Amy House talks about inspirations behind characters and comedy
Now living in St. John’s, comedienne Amy House is quick to note that her heart has always been on the Northern Peninsula, and rightly so.
Comedienne Amy House will be in St. Anthony on Feb. 7 and Cow Head on Feb. 8.
— Submitted photo
Her father is from Daniel’s Harbour and her mother is from Port Saunders.
Although she came along after her parents had moved to Stephenville for work it didn’t change her connection with the Northern Peninsula, she said, noting that every chance she could get she was up visiting family or boyfriends.
That connection has even served as the inspiration behind some of her writing.
Known for her vast range of characters, up to 13 in one show, House said the Northern Peninsula can be easily found woven into their finer points.
“My characters have certainly been influenced from my cousins and aunts on the Northern Peninsula. The way I work, I create this character and then kind of gather stuff that could come from this character,” she said.
It can also be felt in “Scratch and Pull” which is set in a minimart and is centred on misplaced pull tickets and the 13 characters House brings to life throughout.
“That was also influenced by the Northern Peninsula,” she said.
It takes place in a store, and the store I had in my mind when I was writing it, was an actual store in Port Saunders.
“So it’s interesting how your roots are always with you.”
House will return to the Northern Peninsula this week as part of Snow West celebrations. She will be putting off two shows — one in St. Anthony on Feb. 7 and Cow Head on Feb. 8 — and will have a couple of local characters tagging along.
She’ll open the show with Ida Rumbolt, on her porch chatting with her neighbor, who is tending a garden, all the while looking after her husband Gus, who is tied to the couch to keep from falling off.
“When I was writing the character, I had no idea what she would become, but when I was rehearsing her speech and dialect, it wasn’t long after I realized she was very much like my grandmother,” she said. “So I say that Ida Rumbolt is from Daniel’s Harbour.”
Also making an appearance is the quick-tongued Marguerite.
It’s a character House enjoys to the hilt.
“Her demeanor and the way she dresses, she’s a socialite, she fancies herself as a much grander woman than the life she actually leads,” House said.
Anyone familiar with this persona knows Marguerite is going to speak what’s on her mind and it doesn’t matter who’s in the room.
The fact that she can break from the act and engage the audience is what House likes and certainly takes advantage of.
“Marguerite is the openness with the audience I can have,” she said. “Ida is presented in a theatrical piece, don’t get me wrong it’s still really funny, but I can’t break out of that world to talk to the audience like I can with Marguerite.”
Looking back, House said her family has always had comedy in the blood.
While she never got to see her grandmother House perform, House said she was known as a comedienne in Port Saunders.
“I think I inherited some of that,” she said, “and all of my family is pretty dry and funny. My sister Christine, who lives in Port Saunders, might even be funnier than me.”
Even at an early age House felt the need to preform. She got involved in high school plays, which eventually brought her to the Stephenville Theatre Festival.
She was a part of the inaugural event and remained constant for years. She’s also been a part of Rising Tide.
“Maybe the third or fourth year of the Stephenville festival I co-wrote a one-woman show, called “The Seven Faces of Amy.” It was interesting because it initiated my performing for special events, because it became a really popular show,” she said.
“I got booked to perform at the Port Harmon golf course for an event they had happening.”
It’s been one hit after another for House since, and it has her garnered as one of Newfoundland’s most talented and prolific comediennes.
As for returning to the place she loves, House is more than excited.
“I always love coming back to the Northern Peninsula,” she said. “When I drive up through, the mountains on one side, the ocean on the other, it’s just amazing. I’ve always said it’s the most beautiful part of the island.
“And I love the people up there, so it’s always a thrill to perform for them.”
House’s St. Anthony performance will be at the Haven Inn on Feb. 7, starting at 7 p.m. Space is limited, tickets are $25.
Her Cow Head performance will take place on Feb. 8, at the Shallow Bay Motel, starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, a package deal is also being offered: one night stay, breakfast and two tickets for $125.
The Northern Pen