Encyclopedia Moronica

Comedy Centerfold: Ryan Vicksell

Welcome to Comedy Centerfold, where we feature a Dallas Comedy House (DCH) performer and get to know him or her a little better by using questions that Playboy centerfolds are usually asked. Ryan VicksellThe malfunctioning TARDIS lands in a quarry and Ryan Vicksell immediately senses that something is amiss. Soon, he realizes that history is being altered and he must intervene to prevent a disaster. As he begins to investigate, his companions in the troupes Encyclopedia Moronica (performing at DCH on October 26) and Learning Curve (October 5) all sprain their ankles and he finds himself captured and put in a cell where he is subjected to a mind probe by his captors.

Meanwhile, Ryan's companions writhe on the floor screaming "Tractators! Tractators!" but they are in worse danger than they realize because several of their new friends are traitors.

Elsewhere, Ryan has convinced a wimpy bad guy to change sides and after a tense period of running back and forth down the same corridor is shocked to learn that the aliens have zips down their backs and the tension comes to a peak until, at the last minute, he saves the day by helping the rebels overthrow their oppressors.

Hometown? Carrollton, Texas. Really though, I spent most of my time as a kid and as a teenager on the Internet, so in reality I come from a land of dank memes, flash videos, immature weirdos, and lots of stuff about video games.

Guilty Pleasures? I wouldn’t say I have any guilty pleasures because everything I do is pretty damn awesome (like me), but I guess I can pick a few more questionable ones: collecting Star Wars Legos, die-cast starships, and other nerdy stuff I have no room for. Sleeping for 18 hours straight because I love sloths. Eating too many Raising Cane’s chicken strips.  

Ambitions? I’ve only had one big “ambition” in life, and that’s to find some awesome gal to spend some time with in that whole romancey way. You know, she doesn’t have to be perfect. Genuine, someone I get along with, funny, wants what I do out of life, wears apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur. It’s the only thing I’ve wanted that relies somewhat on chance, so I just keep trying to be a better person and hope for the best.

Besides that, I want to become a better teacher, comedian, and continue to challenge myself creatively. Preferably while cuddling with an adorable sloth, because sloths are perfect and adorable creatures and if you disagree with me you are wrong.

Best Concert? Trans-Siberian Orchestra puts on the most impressive shows you can imagine. Each year, it’s a new whirlwind of lights, flames that you can feel from the top rows of the American Airlines Center, giant platforms lifting musicians above the audience, and of course, amazing yet meaningful symphonic rock. Plus, they’re just classy as hell.

Favorite Book? All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque really piqued my interest in history freshman year of high school. It was written simply, but packed with so much emotion, despair, and depth. I realized then that history wasn’t a bunch of dates, but the story of people – real people, struggling with things far beyond my imagination. Despite the fact that pretty much everyone dies [Editor's Note: Spoiler alert!], I found the perseverance and humanity of the characters inspiring during a time when I was on the brink myself.

Favorite Movie? It’s not one movie, but the Lord of the Rings trilogy is probably my favorite. I’m a big sucker for big, sweeping dramatic epics on an epic scale, and the 12-hour runtime probably helped (I’m one of the five people on earth who think they should be even longer). I like to see characters evolve over long periods of time, and movies rarely allow that. It’s the only movie that I’ve ever thought was better than the books. They didn’t change me on any deep level, they are just really really good.

Fun Fact: The first time I asked a girl out on a date, I listened to the "Charge of the Rohirrim" from the Return of the King soundtrack as I walked up to her to gather courage. Unfortunately, my dreams ended up like king Théoden – trampled to death by giant elephants in a muddy field [Editor's Note: Spoiler alert!].

Favorite TV Show? Unlike most people at DCH, comedy TV/movies never particularly tickled my fancy. I grew up on a steady diet of Star Trek, Stargate, and anything else with “Star-“ in the title. Really, my favorite shows are often ones that either teach me to be a better person, have some emotionally-crushing drama, or both. There’s a lot of great TV, but I have a couple of favorites, though. Battlestar Galactica (the new one), taught me that every single one of us is pretty messed up in some way and that even though I’m no different I can still be a great person. Doctor Who taught me to embrace my weirdness, and that an Oxford jacket, bow-tie wearing nerd who rambles endlessly CAN be the coolest guy ever.

Pets? I love dogs and would love to have one, but between work, comedy, and other stupid grown-up responsibilities, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to give the poor thing enough attention and would just feel guilty constantly. Instead, I just longingly look at cute dogs on the Internet and instantly fall in love with any dog I happen to walk past.

Foods I Crave? I don’t crave food that often, oddly enough. I sort of eat because I have to, but usually, I’m not hankering for anything specific. I do love me a good steak, though. I’m very much a carnivore. Mostly, I need some caffeine.

People I Admire? People who are genuine and honest about themselves. Too many people hide behind masks and are afraid to be vulnerable. I understand it, but I feel like the world would be a much better place if we could be honest about, and help, each other with our flaws. I would rather be open about and laugh at my flaws than hide them and be miserable all the time. I admire people who can do that.

Dream Role? Playing the Doctor on Doctor Who. He’s full of life and energy, dashing about and rambling on about things nobody understands. He’s full of wit, humor, yet also carries a lot of darkness inside of him and is a truly caring, complex character that would be so great to play. Who wouldn’t want to dash around time and space saving the world while being a complete weirdo at the same time?

Favorite Song to Sing? Most of the music I listen to is instrumental, so often I’ve got some big dramatic orchestral flourishes, screaming choirs, or taiko drum beats in my head. I’ll go with “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan because A) It’s manly as hell B) Was the first Disney song I didn’t hate as a kid.

Lately, I’ve been singing “Yoghurt” by Ylvis, which is literally about nothing but yogurt, and yogurt is great so I approve strongly of the song.

Good First Date Idea? In the first spaceship to Mars. That way, you have plenty of time to relax, get to know one another over some freeze-dried peas, and if it doesn’t work out you can spend the time pretending to be captain of the Enterprise and playing the Star Trek theme on repeat and there’s nothing she can do to stop you! Win-win situation!

In reality, I would guess somewhere where you have plenty of time to talk, get to know each other in a stress-free environment, and determine if your date likes roller coasters. Anyone worth dating should like roller coasters. This is mostly theoretical since I have far more experience with roller coasters than dating. I’ve actually been on a roller coaster in the last three years.

DCH Reimagined: TV Shows From The 90s

Heyyo comedy party people! It’s about that time again. Yep, it’s time to reimagine Dallas Comedy House (DCH) troupes as something completely different. We’ve previously re-imagined troupes as iconic professional wrestlers and super pawesome dog breeds, so you’re probably wondering what’s in store this time.   In this edition, we’ll get a little nostalgic and head back to the pre- Netflix/Hulu/DVR days of the 1990s, when TV was teaming with an excess of Day-Glo and flannel and subversive cartoons. It’s the decade that introduced us to the Fresh Prince, Zack Morris, and Stefan Urquelle (a.k.a. Urkel’s smooth talkin’ alter ego that dresses a little douchier and isn’t  quite as obsessed with cheese). So slip on a pair of bike shorts and Air Max runners as we jog down memory lane to combine the best of DCH improv and 90s TV.

Hold on to your butts, we’re doin’ this thing!

areyouafraidofthedarkThe Midnight Society = Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Spinning hilarious campfire urban legends from a single audience suggestion, The Midnight Society is totally Are You Afraid of the Dark?...or at the very least I'm pretty sure that's where their troupe name is derived from. Exploring a gang of badass bandana-clad teens (you know a bandana means butt-kicking-ain’t-afraid-of-nothing business) swapping scary stories, Are You Afraid of the Dark? fueled the nightmares of countless 1990s kids. The Midnight Society’s brand of improv is equally thrilling and spine-chilling. Full of kooky characters and crazy plot twists, probably a demon summoning or a séance or two, and plenty of comedic shenanigans along the way, The Midnight Society brings both the fun and the spooky to the DCH stage. It’s improv that would make Gary (Are You Afraid of the Dark?’s fearless storytelling leader) and baby Ryan Gosling (who once made an appearance on the show's “The Tale of Station 109.1”) both super proud and pee their pants due both to lots of lolz and lots of scares.

mysocalledlifePretty People With Problems = My So-Called Life

If there's a '90s show that spoke most to your brooding and awkward teenage soul, it was probably My So-Called Life, which featured some of the most memorable, relatable, and Jared Leto-filled teen angst TV moments. And, if there’s a DCH troupe that also lets you relive those same melodramatic high school feels, it’d undoubtedly be Pretty People with Problems. Pretty People take all the angst and the teen stereotypes and add in a dash of their improv magic to create wonderfully vibrant and hilarious teen dramas. Pretty People will make you laugh your butt off and then want to go home and write some pissed off poetry about how nobody gets you, because "sometimes it feels like we're all living in some kind of prison" and "the whole conversation thing is like totally overrated." You do you Pretty People.

quantumleapEncyclopedia Moronica = Quantum Leap

Encyclopedia Moronica is obviously DCH's Quantum Leap. If you weren't a huge sci-fi nerd during the early '90s, allow me to briefly explain the show's premise. Scott Bakula, a.k.a. Dr. Sam Beckett, is trapped in a time-travel conundrum, travelling across history by leaping into the bodies of historical figures and people of the past, creating zany and altered realities. Quantum Leap explored everything from JFK's assassination to the Watergate scandal to Michael Jackson learning some sick dance moves, brah (that's right, there is a show in which Scott Bakula teaches a young MJ how to moonwalk). Like Quantum Leap, Encyclopedia Moronica isn't afraid to mix the educational and historical factoids with gamey bits and playful scenes. A little drama, a little history, and whole lot of comedy, Encyclopedia Moronica is learning done fun!

peteandpeteRelease the Hounds = The Adventures of Pete and Pete

The Adventures of Pete and Pete was one of the dopest kid shows of the 1990s, following the adventures of Big Pete and Little Pete. Likewise, Release the Hounds is one of the dopest two-man troupes at DCH. If you want a dope improv show with a bunch of wacky characters, endearingly strange worlds, and a whole lot of heart to it, then Release the Hounds is a troupe you need to check out stat! Like The Adventures of Pete and Pete, the gentlemen of Release the Hounds celebrate goofy worldviews, supportive play, and brotherly love. Intelligent and surreal, Pete and Pete were the real MVPs of early Nickelodeon programming. Release the Hounds keeps on bringing the spirit of the two Petes to DCH, and for that the fictional people of Wellsville and all of us real life two-man comedy lovers thank them. As Little Pete would say, don't be a jerkweed and go watch Release the Hounds.

liquidtvBig Stupid Fun = Liquid Television

Liquid Television may have been one of the greatest things to come out of MTV during the 1990s or possibly ever (I suppose that's up for debate). The cult series showcased original animated cartoons, the intermittent music video, and lots and lots of other miscellaneous, stupid weird stuff. Heck, the animated music video for They Might Be Giant's "Istanbul" premiered on Liquid Television, and that's like the most weirdly fun song about Istanbul ever! Right?! Big Stupid Fun, a group of former Ewingites who love a good call back and lots of side support, is equal parts stupid cartoon-like fun and witty sensibility. When this crew comes to play, they play hard, with lots of sass and bold characters. And, just as Beavis and Butt-Head, two of America's most nacho and bunghole loving individuals, first appeared on Liquid Television, the two have also been known to make an appearance in a Big Stupid Fun performance. Ain't no show like a Big Stupid Fun show, cause with a Big Stupid Fun show there may or not be references to Cornholio.

Feel free to post your suggestions for other DCH troupe reimagining or just say hi to me in the comments below! Peace out, girl scouts!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 5 improv and Sketch 2 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.