Aaron Malkin as James (left) and Alastair Knowles as Jamesy search for ways to remedy their plight after accidentally flooding the world with tea in O Christmas Tea, which runs at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Dec. 1 and at the Mary Irwin Theatre in Kelowna Dec. 3-4. (Photo submitted)

British comedy duo brings tea party to Okanagan

James and Jamesy’s O Christmas Tea is slated for Dec. 1 in Vernon and Dec. 3 and 4 in Kelowna

These aren’t the tea parties your grandmother holds.

When the Vancouver-based comedy duo James (Aaron Malkin) and Jamesy (Alastair Knowles) sit down for a quick spot of tea, hilarity ensues. James and Jamesy’s O Christmas Tea is slated to rock the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Dec. 1 and Kelowna’s Mary Irwin Theatre Dec. 3-4.

Starting off when Jamesy invites the audience in for tea, only to discover he hasn’t brewed enough, tragedy occurs when he asks Santa Claus for more of the English staple, and soon the world is flooded with tea.

“Where the heart is at Christmas, it’s the idea that anything is possible,” Knowles said of the all-ages comedy show. “We wrote it for ourselves and it just happened to entertain others along the way. People have described it as walking out of a Monty Python film and into a Dr. Seuss book.”

As the world is quickly overrun with tea after a silly Christmas wish, James and Jamesy have no choice but to charge head first into the problem and find innovative and comedic ways to stay afloat.

With roots in physical theatre, dance and clowning-around, Malkin and Knowles joined forces to bring their brand of comedy to the stage.

“Aaron and I started creating shows back in 2011 with these two British characters (James and Jamesy) where their adventures surround these tea parties,” Knowles said, noting that the show was born as a 10-minute skit. “The audience reception was off the hook. With that encouragement, we made our first full-length show and toured it in 2012.”

Their debut tour brought 2 for Tea — an ordinary tea party that evolves into the extraordinary — across Canada, garnering international recognition along the way. Now, five years later, the duo has sold more than 60,000 tickets and have performed more than 500 times across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, winning the 2016 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Live Ensemble, hitting the finals twice for the Just for Laughs Best Comedy Award, and racking up 20 Best of Fest awards along the way. James and Jamesy also teach classes in their Vancouver studio and host workshops internationally.

“Aaron and I didn’t plan on doing theatre professionally,” Knowles said.

But they love it.

“I love the immediacy of the results. In theatre, you know if you’re achieving your results as soon as you step on stage,” Knowles said. “The connection with the audience is a key style of our performance. With the audience reacting in real time, you’re able to adjust the recipe on the fly.”

While the base of O Christmas Tea stays the same from performance to performance, Knowles said they are able to tweak parts of the recipe for certain audiences — a process he is looking forward to crafting for Vernon audiences.

“It’s always fun going to a new community and the turnout so far is great. It seems a lot of people are ready for a wintery good time,” Knowles said. “It’s fun for us. Every audience brings a different reaction.”

And for Knowles, that audience reaction is what keeps the wheels turning.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having. As soon as the show starts, that’s where I am, fully,” he said. “There’s a feeling that I was there for the magic of that night.”

James and Jamesy’s O Christmas Tea takes the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Friday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $34 adult, $30 senior/student ages 18-and-under and $19 for children ages 12-and-under from the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. The show is also set for Dec. 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Kelowna’s Mary Irwin Theatre, 250-717-5304, www.rotarycentreforthearts.com.

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