The most talked about event of the year (the sixth annual Dallas Comedy Festival, DUH) has officially released a lineup of awesomely hilarious groups that will be traveling down from all over the fifty nifty United States to make us laugh. And I (the luckiest blogger) get the privilege to chat with some of these wonderful groups so we can all get to know them a little bit better. My first group to interview is Rollin’ in Riches, a two-man crew made up of Rich Baker and Rolland Lopez out of the the nifty state of California. We sat down at the sunny Little Beach in Maui to get all the gab on this hilarious duo.
Thanks for coming down to Dallas! Where are you dudes from originally? And what’s a weird/fun/awkward fact about that place?
Rich: I am originally from Fort Worth, so this festival is giving me a trip home. For most people I've met in the midwest or the west coast, when I say I'm from Fort Worth I generally get one of two responses: "Where?" and "Isn't that a suburb of Dallas." Fort Worth has the following nicknames that I'm aware of: Funky Town, Panther City, Cow Town, and Where the West Begins.
Rolland: I'm from Burlingame, California, but usually tell people San Francisco to avoid additional questions like "Where?" and "Isn't that a suburb of San Francisco?" Whenever I visit my family, I enjoy seeing how all my childhood memories have been replaced by a Chipotle.
Speaking of places, this is improv and we get to make things up. This is a real, live interview: where is it taking place and name five things around us.
Rich: It was nice of you to interview us on Little Beach in Maui. I spy a 1. Yoga Circle, 2. Person selling magic mushrooms, 3. Half the people with no clothes on, 4. a whale breaching the ocean surface, 5. all the colors in my brain because the magic mushrooms just took affect.
Rolland: I don't notice those things...I'm too busy looking at the five beach waiters milling around NOT bringing me a Malibu Rum and Pineapple Juice.
Now let’s get deep. Why do you think comedy is important to the daily grind of life? Was there ever a time it helped you through a rough time?
Rich: I can't speak for Rolland, but I didn't figure out how to be funny (intentionally) until I was a senior in high school. I so desperately wanted to be funny, but it never worked out. One day, I realized that the mere act of being my unfiltered self was funny. I no longer had to try. And then I realized the more I was me the funnier I was. But even more importantly, the more fun I had living life.
One time I stopped a fight from happening on the basketball court with comedy. Two guys started pushing each other. I think it was because of a foul or something. And it was that crucial moment right before a punch was thrown and everything was silent, and I just said as matter of fact as I could manage, "What is this, hockey?" No one laughed. But the two potential brawlers stopped staring at each other to look at me, because what I said didn't make sense to them. With their full attention, I went on to say, "Well, it sounded funny in my head." They both laughed at me and no one threw a punch. So, I'm not sure if I used comedy or the lack of comedy to prevent a fight, but the result was the same.
Rolland: That's interesting you say that Rich, because I sincerely didn't figure it out until the summer AFTER high school. I was travelling abroad with a group of other students and I "tried" to be funny, but no one laughed. This older girl turned to me and said, "What you said was actually kind of funny, but you said it like you were saying 'Please pass the salt.'" After that, I started actually paying attention to what made things funny or not funny.
I'd like to say that comedy has helped mask my problems and insecurities, but I'm pretty sure those have still been evident even with the laughter.
Alright, just SPILL it already! When or how did you two get together (you know...as an improv group)?
Rich: Rolland saved my life in 'Nam. Not the war, but we were both visiting Vietnam when I got attacked by a Komodo Dragon. He stepped in between us and wrestled the dragon into submission. Afterwards I said, "I can never repay you, but I can improvise with you. That's the only gift I have to give." He shrugged and said, "Whatever," and we've been inseparable ever since.
Rolland: I had read in some novel as a kid that when you save someone's life you're responsible for that life from that day forward, so I had assumed I was stuck with him. I should probably look that up.
Rolland, what’s your favorite thing about Rich? Rich, what’s your favorite thing about Rolland?
Rich: I love that Rolland is always willing to be little spoon. Until we can afford a hotel room with two beds, this is the most comfortable situation.
Rolland: I know some people would say that that makes Rich out to be a bit selfish but I find it's actually quite generous of him. He makes me feel safe.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Rich and Rolland: We like to peel metaphorical onions.
Rollin' in Riches performs on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 p.m. at the Dallas Comedy Festival. Tickets are on sale now.
Tori Oman is a level three student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.