Outside Indian Head, Saskatchewan about an hour after my pick up at 5:10 AM - ugh, I had to wake up before 5 AM to go to work on CBC TV's sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie. (And of course I woke up every hour on the hour, nervous that I'd sleep through the 4:45 alarm.
Now without giving away the plot of this episode, let's just say that paintball guns are involved. That's all you really need to know.
It must be some kind of first. How many sitcoms start their shoot day with a safety speech?
The mosquitos are the size of VW's at 6 AM here in the conservation area near the town of Indian Head which gets transformed into the fictional burg of Mercy every summer when our show comes to town. It's quite something for they change signage in the town and erect a full size church exterior that's really a false front just like on the Universal Studio's tour. The crew have donned full body suit nets to combat the bugs, but the cast can only rely on makeup mixed with Deet to ward off the critters.
Having never played paintball, I'm astonished to discover that the weapons used in paintball fire rather painful pellets of paint and can cause serious injury or death, according to the warning sticker on the compressed air powered guns we're wielding. The stills photographer takes a shot of us posing like the Muslim-Anglican version of Stallone's upcoming movie The Expendables.
At one point, I deliver my line, cock my rifle and am dismayed when it starts firing into the dirt indiscriminately like an AK-47. That's one for the gag reel.
When it's my turn to get shot, they suit me up with a padded undershirt under my wardrobe. The only problem was that the paintball didn't land on any part of my wardrobe that covered the padding, but smack dab in the center of my neck. Ow.
By mid-day, the crew who were fighting mosquitos must now contend with a tornado watch and we're terribly behind. In fact, I'm sent back to the hotel after lunch because they know they won't get to my last scene today as planned.
But it's going to be hilarious. You just wait.