Have you ever thought about your dream home? Have you ever thought about how it would look in miniature?
That’s precisely what the new CBC Gem competition show Best in Miniature is meant to showcase. The show brings together a group of artists who create miniatures — miniature versions of real life objects — and compete to create their dream home at one twelfth of its real size. The show is hosted by Canadian comedian Aba Amuquandoh, a U of T alum and a former member of the UC Follies, the University College theatre and sketch comedy group.
The Varsity talked with Amuquandoh via Zoom to discuss how she got involved in the project and her experiences on set.
Before hosting Best in Miniature, Amuquandoh was a rising star in the Canadian comedy scene. She worked with Toronto-based sketch comedy group The Sketchersons and on other CBC projects like FreeUp!, a yearly Emancipation Day special, and CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a sketch comedy show that satirizes current events. Before these endeavours, she graduated from U of T with a major in drama and minors in African studies and women and gender studies.
A few months before filming, Amuquandoh got a direct message on Instagram that invited her to the show’s casting. In addition, there were comments on her photos telling her to check her direct messages.
At first, Amuquandoh didn’t believe that the messages were real. “I was like, okay, I’m being spammed. Like, this is fake, this is not real… my Nigerian senses are tingling, this is a scam for sure. But when I answered the DM, it was a real casting call,” said Amuquandoh.
Before hosting Best in Miniature, Amuquandoh didn’t know much about miniatures. However, she did often watch videos of people creating them. “I’ve always kind of used it as a self-soothing type of thing,” she said. “Like, I come home from work and watch the videos.”
“I really like watching a mini waffle being made — like, mini fried food,” she added.
Needless to say, working on the show exposed Amuquandoh to the world of miniature creation, which is a niche art form with a cult following. Amuquandoh compared the show to The Great British Bake Off, describing it as sweet, but also highly competitive. She found it particularly interesting to hear how some of the contestants got into creating miniatures, and took any opportunity to ask more about their love for miniatures.
“It’s entertaining to watch [them] being built, but it’s another world altogether, hearing why someone likes doing miniatures,” she said.
“I think people just like to make replicas of things that remind us of our fondest memories or things that encapsulate our hopes for the future,” she added. “You know, I was saying the other day, no one can afford to buy a house. So why wouldn’t we be obsessed with miniature houses?”
Amuquandoh also shared a few fond memories from the set, including an instance in which she was taking a closer look at a contestant’s creation and accidentally broke off a window. “[The contestant] just looked at me like, ‘Are you serious right now?’ I felt so bad. And I did not touch anything else for the rest of the competition.”
She added, “In my defence, I barely touched it.”
The first episode of Best in Miniature aired on February 11.