “The Templeton Philharmonic.”

How would you describe your style of comedy?
Dark and silly. We like to throw in over-the-top characters and surrealism whenever possible. Also, we usually incorporate interpretive dance in our transitions from sketch to sketch.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere! Improvisation, historical periods, news articles, people we hear on the street, etc. Also, living together inspires a lot of our strangest concepts.

Whats the most outrageous thing thats happened onstage?
Once when we were performing at the Montreal Fringe Festival, we walked off stage into our dressing room and as soon as we started changing, this old man with a long, white beard barged in and started yelling, “Loved it, loved it, loved it!” while opening and closing the door over and over. We were featured in The Senior Times.

Youve just been nominated for the Tim Sims. How does that feel?
We’re pleased as punch! It’s a huge honour to be part of such a wonderful competition and to share the stage with such talented people.

Youre on a bit of a roll. Youve also just won Best Comedy Duo award at the LA Comedy Festival. Does all of this recognition validate things for you?
Definitely. We were among some amazing performers in L.A., along with quite a few Toronto comedians whom we really admire (Falcon Powder, Ladystache, Matt O’Brien). This has been quite a whirlwind year for us – we’re so lucky to have had all these opportunities!

Any crazy road trip stories?
In Montreal, we stayed in an abandoned paper mill beside a railroad track for two weeks. In L.A., our motel was almost entirely populated by male models…and Ron Jeremy. In New York, we ate leftover pizza from Sarah Silverman’s dressing room, thanks to Eugene Mirman. In short, we travel well together!

Who is your dream guest performer?
Dick Van Dyke, Margaret Atwood, Loreena McKennitt (all at once).

In one word, how would you describe one another?
If I were to describe Briana in one word it would be: Peppery.
If I were to describe Gwynne one word it would be: Topiary.

It’s five years in the future. Where are you? What are you doing?
Ideally, it would be great to have our own TV show where we could feature all of our friends!

The details:

Year established: 2011
Influences: Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Kristen Wiig, Lucille Ball, Mr. Bean, VideoCabaret, B&W cinema, the Victorian Era.
Next gig: Cream of Comedy 2012, The Tim Sims nominees, The Second City, 51 Mercer St., 416-343-0011. Oct. 29.