Duos. They aren’t just the best sorts of Cheez-Its (sharp cheddar AND parmesan? I’m so grateful to be alive right now!) but they are an increasingly common troupe permutation. And why not? Few practice logistics to handle, and when you have good chemistry with one troupemate, you have good chemistry with them all.
So is the case with Just Friends, a duo consisting of Paco Giurfa Ley and Kelsey Clay, whose surnames wonderfully rhyme. Paco describes their troupe as “"without a set premise or defined format. Sometimes it's a monoscene, most of the times character pops and scene jumps happen."
Paco specifically asked if they could get their questions answered by one of the duos they draw inspiration from: Amanda Austin and Nick Scott’s Manick. Manick is DCH’s longest-running troupe and has done scads of festivals, a real tag team par excellence.
After greasing the palms of some third world government officials and signing some legal documents that went way over my head, I was able to arrange just that.
Just Friends: How did your troupe come to be?
Nick Scott: How did the universe come to be? Was Manick formed in a spontaneous explosion of matter or did an all-knowing creator purposefully create Manick for the benefit of all? This is a question for scientists and scholars, not lowly improvisers.
Amanda Austin: ^^Predictable Nick answer. I think we played in some kind of mix 'em up one night and it was fun and I enjoyed his style because it was very different than mine. So I asked him if he wanted to try a show together and he said yes and so we did and it was horrible.
JF: What made you decide to do mono-scenes?
NS: I think this happened naturally after a few rehearsals. We tried a bunch of stuff and what seemed to work best for us was longer scenes where we could dive in and make characters multidimensional. Plus all of our other troupes were doing more fast paced stuff, and the other two-man troupes were much more wild and crazy, so we wanted to offer something different.
AA: We both like to sit when we improvise.
JF: Being in a duo makes you responsible for 50% of the show. That's a lot of stage time! How do you guys handle that pressure?
NS: By being dead inside. Once you realize that nothing has meaning and we're all just fleshbags walking toward the grave, the pressure evaporates.
AA: Up until this interview, I never knew Nick was dead inside...though I've had my suspicions. I prefer it because for me, personally, it keeps me laser focused and I'm not distracted by things going on in the theater, etc.
JF: Particularly in duos, both chemistry and leading interesting lives can be very helpful. How are you guys maintaining that balance?
NS: I don't think chemistry is something that can be forced. Amanda I and just happen to have different senses of humor and personalities that are complimentary. We also have very different interests, which means that we bring different perspectives and experiences to every show. So we've never really had to worry about maintaining a balance.
AA: I agree. We get along, but we're very different. We also don't really hang out with each other that much so we usually have new things to talk about when do see it each other before shows. If we have an away game (festival/out of town show), we usually grab dinner beforehand. That's the extent of our friendship, really.
JF. How would you describe Nick in one word? (and/or, How would Nick describe you in one word?)
NS: I would probably describe myself with an onomatopoeia, something like "Oof!" Probably the one word Amanda would use to describe me is "shorts." Also I'd like to point out the sexism inherent in only asking this question about me and not Amanda. I'm not going to do anything to rectify the situation, but I would like to point it out.
AA: Nick is good at pointing out the situation and then stopping right there. I'd describe him as predictable and he'd describe me as long (winded)
There you have it! Nick is about fleshbags, nihilism, and “Oof!” and Amanda is about focus, chemistry, and sitting. We’ve unlocked the secrets of improv.
Just Friends’ next show is September 13th at 9, and Manick’s next date is September 9th at 7.
Kevin Beane graduated from the DCH improv program in 2016 and is in the DCH troupe Preschool Fight Club. He also cohosts Quizprov, with occasional DCH shows, and performs in the Dallas-area troupe Autocomplete.He likes sports, eating, sleeping, board games, poker, euchre, and procrastinating. He hails from Akron, Ohio.