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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

The Queen of Comedy: Canada’s NAOMI SNIECKUS

As the saying goes, laughter truly is the best medicine—and if anyone knows about laughter, it’s award-winning actress, writer, and comedienne Naomi Snieckus.

The daughter of a world-renowned chemist father and a creative stay-at-home mother, Snieckus spent her childhood in Toronto playing with dry ice and make-believe. With creativity and imagination being fostered in her at such a young age, it’s no wonder that Snieckus grew up to work in the arts. After high school, Snieckus studied at the University of Waterloo and the Ryerson Theatre School, where she realized her love of acting.

Credit Dan Abramovici

Credit Dan Abramovici

“I think schools are a great place to make mistakes and take risks,” she tells me. “I’m glad I didn’t have a paycheque hanging over me when I was learning my craft. I still like taking classes—it challenges my choices as an actress, reminds me of good and bad habits, and lets me work out my actor-muscles.”

Those muscles have since gotten quite a workout. Snieckus quickly became a familiar face on television after appearing in many prominent commercials, and she soon went on to act in Canadian television. With roles on CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation and The Listener, and CBC’s Being Erica and Little Mosque on the Prairie, she quickly became a well-known actress in the Canadian industry. Not only that, but she is an alumni of the improv company The Second City Toronto, having worked with their tour company and written and performed in five of their shows.

“I started working in Canada and have been lucky to keep busy doing what I love doing,” Snieckus says. “I don’t, however, think art has borders. I love working and I love travelling—I don’t think that if I travel outside of Canada that makes me less Canadian. I just want to be challenged and keep working! I think I’ll still be Canadian no matter what, and I will rep my country proudly wherever I work, eh.”

Snieckus can also be seen in the TV movie I, Martin Short, Goes Home alongside comedy legends Martin Short and Eugene Levy; as well as the slasher horror film Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. She is also a talented voice actor and has been heard on CBC Radio’s Canadia and the children’s cartoon Franklin the Turtle.

One of the most recognizable roles in Snieckus’s repertoire is her role on CBC’s Mr. D, a comedy that follows the misadventures of a strange schoolteacher nicknamed “Mr. D”. Snieckus plays the authoritative yet respected gym teacher, Coach Bobbi—a character she shares a trait or two with herself.

Credit CBC

“I think I’m definitely as awkward as Bobbi gets, and we both like wearing comfortable shoes and pants,” she reveals. “As far as sports go though, I think she’s better than me at both things. She could take me in a wrestling match for sure.”

While Season 3 may not have featured any Snieckus vs. Bobbi wrestling matches, it did see Gerry Dee himself take to the mats with Bobbi—and there were more track pants than ever. Season 3 was a well-received by fans and critics alike, and the season finale left viewers clamoring for more. Fans can’t get enough of Mr. D, and evidently, neither can CBC. Earlier this month, the show was renewed for a fourth season.

Filming for Season 4 will surely bring around a lot more comedy and a lot more behind-the-scenes antics. While Snieckus says that every episode contains something that cracks her up, there’s one funny story from filming Mr. D’s blood donor episode that still makes her laugh.

“They had a contraption to make it look like blood was spurting into my and [co-star] Mark Forward’s faces. It was pretty gross and we had to do a lot of takes to get it right,” Snieckus recalls. “At one point, one of our producers, Mike Volpe, came over to me and said, ‘Okay, we got that take, Naomi. We’re on Mark’s close-up now—you don’t have to worry about the blood any longer.’ So I relaxed. But of course, the next take was actually a close-up on me, and I didn’t see [the blood] coming at all. Nicely played, Volpe. Nicely played.”

Credit The National Post

Aside from donning track pants and sneakers on Mr. D, Snieckus has her hands full with her company, The National Theatre of the World. Founded with 2010 with her partner, Matt Baram, and colleague Ron Pederson, N.T.O.W. is a Toronto-based, not-for-profit theatre company that creates exciting, provocative, and instantaneous theatre through the art of improvisation. Improv is Snieckus’s passion, and she is currently co-artistic director of the Theatre.

“We wanted to do long-form improv that had an edge and depth of theatricality to it,” she says. “Both Matt and I have a background in theatre, so we wanted to bring our actor-chops to the improv stages. That commitment has gone into our sketch work too.”

Snieckus has an enthusiasm and passion that she throws into every aspect of her work, and she has many exciting plans for The National Theatre of the World coming up this year.

“Matt Baram and I are working on a sketch show right now and are hoping to tour that and make it into a web series,” Snieckus says. “One of the formats we created is called the ‘Script Tease Project’—we get a playwright to write two pages of a script, we read it for the first time before an audience, and then we improvise the rest of the play. The Script Tease Project is being done in Sweden and in the French-speaking theatre community in Toronto, and we’re developing that to tour around the world as well.”

With such a busy schedule, it’s hard to imagine that Snieckus has time for other projects. But Snieckus is happiest when she’s working—and she has an eventful year ahead of her. She is currently filming the feature, Two for One with Gavin Crawford; and next year, can be seen in the feature comedy-drama, If You See Her with Alex Kingston and Peter Firth. She and Matt Baram will also be hosting the Dora Awards for the second time in June of this year, and Snieckus is very excited to do so.

Credit Dan Abramovici

Credit Dan Abramovici

“And of course, I always have a couple of TV show pitches in my back pocket for when I happen to be alone with Judd Apatow in an elevator!” she says.

While we may have to wait for that fateful elevator meeting to see a Naomi Snieckus-Judd Apatow collaboration come to life, Snieckus is able to find plenty of motivation for her upcoming creative endeavors from her everyday life. When I ask where she draws her inspiration, she’s enthusiastic and excited.

“Everywhere!” she gushes. “From my father, a world renowned chemist who taught me to contribute to my community. From my mother, who had a joke for everything and found laughs in all parts of life. From my guy, Matt Baram, who makes me laugh every day. I’m inspired by art, by life, and by people every day.”

With motivation and inspiration like that, it won’t be long before there will be another wonderful Naomi Snieckus project to enjoy—and make us laugh.

To keep up with Naomi Snieckus’ upcoming projects, follow her on Twitter or check out her official website. You can learn more about the National Theatre of the World at their website.

To stay updated on all things Mr. D until Season 4’s airing early next year, check out CBC’s official Mr. D website.

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