DCF2016: Love Me Tinder

It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House. Love Me Tinder

Heckle Her, an Austin-based production company, creates not only comedic (and sometimes musical), but also bold works for both stage and screen. Adrienne Dawes, director, producer, and badass lady behind it all, told me all about Love Me Tinder, the sketch revue she, along a troupe of talented performers, is bringing to Dallas for DCF!

Describe what your show, Love Me Tinder, will be like.

Love Me Tinder is a fast-paced, musical sketch comedy revue about dating and relationships in the digital age. We have a deep dish Chicago influence but are all Austin-based performers, writers, and musicians. We aren't affiliated with any specific theater or training center (WE BELONG TO NO ONE). I put together this ensemble because I wanted to see great comedy and great music in the same sketch show . . . with a diverse ensemble. There was nothing like it in Austin at the time, so I made it myself!

OK, because of the nature of your show, I have to ask – any fun (maybe fun isn’t the right word?) Tinder/online/digital dating stories you’d be willing to share?

I'm only on Tinder for the trollin' and celebrity sightings. It amazes me the level of misogyny and racism that men believe will attract women. It's pretty rare that I swipe right . . . even rarer that I've actually messaged with someone . . . the rarest, I've met someone in person. There's just too much opportunity, I think, for the crazy, racist, misogynist sh*t to reveal itself . . . and I can't with that. I don't care how often you Crossfit or pose in tuxedos at your friend's wedding or hold tiny teacup puppies next to a rainfall. You can't be a dumb a**hole. End of story.

Please visit the Dallas Comedy Festival blog to learn more about Love Me Tinder and to purchase tickets.

Megan Radke is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.

(Image: Shelley Hiam)

DCF2016: Victrola!

It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House. VictrolaDo you like comedy? Do you like podcasts? Do you like both?

Well, get ready for sketch troupe, Victrola! That’s Victrola! I mean, the name of the troupe is spelled with an exclamation point at the end, it’s not only me being really excited. That being said, you should be excited because they are heading to the Dallas Comedy Festival from Austin’s own Coldtowne Theatre to spread some hilarity around, exclamation point!

I had a few questions for Victrola!’s Michael Jastroch and the team’s track record. (I’m not proud of that pun either, folks. I promise I won’t do that anymore.)

Can you describe the format of your show?

Victrola is a monthly sketch comedy podcast. The cast gets together once a week in my cramped office and riffs around premises that we come up with during the week. After that, Dalton Allen (our editor) and I spend a huge amount of time culling through the material and cutting it down into sketches.

For our live show, we'll be improvising around premises on stage in front of microphones and running sound FX from the stage. We'll have some of the jokes planned in advance, but there'll be plenty of room for tomfoolery. We're also working on getting some awesome guests who'll also be at the festival.

In addition to performing live, Victrola! also has a podcast available for download on iTunes. What inspired you to take your comedy the audio route, and how does your comedy benefit?

We started out as a podcast and then decided to perform live. However, the cast has been performing together in various incarnations - improv and sketch - at ColdTowne Theater for close to a decade.

I'd spent the last decade doing these great shows with these amazing people, but unlike stand-up or sketch, there was no record of it afterwards. It somehow felt less weighty, like we were leaving nothing behind.

Which I'm OK with. In our hearts, we're live performers and improvisers first. But there's no reason we can't have our cake and eat it, too.

I first got the idea for doing this podcast on a road trip to do some shows in Oklahoma City. We spent the seven-hour car ride pretending to prank call each other in the car. I don't think I've laughed longer or harder than that.

Three of us from that trip (Josh Krilov, who's now in L.A.) and Bryan Roberts found that we worked really well together. We started getting together and recording silly audio bits on our cell phones. I knew I wanted to harness that energy and put something out, but it wasn't until I heard the incredible Superego Podcast (whose format and tone we are HEAVILY inspired by - all due credit to the masters) that it came together in my brain.

The problem with a lot of recorded improv is that it doesn't always translate well. I wanted to find a way to capture the atmosphere of a live show while putting out the refined quality of great sketch or stand-up. The benefit of doing this audio only is that the audience can use their imagination to fill in the gaps. We're able to put out way more quality content simply because production is less of a headache (if it doesn't get done, I have no one but myself to blame).

Please visit the Dallas Comedy Festival blog to learn more about Victrola!

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

DCF2015: Field Day

Field Day It’s here! The Dallas Comedy Festival is here! Which means all of our out-of-town groups are here! Or on their way here!

AND since we are talking so much about HERE, HERE is one more group for you to get to know a little better before you see them on stage at the festival!

Meet Field Day, a team of four from beautiful Austin, Texas.

Selfishly, I’m using these interviews as a way to live out my never fulfilled dream as a traveling reporter. So far, I’ve been to Little Beach in Maui, a tiny studio apartment in Austin, and the Chez Amelia Bedelia. That being said—and since this interview is obviously taking place in person and somewhere interesting—where are we and name five things that you see?

We see a homeless person, a building that looks like stairs, a dude with headphones in his ears working on comic books, Congress Avenue is blocked off, and the Capitol of Texas!

Cool spot. Just because it’s fun, if you guys were a 1990s pop group or sitcom, who would you be?

We would be Seinfeld. Our troupe member, Chris, would be Kramer (because he's the loud one), Judith would be George (because she's the most neurotic), David would be Elaine (because he's the most negative), and Lindsay would be Jerry (because she's more stable than the rest of us).

But since you’re not called Seinfeld, you're called Field Day. Tell us where you got the name and how you came together.

We locked ourselves in a room for 40... minutes to figure out a name, and having a "Field Day" sounded like a lot of fun. Hence the name! We all met through the Hideout Theater in Austin.

Go in order around the circle, and say something you like about the person to your right.

David says Chris is loving, charismatic, and committed. Chris says Judith is brave, honest, and caring. Judith says Lindsay is electrifying, supportive, and beautiful. Lindsay says David is solid, chic, and brilliant.

Now that we are in sentimental mode, how do you think improv is relevant to day-to-day life?

It isn't. Do other improvisors know something that we don't?!

Guess you’ll find out when you get here? Speaking of, we are looking forward to welcoming you to Dallas! Anything important that we should know about you guys before we do?

We wear denim!

Field Day performs Friday, March 27, at 6 p.m. with Pure & Weary and David & Terry. 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.

DCF2015: The Hustle Show

The Hustle Show If you’re looking to vary up your Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) schedule from all the wonderful improv and stand-up going on, be sure to catch The Hustle Show. This thoughtfully crafted show that usually runs in Austin, Texas, will be making a home at Dallas Comedy House for the festival, and you won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind variety show. I spoke with David Jara about the act.

Can you describe the format for The Hustle Show? 

The Hustle Show is a monthly show we do at ColdTowne Theater down in Austin. We call it a "variety show," because that's an easier format to explain to people than what it really is, which is, "Oh, we're going to do whatever made us laugh in the writer's room regardless of whatever form that takes." That could be a sketch, a monologue, a video, a stand-up set, or even a game show. However, our DCF show will be primarily sketch based, so our apologies to anyone who wanted to see our game show where we tried to find out which cast member is the biggest Pearl Jam fan. (That's an actual bit we did, and it was glorious.)

With a variety of different comedy styles in the show, is it difficult to switch back and forth between them? Are there different mind-sets for each part that you have to kind of get into?  

I wouldn't say it's difficult; it's more like a fun challenge. One of my favorite parts of producing the show is coming up with a run order for each segment, because then you really get a sense for how all of the individual parts would best flow together and form a solid show. It's a lot like a band creating a setlist: this would be a strong opener, this would be a fun bit to close with, and so on. Once we figure that out, then we can go out there and have fun and ride the momentum of the show wherever it takes us.

Would you rather be born with an elephant trunk or with a giraffe neck? 

Oh my gosh, a giraffe neck all day. Suits would look so much better on me, I wouldn't have to worry about obstructed views at concerts. The benefits are endless. With an elephant's trunk, all it takes is one person saying it accidentally brushed up against them and I'm in Lawsuit City, and I don't need that kind of hassle.

What are some of your favorite sketch comedy shows that have influenced The Hustle Show? 

Personally, I'm an Saturday Night Live fan, almost to a fault. But one neat thing about The Hustle Show's cast is that we all have different influences. Some of us grew up on older stuff like Monty Python and Kids in the Hall, and some of us saw the awesome shows Comedy Central is producing these days (Key & Peele, Broad City, etc.) and decided to take a crack at sketch comedy. It makes for a nice mix of styles and perspectives. I really love it when someone in the cast writes a script, and I think, "This is not at all how I would have written this, but thank god I didn't write this because what they wrote is wayyyy better."

Do you have any advice for young (or old) sketch writers out there? 

Write a lot. Find humor in everything. Don't be afraid to break your brain open and test the limits of what you think you can do on stage. Sketch is my favorite comedy medium, because you are 100 percent in charge of the universe that gets presented on stage. Once you realize that the thing you put on stage is only limited by your imagination (and your budget), you can take sketch to some really fun, sometimes insane places. Embrace that. Most importantly, get to know other sketch groups and shows in your area. Collaborate with them. Help build the comedy scene in your city. Disabuse yourself of the notion that you're competing with other sketch groups, and amazing things can happen.

The Hustle Show performs Saturday, March 28, at 7 p.m. with Virginia Slims and Local Honey. Tickets are on sale now.

Jessica Dorrell is a graduate of the DCH improv program, and is currently enrolled in the sketch writing program. Her one wish is that some day she can have a Mogwai as a pet. You can see her perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. in the current Ewing show.

DCF2015: Bad Example

Bad Example It’s my second week of interviews for the 2015 Dallas Comedy Festival, and this gig just keeps getting better. This week, I sat down with the sketch group Bad Example out of Austin, Texas. A group of eight whose style is often described as bold, dark, and wildly energetic, I was stoked to get the skinny on this funny team.

Since all my interviews are obviously live, in person and somewhere neat, where are we and name five things that you see?

We are of one mind, so we will answer as one. Also, there are eight of us now, so we can't all try to have the spotlight. In this room, we are currently looking at 1) empty beer cans 2) a tiny studio apartment 3) a lot of laptops 4) A Shania Twain video (Thanks, Cody)

This is because we are having a writer's meeting for our upcoming show, and this is about normal for our writing environment.

Great taste in music, Cody. Speaking of forgotten 90’s stars, you guys remind me of the 90’s pop group S Club 7 Simon Fuller created after the Spice Girls broke up. How’d your crew get together, and where did your name come from?

Our name happened because when we all first met for the first time, we couldn't come up with names. Someone suggested a name and followed it with, "That was a bad example." Micheal then said, "I like Bad Example," and it kind of stuck because that fits our style pretty well.

Bad examples—they can be pretty funny. Let’s play:

Bad example of a first date: Jeff had a date where someone asked him to be her sperm donor.

Bad example of someone hip: This guy at one of our shows recently had a Cartman "Respect my Authori-tah" shirt. Seriously, how old is that?

Bad example of a a relaxing enviroment: I-35. That's topical in Austin AND in Dallas, right? Zing.

You have a YouTube channel now, what’s the deal, and when can we watch new things?

We do! It's super exciting because we are releasing a brand-new video sketch every single Tuesday at 10 a.m. to go along with our brand-new Saturday shows. It's on our channel, "Bad Example Comedy."

Tell us something really important to know about you guys before you come to Dallas. I mean, like, really important.

We all had super high hopes of going to TJ & Dave and were super sad to hear they sold out so quickly. So it's important to know that we are going to perform with a vengeance.

Anything else we should know?

We really are super excited to do our first DCF. We are going to do the wildest collection of sketches and really do hope you come out and see us have fun on a new stage!

Bad Example performs Friday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. with Manick and Night Rhymers. 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.

DCF14: Bad Boys

7427574They’re speeding into town like a freight train. Their cargo: comedy. Their name: Bad Boys. Their point of origin: Austin, TX. Their members: Adam Trabka, Brett Tribe, Byron Brown, Ed Reed, and Sam Malcom. Known for being highly entertaining and highly physical, Bad Boys performs tonight at 10:30 at the Dallas Comedy Festival. Last week, Adam Trabka took the time to speak with us about trust, Manpiles, and the dangers of audience expectations. How did you guys all get together? Danny, Brett, Byron and I were in classes at ColdTowne Theater together back in 2010, and we decided to enter Austin's Cagematch tournament together that summer, and we ended up winning.After that we decided to stick together and keep playing together around Austin, getting more and more shows, before eventually getting an offer to have an open-ended headlining slot on Friday nights starting in September of 2012, which we still run. So for the most part we've all been playing together since we started doing improv which has really helped us develop as an ensemble, and be able to stay consistently on board with being completely willing to support whatever one of us might throw out during a show, regardless of how left field it might be.

Has that level of trust and comfort allowed you guys to try things and take chances that you never would with anyone else? Absolutely. ColdTowne hosts a show every year called "The Lock-In" where the community just does the dumbest show formats we can come up with and basically performs them for each other, and a couple years ago we did a show called Manpile where we tangled ourselves up into a mass of bodies and improvised a show all tangled up and rolling around on stage together that I don't know I would've done with anyone else. We ended up pretty bruised afterwards, so we haven't had a reprise performance. But even in regular shows, we're generally very good at picking up on what each other is thinking and trusting that that even if we've got a weird idea on where the show could go next structurally, that it'll get picked up.

So the "highly-physical" description is not hyperbole? It was much more common for us to physically heighten something to that degree when we weren't doing a show every week, but we still have those moments every now and then. But it just wouldn't be sustainable to keep it at that level for a weekly show.

Because of all the bruises? Yeah, you don't want to walk away from your comedy show with an injury if you don't have to. We also started to get a reputation for it and people started expecting it in a way that wasn't fun, so we've tried to push in other directions just to challenge that preconceived notion of us and to keep things interesting for us.

After four years, how do you keep the show fresh for you as performers, and for the audience? There are a few ways. For one, if one of us starts to burn out we're cool with each other taking a personal day, and since we all have distinct styles of improvising that shakes up the dynamic some. We also have guests play with us. We just had a 6 week "Winter Best Friends" series where we invited improvisers we admire from the Austin community to sit in with us, we'll do that again in the summer as well. We also do stuff like just hang out and eat pizza and not improvise, so that really helps as well. We all mesh well off stage, so it doesn't really feel like things get stale on stage. Our only real rule for our shows is "whatever happens, happens," so each show is pretty unique structurally depending on where the show takes us.

How does it feel to take the show on the road? Is there a different energy or rhythm when you get out of Austin? Honestly, this is our first non-Austin show, so I don't know. We definitely have a different energy and the butterflies start to come back a little when we play shows outside of ColdTowne, but still in Austin. Away games are really exciting to us, so we're looking forward to Dallas.

Anything else at the Festival that you're excited about? The best part about festivals to me is always meeting improvisers from other communities, and seeing their shows and seeing how all these different divergent paths of improv are developing throughout the country. I think it's great how so many of us have improv in common, but its so decentralized that there are all these different perspectives on it.

What does improv mean for you? For me it's the best way to instantly collaborate with someone. It's so against my normal wiring to just dive in and go with something without negotiating that I think its really been helpful in stretching my day-to-day comfort zone. And beyond the self-improvement aspect, there's always a special thrill of going up on stage and having the confidence to be able to tell a room full of people "We don't know what we're going to do yet, but we're pretty sure you're going to enjoy it."

See Bad Boys tonight at 10:30PM. Get your tickets here.