Local comedy troupe sketches find growing audience online

The MurphBudz are, from left, back row: Thomas Whitliff, Aaron Hopkins, Alan Hopkins and Greg Tobin. Front row: Will Ronholm and Jordan Lacroix. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

Sarnia’s own MurphBudz have shared the stage Randy and Mr. Lahey from Trailer Park Boys, ‘Squirrely Dan’ from Letterkenny and award-winning stand-up comic Debra DiGiovanni.

Now they’re hoping to become the next big thing in Canadian comedy.

A few of the six-member crew are comedians but they’re better known for their online video comedy sketches. They’ve released at least 30 so far, all written, produced and directed in Sarnia.

The audience base in Ontario, Michigan and Ohio has recently grown to include viewers around the world.

“None of us have any sports talent, so instead of playing pickup hockey every week we just make funny videos instead,” said Greg Tobin, one of the founders.

The idea for short comedy sketches came to Tobin and brothers Aaron and Alan Hopkins in 2013. Returning to Sarnia after college and finding jobs, they looked for a creative outlet and recruited friends Jordan Lacroix, Will Ronholm and Thomas Whitliff to help out.

The first video, “Why I love cookies, but not baking,” grabbed about a thousand views, which was enough to urge them on.

Many of the sketches take lowbrow jabs at pop culture through parodies and pranks, and sometimes contain strong language.

“If anyone enjoys them then we’ve done our job,” said Tobin.

He and the Hopkins brothers had done comedy before. Lacroix and Ronholm handle the production side while Whitliff brings his own unique skillset.

“I just kind of do crazy things, and I guess I have the best body,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been covered with a lot of yogurt and lotion.”

The most recent video, detailing how to get a free coffee at McDonald’s, is also their most popular. Acting as though they’re pulling a fast one on the fast-food corporation, the Budz buy seven coffees to redeem the stickers for a free one.

“The whole joke is that everyone knows about the sticker thing, it’s been out for years and no one is in the dark with this,” said Tobin, noting some viewers fail to see the irony.

“The vast majority of our stuff is just our humour, and maybe other people will like it,” said Ronholm.

The MurphBudz, whose name is an homage to the Hopkins family dog Murphy, also take their comedy to the stage. In May they opened for K. Trevor Wilson of the Canadian TV show “Letterkenny” at The Station Music Hall, and in March they opened for Debra DiGiovanni at the Sarnia Library Theatre.

Building a comedy profile in Sarnia isn’t easy, the team admits, but video allows them to produce content for a wide audience and still stay in town.

The MurphBudz hope their popularity continues to grow, Alan Hopkins said.

“But if the next ten years is just us doing silly Facebook videos, that is also awesome too,” he said.

To see the MurphBudz in action, visit www.facebook.com/MurphBudz