Volume 90, Issue 63

Thursday, January 16, 1997



Living like a 145-year-old dame

Gazette file photos
TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW!! Cullen (left) during his guise as a Juice Pig and (right) as Dame Sybille, performs at The Spoke's Friday Funnies at 2:30 p.m.

By Jonathan Hale
Gazette Staff

Corky and the Juice Pigs have put Canadians into hysterics since the group's introduction to the music/comedy scene. No other group could mock R.E.M. so well or make killing pandas sound so funny. But when taking time away from the group, member Sean Cullen continues to win crowds over with a very different, pork-less presence found in his own creation known as Dame Sybille.

Dame Sybille is a unique type of stand-up comedy that most people are unaccustomed to seeing, as "she" comes out with tales from her rather exciting and unparalleled life. When asked about the character, Cullen admits Sybille is not in fact a new idea.

"This is [Corky and the Juice Pigs'] 10th year together and [Dame Sybille] kind of came about at the same time," Cullen explains. "I went to drama class before we all met and that's where I first started doing Dame Sybille. It was kind of a tribute to one of my drama teachers who would tell us various anecdotes.

"I started doing it for the Edinburgh Festival one year because [Corky] was kind of in a lull, so I decided to do this character since we always play the festival."

From this initial performance British audiences grew to adore the elderly dame and her funny tales. The popularity is so noticeable that Cullen has decided to start a radio show overseas that considers Sybille's travels around the world.

On stage though, Cullen takes material from anything that pops into his head, along with improvisations based on the crowd's reception.

"I like to improvise as much as I can and I ask audience members to ask questions about my career in life as Dame Sybille," Cullen says. "Usually I draw a lot from that sort of thing. I have a lot of set stories, because her life is kind of mapped out generally.

"Usually it's mainly about my life and all of the people I've met over the last 125 years as an actress."

Excuse me? Did I hear that correctly? After being questioned, Cullen revealed that Sybille has a lot of history to turn to for stories, since the experienced woman is "about 145-years old."

This age factor allows Sybille to consider many different eras over the past century, especially when the audience realizes that Sybille has been a part of every major event throughout this period.

"I've been writing newer stuff but up to this point I've been kind of concentrating on the 40s, 50s and earlier," Cullen states. "It's sort of a romp through history of what really happened in certain situations and why people did what they did."

Though Corky and the Juice Pigs will always be Cullen's main priority, it is a nice change for him to dress down the piggish comedy, throw on a dress and some makeup and perform with a "British eccentricity and absurd-" type of humour that audiences have grown to love.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca