Scoop On Sketch: Walker Dog

It was a Dark and Stormy Cocktail of an evening when Blitsy Kittenz dusted off the Taco Bell shell crumbs from her jumpsuit while she skipped down Main Street. She was running late to interview at the Dallas Comedy House. She was to interview Walker Dog, you see. Walker Dog is a wonderful group filled with sweet cream cornies, a bunch of crunchy granola guys and gals like, Elizabeth Burkhead, Brent Crable, Jay Jacoby, Jeff Garlish, Molly Jakkamsetti and their lion leader, David Allison. Blitsy ran into the green room and bellowed, “Tea for two and how about I interview you?!” They all stared at her and said, “Interview, yes. Tea, no.”

That’s when the REAL talk began:

Blitsy Kittenz: How has everyone’s Walker experience been so far?

Jay: It goes by a lot more quickly. I was talking to Brent before this and with Sketch 2 and three we had the opportunity to submit a sketch and it wouldn’t be that great but people would give you notes and then you’d edit it and there would be three rounds of editing. Here you need to have a strong idea up top.

Brent: Definitely more challenging. In a good way. You can’t write some BS sketch. It has to be vetted out and you have to bring it. You have to write good stuff, pitch good stuff and have your performance stuff down as well. You have to be on top of your game.

Jeff: A lot of times you want to try and work out the ideas you have but with this, if you don’t have it fleshed out already you have to kick it to the curb and go with what you know is going to be strong.

Elizabeth: We’re going counterclockwise? For me, there’s two main differences. The big differences would be that I’ve felt much more inspired doing this than I did in sketch classes. Two sketches a week versus one that was improvised. The other thing is, David’s approach is a bit different than I’d had before. One, he has more of a collaborative decision making process and I’m not sure if that’s more his personality or whether he has accepted that we are competent enough.

Blitsy Kittenz: Is it just your personality, David?

David: I haven’t taught a sketch 3 in a while. It’s something that I’ve learned lately, I’d like to think it’s something I’d do in sketch 3. I think a lot of it is trust and this is a good group. For me it’s very important, as a director, to make sure that everyone in the cast is excited about the show they put up. If they’re barely in it or if in every scene they have one line, they’re not going to be that excited and it’s going to be more of a chore. If they have one or two characters they’re excited to play though, they’re going to put the work in across the board. It’s also important to balance input sketch wise. If the show is five sketches from one person then that’s just one voice. We have five fantastic voices!

Jeff: Stop!

David: No, we do! We need to show that everybodies input was apart of it.

Elizabeth: The other thing is David focuses more on emotions. When we first did a rehearsal he asked this question that I had never been asked before. He asked, “How is your character feeling? What is their emotion?” and then we play that emotion.  Even if the emotion is like, “She ate beans for breakfast”.

Molly: It is a quicker process and a more challenging one. We are writing it independently and then when you bring it to the table everybody gives feedback, which is good. It’s been a lot of fun!

Brent: Can I add one more thing? About the emotion, I think that’s the most underutilized portion of sketch. The acting part is important because, we can all write sketches, but if we don’t present it well enough it might not get picked or it might not do well in front of a crowd. That’s what David made us look at like, “What’s your character's motivation?”. That’s stuff I would do back in a Meisner class. It’s a big deal of bringing a sketch to life.

David: Yea! There’s this concept they teach early on in sketch classes which is, “Pitch with confidence”. So that your idea, no matter what you personally think of it, is pitched with gusto so that everyone else in the group can enjoy it and be inspired by it and they might make a connection with it that they wouldn’t have made if you walked in with a defeated attitude. That’s something I tried to emphasize across the board, If you’re reading your lines at a table read, give it your all. Don’t lack confidence just because it’s not your big part or maybe you didn’t write the sketch or maybe you don’t think it’s funny. We all need to support each other by giving everything we got.

Elizabeth: To add to that, I think that’s maybe why I’ve been so inspired. There's been less emphasis on, “Find the game, hit the game, game, game, game”. I freeze up with that sort of thinking whereas focusing on the emotion is easier and helps me crank it out.

Jeff: I think it’s been pretty incredible how fast we’ve meshed. We never really knew each other personally before this and still gelled from day one. We’ve actually done our work is amazing.

Jay: It’s a fun group. Brent and I have been through the sketch program together but this whole group, from the start, respected each other and respected each other’s ideas. The trust was there from day one which is so necessary and important for a quick show.

Blitsy Kittenz: So your second show is ready to go?

Molly: Not ready to go! Not ready to go!

David: All the sketches are done, though!

Walker Dog performs an entirely new show on Wednesday, August 30th at 9:30pm. Walker Sky performs their last August show on August 23rd at 9:30pm. Every Wednesday is Walker Night filled with fresh, original sketch comedy. 

Blitsy Kittenz is a fake character that interviews lovely people created by Emily Gee. Emily writes for the DCH blog and performs improv at Dallas Comedy House. She loves peanut butter, blooming lilies, her pup Gutter and the owner of the XBOX name: IceColdHofsicle. You can see Emily perform with Photobomb, Out of the Blue, Rapid Weight Gain and the Family Friendly show.