Laugh Track: Bita Joudaki and Christine Bortolin

Joudaki puts her best sad mask forward in the new web series Golden Futures. (Illustration by Ariel Mitchell)

Have you heard of this thing called “the Internet”? It’s the way of the future, and it’s helped change the way some comedians stretch their funny bones. Take Bita Joudaki and Christine Bortolin, for example. Both are rooted in the Vancouver comedy scene, as improv comedians and two of the many minds behind local comedy haven Little Mountain Gallery, but now they have their eyes set on the World Wide Web in the form of Golden Futures, a new web series they created, wrote, and starred in as fictional versions of themselves. We caught up with both Joudaki and Bortolin to discuss the comforts of working with other comedians, where the idea for Golden Futures came from, and reveal juicy spoilers on some of the antics we might see in future installments

Tell us about your new web series, Golden Futures.

Bita Joudaki: We both play people kind of similar to ourselves, but really exaggerated. They’ve been described to us as morons. . .

Christine Bortolin: Which is what we were looking for. I would say they’re passionate morons who are trying to better their lives, but are completely misinformed about what that means.

Is the name Golden Futures meant to be optimistic, or is it a playful jab at the gloom usually affiliated with living in Vancouver?

CB: We named the series after the apartment building we shot it in, but it works out perfect because the characters are both trying to attain these new lives. There’s an idea in our culture that we’re all so special; we have this superhero calling and think “everyone in this room isn’t as special as I am right now.” I think that’s part of it, the golden futures, but not willing to put the work into understanding what goes into creating that.

Was this your first time working together on a project?

CB: We’ve done a lot of collaborations together, starting with improv at Instant Theatre. We’ve done improv comedy, sketch, short films, and short videos. Stuff like that.

The five episodes of Golden Futures contain a real who’s who of Vancouver comedians. What was it like creating such a sprawling project?

CB: We got pretty much everyone we wanted to work with. It was really fun. Because we wrote it and produced it and were in it — and sometimes we can get nervous and less confident in things — it was nice to know we were surrounded by people we really respect and know are very funny. It was nice to have that. Personally, because I don’t know about Bita, even in those times of getting really stressed and thinking, “I did terrible, I’m a horrible person,” I could say, “At least I know everyone else is good.”

How similar are you to the characters you play?

BJ: A little. . . right?

CB: We started off as exaggerated characters of ourselves and then we went a little further from there, but still the kinds of characters that are easy for us to play.

The last episode ends with Bita hallucinating numerous Chandler Bings, and a masked Christine pretends to mutilate them with a real knife she’d been holding for most of the episode. On paper it sounds weird, but it’s an oddly touching moment. What made that a good scene to end on?

CB: We wanted to have a sincere moment of them being friends. Something we’ve always tried to do in comedy is have a moment of sincerity. Whenever we did improv, we always wanted that one moment of connection or some kind of vulnerability, so we popped that in at the end in a weird way — which is the best way.

What were your intentions when you started out with Golden Futures?

BJ: The biggest reason was there weren’t many female-driven web series being created within our comedy peer group. We applied for this thing called Storyhive, where you pitch your idea and then the community votes, but we didn’t win. We really liked our idea, though, and we’d already written one episode, so we just did it ourselves.

Are there any plans for a second season of Golden Futures?

CB: We wanted to pitch it and see if we can get some funding for next time, so hopefully. We have a little doc of ideas that we add to.

What are some of the ideas for the next run of episodes?

CB: In the series, there are little bits in front of the apartment building and one of the ideas was to take all of the little bits and then look at the story that was behind that and then tie it into them again. In one episode, a bicycle rides past with nobody on it, so we’d investigate what the heck was happening there.

BJ: In one I decide to try and get Iranian friends at a party, but then they don’t like me and I’m offended.

Are there any other projects you’re working on that you’d like to mention?

CB: There’s going to be an improv show starting at Little Mountain in October, called Little Mountain Improv, every Tuesday. Aaron Read and I are also writing a web series, where each episode we try to better ourselves in some way. In the episode we’ve been working on, we try to get in shape. We have these vision boards and his is full of buff guys and buff ladies and mine is just a skeleton driving a PT Cruiser. I’m really excited about that.

BJ: I’m working on something a bit more serious, which is a PSA about the way Stephen Harper’s policies have affected women negatively.

CB: Golden Futures is over but keep an eye on the YouTube channel, because we’re still going to be posting more videos.

While we all eagerly await the creation of more Golden Futures episodes, you can watch the series online in its current entirety via Christine Bortolin’s YouTube channel.