Dave Clarke’s Relevant Sounds

The sound FX artist makes some noise on the set of The Irrelevant Show.

What does the sound of sheep being catapulted over  castle battlements sound like?

Like plucking  surgical tubing, or at least that’s how Dave Clarke, sound effects guy for CBC Radio One sketch comedy show, The Irrelevant Show, recreated it. But the skit didn’t end there: “And the sheep were on fire. I had to create sound for that, too,” says the foley artist, who did it by crumpling cellophane to imitate flames.

Clarke has also created sound and music for Theatre Network, Edmonton Opera and Firefly Theatre. But, he’ll be back to recreating the unthinkable when the The Irrelevant Show returns for a fourth season, beginning Jan. 7 at 11. a.m.

Can you think of a sound that was really challenging to create?

They challenged me last year by asking me to produce the sound of a room full of bears getting up on unicycles and leaving. I tried to do that live with a couple of bicycles and unicycles, lots of bike bells and some hand generators.

Is there a sound you created accidentally?

I once pushed a spoon really hard into some yogurt close to the microphone, and that created a sound like lava for a volcano. I was probably eating yogurt at the time when I figured that out. And, you know, the thickness of the liquid will change the texture of the sound.

What are some classic foley noises?

To get the sound of a punch, you can slap cabbages. For a punch in the face, put it in the fridge, freeze it for a day, let it completely thaw out, and then hit it.

What’s the most elaborate sound you created live, before an audience?

In a sketch called “Clown Burglars,” I created the sound of hundreds of clowns getting out of a clown car and trying to rob a house. We did a shopping trip to Toys “R” Us for a bunch of clown nose horns and ended up buying refill squeakers for dog toys at PetSmart. We had about 20 pairs of hands in the room so we could make the sound of a car door closing and then hundreds of horns. It’s more fun live anyway, because it’s a good visual and gets an extra bit of a laugh.

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