5 Questions with ‘Maria and the Mennos’ Costar Kenton Dyck

Kenton Dyck costars in the brand new Winkler-set sitcom Maria and the Mennos. He is also a radio personality on Mix 96.7 in Steinbach and part of the sketch comedy troupe Sidetrack Bandits.  Maria and the Mennos airs Wednesdays at 9:30 pm (CST) on YES TV (Ontario) and can also be streamed on-demand on the YES TV website. 

1. Congratulations on the debut of Maria and the Mennos. How was the process of TV acting different from some of the other acting you’ve done?

Well, first off, I have never had the opportunity to act as a 9 to 5 job before. I have done a bunch of plays, sketch comedy, and improv, but that has always been in addition to a separate job. It was very cool to spend two and half months living in the world of Maria and the Mennos and acting as a full-time gig! I felt like I learned a great deal doing it every day all day. Second, most of the acting work I have done in the past has been in front of a live audience. In those shows, you start by blocking out the show, then you play around, figuring out what works best. Finally, you spend a bunch of time polishing and perfecting everything before actually performing. In TV and Film, you never get the high of a live performance at the end, but you spend most of your day in the “play around and figure out works” stage, which is the best part of any rehearsal. Once you get a couple great takes, you move on to the next scene and begin the process all over again. It’s just such a fun day of messing around!

2. The show portrays both Filipino and Mennonite characters. What have you learned about Filipino culture from filming the show? Was there anything about Mennonites that was new to you? 

There’s plenty of surface-level stuff I learned about such as foods, Christmas traditions, and their knack for overstocked potlucks but the thing that really stuck with me is the Filipino terms of endearment and respect. For example, the words Kuya (brother) and Ate (sister) are used not only to identify siblings but are also used in reference to cousins or an older person within your generation that deserves respect, perhaps even a close friend. I found this sort of language incredibly endearing and because Victoria Exonde (Maria) would always call Joseph Savillo (Maria’s brother Angelo) Kuya Joseph, I unwittingly fell into the habit of doing the same. They’ve got similar terms for different generations and relationships and I found it to be very positive and encouraging to be around. Regarding the second part of that question, I did not know that there was more than one way to sing Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, and I FAR prefer the way I grew up singing it!

3.We often hear about off-screen antics on the set of TV shows and movies. Got any stories to share?

Okay, I have one that is both on and off screen! In Episode 4, Hymn Sing, there is a scene in which Chuck (Hank) and I use a homemade catapult to launch full bottles of iced tea across the garage. The solution our production team came up with was an unassuming piece of wood and what you would do is prop it on a large chest, put a bottle in a shoddy basket on one end and stomp on the other. None of us had very high expectations but the first time we tried it out, the bottle flew out with such force that it cleared the entire length of the garage and hit the garage door two feet above the head of Micaela Lozano, our director for the episode! Unfortunately the take was completely unusable because everybody in the vicinity, including the camera operators, let out involuntary gasps! Needless to say, we made some adjustments going forward.

4. You’re also involved with the sketch comedy/improv group Sidetrack Bandits who perform regularly in Steinbach. What are some of your favourite sketches from your performances with the group?

I think my favourite sketches are the MennoNews segments that Jeremy Plett and I do because the characters are a blast to play as we both have such a close connection to the type of old Mennonite men they are based on. And, our audience seems to really get a kick out of MennoNews which is certainly a plus! I also love performing our big physical comedy sketches. My favourite of those is a piece we call Floppy Surgery in which I play an unconscious patient who is accidentally knocked off the operating table. Jeremy and Cameron play doctors who spend the entire sketch trying to get me back on the table and it is both physically challenging and ridiculously satisfying to pull off!

5. What would you rather eat – vereniki and schmaunt fat cooked by Maria and the Mennos costar Victoria Exconde or chicken adobo cooked by you?

This is tough, both are VERY good meals… and Victoria is a capable cook… but so am I! I think I am going to go with Adobo cooked by me. Vereniki can be challenging to get right so I think chicken adobo would be easier. Plus if I didn’t get it just right, I probably wouldn’t notice as much as I would if the vereniki and schmaunt fat was a touch off.

Kenton Dyck with Maria and the Mennos costar Victoria Exconde.

(photos courtesy of Maria and the Mennos)