Director Shannon Kohli (Supergirl, The Magicians) makes her feature film debut with All Joking Aside, a comedy-drama starring Raylene Harewood (Supernatural, Legends of Tomorrow) as an up-and-coming comedian who befriends a comedian on the rocks.
Charlie (Raylene Harewood) is a smart young woman taking her first shot at stand up comedy. During her set before a sparse audience, Charlie meets Brian Markinson’s (Continuum) Bob, a grade-A heckler. In All Joking Aside, Charlie and Bob’s paths are destined to come together, and by the film’s end, it’s for the best for both of them. The pair form an odd-couple relationship that ends up telling a compelling and entertaining narrative.
PopAxiom spoke with Raylene Harewood about becoming an actor, doing stand-up comedy for All Joking Aside, and getting to play something evil.
Raylene Harewood is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and says, “Growing up, I had a lot of hobbies, and acting was one of them.”
“When I was around 16,” she continues, “I was in my first professional theatre show. I had this moment backstage where I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh if I don’t do this for the rest of my life, I will be so unfulfilled.’”
Raylene set her sights on studying acting. “I set my goal to get into a theatre school. I applied to a few and got into a few. I ended up choosing Studio 58 in Vancouver, and the rest is history.”
About All Joking Aside
Raylene’s filmography thus far includes the hit Fox-turned-Netflix show Lucifer, the undead detective series iZombie, and stints on Supernatural, Charmed, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Magicians. “I learned about the part while on the set of The Magicians,” she shares her road to starring in All Joking Aside, “[an episode] directed by Shannon Kholi. She pulled me aside one day and said she was doing a feature, and she thought I’d be great for the lead.”
Raylene auditioned and landed the role of Charlie, a stand-up comic in the making. “That was completely new for me. I was a huge stand-up fan before that. I love John Mulaney, Gary Gulman, but that was my first time doing it.”
Preparation is vital for success in just about anything. “I did one five-minute set a few weeks before doing the film,” Raylene says about her preparation to play Charlie. “That was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.”
“I thought it was going to be an amateur night,” she continues, “but it turned out to be a night for experienced comics to test out new material. I was the only person who had never done it before.” No pressure.
“I wrote it myself,” Raylene says of the material she used in the five-minute set. “Stand-up is fun. I looked at it like a puzzle where you’re figuring out the best way to put words together to make people laugh.”
The stand-up moments in All Joking Aside are crucial to the way the narrative drives forward. “The main thing that we talked about in prep was mostly about getting me comfortable doing the stand-up.”
“We did a lot of me working the writing,” she adds, “especially because stand-up comedy is so personal. It’s tough to write it for someone else. So, that was a challenge, taking what’s written in the script and making it my own.”
“I can’t say I was totally comfortable,” Raylene laughs when asked about doing stand-up comedy. “I think it works for the character. The progression of where she started and where she ends makes sense.”
All Joking Aside was shot in and around New York City. “One of the tougher days was when we shot all the park scenes. It was very cold. Trying to get my mind off of the cold and on whatever I was doing was quite a challenge.”
“It was super-fun,” she says of her experience while making All Joking Aside. “I loved acting with Brian.”
Raylene’s wanted to be an actor since she was sixteen. Who’s inspired her along the way? “I’m going to say something now, but in three hours, I’ll think of something new. I will say Viola Davis is a huge inspiration to me. When I was younger, as a comedic actor, Raven-Symoné was a huge inspiration. She’s so funny in That’s So Raven. David Tenant is one of my favorite actors.”
“I want to play like a villain or something,” she says about future roles, “Cruella DeVille or something like that. Something really dramatic, evil, and glamorous.”
All Joking Aside is available in a digital store near you. “I’ve done a few made-for-TV movies this summer. One is called Cross Country Christmas and another called Cranberry Christmas.”
Is All Joking Aside on your watch list?
Thanks to Raylene Harewood and October Coast
for making this interview possible.
Read more interviews from Ruben R. Diaz!