Meet Vancouver-based performers Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles (aka James & Jamesy). Photo by Thaddeus Hink.
Meet Vancouver-based performers Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles (aka James & Jamesy). Photo by Thaddeus Hink.

Meet Vancouver-based performers Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles (aka James & Jamesy).

Aaron and Alastair next appear as James & Jamesy in High Tea (April 12-17), the final show in the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s 2015/2016 Fringe Presents series. When a catastrophic disaster floods the world in tea, caffeine connoisseurs James and Jamesy leap into action, finding innovative and hilarious solutions to keep them afloat. Evoking the spirit of well-known maritime adventures including Noah’s Ark, Jaws, and Titanic, audience members will ease into their roles as pivotal characters in the work, playing along with the unforgettable, witty antics.

Meet Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles (aka James & Jamesy)

James & Jamesy is a Canadian performance company comprised of Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles in partnership with David MacMurray Smith.

James & Jamesy create multi-award winning theatrical performances typified by extended characters, rich emotion, and fantastical trips of the imagination. Their shows are investigations in participatory theatre that merge physical comedy, clown, and dance to create theatrical environments where audiences feel invited and compelled to participate.

Since 2012, James & Jamesy shows have sold over 30,000 tickets and been performed over 300 times, appearing in every major Canadian city. Their accessibility and wide appeal is evident by numerous five-star reviews and over a dozen Best-of-Fest awards from theatre festivals throughout Canada.

20 Questions with Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles (aka James & Jamesy)

[dropcap]1[/dropcap]Your first job.

Alastair: Delivering flyers. Hot holy Jupiter, I STILL dish out thousands upon thousands of flyers. It’s been 20 years and I don’t even know if I’ve been promoted. I now pay for the flyers to be printed and then I hand them out.

Aaron: I started a gardening company when I was 10 years old. I typed out my services on a business card: Weeds Pulled – $2.00; Mud Turned $1.50. The first house I approached graciously explained to me that no one wants some random kid doing their landscaping. I’m glad I made only the one business card.

[dropcap]2[/dropcap] The job you always wanted as a child.

Alastair: I wanted that corner office on the top floor and simultaneously be a zoologist. I was pretty sure that was possible. Also, why are there not three ‘o’s in a row in the word zoologist?

Aaron: I never thought that I could enjoy my job – my father always complained about his. Mind you, I always loved performing; I just never thought of it as a possible job.

[dropcap]3[/dropcap] Your pet peeve.

Alastair: I have never named a pet peeve. I named a pet Wellington and I had a fish that I renamed over and over again because I could never get it right.

Aaron: Peeve? It’s more like my kryptonite: The slurpy, suction sounds that people make when eating certain foods – it’s called “misophonia”. Unless there’s a lot of ambient noise, we should probably hang out after lunch.

[dropcap]4[/dropcap]Your hero.

Alastair: Aww, I’m going to straddle the grave on this one. I gotta say my two grandpas (they’ve passed), merged together with my two grandmothers (alive). Each of them was/is so freaking awesome in their own way. They all got the ‘feel good living’ thing down.

Aaron: Happy people. They’re the best. They figured it all out.

[dropcap]5[/dropcap]Your biggest indulgence.

Alastair: I check payphones for quarters and when I find one, I feel like i’ve just found five bucks. Fills me with a whole feeling of “YESSSS!!! and makes me 25-cents richer.

Aaron: Burgers. A restaurateur once told me there are two kinds of burger eaters: those who eat burgers for the meat and those who eat burgers for the condiments. I love both!

[dropcap]6[/dropcap]One thing no one knows about you.

Alastair: I had hemorrhoids in my last year of high school. I didn’t tell anyone. Self-diagnosed: I had a tumor. Self-treated: bled myself. And then I told my mom … who’s a nurse. There. I said it.  Shit, my mom knew that, so it may have not counted. Aaron, can you think of anything about me no one knows?

Aaron: Alastair doesn’t wear underwear, which won’t remain a secret when you see him perform in his skin-tight jodhpurs. As for me, I like to keep my hands clean, literally. I’m obsessive about it. There comes a point though when an opportunity to get dirty becomes alluring enough that I completely surrender and cover myself in paint, mud, puddle water, whatever. It’s freeing.

[dropcap]7[/dropcap] Three things you would want with you on a deserted island.

Alastair: A sandcastle bucket mold so intricate that when I fill it with sand and dump it upside down, it makes you a fine bungalow with a granite fireplace, a flush toilet and two mojitos sitting on the counter. Also another mold to make some fine company with, like Aaron, or Wellington my reincarnated dog, or that fish whose name I don’t know.

Aaron: A bridge to a bigger island with a pool, my own bed, and a gourmet burger restaurant. A sink to wash my hands. An empty stage with a ready happy audience.

[dropcap]8[/dropcap] The one word your best friend would use to describe you.

Alastair: “Bouncy” Nayana Fielkow declared, then immediately burst out laughing, because deep, deep down she knows I’m a very grounded gentleman of exceptional bounce variance.

Aaron: The tough part here is determining who my best friend is. Is it Alastair? We spend a lot of time together. Is it my child? That woman I procreated with? I think they would say “Particular,” “Big,” and “Fun.”

[dropcap]9[/dropcap] If you were not a performer, what would you be doing right now?

Alastair: Cutting wood with power tools, building a little cabin and getting slivers. Then building a bigger cabin with two mojitos waiting for someone to partake in a celebratory moment with.

Aaron: Having a mojito, and musing over how awesome it will be to stay in this sweet cabin!

[dropcap]10[/dropcap] Hero or villain?

Alastair: “Poodle” is what I used to be known as. I guess that makes me a sidekick of a fashionista. Fashionistas are always the villain due to their classic vanity. That makes me the villain’s hero. So, hero.

Aaron: I think it’s the selection and deflection of attention that makes a hero or villain. When I see villains, I like to get to know them, but then they lose their villainy. So, I object to the question.

[dropcap]11[/dropcap] Your life’s motto/mantra.

Alastair: “Time to rise and seize the day!” I literally sing aloud most mornings as the last thing I do before throwing off the covers.

Aaron: This is fun. Oh! This, too! And this. Um … and this. How can I play with this?

[dropcap]12[/dropcap]Your favourite song.

Alastair: Willie Nelson’s “Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”: I actually just karaoked the be-jeezus out of that song two days ago. Had the whole hat tip and boot swagger and everything. I see myself as the cowboy. A clown is definitely not a doctor or lawyer or ‘such’ as Willie knowledgeably sings.

Aaron: Whatever song I happen to be singing.

[dropcap]13[/dropcap]The last book you read.

Alastair: Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw. Yep, I feel I got a little bit smarter. Already, I’ve subliminally referenced it in the questions above in some way. It talks about the ‘Set It And Forget It’ rotisserie grill infomercial and it’s inventor’s marketing prowess. I’ve implemented all the tricks and before you finish reading this sentence you’ll be convinced to buy a ticket to High Tea.

Aaron: Steve Jobs’ biography. A real page-turner. Then I read 20 minutes of The 4-Hour Body – time that could be better spent exercising.

[dropcap]14[/dropcap]If you were a cartoon character what cartoon character would you be and why?

Alastair: Pinky, of Pinky and the Brain. Simple, eloquent and marvelously good natured. Who needs to be a genius? I even spelled genius wrong the first time, just like I’m sure Pinky would have.

Aaron: I see Alastair as a cartoon character when he performs as Jamesy. His movement defies human anatomy and Newtonian physics. I’d want to be in that cartoon with him … so I would be James.

[dropcap]15[/dropcap]What will it say on your grave marker?

Alastair: It won’t. I’m just not a grave marker kind of guy. Maybe just a stone with my name on it. First name only. And just a regular stone. Though probably granite.

Aaron: Use my organs to benefit the living. Burn the rest. Or … actually, if there’s enough of me left, use Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ Plastination process (from Body Worlds) on me. Make me a prop in a theatre show!

[dropcap]16[/dropcap]Who would you most like to have dinner with?

Alastair: Rowan Atkinson, as a 25 year old. I love his early work (at least what I’ve been able to pull up on YouTube). I would ask him some of these questions.

Aaron: My mom.

[dropcap]17[/dropcap]Your idea of happiness.

Alastair: Embrace all your emotions as an experience of life that gives it richness, oh and own your emotions. That’s what I really believe. No joke there.

Aaron: Genuine, lasting happiness? I equate that with freedom from concerns. We can each carve that out by insisting on honesty with yourself and the people in your life.

[dropcap]18[/dropcap]The one thing in your life that makes you most proud.

Aaron: That I have made a life creating the most hilarious shows I can imagine, and that I get to play those shows – brimmed with heart and delight – to people all over the world.

Alastair: Probably all the joy I’ve been able to share with people through the theatre I’ve created and toured with Aaron. Good job buddy.

[dropcap]19[/dropcap]If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20-year old self?

Aaron: There’s nothing wrong with who you want to be… so go for it!

Alastair: Keep trucking away at that commerce degree, then go to clown school, then go try and meet a guy named Aaron Malkin. He’ll date your girlfriend for a bit, it’ll be slightly awkward, but you’ll both get over it and it’ll lead to having one hell of a time pretending to be British and touring the country with hundreds of teacups.

[dropcap]20[/dropcap]To be or not to be?

Alastair: Be whatever you want. You get to choose.

Aaron: Please be not 2B! Otherwise… You sunk my battleship!