Comedian Tina Randell hits the road, taking her chain-smokin’ foolishness up-along to Alberta, perfect for what ails home-sick Newfoundlanders who’d love to ‘be drove’ as much as the rest of us
The Port Rexton-born comedian is drove. “Enough to smack da mouth of ya,” Tina Randell opens with a laugh. Truth is, she has been busier than two chimneys in an old man’s shed.
“I worked for twenty-five summers with one of Newfoundland’s most well-known theatre companies, Rising Tide Theatre at the Summer in the Bight Theatre Festival. I also travelled the province during the blustery winter months for over twenty years with Rising Tide Theatre’s Revue where I brought to the stage my ‘Oh me Nerves’ character along with a few others as the cast made fun of that year in politics,” she began. Of course, her career began well before that.
“My mother always said I was too foolish to talk about. She said I always made people laugh, even when I was trying to be serious.”
Randell’s mother, by the way, just might be The Newfoundland Herald’s biggest customer, Randell brags. “She’s been buying a weekly copy since the first paperback arrived around the bay back in the ‘70s and everyone stood around at the store all excited to see a TV guide. And to read the soap opera digest.”
She reads the Herald from cover to cover every week, she continues. “She waits like clockwork during the NTV News for the Lucky Number to be drawn.” Randell has decided not to tell ‘mom’ there was going to be an article about her inside The Herald.
“I want it to be a surprise. That’ll be like winning the lottery – her daughter in the Newfoundland Herald. There may even be a hand of cards and a few sips to celebrate. Being in the Herald is a really big deal around the bay.”
Randell’s ‘Oh me Nerves’ character was inspired by the one and only Donna Butt, artistic director of Rising Tide Theatre. Also the person Randell credits with helping shape her career.“ In the early years, Donna was surrounded by her youngsters, we the actors, and we drove her nuts. In a fun way of course. But I’m sure we got on her last nerve many a day. She’s a hard-working woman. There are days she doesn’t eat. I think there’s time she doesn’t sleep. Don’t have time, she said. And when she’d get so stressed, she might even have a smoke. ‘Me nerves is gone! The youngster’s got me drove!’
A comedic rant
Randell’s life changed in the summer of 2015. “That was an extremely cold summer. I had written a comedic rant for Facebook about the youngsters, the cold weather and the recall of Kraft Dinner. I tagged it to a picture of myself wearing a housecoat and bandanna with smoke hanging out of my mouth.” People just ate it up.
“I had like 700 shares. And back then that was unheard of for me. I had friendship requests coming out of the woodwork. Even a few U.S army men sent me friend requests. To the point, I actually thought my picture must be up on the bulletin board at the army base.”
She started posting writings about the youngster’s first day of school, Thanksgiving, Halloween, whatever. Each time her posts started to attract more and more people. Then came the moment that scared her the most, posting her first video.
“Now my fans get to hear my voice. It’s no longer the voice they imagined in their head. It’s what I actually sound like. Thankfully, the videos were a success. With the majority of each video receiving over half a million views. I had personal messages sent to me not just people from Canada but all over the world, telling me how much they enjoy my post. How I made their day. How I helped with their homesickness. By this time it was too late to give the character a name. She was known as Tina Randell. So that’s who I had to become.”
Randell would be walking through the mall in street clothes and someone would sing out “How’s dem youngsters!?” More and more, she started to be recognized as “missus on Facebook.
“Two summers ago I decided to write a show and tour it across the island. I spent months contacting venues and organizations trying to book my show. Once I had everything in place I left my house and drove across the province in a vehicle that was sponsored to me by Hickman Nissan Clarenville.”
“Not knowing a soul, or if I’d even sell a ticket I went for it. Sold out shows and venues wanted me to come back the following year. People lined up after my performance for photos. It was all surreal. There was a sense of accomplishment that I never felt before. I set out to do something on my own and it was a success,” she shared. Rendell calls her brand of comedy ‘everyday situations with a comical twist.’
So, what’s next? “Due South Promotions is a promotional company from the Burin Peninsula. Jordan Keeping, the founder of the company, approached me and asked if I’d be interested in performing in other provinces. With a huge fan base across Canada and the power of social media, I decided to take the leap. I’m off to Alberta on Sept 16th with my first show in Calgary on the 17th. I’m thankful for Due South Promotions for helping make my Alberta tour a journey I’ll never forget. We plan to take my tour to the Maritimes and Ontario as well,” she says excitedly.
So, who does she find funny? Her brother Keith Randell. Her husband Harry Ballett too– she uses his funny lines in my show all the time, she shares. There’s more, of course.“My onstage husband, Rick Boland, who’s probably the most brilliant comedic actor I’ve ever worked with. My friends and colleagues, Michelle Rex Bailey, Amelia Manuel and Michael Power. I laugh till I cry when I’m with each of these gems, plus Mark Critch and Sue Kent. Both not only have great comedic skills on camera, they’re just as fun and hilarious to hang with off-camera.”
Bottom line, she loves to laugh, she says. ”If I can just bring one smile to someone’s face then it makes it all worthwhile.”