Carolyn Taylor (Baroness von Sketch Show) grew up obsessed with the 1988 Calgary Olympics, specifically with figure skaters like Germany's Katarina Witt. So why not turn obsession into reality by choreographing an Olympic-level routine to a Whitney Houston song, and film the journey for a series titled, I Have Nothing?
If it sounds a little crazy for a comedian without professional skating experience to choreograph a figure skating routine fit for Olympians, you're not wrong. But it makes for one of the most interesting, captivating and absolutely hysterical shows to watch (the Crave original series premieres Sept. 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET).
Taylor explained that it came to her in a "flash" one day, that Houston's song, "I Have Nothing," the single from The Bodyguard, is the perfect song for a professional figure skating routine.
While Taylor would talk about this in her stand up, showing the audience the moves she visualizes in each part of the song, eventually she got to the point where she thought, "What if this routine became real?"
"On stage, I've done it a few times. I was doing it in front of an audience and for some reason, ... I don't know why, I started saying to the audience, 'Oh, and guess what, I'm going to do this. I'm actually going to do this,'" Taylor told Yahoo Canada. "They'd laugh, ... and then I was like, 'Well, what if I did? Why am I saying this to people? Why am I saying I'm going to do this?'"
As Taylor was forced to spend more time home alone when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she began thinking about starting this process. She teamed up with Zack Russell, who directed and executive produced I Have Nothing (the series produced by Catalyst and Blue Ant Studios), and they started drilling down what this journey could possibly look like.
You're not the only one who may be thinking about the ridiculousness of this plan. In fact, some of the people closest to Taylor are very open in the series about how this is a bizarre project for her to attempt.
"She's a dreamer, but her dreams are really weird," Taylor's friend, Tracy, said in I Have Nothing.
Walking with Taylor through much of this process is actor, writer and comedian Mae Martin.
"They were on stage with me a few of the times I performed the Whitney Houston routine," Taylor explained.
"So, Mae I think was one part coming as friend and one part coming as like, just sick curiosity. Like how is this going to happen? And they really do delight in the ... challenge of it all."
A comedy, sports doc and psychological thriller in one
Much of I Have Nothing starts with Taylor leaning into the comedy of it all. She talks to a group of figure skating teens about this goal, but remains adamant that she needs Olympic-level, adult professionals. Taylor also sees a psychic to talk about this dream she has. But that aspect of comedy eventually starts to shift.
Things sort of change when Taylor connects with decorated Canadian figure skater and choreographer Sandra Bezic. It's still absolutely hysterical, but you can tell Taylor starts taking her goal very seriously.
Not only is Bezic tasked with teaching Taylor how to be a real choreographer, but Bezic was also the golden ticket to Taylor being able to work with skaters at the Olympic level she envisioned for this choreography.
We'd hate to spoil all the amazing people Taylor ends up getting to participate in I Have Nothing, but we will tease that she ends up working with 1988 and 1994 Olympic Champion Ekaterina Gordeeva, and her husband, David Pelletier, who's a 2002 Olympic co-gold medallist (with Jamie Salé).
"When [Bezic] says, 'This isn't a joke anymore,' ... I was like,' Oh, God. Well, I can't say no to the chance of working with [Ekaterina Gordeeva] and David Pelletier,'" Taylor said. "But I can't make a joke of it.
"So the comedian in you goes, 'OK, this is real, this is going to happen, commit, go through it.'"
Taylor described Pelletier as the person who may initially seem like the "outgoing" one in the couple. However, she recognized he had more reservations, while Gordeeva was "really open to the process of finding it and discovery."
"I'm asking them to be vulnerable, to work with somebody like me who doesn't know what I'm doing, but they saw that I genuinely care about them. I genuinely care about the song and the routine, and then I'm making myself vulnerable too," Taylor said. "The stakes are high for all of us."
As Taylor explained, she and Russell had outlined some funny moments that were going to be engineered for the series. But as things got more serious, Taylor started to prioritize just executing this whole idea.
"I think the genre is one part comedy, one part sports doc and one part soft psychological thriller," Taylor said.
"I made the choice during the process to believe the delusion, to live in it as if it were the truth and it was happening. So I guess it asks of the viewer and of myself, of all of us, 'What is truth? What is reality? What is dream? What is it to pursue it? ... If you say you are something, are you something? If you're doing it, are you?'"
Now that we've seen Taylor go through this process, completely enthralled in this journey, could there be more skating choreography in her future?
"If that figure skating world would have me, I would take another crack," Taylor said. "I'd love to do a [live tour] or something.
"I love weird life experiences and so Sandra Bezic was like, we could collaborate on something, another choreographer's like, let's collaborate. So I like to say yes when things feel good and fun, and this feels really good and fun."
How to watch 'I Have Nothing'
All six episodes of I Have Nothing premiere on Crave Sept. 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET.