Cheri Oteri

Firecrackers! What are you up to lately? Whatcha reading, listening to, watching? For me, I recently watched the Garry Shandling documentary on Netflix and it really stuck with me. Garry was one of the funniest, smartest minds of our time and watching the way he did things made me go back and take a look at my own process. It was so inspiring, but also a bit daunting, because to get to the level of someone like Garry is no easy task. It caused me to get a bit down on myself, but at the end of the day, I absolutely love to make people laugh and that is what drives me, so let’s keep at it! Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own process and what keeps you inspired! Drop me a line at or let's chat over social media at @FirecrackerDept or @Snieckus. Next up, we’ve got the INCREDIBLE Cheri Oteri! You might remember her from 'Saturday Night Live', or perhaps 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', maybe even 'Liar Liar', whatever it is though, you know this lady makes us all fall to our knees laughing, every time. We had a great chat about her journey through this crazy business and so much more. Enjoy, Firecrackers! 

Second City Live Panel

Hey Firecrackers, welcome to Second City! We're here at my old stomping grounds for a LIVE podcast panel with some real comedic geniuses! Joining us on stage for this chat is Ayaka Kinugawa, Musical Director for Second City Theatrical, Carly Heffernan, current Director of the main stage show 'The Best Is Yet To Come Undone', Teresa Pavlinek, writer, producer, and star of her own show called 'The Jane Show', and last, but not least, current star of the main stage show, Stacey McGunnigle! We're talking everything from how annoying it is to be asked "What is it like being a woman in comedy?" to how they keep themselves creatively fuelled. This chat was inspiring, insightful, and most importantly, absolutely hilarious. Enjoy! 

Rebecca Kohler

Hey Firecrackers! This episode we are talking to one of my favourite people, Rebecca Kohler. Now if you don’t know her, you need to go online right now to check out her stand up. She is just so funny and so ballsy. Now recently (we talk about this in the interview) she has been writing a lot for tv. She’s writing for “Working Moms”, “Kim’s Convenience” on CBC, and also “Schitt’s Creek”. And now, since we had this interview, she’s just been hired to write for a show called “Happy Together” on CBS starring Damon Wayans Jr! CBS! How’s that, huh? I know Rebecca from the comedy community in Toronto, and I’ve always admired her stand-up ‘cause she’s just so bold. We had such a great conversation and talked about what it’s like to be in writing rooms. It’s hard to stop talking after an hour but I think she’s just so interesting, and I know you’ll agree! Enjoy, Firecrackers!

Powerful Me - Bonus Episode 3


Hey firecrackers! Every month we're asking you a new question, what we're calling the Spark Question of the month! We want to continue to inspire you and everyone in our community, so please tell us your answers so we can all share our experiences!

In April we asked you:

What makes you feel powerful?

The feedback you gave us was amazing, so much so that Naomi recorded and commented on your answers!! Give it a listen:

Jean Yoon

Hey Firecrackers! This episode I got to speak with the incredible Jean Yoon! Right now you might know her from Kim’s Convenience, but she is an artist on so many different levels; she has been a creator, a producer, a writer, a poet – she’s done it all! I remember watching her from shows like The Yoko Ono Project way back when I was in theatre school, and being just astounded with her commitment to the character. She really throws herself into character, both feet in, and she’s bringing that into the film and television world with Kim’s Convenience. I love that after years of admiring her work I’m sitting down and talking with her about her life and her career and she is so fascinating. I think you’ll get really jazzed from this conversation. We talked for so long that I even had to take a pee break; but we did it, we came back and I’m excited to now share our chat with you. Enjoy Firecrackers!

Dani Kind

Hey Firecrackers! This week I got to have an incredible discussion with none other than Dani Kind! Now you might know Dani from her role on CBC’s ‘Workin’ Moms’ or perhaps as Mercedes Gardner on ‘Wynonna Earp’, or maybe you just know her for being a kick-ass woman? Well, I first met Dani through the CBC, since we’re both on the network we would see each other at parties and what not, but I never really got a chance to connect with her beyond the basic pleasantries. However, I remember seeing her on a bus in New York City a little while ago, she was with another department member, Tommie Amber Pirie, and we got a chance to chat a bit further. I remember thinking how bold and vivacious she was. Then, we wound up having this really weird, kind of awful, but oddly connective experience together. We had both shown up to a fitting to find something to wear to one of these fancy events. Well, the more dresses I tried on the worse I felt. Nothing seemed to fit or look good, and it was quite the emotionally toll taking experience. Well, Dani (along with Juno Rinaldi from ‘Workin’ Moms’) showed up and as it turns out, they were in the same boat. It just made things a bit better, because we got to connect over the shared experience. Anyway, I’m really lucky to have gotten her to come on the show. I finally got the chance to get know Dani, where she came from, and her journey through life and this industry. Enjoy, Firecrackers! 

Anusree Roy

Hey Firecrackers! Welcome back to the department, this week we have none other than the amazing Anusree Roy as our guest! Anusree is a Dora Mavor Moore award winning playwright and actress. Her stage work includes the plays ‘Breathlessness’, ’Sultans of the Street’,‘Brothel #9’, and ‘Little Pretty and The Exceptional’, amongst many more. Her television work includes the shows ‘Saving Hope’ and ‘Remedy’, the latter she was a story editor on for the first season. Now I’ve know Anusree for quite some time. We first met when my company, The National Theatre of the World was doing this thing called ‘The Script Tease’. We’d ask a playwright to write two pages of a script and we’d read it for the first time on stage and then improvise the rest of the play. So, Anusree said yes and her direction was for the cast to be wearing a sari and speak with an Indian accent. This was a new challenge for me and I LOVED it! Oh and as a kicker, Anusree showed up with snacks, she brought us all samosas because she is just incredible. Our chat this time around is truly incredible, Anusree talks a lot about what its taken for her to become a writer and the challenges she faces as an artist. Enjoy, Firecrackers! 

Possible Failure - Bonus Episode 2


Hey firecrackers! Every month we're asking you a new question, what we're calling the Spark Question of the month! We want to continue to inspire you and everyone in our community, so please tell us your answers so we can all share our experiences!

In March, we asked you:



The feedback you gave us was amazing, so much so that Naomi recorded and commented on your answers!!

CSA Live Podcast

Hey firecrackers! If you've been following us on social media, you might recall that a few weeks ago we hosted our very first LIVE podcast!! The event was in conjunction with The Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television, and as a part of Canadian Screen Week, we assembled a panel of firecrackers at The Bell Media House and had an incredible chat. Oh and to top it off, we did this on International Women's Day, which made it that much better! Our guests were Friday Myers (Production Designer, 'Anne'), Sarah Kolasky (Writer, Actress 'Great Great Great'), Allie MacDonald (Actress 'Cardinal'), Rakhee Morzaria (Creator, Actress 'Note To Self') and Joyce Wong (Director 'Wexford Plaza'). The chat was intimate, funny, and each of these kick-ass women really opened up about their journey's in the industry. Man, we walked out of there so inspired! Give this a listen and enjoy!

Advice To Your Younger Self - Bonus Episode!


Hey firecrackers! Every month we're asking you a new question, what we're calling the Spark Question of the month! We want to continue to inspire you and everyone in our community, so please tell us your answers so we can all share our experiences!

In February, we asked you:



The feedback you gave us was amazing, so much so that Naomi recorded and commented on your answers. Have a listen at this bonus episode, below!

Karen Bruce

Hey Firecrackers! First of all, I want to talk about our ‘Spark of the Month’ question. At the beginning of every month, during our Facebook and Instagram Live we’re going to ask a question that we want all of you to answer! This month, we’re asking “If neither success nor failure were an option, what is something you would pursue?” Tell us your answers on social media or by e-mailing! Next up, I’ve been knee deep in writing lately. Both Matt and I have been working out of our place here in sunny Los Angeles and even though the office is lovely, our craft services is seriously lacking. Haha! All kidding aside, writing can be tricky, and there are definitely times when I get angry, or upset, because I’m doubtful or stuck. But you know what, I push on, and I turn to Matt for support, and when I finally get over those hurdles, the feeling of accomplishment and happiness is amazing. Firecrackers, if you ever find yourselves in these situations, keep putting your mind to it, to you will overcome these obstacles and you will succeed. Speaking of firecrackers who put their minds to it, this week we have Karen Bruce as our guest! Karen is the Director, Membership & Fan Engagement for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and was previously the Director of Canadian Initiatives at the Toronto International Film Festival. Karen has done so much for the Canadian industry and through her work at the Academy, has been connecting talent with their fans. Karen is always so inspiring, with her energy and endless talents, I’m truly in awe of her. Give this one a listen and enjoy, Firecrackers! 

Joanne Boland

Hey Firecrackers! I hope you’re all doing well! What have you all been up too? This week I’m starting out by talking a bit about comedy. Now, I (obviously) love comedy and recently we went to see some stand up at the Hollywood Improv with our new friends Mark and Carla, and the line up was crazy! We got to see some incredible comedians, dare I say comedy legends, like Margaret Cho, Bobby Lee, Kevin Nealon, and Tom Arnold. What I really noticed was the calmness that each of these performers had on stage. For me, stand up makes me a bit sweaty, it’s not an easy thing to do. Improv is definitely more my style, Tina Fey once said “when you have a joke in improv, it’s a joke everyone shares on stage” but when you have a joke in stand up, its all on you. However the same goes for bombing on stage, in improv its a shared feeling of “well, that wasn’t great”, but with stand up, that pressure it totally on you. So, they’re definitely two different beasts, and I’m totally in awe of the calm, laid back energy these folks had! Next up, my guest this week is the incredible Joanne Boland! We first met on the show ‘Train 48’ which was an improv based, news oriented, daily TV show. Our mornings were super early, but we had such a good time on this set and of course, became great friends. You may also know Joanne from her roles on ‘Carter’, ‘Strange Empire’, or ‘Being Erica' or maybe films like ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ or ‘Saw IV’. Wherever it may be from, you know she’s one talented gal. Have a listen firecrackers and enjoy! 

Kathleen Phillips

Hey firecrackers! What an amazing time we’re living in. Every time I hop onto social media, (which lets face it, is where I get my news), I’m seeing all of the courageous and powerful stories from these incredible women coming forward about their experiences. Their bravery is so inspiring and I just want to say it again, to all of these women, you are supported and keep speaking your truth! Keep speaking up and lets keep moving toward a better future! Next up, our guest this week is Kathleen Phillips, man this firecracker is truly a jacqueline of all trades! She’s been on ’Sunnyside’, ‘Mr. D’, and ‘Filth City’ amongst much, much more. I’ve always admired her and am thankful I get to call her a friend. Enjoy, firecrackers! 

A Note From Naomi


It’s been a big week for the Toronto theatre community. For those of you that don’t know, Albert Schultz, who was the AD at one of the countries largest theatre companies, Soulpepper, was accused of sexual harassment in the theatre. Four amazingly bold, brave women; Diana Bentley, Patricia Fagan, Kristin Booth, and Hannah Miller came forward with their stories. It’s been an intense, heart breaking time and I have searched with what to say about the whole thing. 

I decided to leave this note for the Firecracker Department members and not to have a guest this week. Instead, I want to make YOU my guest. Get YOUR voice out there. Send me your emails, voice files, tweets with what advice you would give your younger self, If you want to leave your name and where you’re from you can, but you don’t have to! 

I know your words will ring so loud with our community that our hearts will get stirred into action.

With love,


Irene Sankoff

Hey firecrackers! Where in the world are YOU!? Are you also in a freezing cold climate like I am? ‘Cause it’s pretty chilly up here in Toronto and I’m doing whatever I can to stay warm until I’m back in LA! Let me know what you do to stay warm over social media! Speaking of cold climates (yes, we’re using this as a transition, haha!) here’s the second episode from my trip to New York City! I sat down with Irene Sankoff, who has been doing incredible things in the world of theatre for quite some time now. She was one of the originators of “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding” which was a huge hit in Fringe and in the Mirvish theatres in Toronto. Now, the play she co-creater with her husband David, “Come From Away” is on Broadway! I’ve known Irene for some time now, through the Second City community and what not, but getting to sit down with her for this interview and talk all about her journey was more than a treat. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did, firecrackers! 

Astrid Van Wieren

Hey firecrackers! First of all, I want to thank everyone who has been writing, tweeting, or commenting on our posts talking about the show and about the guests that have inspired you! We’re so happy that you are connecting with this podcast, our team works very hard to bring it to life and it means the world to us that you’re tuning in! Next up, we have Astrid Van Wieren from the Broadway musical “Come From Away”! I travelled to New York for this one and I want to talk about the idea of getting lost in a new city. While I was down there, I carved out some time and just hit the town and explored. It got me thinking a lot about those who move to a new city, or even a new country. So, I’m curious, for those of you whom have relocated in your life, how did you adjust to the new environment? How did you go about rebuilding your community? I’d love to keep this conversation up, please e-mail, tweet, or comment and tell me your stories! Anyway, this trip to NYC was amazing, I got to catch the show and then sit down with not only Astrid, but the creator, Irene Sankoff (whose episode will be next!). Astrid is incredible, we talked all about her life, career, and this incredible musical, if you can get down to NYC, I definitely recommend you go see “Come From Away”! Enjoy this one, firecrackers! 

Natasha Negovanlis

Hey firecrackers! We’re back after a bit of hiatus and we missed you guys! But believe me, a lot has been going on, both in my personal life and in general. So, I wanted to touch on what’s happening right now in our industry, and as much as I want to stay totally positive, I think its important to talk about the #metoo campaign. When this all started, I found myself thinking back on my experiences and how I brushed off a lot of inappropriate behaviour by saying “oh, they’re just creepy”. This is the common way to deal with it amongst a lot of women. We diminish our experiences because its not even close to what other women, even close friends of mine, experience. So, how do we help in this situation? How do we ensure we will continue moving forward? I don’t know the answer to these questions yet, but its on my mind and I think its more important than ever that both women and men support those who have come forward and continue to lift each other up! Firecrackers, lets keep these conversations going! Talk to me on social media, or even e-mail us at, we want to hear from you! Anyway, on a lighter note, my guest this week is the incredible Natasha Negovanlis! You may know her from her digital series ‘Carmilla’, which was just adapted into a feature film, ‘The Carmilla Movie’, or perhaps from her roles in ‘Almost Adults’ or ‘Murdoch Mysteries’. Whatever the case, if you’ve seen her act, you know she’s one hell of a firecracker! We had a great chat about her journey so far in the industry, her family, and so much more. Enjoy!

Emma Hunter

Hey firecrackers! I’m coming at you from Toronto this week where we’re in the middle of the Toronto International Film Festival. This time of year is always crazy and exhausting but most definitely exciting! My highlight so far this year was being a part of a charity event for Rainbow Camp with Colin Mochrie, Deb McGrath, and their daughter, Kinley. Rainbow Camp is a one-week camp for LGBTQ2+ and their families, its a safe place for them to go, be a part of this community, and most importantly, have fun! Man, what an amazing event to be a part of. I’m going to post a link below to their website, please check them out, donate if you can, help spread the word, and get inspired by the incredible things this organization is doing! Okay, so next we have Emma Hunter as our guest and I freaking love this woman. Her and I have been on ‘Mr. D’ together for a while now, but you also may know her from ‘The Beaverton’, ‘Royal Canadian Air Farce’, or even ‘Spun Out’. You also need to check out her video from ‘Just For Laughs’, which I’ve posted below! We talked about pretty much everything, but those topics include her family, what’s happening in her world, and so much more. Enjoy this one firecrackers and get inspired!

Melanie Scrofano

Hey firecrackers! This week I found myself confined to my hotel room in Halifax and the more time I spent in there, I realized how easily hotels can make you feel shut in. So, I decided to get out there and do something creative, something away from the computer, something outdoors! I went out, got some paints, a canvas, and taught myself to paint. I’m definitely no artist, haha, but it helped with the mundanity of hotel living! And I want to know, what is it you guys do to get yourselves out of rut? To feel inspired and creative? Let me know on social media! Our guest this week is the kick-ass, hilarious, Melanie Scrofano! She’s blowing up our television screens right now as the lead on ‘Wynonna Earp’, but you may also remember her from ‘Designated Survivor’ ‘The Listener’ or ‘Being Erica’. We recorded this episode a little while ago, while it was still hush-hush that she had a baby, so when she showed up with her little guy, it was an incredible surprise! We talked all about her family, her path as an actress, creativity and learning to do new things, and so much more. I think you guys are going to be inspired by this vibrant firecracker. Enjoy!

Camryn Manheim

Hey firecrackers! I’m coming at you from Halifax this week where I’m shooting ‘Mr. D’ and I want to give a huge shout out to our crew for the show! Our transport department, who gets me where I need to be, because lets face it, I don’t know where I’m going without them, our hair and make up team, our camera team, our production team, our writers and directors…there’s just too many to list but all of them are truly incredible! Next, our guest this week is Camryn Manheim! This woman is probably the definition of inspiration. You might know her from her golden-globe winning role on ‘The Practice’ or as Delia Banks on ‘Ghost Whisperer’, or maybe from her kick-ass performances on ‘Person of Interest’ or ‘Major Crimes’. Her resume is a mile long and every time she graces the screen, she knocks it out of the park! We had an amazing chat and really dove into it, so give it a listen, enjoy, and get inspired!