[Photo Credit: Jason Hensel]
This Friday marks the debut of Stand By She, a sketch comedy show created by and starring Darcy Armstrong, Jordan Armstrong, Madison Frihart, Chelsea Gomez and Jessica Roth. The creation of any sketch show, especially one that is this funny, takes A TON of time, so I wanted to find out more about their process, what audiences can expect and how this whole wonderful show came about.
Creating a sketch show is an emotional rollercoaster. How are you feeling right now?
Darcy Armstrong (DA): Excited, nervous for everyone to see something we’ve been working on for so long!
Jordan Armstrong (JA): Very excited! We began writing this show in May, so I'm really happy we're finally getting to take it from a script and put it on stage.
Madison Frihart (MF): Anyone that knows me pretty well knows that the closer I get to a sketch show opening, the more I constantly think "I don't know my lines." when I've had them memorized for weeks, it's a weird thing that happens to my mind.... so right now I don't think I know my lines.
Chelsea Gomez (CG): I keep forgetting that this is the show week. I keep thinking, “Oh, we’ve still got time,” when we definitely don’t.
Jessica Roth (JR): Actually I feel good. We have been working on this since May so I am ready to see the fruits of our labor. A piece like the one we wrote has a message that is dear to all of us. Let's just hope it hits and of course people find it funny and entertaining.
How did this group come about?
JA: Darcy messaged me on Facebook and said she wanted to get a group of girls together to write a sketch show that's all-female and kind of like a narrative adventure story (like Goonies, Stand By Me, etc). I had just graduated from the sketch program and was wanting to write a sketch show -- this sounded so fun and so perfect!
DA: I had the idea that we should do a coming of age story for women and I asked a group of funny women I wanted to work with. [Answer redacted at Darcy’s behest]. This answer is too long just take the first sentence.
MF: It was so long ago I don't even think I remember. I know Darcy wanted to write an all ladies show, and asked me and I immediately was like.. I don't know my lines but YES.
This show is directed by Jonda Robinson (That 90s Show, Return Of The 90s, Frisky Business and many more). When did you bring her on board?
DA: I think after our second meeting. Tyler Simpson (Relatable Skit Comedy) gave some very sage advice, he probably doesn’t even remember saying it, that the most important thing in writing a sketch show is to get a director early, so we made it a priority.
JR: Like any good process we brought Jonda in when we were confident we had a solid idea and some rough sketches. The director is really the glue that holds it all together. So glad she wanted to be apart of it.
MF: Not soon enough, she is the most organized human being and director once she came on in she was like THIS GOES HERE, THIS GOES HERE BATTA BOOM BATAA BING, you're cut, you stay. Kidding she didn't cut one of us.
One of the many cool things about this show is that it was written and directed by all women. What are some of your favorite comedic pieces created by women?
DA: Playing House was the answer that sprang from my heart. It’s beautiful, it’s funny, it deserved way more than it got.
JA: I love any project involving Tracey Wigfield or Tina Fey. Of course I'm also a huge fan of "Broad City" and "Teachers."
MF: My room in middle school and high school was Lucille Ball themed... but anything Mindy Kaling writes is fantastic!
CG: Broad City is my #1 right now. I think it’s so perfect.
JR: Anything Sarah Silverman. It's just something about a woman not giving a shit and doing "her" without apology that gets me every time.
Some of you perform on Walker (DCH House Sketch) teams. How has that program influenced your process in this show?
JA: I like to think that it's helped with my acting and my ability to memorize lines. I was so nervous when I had to be off-book for Stand By She, but memorizing was actually a breeze because I've been having to memorize so much for Walker Herschel every month! Walker and Stand By She have also forced me to leave my comfort zone. A year ago I wouldn't be caught dead singing on stage in front of people. Now I've done it twice with Walker Herschel and I'll be singing again in Stand By She (my apologies ahead of time, everyone).
Sketch shows evolve significantly through their development. What was your favorite joke/character/scene that you had to cut along the way?
DA: We really wanted to work a bike scene into the show, but couldn’t really work it out logistically. Even just one scene of someone riding a bike across the stage, I’m still hopeful. Someone bring their bike to our show please.
JA: We cut a scene where we had to jump through a bunch of metaphorical "hoops" in our adventure. We were going to push two boxes together with one labeled "wage" and the other labeled "gap." So we were "closing the wage gap." Then we were going to break through a glass ceiling. You know, girl power stuff!
MF: There was a scene in the middle of the show where we had some special guests that came up with a choreographed dance (which was their idea), and I laughed every time I saw them do it. It didn't make it in the show but wow, it got me good.
CG: There was an idea we had to make the guys involved in the show be literal set dressing like a school play that I personally enjoyed.
JR: Originally Emily as the witch was a small character I had written for one scene. As the show developed we saw the witch as more significant and she eventually developed an even bigger voice throughout the whole show. I feel a lot of this is due to the way Emily portrays her.
This show centers on a group of friends growing up together. Which historical figures (past or present) would you want to be in your crew?
DA: Just like anyone who has the title warrior queen or who was accused of being a witch.
JA: Princess Diana, Oprah, and... can Mariska Hargitay count?
MF: Lucille Ball, Mindy Kaling, all the SNL ladies past, present and future, and definitely Snoop Dogg.
CG: I think a fun historical figure would be Cleopatra. She knew how to be a boss bitch and she was dramatic as hell.
JR: In no particular order - Tina Fey, Oprah, Coco Chanel, Hillary Clinton, Isadora Duncan. I feel I could conquer the world rolling with this crew.
Describe your show in one word.
Stand By She opens this weekend! For tickets and show information, visit Dallascomedyhouse.com.