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.
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...
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?
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.