Andrew Plock

Sketch Speak: "Trump’d: The Musical" - The Off-the-Record Interview

trumpd-posterI know you know it, but it has to be said: If art can send messages, comedy can scream them like your violently political uncle. But in the same way that not all political uncles are immature screamers, comedians can make effective points without embarking on diatribes. True to form, a Dallas Comedy House (DCH) sketch show has struck this balance in a fun, exciting way. They even put music to it! Trump’d: The Musical, directed by Kyle Austin, honestly portrays the show’s namesake and his recent…shenanigans. (Kind of a light word, shenanigans. Escapades isn’t right either…Crusade? Sure, that’s a nice, strong word with no historical significance whatsoever.) It stars the writing, acting, and vocal talents of Ashley Bright, Sallie Bowen, Josh Hensley, Cody Hofmockel, Andrew Plock, and Gabe Vasquez. Though they were not present for this interview, the show received invaluable help from Raye Maddox as show tech, Randy Austin as the show’s composer and live pianist, and Lauren Levine as assistant director. Despite their exhaustion (it’s no easy thing to do an hour-and-a-half long show), they very graciously accepted my request to interview them. The transcript follows. First of all, congratulations, that was a wonderful run. The advertisement that you put out, it’s just Trump’s wig and his name. A lot of people might think, just based off the look of the poster, that this is show driven by politics. Was your goal in writing this sketch to be political?

Cody: [quoting the show] Politics, politics, can be fun.

Josh: [quoting the show] Politics, politics, kill someone. I mean, yeah, wasn’t that basically the whole case? We came together, and we all wanted to do something that was important, and not all of us feel like this election year is really the greatest, and who hates anyone more than Trump, you know? I think it was all political in nature, if you had to look at it.

Ashley: We talked about the issues before we decided on Trump. I mean, we didn’t know we were doing a Trump show when we started writing.

Cody: I think it was on everyone’s mind.

Josh: I think there was so much material with Trump as the character he’s presenting – I don’t think we have a super political agenda, we just made fun of Trump.

Andrew: We did take little snippets of like, what we hate the most about the kind of things he’s spreading – hate against immigrants, hate against women, the weird things he does with his daughter, and all the weird stuff he’s about.

Ashley: And just, how did we get to now? You think in the ‘90s, like who Trump was then, and he’s seriously the Republican political candidate? Like, how did we get there?

Trump'd

And so, using comedy to make a more serious approach to how you feel?

[All laugh.]

Well, you know what I mean.

Cody: Well, once we started, once we decided, “Hey, this is a topic right now, and we can do this and people will respond.” I think we tried to be the least political – I mean, we tried to be as silly as possible. And not really try to push a huge political message. More like, “Hey, this is the show we’re going to do, but we’ll keep it true to the people that are writing it, and just be silly rather than political.”

That makes sense. When you were studying your… "artistic subject," – what kind of research did you do, for Andrew when you were getting into character to imitate him, and when the rest of you were writing about [Trump] for Andrew?

Andrew: I don’t know – for me it was just, I think we all shared a lot of articles about his worst quotes and things that he’s said, which a lot of material just presented itself. You don’t even have to change anything half the time. Everything he says is so ridiculous in the first place…but for me, I just watched him give some speeches, his hand motions, stuff like that.

Kyle: His little bitty hand motions?

Andrew: His ittle bitty hands…Oddly, it felt really easy to be Trump, I don’t know why.

[Author note: I would hazard a guess that it’s because he’s a walking caricature, but who am I to cast judgement upon such a towering, orange monolith?]

Andrew: It’s not a great Trump impression – it’s all body language. And that’s the main thing that I got from it, is that he uses his body a lot to talk…[under his breath] because he doesn’t have good words, probably…

Gabe: And even if you follow the news badly, you know about Trump. It writes itself, because everywhere you turn there is something.

Ashley: Which is why we didn’t go that way. You saw the show, we didn’t write about Trump himself – and when we picked periods of time to send him to, we thought, “What is this time period, and how does it mirror what Trump is about, like the sexism of the witch hunts. That was more what we were going for, with that.

Josh: And every week, people would come in like, “Did you hear this? Did you hear that?” And we had to have a cutoff date, we had to stop writing new stuff and just improvise the show after a certain point. We actually stopped writing at the Republican National Convention – like it says in the beginning of the show, we couldn’t keep up. But even after that, it was so funny to hear us all come together and say, “Did you hear this? Did you hear about this? How ridiculous.”

Trump'd

Is it different when you write sketch to accommodate songs?

[All laugh]

I mean, obviously it was. Could you talk a bit about the ways that you wrote and how those ideas came about?

Cody: Thank god for Randy.

[All agree.]

Andrew: That’s Randy Newman Austin.

[All laugh]

Gabe: That was the thing about it, though. We could write ideas of what we wanted a song to be like, or what to do, and then to come back the next week and he’d say, “I’ve got it! I’ve changed a little bit of it, but it’s the same thing,” and man, ‘cause none of us have that musical background needed to write a song. We can do lyrics, we can be funny about it, maybe, but not make the music like that. It was so hard to tackle, and I don’t think we could have done it without Randy.

Kyle: That’s for sure.

Cody: We would kind of – I guess, when we decided to write a musical, one of the first things Kyle made us do was have everyone go write a song. And so we’d write some lyrics and have a little tune in our head, and when we brought Randy in, we’d just be able to sing the tune we thought of and he would…just be able to play it, because he’s ridiculous. And we worked with him enough to where we got a cohesive song.

Did you have to do vocal training of any kind to –

[All laugh REALLY hard, like, I was killin’ em, guys.]

All: Yes, yes.

Cody: Um, yes.

Kyle: …When I asked these guys if they wanted to do a Trump show, they said, “YEAH!” I asked if they wanted to do a musical - “YEAH!” Can anybody sing? “…ehhhh…”

[All laugh.]

Kyle: I think what’s great about this is that the content is so rich, the songs are so catchy, that we didn’t bother with worrying about that. We knew it’d be fine. It’s a musical that we put together in two-and-a-half, three months. It should’ve taken six months to do. And the amount of time that people put into it is very obvious. When people come prepared and ready and know their stuff – you know how much time they’re putting into it, how many times they’re listening to that song in the car, or at work or whatever. Josh got caught working on Louis and Clark at work doing this [Kyle bobs up in down, in the style of the dance performed during the show].

[All laugh]

Tump'd

Was there a particular part of the show that ya’ll enjoyed the most? Performing, writing?

Andrew: I think everyone’s got their favorites, right?

Cody: My favorite line in the whole show is when Trump says, “I can pivot.”

[All agree.]

That’s a very good line.

Cody: I just think it encompasses the entire show.

Josh: I love Louis and Clark.

Cody: That’s my favorite one, too.

Sallie: Gets me every time.

Gabe: I like the now. We aren’t learning the show any more, and we can just have fun with it. And – oh my god, the preview was so stressful!

Really?

Gabe: I mean, it was our first time performing in front of an audience. And just, “[Redacted] do I remember this line, that line, do I remember where to step?” Now we’re past that point…it’s more second nature, and –

Cody: Now we’re changing stuff, improvising, [redacted] with each other.

Kyle: And, how many people was that their first time to sing in front of people?

[Half the group raises their hands.]

Ah, so that’s Ashley, Terry…

Kyle: Um. That’s Gabe.

[Cue me crapping my pants.]

Oh – what? Oh my god, Gabe, I’m so sorry.

[All laugh]

Andrew: Oh no, don’t worry. That’s what we call him, Gabriel Terry!

Kyle: Off the record, my favorite part is where [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted]. Off the record, of course.

Off the record, gotcha.

Andrew: Oh, and how [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted]. Off the record, too.

Trump'd

Haha, OK. And last question – this comes standard – if your group was a vegetable, what would it be?

Cody: [no hesitation] Corn.

[Author’s note: Please see my interview with the Look at Us show for reference.]

[Andrew laughs.]

Josh: Everybody’s corn…

Cody: [sadly] No, we’re not corn.

Ashley: Maybe we can be moldy corn.

Andrew: Yeah, we’re moldy niblets.

Kyle: What would Trump be?

Cody: An orange bell pepper?

Gabe: Or a carrot, maybe?

A taco bowl?

Sallie: That’s it. That’s what vegetable we are. A taco bowl.

Kyle: We would be Home Depot filled with taco bowls.

Josh: Yes. Agreed.

Gabe: Hm…Maybe an eggplant?

Ashley: I was thinking an eggplant, too!

[Everyone babbles excitedly]

No, The Wrong Party was an eggplant.

[Everyone awws dissapointedly. Go look at that interview, too.]

I’m sorry…I mean, ya’ll could be eggplants too…

Ashley: Maybe an orange eggplant…?

Cody: What’s a type of vegetable where they’ll be like, “Oh, wasn’t expecting that…”

Andrew: What’s a vegetable that has tiny hands?

Josh: Potatoes?

Kyle: We could do like, baby snap peas?

Oh, well, ginger, you call them “fingers of ginger.” That’s like, the technical cooking term or whatever.

Josh: Huh. That’s pretty good.

Gabe: Ginger is gross.

Kyle: What vegetable describes a bunch of random people that probably haven’t worked together a lot in other settings coming together and talking through it at the beginning (followed by yours truly) all pretending to know what they’re doing, and then faking it until we make it?

Ashley: [disgustedly] What vegetable is that?!

Cody: Yeah, what even is that?

[All laugh]

Gabe: Well, we just made that vegetable.

Cody: Wait, we brought a potato up…

Josh: Ooh! A sweet potato!

Ashley: A sweet potato, yes!

Sallie: A yam.

Cody: Once you peel it away…

Gabe: A potato is used in a lot of ways. Very versatile, you can use it in all three meals of the day, snacks…

Cody: Also very accessible to the masses.

All: Ahh, yeah…

Gabe: You could fry it, you could bake it, sauté it…

Kyle: The versatility, that’s worth throwing out there. True to Trump.

Cody: [to me] So, a potato. Sweet or unsweet.

Starchy and terrible for you.

Andrew: [in Trump’s voice] But oh so satisfying.

[All laugh]

Nice…I think that’s all the questions that I have.

Andrew: [In Trump’s voice] All I gotta say, is that if you see Derek Jeter, run. Don’t ask questions, protect your nuts, and turn the other way.

Trump'd

The Dallas Comedy House prides itself on being an open forum. Anyone with a show idea, script, or routine can submit to dchbackstage.com and it will be considered for a show slot. I bring it up because DCH did not ask for this show to be made. Rather, people moved by today’s political atmosphere came together and made it happen. This in itself says something about the passion they have for their subject, and if you can get yourself down to the House to see it in action, you certainly won’t be sorry. So go buy a ticket…and for God’s sake, go vote, too.

Emily Baudot is a DCH graduate and sketch student. When she isn’t at the theater, she’s drinking at one of the bars down the street and trying to justify ordering dessert for dinner.  Or, she’s on her computer pretending she’s a banished orc maiden, whichever one sounds healthier to you. If her crippling addiction to sugar and caffeine doesn’t kill her, she can be seen on stage with the soon to be world famous Wild Strawberry and the already-Internet famous Wiki-Tikki-Tabby (just kidding, they do go online a lot though). She’s also a Pisces because that means something.

(Poster: Ashley Bright. Images: Jason Hensel)

Bulls in Heels

Bulls Show Dallas Comedy House troupe The 1995 Chicago Bulls will walk on stage tonight in high heels. The troupe is asking for show attendees to donate clothes and money, which will be given to Genesis Women's Shelter & Support.

The reason for the high heels, though, is based on Walk a Mile In Her Shoes, an event and organization that asks men to walk one mile in women's high heel shoes in order to raise awareness of violence against women. But the Bulls aren't stopping with high heels. They're donning dresses, wigs, and makeup, too.

"We were backstage before a show (we opened for Atlantic Pacific Billy), and there were heels backstage," troupe member Jua Holt said. "We laughed at the idea of Cesar [Villa] in heels, and the size he'd need to buy. And we 'yes, and' into a Block Party in heels to a full show in drag for charity."

And if you're wondering, Cesar wears a size 17.

Come out tonight to help raise money and donate clothes for a great cause. Funny Scenez starts the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

Personality Quizzes Are Getting Out of Hand

quizNo doubt you've seen the recent influx of faux-personality quizzes on Facebook lately. Most are titled like, "Find out which character you are from 'The Avengers!'" It's a short, multiple choice questionnaire that uses a film, TV show or general pop culture reference to decide who your doppelganger is though simple preferences and everyday decisions. Results usually end up being something you don’t agree with, "You took The Avengers quiz and got Hawkeye!"

"Hawkeye? Dahfuh," you say.

Now, let me be clear -- I see nothing wrong with finding out which fictional character best embodies you. It’s endearing, maybe even empowering, to know that you share the same fictional outlook as fictional Buzz Lightyear. But the quizzes seem to be on a downward spiral lately.

Last week, for some reason I took one about Dawson’s Creek. I have never seen Dawson's Creek, and my knowledge only reaches as far as the song. Even then it’s just the opener, "Idontwannawait...for our lives to be sloweeerr?" Anyways, I'm a Joey. Typical, Andrew. But if it weren't for the fact that there are a million of these quizzes posted hourly by friends, I wouldn't be tempted to waste my time ones like this that I have no clue about.

My biggest peeve with taking them is that you always know how to get to your final destination way too easy. Like when prompted to find out which "Sherlock" character I was -- and of course I wanna be the OG badass himself -- I just chose the most neurotic and self-supporting answers I can find. "There's been a murder! You get to the crime scene and…"  The correct suggestion, "Examine the crime scene for clues others might miss," practically said, "DO EXACTLY AS SHERLOCK DO AND BE A BOSS ON THE SCENE."

I found a few other terrible quizzes on the interwebs, too; Buzzfeed is definitely the worst. They've given up on characters and started doing food. I’m mozzarella? I’m mozzarella?! Dammit, all this time I thought I was a nice feta or at least a Camembert. Vacation spots, "Girls" characters, Hipster meters -- you don’t know me, Buzzfeed, so back off!

But if the quiz isn't super clear about what choices will take you to the answer you want, it's always something ridiculous that you weren't expecting:

OMG! What SitCom Character Are You?

You have food in front of you, what are you eating?

A NY Hot Dog A Cosmopolitan A Home Cooked Meal * A Cup Of Coffee At Your Usual Spot

How would you describe your home life?

Mom Walked Out On Dad, Raised By Father Close Knit Group, Lots Of Things Tie You Together You're A Cousin From Philly Just Trying To Fit In You Don’t Get Along With Your Mother *

You have free time where are you?

At The Coffee Shop Still At Work In The Bar Sitting Around At Home *

*SEE ANSWER BELOW!* * * * * * * * * * *

babydino

CONGRATS! You're the Baby from the sorta hit, prehistoric SitCom, Dinosaurs!

Moral of the story to the world at large, please stop making/taking quizzes, or I’ll have to believe my fictional characters and food preferences as everything I know in life.

 

How To Seem Successful When You're Not

 

Snake_in_basketWe've all been there: After a few months, sometimes years, apart, a group of friends meet at a bar to catch up. One guy finally got his Masters, another has been happily successful with his "biz" (that's what he's going to call it the entire night, by the way), and for the most part everyone has something going on. But you? Not a damn thing. It's not that you don't care about anything, it's just that twice-daily naps and binge watching television has more allure than spreadsheets and 9 a.m. conference calls. Or pants.

If you feel less accomplished than your friends, your best bet is a fictional story that makes you seem important.  And for those who are lacking in the cool facts department, here are a few things that can boost your cred with the buddies. Now, the key to most good lies is being believable yet vague enough to where no one can double check or challenge your new found hobbies.

Snake Mating Expert:

Yep, you have begun legally breeding snakes in your mom's basement for a few months now. Throw out how there was a ton of paperwork involved in getting permits to start a small-batch reptile farm within the city limits. Be sure to note how the experience has been a great vehicle for you to make the best of your time management skills, as well as how it will make you a better, more nurturing parent in the future.

Pro Tip: Use one of those staple removers to make tiny snake bite marks in your arms.

Sold Your Movie Rights:

Tell them you're not fully committed yet, but you've had talks with a mid-level production company about the rights for your life story. Use a confidentiality agreement with the project as a way to diffuse any direct questions your friends will lob at you because everyone will want to know what aspects of your life, and theirs for that matter, will be the focus of the film. Calmly tell them with a light smirk that it's for another side of your life, and if they're in it, it's because they were, and are, a huge part of your story. Ass kissing achieved, situation handled.

Pro Tip: Casually name drop informal versions of famous directors throughout the night. “Yeah, Stevie loved the way you were stood up at prom.”

You Ghost Wrote a Novel:

How can anyone really know that you didn't rewrite the first draft of Bill O’Reilly's "Killing Jesus." I mean who has the time to find out if you really did something that specific? By the way, this can be the toughest one to defend so you have two options: Learn a little bit about random chapters, or claim that your version ended up in pieces on the editing floor. "That's just the ghostwriting world," you say, with an air of confidence. "Sometimes they want you, sometimes they just want your words."

Pro Tip: Create a fake author account -- i.e. bill.o.o.o.oreilly@aol.com -- and send a couple of chains of correspondence claiming how superior your writing style is to the original author's.

You're Recovering From Very Specific Amnesia:

You can't remember a whole lot, but it was immediately after the last time you saw everyone. The roads were slippery, and your single-gear bike lost control on the ride home. Next thing you know, life has become a puzzle, and most days are a feeble attempt at reconstructing the life you once knew.  Tell people you're remembering more and more every day, and that you will cherish the hell out of everyone's help as you continue to get back to you being you.

Pro Tip: Tell them that it only affects points of your memory, and use that for emergency moments like when they need you to pay them back or to sidestep embarrassing questions about other lies you've constructed over the night: “Wait, my mom said I don't really tend to snakes in her basement?," you say panicked and frustrated. "What's real in this life?!"

With these simple fibs, you now have the confidence to express how your fake life is full of incomprehensible badassery. But if you really want to be the most successful guy at the next hangout, maybe you should put on some pants and actually do something with you life; messaging Bill O’Reilly is not recommended.

Andrew Plock is a blogging intern and a Level 2 student at Dallas Comedy House. When he’s not impersonating everything in earshot, he is sorta doing his best as the Managing Editor for THWRD Magazine in Dallas.

 

Inside The Mind of Todd Ramsey: Part 1

IMG_20140218_133121After years of being thought lost to the world, the diary of retired food critic Todd Ramsey was discovered in an uncharacteristic place for the renowned reviewer -- the bathroom stall of a roadside Waffle House. In it are full accounts into the origin of his greatest pieces, giving back story to not only the man himself, but insight on his unique take on fine dining and cuisine. His career sent him around the world in search of gourmet meals, but this latest discovery unveils a stark contrast to the elegant writer Ramsey was known as on the surface. Here are is a section of his entries:

Château de L'excès

Location: New York Cuisine types: Southern French country styles; focused in Marseilles-style seafood Chef: Clément Baillarger Duration open at time of review: 14 months Average rating globally: 3.75 of 4 stars

I can't believe I'm being sent to another damn French restaurant. The mag gives me 12 reviews out of the year and they want to waste four of them on this. I mean who thinks Americanized versions of this stuff is worth it? It's as French as Pepe Le Pew. Totes eating mini bar snacks tonight. Maybe there are some Funyuns. Those things are the best.

There's a line of snarky trust funders outside the building. I’m sure each person is so unique. Case in point: I overhear three "smart" conversations about "Annie Hall," two of which highlighting his ability to break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. "Weekend at Bernie's," now there's a movie. Totally underrated. Which makes me wonder -- what is Jonathan Silverman doing these days?

The location isn't much to look at. And why the hell would they name this place Chateau? It means castle, and it's wedged between a bodega and bookstore. It's hardly the masonry marvel they're claiming. Thank God I can eat an actual dinner at the Armenian-run pizza place down the street.

The place is bustling inside. Or is it bursting? Anyway, the waiter hands me the menu without making eye contact; it's obvious this place is so popular that they don’t have to focus on service. First look at the menu seems complicated/overdone. Snails that are cooked twice, before being fire roasted and then stuffed into duck? Makes no sense, but then again neither did them sending us the Statue of Liberty. I’m ordering it anyways.

But seriously, what happened to all the stereotypical french foods? Now you can bury a burger in a beurre blanc sauce and it's automatically haute French cuisine.  Is it so much to ask for people to keep it simple and go back to the basics? Regardless, this place is automatically losing points for no frog legs or a even a bowl of French onion soup. God, a slice of cheese on some french fries sounds great right now.

Worst moment of the night: Seeing my second proposal of the night. This time the ring was in a white chocolate and truffle creme brulee.

Waiter drops dish at my table, still not making eye contact. Dafuq is this? Everything on this plate is covered in sauce.  "Ooo la la, look at me. I'm French." Give me a break. It’s extremely salty; the duck tastes like old people look; and I can’t find any of the snail in this cream sauce.

Side note: I wonder how Wu Tang pieced together “C.R.E.A.M.?” Like, did RZA and GZA just get everybody in the same room with their own stuff and just make it happen? I should research that.

Andrew Plock is a blogging intern and a Level 2 student at Dallas Comedy House. When he’s not impersonating everything in earshot, he is cracking a whip as the Managing Editor for THWRD Magazine in Dallas.

 

Flu Reveals Future To Local Man

dreamstime_xs_9614672I was unconscious throughout the the final day of 2013, and from it I saw a vision. That vision was my 2014. Sidelined from all the parties and bad decisions, I awoke in the new year already on the road to recovery. And although my mind watched the ball drop at Times Square from within a fever dream, my terrible day revealed why contracting the flu is the greatest omen for a prosperous New Year one can ever have.

First, I contracted the disease by meeting someone new the night before. He was a blues musician with the voice of a tortured journeyman and the hand hygiene of a toddler. I helped carry some gear in to The Free Man where he was playing, and in turn, his medley of soulful music made me long for a harmonica. Little did I know the virus had already began to settle in, and in turn for breaking down my body, I was able to visit a new venue and meet someone interesting.

Prognostication: My 2014 will be full of new people who will leave a mark on my life and new experiences.

"But you slept all day and missed the festivities," they said. Nay, good sire -- I dreamt. And I dreamt hard. Outside of being scared to death by a melting Dick Clark counting down to the New Year, I saw my full day of rest as a chance to dream big and sleep deep. I also vaguely have a new movie pitch for Bruce Willis where he plays a tough, yet sensitive, State Farm agent who gets roped into, and then foils, a terrorist plot while he checks on a claim for hail damage.

Prognostication: This will be a year for being well rested and developing new ideas or concepts.

By now you're hopefully realizing that the flu is the equivalent of a Tarot card reading from Mrs. Cleo herself. The physical roller coaster the flu takes you on is a window to your future self, and your symptoms should be treated as so. Case in point, here's a few: My body shook uncontrollably from intense chills.

Prognostication: I'm going to be cooler than I was before. Or quite possibly have more hangouts with buds.

During the course of the day I had menopause-grade hot flashes, as well as no appetite thanks to overall crumminess and no tastebuds. I only awoke to eat the last square of a Danish coffee cake(might has well have been cotton balls) and some seafood soup(practically rubber erasers in brown water). Couple the limited eating and sweating profusely, and I was basically on day nine of a juice cleanse.

Prognostication: My eating habits will augment my body making me hotter in appearance.

But the fever. Oh, the fever. It slowly rose throughout the day and sent me on fiery thoughts that simulated the effects of what I can only assume someone on acid experiences. I may not have wanted to remember everything I saw that day but at least I got a great plot and ending for a novel. Spoiler for "The Truth for Us All": A habitual liar joins the circus, realizes no one goes to those anymore and quits mid tour. He then relaunches his life as a detective who sets up crimes only to solve them and look like a genius. It ends after he catches himself on purpose.

Prognostication: I will have more brain activity.

So while people were laughing it up and enjoying the moment, I was enjoying enlightenment. I don't regret missing the transition into 2014, nor being blindly sick. I saw into what good fortunes lie before me, and, needless to say, I have a lot of things going for me this year.

Andrew Plock is a blogging intern and a Level 2 student at Dallas Comedy House. When he’s not impersonating everything in earshot, he is cracking a whip as the Managing Editor for THWRD Magazine in Dallas.