Christie Wallace

Troupe Talk: Wheel of Formats

Wheel of Formats Spin the wheel to watch their show. Around and around it’ll go. But where it lands, nobody knows. From Close Quarters to Dinner for Six to Make ‘Em Ups, it’s safe to say that the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) troupe Wheel of Formats (Tommy Lee Brown, Jerrell Curry, Raymond Fischer, Tab Parker, Nick Scott, and Christie Wallace) is as plentiful in improv forms as it is in steadfast support for one another’s ideas, inviting audiences to laugh at a wide range of unexpected topics. In between preparing for Dallas Comedy Festival 2016 and generating all those hilarious scenes—whether they involve discussions of terrorism, frustrated high school principals, or Jerrell’s butthole—Wheel of Formats is just your everyday group of chaos-crafting improvisers who are out to play and have some good ol’ fashioned fun with each other.

Wheel of Formats congrats on being selected to perform at Dallas Comedy Festival 2016, that’s awesome! Okay, let’s start with the basics. How did you all get together and what do you dig most about improv?

Nick: The wheel brought us all together. It called to us. IT BECAME US. The part of improv I like most is immense fame and fortune that has accompanied it.

Jerrell: Thank you! I’m super excited about it. I actually found the wheel under my bed and when I spun it, I was transported to a living room in an undisclosed location and said, “Welp, here I am.” And, the part of improv I dig the most is all of the sweet, sweet kissing scenes I’m in.

Christie: We're actually all failed Wheel of Fortune contestants. We met in a support group and decided the best way to heal was through laughter. We're all still really hurting. What I dig most about improv is being in scenes about Jerrell’s butthole.

Raymond: My ally is the Wheel, and a powerful ally it is. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Dig most about improv? It’s the one area of life where people don’t take themselves too seriously. Wait, what?

For those who might not be familiar with you, briefly describe your performance style. What might someone expect to see at Wheel of Formats show?

Nick: One time we did a Dinner for Six where one character was a perpetrator of 9/11. I feel like that about sums it up.

Jerrell: And about once or twice a show, I run into a scene screaming about my butthole. It's top notch.

Christie: Whether it's terrorists or buttholes, we're always having fun. And aren't those really the same thing anyways?

Raymond: Huh; it says here that “successful improv usually starts and ends with an angry father or exasperated high school principal character.” So, I don’t know about the rest of these jerks, but it looks like I’m nailing it.

Wheel of Formats

Of all the formats on your wheel, which is your favorite to perform and why? Which is most challenging and why?

Nick: Make ‘Em Ups is my favorite to perform. We let the audience give the name of a format that has never been performed and then come up with the rules. I think we’ve been the most beaten by The Bruise (you’re welcome).

Jerrell: I really like our Make ‘Em Up shows, for sure. Definitely my favorite of the bunch because they tend to be the craziest shows we have (except for the 9/11 Dinner for Six). And I’ll agree with The Bruise as being the most challenging, because I honestly can't remember what format that is.

Christie: Make ‘Em Ups is always super fun and has led to some of our most fun, playful, shows. Like the time we kept lighting our horses on fire and eating their meat. I'm also a big fan of Close Quarters. The Bruise always leaves a mark (you're also welcome).

Raymond: I agree that Make ‘Em Ups have led to some great shows, but I selfishly like Dinner for Six and The Harold. I’d have to agree with everyone so far: The Bruise is pretty challenging.

Many people consider the wheel to be one of man’s greatest inventions. What is something genius that man hasn’t surprisingly invented yet, but you think totally needs to/should be?

Nick: I’d like to be able to plug my brain into a computer. If not that, then cookies that make you lose weight rather than gain it.

Jerrell: It’s 2016 and there still isn't a Sandra Bullock box set. Honor your heroes when they're alive, people.

Christie: Why am I still having to drive myself everywhere? I mean I get that there's Uber, but I want to just be able to teleport myself places. So, I guess teleportation is my answer.

Raymond: It’s 2016, and I am still having to...

Wheel of Formats

You can only choose one: Wheel of Karma, Wheel of Fortune, a wheel of cheese. Which do you pick and why?

Nick: F**K: Wheel of Karma, MARRY: Wheel of Fortune, KILL: a wheel of cheese. Wait, what was the question?

Jerrell: F**K: Bradley Cooper while spinning on the Wheel of Karma, MARRY: Idris Elba inside of a wheel of cheese, which we will then f**k in, KILL: Will.I.Am on an episode of Wheel of Fortune for producing Britney Spears’ 8th album, Britney Jean.

Christie: F**K: David Beckham while playing soccer on the Wheel of Karma, MARRY: Tommy Lee Brown sitting naked in the middle of a wheel of cheese, KILL: Obvs Wheel of Fortune, since that show made a fool out of all of us

Raymond: Well, Fortuna’s Wheel is not chosen; it’s spun, and resistance is futile. (Note: If you have not read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, you’re doing it wrong. One of the two funniest books ever written.) Also, a mini wheel of cheese was on a burger at former mall staple restaurant Bennigan’s (the Wheelhouse), yet wasn’t the best item on the menu (the Turkey O’Toole). What was the question?

Wheel of FormatsWho else are you most excited to see perform at Dallas Comedy Festival 2016?

Nick: CUPCAKE. Just some incredibly talented performers.

Jerrell: Whoever the headliners are. They're always really solid, so that’ll be fun. And, PRIMARY COLOURS. I've heard they’re like, really really good. Oh, and Cupcake.

Christie: Yeah, I've heard Cupcake is amazing. Also, Franzia and Local Honey. PC is always fun. And the headliners…..which I think is Cupcake.

Raymond: The Late 90s from Chicago are fantastic and not to be missed. They’ve been coached by one of the greatest improv minds and performers (Craig Uhlir) and are currently coached by an extremely talented and innovative performer (Alex Honnet). Highly rec. And also, there are some friendly faces in Damn, Gina and Clearance Shelf that many of us at DCH will enjoy watching. Oh, also: Obligatory Cupcake reference.

*Unfortunately Tommy Lee Brown could not be available for this interview, but the troupe members of Wheel of Formats would like it to be known that Tommy, above all else, loves tacos. Also, Tab joined after this interview took place. She also loves tacos. But not as much as Tommy.

Be sure to catch Wheel of Formats perform at Dallas Comedy Festival 2016!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.

Tommy’s Taco Thursday: We Went to There—Tacolandia

Tacolandia Team Tacolandia the reality – the people were great, the weather was great, the music was a dominating force. I wonder if playing dance music extremely loud aids in digestion, because Team Tacolandia put down at least 15 tacos each, but surely no more than 20. It was amazing. VIPs entered an hour early and enjoyed zero lines (except for the alcohol line – which was just a trap to distract you from tacos). We spent an hour engulfing taco after taco. I’d say the highlights of the day for me was a carrot habanero sauce offered by Iron Cactus and a corn tortilla with cheese crisped on top (before layering on the meat and sauce) from Come Taco.

Alas, in a sea of tacos with cabbage slaw, grilled pineapple, grilled mango, and other gourmet accoutrements, I found two tacos worth noting. Let’s start with the best of the fancy tacos. The Taco Diner tent wins the prize for the best energy. The crew was bumping and grinding with the taco hunters. There were Dos Eques “rosaries” being tossed around and an inter-diner taco competition between a brisket taco that was pretty simple and chewy. This poor brisket taco got CRUSHED by the chicken and waffle taco. We’re talking warm corn tortilla with lightly breaded fried chicken breast pieces and a sweet maple cream sauce. So delicious! Highly recommend. I’m not sure if these mommasitas are on the Taco Diner menu, but if they are, get up on 'em.

Tacolandia VIPHere comes the champ. Most tents had little warmers and crock pots. Some tents had sterno canisters and chaffing dishes. For the most part, the workers would layout little black Styrofoam and carefully build tasty taco towers atop. Not at la tienda de La Banqueta! La Banqueta had a flattop grill. On the left side of the grill, piled high was about 10 pounds of chicken and on the right was about the same of beef. In the center were tortillas. As you approached the tent, the server would bare hand a couple of tortillas and use the tortilla to grab a handful of your choice of meat. These tacos were so hot, so fresh, and they had minced cilantro, onion, and some lime wedges for you. They had creamy, green salsa verde and a red salsa on ice. Boom! La Banqueta: Simple tacos done to perfection. And they had my heart and soul at Tacolandia. Also, their business card looks like an early Snoop Dogg album. Double bonus, turns out, La Banqueta is just a few minutes from my house. (And just like that, my property value doubled.)

Just as they let the general public into Tacolandia, I and my team were stuffed and ready to leave. Lines were forming, and it became clear that going VIP was a great idea. We were riding Ubers into the sunset before the little people had reached the front of their first line. I heard horror stories of people only getting to eat five or six tacos because of the lines. We ruled the day! We ruled Tacolandia!

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.

Troupe Talk: Franzia

Franzia Today is a big day. It’s a day when stereotypes break free from their mold. It’s a day when something usually thought of as nothing more than a cheap mind number for boozy lushes gets to step up as something bigger. Today is a day when we can raise our glasses, fill it with a generous helping of our favorite boxed wine, and know that that wine has a bigger purpose. Because today is the day that Troupe Talk talks to Franzia, one of DCH’s very own funny foursomes (individual people that make up a group of four...not boxed wine induced foursomes...at least not most of the time).

Tell us all the reasons you are like a fine, box of Franzia wine.

With us, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Franzia, the box of wine, is tag lined as the “the world’s most popular wine.” What would Franzia, the improv troupe, be tag lined with?

“So so good, so so cheap.”

What makes Franzia unique or different from other improv troupes?

We rely on feeling rather than format. When it “feels like it’s time,” we start the call back crescendo.

Tell us about your most memorable Franzia scene or show.

In the Chicago Improv Festival, we had an amazing show. We had a funeral scene for a horse that was very effective. According to Tommy, the horse had helped him quit smoking. After the show, some Chi-folk said, “If that’s what you guys are doing in Dallas, keep it up.” We felt proud.

Raise your pantomimed improv glass of Franzia and make a toast to each other.

Singing loudly, “Nobody does it beetterrrr, makes me feel sad for the reeeest. Nobody does it haaalf as good as you….baby, you’re the beeeeeessttt.”

Franzia performs at the Dallas Comedy House on October 3 and October 24.

Tori Oman is a Dallas Comedy House graduate.

Troupe Talk: Local Honey

Local Honey At Dallas Comedy House (DCH), we encourage our community to “Laugh Local." Something else we encourage is that, since you’re laughing local, you should probably laugh local at the lovely ladies of Local Honey. And something I personally encourage? Conducting interviews with said lovely ladies of Local Honey while they happen to be at a bachelorette party (and may or may not have just enjoyed an adult beverage). #bestinterviewofmylife

Ladies and gentlemen, the delightfully wonderful, Local Honey.

Name three Dallas local things that you love:

Christie: 1. Dallas Comedy House 2. Uncle Uber's 3. Tommy Lee Brown

Amanda: I like food. So I always like our local food. Also, our local chain restaurants. It's also fun to say, "Oh you don't have that in your city? Must only be in Dallas." Do I sound snobby? I hope so. Because I'm the least snobby about food. Except Doritos.

Nikki: 1.) The Perot 2.) Emporium Pies 3.) Dallas Comedy House

Describe the style of Local Honey's comedy.

Christie: It's an honest, in-depth look at female stereotypes and characters. Amanda: Fast and loose and chill and slow. We are predictably unpredictable. We also bring a lot of honesty to our shows. I like that a lot. Nikki: Our style is simple, we try to put on a universally funny show and we want to have a good time while doing it. There aren’t any gimmicks or theatrics, we just want to make people belly laugh when they watch our show.

What's your favorite thing about performing with these ladies?

Christie: We are all honestly best friends. That makes it so much easier. Amanda: How much we genuinely enjoy each other on and off stage. Regardless of what happens in a show, I know anyone who watches us would agree we have naturally good chemistry with each other. Also, we try to be cognizant of what's going on in the show and who is playing straight and who is playing absurd that night. And we support the fuck out of that. We all have our moments, and we're good at recognizing that with each other. I guess you'd call it women's intuition. Nikki: I love how we warm up. We sit around and complain about our ailments and kvetch about our lives. I, in particular, always have something wrong with me, and Christie and Amanda let me tell them all the gross details. It’s a safe place where we can let it all hang out and we never judge each other.

Most memorable Local Honey show?

Christie: When Nikki did a complete ribbon wand dance to "Fancy," sung by Amanda, acapella. Amanda: Oh gosh. I have the worst show memory. I usually say the last one. But I did really enjoy our last one. Everyone had such absurd moments. But I think the most memorable was the festival a few years ago. We were stuck in some alternate universe Underground Railroad (for soccer moms, or something, I don't know...my memory!) and it was just super fun. It's also after that show we realized Christie should be our third. Nikki: Honestly, there are so many, but I think our most memorable show was at the 2013 Dallas Comedy Festival. We did a scene where we were in an Underground Railroad for PTA refugees and it had all of the elements that make a funny, strange, memorable scene. We were working together in the scene as the characters and were working together as improvisors. It was a cool meld of reality and fantasy. I don’t think I will ever forget that show.

Last time you laughed really, really hard:

Christie: About 15 minutes ago. I was stuck in the middle of Lake Dallas on a one-person paddle board. I was drunk and so was everyone else around me. None of us could paddle back in to the dock. So we just hung out there until we stopped laughing. Amanda: With those girls? At every show. I'm super fortunate I get to play with two people better than me and that they put up with all my B.S. Nikki: The last time I laughed was this morning. I laugh a lot. Ask my improv students. :)

Name something that is definitely better with honey:

Christie: Comedy. And Brie cheese. Amanda: My dog, Honey. When I feed her honey, she's super chill. Nikki: I love putting honey on fried chicken. Great. Now I want to eat fried chicken.

Local Honey performs at the Dallas Comedy House on August 22.

Tori Oman is a Level Five 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.

Troupe Talk: Cupcake

Cupcake Troupe talk is back this week and in celebration of spring, Mother's Day, and baked goods (because we should always celebrate baked goods), Cupcake has joined me for some sweet talk about improvising, the new Dallas Comedy House (DCH) and each other.

Thank you for bringing me this basket of gifts as a token of thanks for interviewing you! Why don’t you tell our readers what each of you gave me? Christie: Everyone brought you cupcakes, so I brought you something to wash them down with. CUPCAKE MILKSHAKES!! Maggie: I gave you the cupcake that Mariam is eating in the next question…she just couldn’t stop herself. Nick: There is a giant cupcake beside the basket. When you cut it to finally eat it, you find my charred remains inside. I wanted to surprise you by popping out of the giant cupcake, but I don’t know how to bake and put myself in the cupcake before the baking process rather than after. Tommy: I helped Nick bake the giant cupcake for you, thinking it was from us both. Mariam: I brought you a fried chicken cupcake to break up the monotony of all the sweet and/or Nick’s-ashes-flavored cupcakes.

Pretend you are all sitting in a circle. Look to the person to the left of you and tell me what flavor cupcake they would be and why. Christie: Maggie is a cupcake as big and bright as the sun! She has rainbow icing and unicorn sprinkles, because she is happiness in a giant baked good! Maggie: Mariam would probably be this cupcake. It’s a cupcake that has been build to look like a panda. That’s because Mariam is beautiful—just like a panda cupcake. Mariam: Nick’s cupcake would taste like despair and sadness, with a hint of chocolate. And it would have a khaki short wrapper around it. Nick: Tommy would probably be a pizza cupcake. Cheese and pepperoni on top of garlic bread. Then a tiny hot dog to top it all off, because Tommy always has his party shorts on, but he can take care of business as well. Tommy: Christie would be a love cupcake. With tiny pig filling and puppy icing.

Now that you’ve defined your individual cupcake flavors, let’s talk about Cupcake as a whole! How did you guys meet? How long have you been together? Christie: I’m really bad at math, but I’m really awesome at friendship. This made for the perfect troupe! We’ve been performing for over two years, but we’ve been friends for a lifetime. *Someone check my math on that.* Maggie: Much like *NSYNC, Cupcake was put together to dominate the 2013 DCH Improv Cagematch Tournament. Though we got second place to a bunch of cousins, we still made beautiful music. We’ve been performing ever since. And, apparently, math. Mariam: I received an anonymous invitation to join a new secret-agent, mathematically-constructed, *NSYNC-inspired, bulletproof improv troupe. I blindly accepted. The purpose of said troupe? To dominate the 2013 DCH Improv Cagematch Tournament. We got second place. YOU DO THE MATH. Nick: Tommy and Christie used math equations and science to formulate the most perfect complimentary improv troupe that would dominate the 2013 DCH Improv Cagematch Tournament. Even with math on our side, we came in second. BUT ONLY BY TWO VOTES. Tommy: Christie and I created the perfect plan to come in second in the 2013 DCH Improv Cagematch and create a famous and timeless rivalry that would never be rivaled by other fabled rivalries.

Why do you dig improvising? Christie: There’s nothing better than making people laugh. Unless you’re getting to do that with your best friends, WHICH I AM. Maggie: It’s fun to spend 30 minutes not thinking—just reacting and having fun with friends. Mariam: I can let go and be stupid and do crazy things with people who are funny and smart and make me laugh and be a better person. Nick: Because I crave instant gratification and approval. Tommy: It's the next best thing to playing with your friends as a little kid. It's like the fountain of youth, but you still age and die.

So I hear DCH moved to a new building. What’s your favorite thing about the new DCH? Christie: Tell Shiloh you want The Christie—it’s a shot of Crown with a Miller Lite. It’s not on those beautiful chalk boards above the bar...yet. But seriously, those menu boards are crazy awesome!! Maggie: I like the wood on the walls. IT’S CRAZY BECAUSE IT USED TO BE A FLOOR! Mariam: DAT SICK OUTDOOR AREA THO. It’s like you’re one with nature, outside, in the night air. Nick: The secret ghost room above the bar that they had to seal off, because of the terrible thing that happened there years ago that still haunts the room to this day. Tommy: TLB MANDIP

Before you go, say goodbye to our readers by whispering a famous farewell lyric or quote to them: Maggie: “I just wanna dance with somebody.” - WHADOLF HILSTON Mariam: “I wanna feel the heat with somebody.” - Adolf Hitler (does he know how to whisper?) Nick: “I do not see why man should not be as cruel as nature.” - Adolf Hitler (this is whispered as I slowly back away without breaking eye contact) Tommy: "Don't go chasing waterfalls" - Adolf Hitler (this is whispered as I slowly back away without breaking eye contact) Christie: “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” - Adolf Hitler (this is whispered as I slowly back away without breaking eye contact)

Cupcake performs at DCH on May 16 (grand-opening weekend!), May 22, and June 25.

Tori Oman is a level four 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.