Jerrell Curry

Sketch Speak: FCC, the Stylish and Beautiful, presents: The Wrong Party

The Wrong PartyThis past Saturday, I had the pleasure of watching The Wrong Party, a sketch production written and directed by the FCC. The FCC is an all-minority sketch group made of Dallas Comedy House (DCH) regulars: Julia Cotton, Jerrell CurryPaulos Feerow, and Jade Smith. For those not in the know, the sketch production primarily focuses on issues of race and status. And guys? It’s one of the best sketch shows I’ve seen come out of DCH. The writing is strong and true, their performances were genuine, and the entire piece was a roller coaster of emotions. They candidly address horrible truths about our culture with grace and, incredibly, hilarity. They look their audience in the face and talk about what it’s like being at “The Wrong Party.” (See what I did there?) Reader, if you care about modern comedy, if you care about writing, you must see this show. It is non-negotiable. Go buy your ticket now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Good. Your country thanks you.

The good people of the FCC hung around after their stellar performance to answer some of my questions:

---------

Julia: All right, let’s do it!

All: Yeah!

Julia: Thank you for doing this, by the way.

Me: Oh, well thank you guys for letting me talk to you.

Julia: Yes. You’re allowed.

All laugh.

Me: Can you tell me a little bit about what FCC is?

Jade: It’s just kind of something we came up with. The way we wrote the show is, we met for – how many months?

All: Like four.

Julia: Yeah, they all talked about it, and then I showed up on one of the random days that you, where you just show up at DCH, and they said, “Hey, we’re thinking about doing a show! You should come do it too.” And I said, “Fine, I’m not doing anything, like raising my children. I’ll hang out with you guys once a week. So yeah."

Jerrell: We’d been kicking it around for a long, long time before we even – I actually think we almost had the same idea separately, like, “Oh yeah, we should do this.” And then – haha – maybe like a year and a half before we spoke to each other about it.

Julia: We’re all in very separate circles.

All: Yeah, yeah.

Me: Cool – since you all, sort of, came to the same idea – was it inspired by particular events you all experienced? I’m sure it was different from all of you.

Paulos: I’m not going to try to speak for everybody, but I’ve seen them play in improv or sketch, and they would make smart moves when race was brought up, or when being a woman was brought up. You know – smart moves that weren’t just the obvious joke. I wanted to write for them, or at least do something with it.

Julia: Yeah, at first it was very much “Let’s do something.”

All: Yeah. Yeah.

Paulos: The more that we wrote – and really, the more that we hung out, the more ideas we had that were really fleshed out.

Jade: I think the reason it happened is that we were experiencing a lot of the same things in our comedy careers. And not just here, but in general, from beginning to now, a lot of us were having the same experiences, and together we were able to flesh out some really fun ideas.

Jerrell: It’s been, like, the most cathartic five months.

All: Yeah! It has.

Me: I can imagine, yeah.

Jerrell: It was just, “Oh. I need this.”

Julia: I mean, on the real, we were able to say a lot of things out loud to each other that we’ve been thinking for a long time, but we needed the group to be able to let it loose. Being able to do that and put those things that we let loose into something as awesome as it is on stage – I think we all feel really good about that.

All: Yes, agreed.

Me: That’s really cool – and I was actually about to ask you – the links, the “behind the scenes” parts, did those come out of real conversations?

All: Yes.

Julia: Very real.

Jerrell: A lot of those were verbatim, how the conversation went.

Julia: Especially the Cosby one.

All: Oh yeah!

Julia: Cause I tried a very horrible Cosby impression, and then we all went, one after the other.

Me (to Jerrell): I have to say, that part was somehow so fun, and your commitment to that was amazing.

Julia: I mean, that’s pretty much Jerrell’s role. It’s always silly, but we’ll be on one page about something, and then Jerrell will just take it somewhere completely far away.

Paulos: Yeah, he’ll just…(Whooshing noise)

Jerrell: You know, I did that impression, and I’ve never actually seen an episode of The Cosby Show.

Me: That’s so great…I’m sure that each of you brings something different to the table. If Jerrell takes it to a new and different place, is that true for each of you?

Jade: That’s a good question.

Jerrell: That’s a really good question.

Paulos: Nods.

Julia: I can say that Jade, to me – this is the second time we’ve written something together, and even back to that first time, she’s so smart. Like, she’s like a whiz kid if we were a family.

Jade: So I’m like, Tahj Mowry?

Julia: (Laughs) Yeah, ‘cause that first day when we were working on the Disney roast, she came in with a stack of jokes already ready. But she didn’t just rely on that. Quick-witted. Her brain works so fast, and it’s always funny. So that’s who I say Jade would be.

Jade: Heeyyy. OK, OK, all right.

Julia: Killed it. Killed it.

Paulos: Well, if we’re speaking for people…

All laugh.

Paulos: I think Julia is – I’ve never seen somebody hear an idea and just get the logistics of it down. And then know to just – “Let’s heighten it here, or let’s take things in this direction.” She’s really good at punching up your thing. And also, the “Hey Mr. DJ” sketch is probably my favorite, and I don’t think we even messed with that. It was good from the first time. She was able to help us get everything tight and better.

Jade: I would say that, ah, Paulos over here…

All: Oh shit! Ooooh!

Paulos: I’m the foreign one!

All laugh.

Julia: He’s not of this world.

Jade: Paulos has such a strong idea of what’s funny, and what comedy is. He’s able to pull it out of anything. Ideas that I would never have thought of in a million years, and we’ll do them on stage and [redacted] kill. And I just – oh. I don’t think I can say ‘[redacted]’.

Me: I mean, the last interview I did, they said [redacted] like eight times.

Julia: Oh! So that was the redacted thing!

Jade: (Laughs) Yeah, and so the last thing – Paulos has a really strong idea of how the audience will take something. I think it’s his stand-up background.

Julia: Yeah!

Jade: Sometimes I’m like, “How the [redacted] do you know that? HOW DO YOU KNOW?”...And, uh, that’s us.

Paulos: We are all beautiful.

Jerrell: (Singing) You are beautifu-ul…

Julia: We are all very attractive. Make sure that’s written in there.

Me: (Salutes) Yes ma’am.

Jerrell: Title the article that way, too.

((Done and done!))

Me: I have to commend you guys. I feel like you did a very wonderful job of presenting some particularly sensitive issues on stage, but still maintaining this…somehow, you managed to make it fun. And I don’t know how you pulled it off, and I just watched you do it.

Julia: I think that’s because everything we talk about on stage is very real to us. We just happen to have a really good time with each other, and, thankfully, we’re able to make sure that translates – it just comes off on stage, because the whole time, we’re having fun.

All agree.

Paulos: The first couple of meetups that we had, I was like, “I don’t know if they’re gonna think I’m funny – “

Jerrell: Yeah, exactly.

Paulos: But then, it stopped being about being funny. We literally were just having fun. I feel like we wasted a month just talking.

Jerrell: This thing was really written in the last two-to-three weeks.

Julia: And it may have been just us sitting around, but that was so important, though. Because we don’t hang out every day, we’re all in different circles. So the first two-and-a-half, three months was us having deep conversations. And we were able to translate that into all of our sketches, I think.

Paulos: Yeah, for sure.

Me: Awesome guys – I have one last question. This comes standard. If your group was a vegetable, what would it be?

Julia: Oh, it’s gotta be like, a big-ass eggplant. Right?

Jade: Yeah, yeah…like an emoji.

Jerrell: Giant, giant eggplants.

Julia: The girthiest of eggplants.

Jerrell: None of that Whole Foods [redacted]. We’re Trader Joe’s.

Julia: Maybe even like, a Kroger one that’s been injected with a bunch of –

Jade: This is the eggplant that ate the other eggplants.

Jerrell: Boom. Yeah.

Julia: What’s that movie with the big plant?

Me: Little Shop of Horrors?

Julia: Yeah! Yes!

Jerrell: (Laughing) “That movie with the big plant…”

Julia: Yeah, like at the end of the movie, the plant’s like “Feed me, Seymour!” and the eggplant’s like, “[Redacted] you. Imma eat you.”

Jade: And Rick Moranis is still in it.

Jerrell: I thought you were going to say Rick Ross.

Me: I want to see that.

We hear a knocking.

Christie Wallace: Hey, Jerrell. Do you remember we have a show?

Jerrell: Oh! Yes, I’m coming!

Me: And I think that ends it.

All laugh.

Aren’t they lovely? I thought so.

And ya’ll know, I can’t leave anything alone without my two cents, so as a farewell note: Comics have such an interesting place in performance art. They can brighten a room, they can make an audience laugh, or cry, or gasp. They can speak honestly about things that hurt, and things that should change but can’t. I think every comic wants to be that kind of performer, the kind that can make a group nod, “So true, so true.” The kind of comic that can do it well, though – that’s something rare. It is easy to bandwagon or rant, but the comedian that can show you her perspective, and even convince you of her side, they are precious not only to fans but to an entire culture. I genuinely believe that FCC has four of them.

(I asked them what FCC stands for…Paulos said Fight Club Clips. Jade says [redacted] Calvin Coolidge. So the consensus is that they’re working on it.)

Emily Baudot is a Level Five improv 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.

Troupe Talk: Pretty People With Problems

Pretty People With Problems Dear Dallas Comedy House (DCH) friends, family, and of course, Mr. Vernon,

Pretty People With Problems accepts the fact that they’ve had to sacrifice a whole lot of time and energy, time originally guided by the wonderful Nikki Gasparo and now guided by the equally wonderful Ashley Bright, to flush out and hone a wild idea for an improvised teen movie. They’ve all practiced really hard together, and it’s crazy inspiring to see how far they’ve come. So, “Who exactly are they?” you ask. Well, you may see them as just a posse of unruly, free-spirited improv kiddos, but they’re definitely more than that. They’re a troupe of incredibly talented players who genuinely love to “yes and...” and support each other on and off the stage. With shows chock full of silly scenarios, zany casts of characters, and plenty of talk about Jerrell’s butthole, Pretty People With Problems is helping audiences relive their glorious high school moments: the good, the bad, and the embarrassing. With a lot of love and a whole lot of weird, they bring to life those precious moments rife with acne, angst, and possibly a rockin’ John Hughes soundtrack. In the simplest terms, Pretty People With Problems is the stellar combination of a Cody... a Jerrell and a Sallie...a Tyler and a Brian...a Bonnie...and a Natalie (a.k.a. Buffy in a young Meryl Streep disguise).

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast/Improv Club (it’s a dual purpose organization)

To start us off, let’s hear the super teen-angsty, melodramatic origin story of how Pretty People With Problems came to be.  

Cody: I was smoking pot behind a dumpster and writing poetry with my tears when Natalie told me Brian had told her that Tyler told him that Bonnie told her that Sallie said that Jerrell said that Nikki Gasparo said I had shit my pants in the cafeteria and that Ms. Bright slipped in it and gave me detention. I looked Natalie in the eyes and threw my letterman jacket on the ground and said, “I need redemption.” Then I messaged everyone on AIM and asked if they wanted to do a teen drama. No one wanted to, but they were all into improv, so I skated all the way to Keller, Texas, where Nikki lived, and we had our first practice.

Sallie: It was a dark, stormy night in the mid-1990s. Brian was working in his father’s grocery store, closing up because he was that kid with adult problems. Tyler was smoking a cigarette outside, just not giving a f***. Bonnie and Natalie cruised up in their BMW convertible with a bottle of vodka and techno music blasting on the radio. Cody was hiding behind the building filming everyone for one of his “art films.” Jerrell flew in on a cloud, and no one was certain whether he was human or God. Sallie was mopping up the parking lot and watching porn on her phone. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck and permanently banded these seven individuals together. Pretty People With Problems was formed.

Jerrell: I wasn't there for the very, very beginning, but from what I understand is that I was brought in as a season one guest star to shake up the personal relationships of the main cast but then I stuck around. It pays to hang around the craft services table a.k.a. chill out at Brian and Tyler's apartment while they're practicing because you're too hungover to go home.

Natalie: Brian and I have always been the dearest of friends, enabling each other to watch cable, instead of studying or binging on junk food and classic romance films (with the sound muted and our own dialogue, of course). And, don't forget the platonic sleepovers and make-out practice sessions. BEST BUDDIES. Then, of course, we always yearned for the attention of our high school's "it" duo, Cody and Jerrell, but flawlessly covered up our desperation with plenty of sarcasm and wit. Anytime Brian or I needed some sage advice, we consulted the original club sponsor/home-ec teacher, Ms. Bowen. No matter the situation, Ms. Bowen could always make me feel better, see the error of my ways, or realize which pill to take. It’s weird, though, I also always seemed to feel like her wisdom had an underlying message about my relationship, which was totally platonic, with Brian. Anyway, the coolest and most badass rebel, Tyler, looked in every room and hallway with a sexual tension that excited Brian and me, but we figured he'd eventually just fall for Ms. Bowen, and they would have some kind of sordid tryst that resulted in jail time and/or a pregnancy. Bonnie came into the picture when she moved here from Idabel, Oklahoma. She was the sweetest, little small-town girl with perfect grades. Brian and I pooled our spare change and sour patch kids together to bet on when she'd finally indulge in her dark side. And that's basically it, but, hey, it's only junior year, right?

Bonnie: Ugh. Total drab of a story. I don't know if you know Nikki Gasparo, but she basically rules the school. She's like the Queen B. And by “B,” I mean BITCH! No, she's amazing! She came up with the idea for an improvised teen drama and we all orgasmed in unison and started the troupe.

For people who may not be familiar with you guys, what can someone expect to see at one of your shows? What's your format or style?

Cody: We ask the audience for a problem they had in high school, then we put on a narrative, ”dramatic” show, in which we try to bring that problem to life. They can expect to see horse girls, dumb jocks, smart jocks, pill-addicted bitches, smelly skater boys, bug-boy, Poot the kleptomaniac, pooping in the cafeteria, teachers at prom, a cool opening credits video, and Jerrell’s butthole.

Sallie: We do an improvised teen drama in a narrative format. You can expect to see all your favorites: the slutty cheerleader, the mysterious bad boy, the pompous jock, the insecure school guidance counselor, the stoner, the horse girl, the bug boy, etc.  

Jerrell: It's VERY dramatic. Like the TNT of the theater. We love drama. But, essentially, we come out to a staple teen drama song looking very good and grab an audience suggestion of a high school issue and we play off of that. And somewhere along the way feelings are confessed and there's a lot of yelling.

Natalie: We begin with an air of drama and an audience member's personal high school obstacle. From there, we present a no-frills, totally unfunny and seriously serious adaptation of One Tree Hill/The O.C./Beverly Hills 90210/Melrose Place/Dawson's Creek/Gossip Girl/My So-Called Life/Degrassi High/Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Bonnie: Basically you will see a lot of sighing and Sallie playing human/animal characters. We also love to open and close lockers and backpacks, to really give our show that high school feeling.

If you could go back in time and give your teenage, high school self some advice, what would it be?

Cody: DUMP HER! And definitely don’t F***ING BRING HER TO DALLAS WITH YOU AND MOVE IN WITH HER YOU DIPSHIT! RUN AWAY! RUN! Also, when you get to Dallas don’t wait three years to go to Dallas Comedy House. Or do, because you’ll like the people you have class with. Whatever. Hey, don’t Bogart the joint, man.

Sallie: STOP SKIPPING CLASS, YA DUMMY.

Jerrell: Chill out. No matter how much that straight dude flirts with you, he's just doing it for the attention. And wash your face at night, you deserve clear skin.

Natalie: STOP GIVING ANY DAMN F***S! And am I kind of crushing on Brian, or do we just spend too much time together AS FRIENDS??

Bonnie: Keep eating lunch in the library. It's so much more peaceful in the library than in the lunchroom. Plus you're never going to get to see a food fight, so what's the point.

Teen movies are often all about those badass girl cliques. If life were a teen movie, what fictional #girlsquad would each of your troupe mates be part of and why? (Yes, Natalie, you can provide what teen drama stereotype/trope they’d be. Whatever makes you happy, boo.)

Cody: I know who’s in this troupe and how good they are at this sort of thing. My knowledge of pop-culture is painfully inadequate, so I’m going to let the others take this one.

Sallie: Natalie would be in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s clique or she would be Buffy herself. She is so obsessed with that show that I’m starting to think she is Buffy.

Bonnie: Natalie would be a part of... Well she just would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So would Brian. They are both Buffy because they are so badass and they have great hair.

Sallie: Brian would be part of the Plastics in Mean Girls because he is a badass, boss bitch that runs things. (Seriously, he is the bar manager at DCH. Check out the new menu!)

Natalie: Brian would be the field hockey captain and the sweet, loveable class president who also isn't afraid to let lose because he's a great leader and hella admirable. Also fit.

Sallie: I think Cody would be a part of the Heathers because he might murder someone.

Bonnie: Cody is definitely Regina from the Plastics because he is such a conniving, secret-starting, boyfriend-stealing, witch!

Natalie: Cody would be the section leader in the school choir, just to hear his own voice more, and he would also be the newest member of the pottery club because he wanted to meet an artsy girl that doesn't have dreadlocks but also doesn't judge anyone for having them.

Sallie: Jerrell would be a Spice Girl in Spice World because he really is a real-life pop star.

Bonnie: Jerrell would be Cher from Clueless because he has the best wardrobe and he is very persuasive. And he has great cheekbones.

Natalie: Jerrell would be the drill team captain who lights up a fat doobie under the bleachers before every halftime show but still has the best high kick you'll ever see. He is loveable as f*** but down-to-earth.

Bonnie: Sallie would be Dionne from the clique in Clueless because she pulls off a nose ring so well and she don't take shit from no gross bitch with a fake weave.

Sallie: Sallie would be one of the detentioners in The Breakfast Club. Most likely the quiet girl with dandruff because sometimes she really does get dandruff and she’s kind of creepy.

Natalie: Sallie would be the school principal on the fast track to being superintendent, but she gets it on with the weird goth kids because she's sexy as hell and could rock leather.

Sallie: Bonnie would be part of the T-Birds from Grease, because I could see her cruising in a sick ride, looking for chicks and greasing back her hair with a comb she keeps in her back pocket.

Natalie: Bonnie would be the bad virgin/clean teen that wants to remain pure but likes getting carried away with dirty talk and weenie play, because she's sweet and hot. Tyler would the president of the AV club, or the school DJ, or the bitchiest klepto you'll ever meet, because he's the bitchiest klepto you'll ever meet. He's also banging Sallie/Ms. Bowen.

Sallie: Tyler would be part of the Toro’s in Bring It On because he is very cheerful, supportive, and probably has a sick round-off back handspring.

Bonnie: Tyler would be Gretchen from the Plastics because he's always starting incredibly ridiculous rumors. These are just two he started at my high school. "Demi Lovato is giving the graduation speech," and "We're getting a Chick-fil-A in the cafeteria!"

Speaking of Plastics and Mean Girls, if you ever found a Burn Book with your picture in it, what do you think would be written about you?

Cody: Probably something like, “He has a big head, both metaphorically AND literally.”

Sallie: There would probably be a very frizzy-haired picture of me and under it would say, “Does she even go here?”

Jerrell: My burn would be something like, "Yikes...kinda desperate." But my picture would look great.

Natalie: “Eats a lot of cheese, ...like, a LOT!”

Bonnie: “Bonnie eats her corn like she's trying to get it off.”

What do you enjoy most about getting to play with this particular group of people?

Cody: When we first started practicing, it was hard to be good, because we were all just being so stupid and cracking ourselves up. Ashley had to develop punishments for breaking. I think the silliness and making each other laugh is what I love most. Also, I have to give credit to the effort Ashley has put into this project. It’s nothing short of inspiring. The passion from everyone has been outstanding.

Sallie: Everyone in this group is an incredible performer and improviser. I am always looking forward to either practice or shows with them because we have so much fun with each other. Each one is a genuinely hilarious person, and we’re always cracking each other up.

Jerrell: These are some of the weirdest people I've ever played with. There's never any judgment about a move being made or a joke or whatever. Like, this entire troupe is so weird, and it's the best. I don't know; it's super freeing knowing that I can do whatever dumb, weird thing I want to and they “yes and” it.

Natalie: I love and adore this group so incredibly much, because while we're all friends and mesh really well, we also each have unique and distinct qualities/styles/personalities. We make each other laugh a lot, and I think that's a great place to start when your goal is to make other people laugh, too.

Bonnie: We all have so much fun together and we know and love teen dramas. Plus, I've seen all these people on the toilet and once you've seen that, a bond forms that's unexplainable and so amazing.

What rule of improv do you try to apply to your everyday life and why?

Cody: Oh wow, thank you for the soapbox.  I’m going to try to only put one foot on it. I guess I have to choose between “say yes” and “listen to the last thing said.” I think it would be the latter because I have a tendency to respond to things with “I” or “me” statements just to relate, and I want to work on really listening to and engaging with the other person in a conversation.

Sallie: “YES AND,” baby. I always try to say yes to new opportunities and experiences, and this has significantly broadened my horizons. Also, listening is so important, and since taking improv classes, I believe I am a better listener in my regular life.

Jerrell: Saying yes. That's so cliché, but I mean saying yes to everything, mostly to myself. I used to spend a lot of time being concerned about how other people felt about me and what I was doing, instead of how I was feeling and whatever. So, more specifically, saying yes to my feelings and what I want and need to do from moment to moment.

Natalie: Improv is a phenomenon to me because every concept/pillar can simply translate into or be applied to life. So, I can't choose a “single” concept that I apply, but in general, I see improv, in its purest sense, as an enchanting, mind-boggling and frustrating entity, which can also be said of life. Also, the support and respect I’ve seen and experienced in the DCH community, especially in regards to gender equality, is a security and love I know I am extremely lucky to have.

Bonnie: I always say yes. It just makes life so much more fun.

As with anything in life, movie quotes are always applicable. So let’s end this Q&A by coming up with a Pretty People tagline, using only teen movie quotes.

Cody: “Whatever I feel like I wanna do, gosh!” – Napoleon Dynamite; Alternate: “Yes… yes… yes…” – Napoleon Dynamite

Sallie: “Well you can’t kill me ‘cause I’m already dead. And I talked to God, and she says, ‘Yo wassup?’ and she wants you to lose the gun.” – Deb in Empire Records

Jerrell: "Do yo thang, Isis." – Bring It On

Natalie: "Shoulda used the window!" – Walter Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You; Alternate: "It don't matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning's winning." – Dominic Toretto in The Fast And The Furious

Bonnie: "Why should I listen to you? You're a virgin who can't drive." – Tai from Clueless

Pretty People With Problems performs at DCH on June 1 and June 9.

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.

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.

The DCH Diaries: Old Dogs, New Tricks

Get Off My Lawn The DCH Diaries live on. I took a little sabbatical, and as sabbaticals are designed to do, I have come back refreshed, renewed, and reinvigorated.

While I was away from DCH and the blog, I reflected a lot on the wonderful folks here that I call my friends and the many reasons why improv comedy fosters a sense of community. We spend a lot of time allowing ourselves to experience emotional vulnerability and working to overcome fears like stage fright. We’re taught to draw on our deepest desires, passions, fears, and joys, allow them to bubble to the surface and color our initiations and responses on stage. Exposing our deepest darkest selves, our hopes and dreams week after week (and for some performers, night after night) fosters a bond among troupe mates and classmates not unlike that formed by soldiers sharing a foxhole (Not really. I made that up. I would not expect any of you to take a bullet for me.).

A few months ago, when I started looking toward graduation, I also started considering the people I’d like to play with on stage henceforth. I would be honored to take the stage with any of you. But as an older improviser, I realized that I didn’t see a lot of folks like me on stage. I also learned that there were some wonderful improvisers within our community who had, for various reasons, not yet had an opportunity to participate in a troupe. I wrote about my plan to bring some of those players together. Read about it at "The DCH Diaries: The Over-40 Project."

Well, the Over-40 Project has been more popular and more successful than I ever imagined. From Day One, we had enough participants to field two troupes. Those troupes, "Been There, Done That" and "Get Off My Lawn!" hired coaches - the indefatigable Jerrell Curry and the inestimable David Allison.

Been There Done ThatWeeks of practice, hard work, fun, and bonding later, these two troupes are preparing for their debuts. I am delighted to report that "Been There, Done That" will compete at King of the Mountain this Wednesday, November 18. "Get Off My Lawn!" is scheduled to begin King of the Mountain on Wednesday, December 16. The shows start at 9:30 p.m. See the troupe rosters below.

Please come out and support these two troupes! Tell them how much you love their talents, their attitudes, and their ambitions. Let them show you that improv comedy is not the purview of the 25-year-old plaid shirted guys in our community (though we love you all, too). Improv changes lives, and it has changed the lives of every one of us associated with the project.

This is only the beginning for the Over-40 Project. Right now, we have almost 40 names on our contact list. In January, we will be holding a special meeting/jam/social for people (over 40, please) who are interested in forming new troupes. We’ll make sure you all know when that happens. In the meantime, get on our list by grabbing me at the Jam, in the bar between shows, or email me at carronna@gmail.com.

Been There, Done That Dan Sturdivant Glenn Smith Dawn Rummel Smith Becky Rentzel Gretchen Martens Camille Long Mano Galaviz Doug Barton Gaye Bagdwell Mike Asquini Carron Armstrong

Get Off My Lawn! Nancy Zalewski Dan Sturdivant Mark Rosenfeld Kristal Milazzo Gretchen Martens Darrin Larson Gaye Badgwell Mike Asquini

Carron Armstrong is currently a Level 5 and Sketch 1 student at Dallas Comedy House. In addition to organizing the Over-40 Project and its two current troupes, she also serves at the unofficial DCH house mother (like the one in a sorority, not the one in a strip club).

Confessions of a Comedy-holic

Confessions of a Comedy-holic is a weekly blog series that features performers of the Dallas Comedy House (DCH). What does it take to be funny? What make someone a great comedian? What brought them to DCH, what kept them staying, and how has it changed their own lives. Celebrities of DCH speak about their journeys in comedy. Local comedians share their story.  Embrace the Challenge.

Jerrell CurryEach time I see Jerrell Curry on stage as well as off stage, his burst of energy is captivating. It seems like the joy and happiness that he radiates just brightens up the room. Of course, I couldn’t help myself but ask him a few questions.

Jerrell, you are always so full of positive energy. What source drives you to be so vibrantly happy?

I've always been a naturally positive person, I think. There are definitely times when I get super bummed out about life, so in those moments I just fake it until it's a real feeling. I also listen to a lot of pop music, so that helps. I recommend Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion album for good vibes.

Good advice. How long have you been doing improv?

It will be two years this October. It's weird thinking about how much time has passed. I feel like I've done a lot but nothing at all at the same time. I'm a little improv baby.

What brought you to improv?

I don't know if it was any one thing. I know it was something that I always wanted to try, probably because I was obsessed with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the time, and once I started I was immediately sucked into it.

What do you like most about it?

I think it allows me to be my most free. I feel more like myself now than I've ever felt in my life, and improv has a lot to do with that. It's like when pop stars say things like, "This is my most personal record I've ever made...it drops November 21st..." That's how I feel about improv except instead of releasing Stripped, I make a poop joke on stage. It's equally fulfilling, honestly. Speaking of, my next poop joke drops October 3rd, listen on Apple Music.

Feeling free is fulfilling. Besides improv, what are your other hobbies?

I watch a ton of TV. I have the TV taste of a suburban mom, so I love anything soapy. So like, anything associated with Shonda Rhimes. Right now, I'm obsessed with How To Get Away With Murder. The acting is great, and the dudes are hot. I'm also really into making lists of books that I want to read and never doing it. And thinking about Nick Jonas.

Do you have any pets?

I have a dog! I love him. His name is Jasper. He's a scrappy little Lhasa Apso. Our birthdays are a day apart. If I was a dog, I would probably be him. He enjoys sleeping and rolling his eyes.

Jerrell, I see you are from Lewisville? Were you born here in Texas?

Born and raised. But I weirdly don't feel like a Texan. I definitely don't mind it here, but I don't know if this is my spot or not.

When you go to bed, what is one thing you mostly dream of?

Oh, that's a good question. I usually dream of things that are super related to what I have going on at the moment - all pretty realistic. So I've been dreaming a lot about boys, Rihanna, and coffee.

Who is your favorite actor/actress of all time?

I don't know if I have a solid favorite actor or actress. I love a lot of different people depending on their roles. It's a very long list, but the first person I immediately thought of was Jenny Slate, particularly in Obvious Child. She just kills it in that movie. She's funny, vulnerable, and super real. She's also really, really great in Parks and Recreation and The Kroll Show. Jenny Slate for President.

If you had just one wish in life to definitely come true, what would it be?

Um, I wish I was a little more confident. I scare myself out of doing things pretty frequently. I would get a lot more done if I spent less time in my head worrying and more time just doing, moving with a purpose. I've gotten better about just saying yes and pushing myself out the door, just turning that part of my brain off, but I'm scared the entire time. Now I'm worrying if that was the right wish or not.

I would never think that you lack confidence? I think there are so many of us at improv that feel like that, though. I know I do! Maybe it's a part of why we like it? Because it's a bit of challenge, that we succeed to overcome??

I completely agree! Improv at the very least forces you to fake that confidence until it's a real thing, for sure.

Jerrell, these are cool answers, thank you!

Thank you!

Iryna Spitzer is a writer and improviser. She is currently in Level 2 at DCH. Besides comedy, she likes drama (to balance it out), also flowers, children, animals, and world peace!  

(Image: Allie Trimboli)

Troupe Talk: Primary Colours

Primary Colours Fun fact for you from the Primary Colours interview editing “room”:

I’m editing this interview from the airport at the bar (because airports are for beer) drinking an IPA (because airports are for beer), and eating edamame. Edamame (for those that don’t know) is green. (…And airports are for beer.)

Interesting fact I learned interviewing Primary Colours about green: Yellow, red, and blue are the primary colors. And green. Because something about light.

Second fun fact for you from the Primary Colours interview editing “room”: I’m headed to my (unofficial) sweet home Chicago.

Interesting fact that relates to that, that I learned by interviewing Primary Colours: They are headed to Pittsburgh (soon) for the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival! And Ashley’s Grandma will be there!

Fun fact for you from the Primary Colours interview editing “room”: There is a really sweet looking Grandma sitting at a table nearby at the TGI Fridays

Totally unrelated fact that sort of has to do with my interview with Primary Colours: I really hope that is Ashley’s Grandma so I can rub it in all of their faces that I met her (and fed her a pierogi) first.

Friends, I happily present to you: Primary Colours!

Congrats on your acceptance to the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival! What are you most stoked about?

Ash: I'm stoked about us all [except Rob :(]  being on the same plane. Those poor other passengers. Also stoked about pierogies. And wedding soup. And hanging out with my grandma.

Tim: I’m stoked about meeting Ashley’s grandma and hand-feeding her a pierogi. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’ve read Pittsburgh is a pretty romantic city, so we’ll see what develops.

Sarah: I’m stoked about meeting Ashley’s grandma and holding her hand while gazing at the merging of the rivers. And going balls out with some of my best friends. And finally finding out what exactly Jerrell’s morning beauty routine is.

Jerrell: Thank you! I’m stoked about meeting Ashley’s grandma, all the food, and the actual plane ride. I loveeee plane rides. Or like, just the idea of plane rides. They make me feel accomplished.

Lindsay: I'm stoked about meeting Ashley's grandma and taking her to the observatory to gaze at the stars. And having a break from mom responsibilities. Unless someone needs a mom...

Rob: I’ve met one of Ashley’s grandma’s before, it was lovely. She snickered at dirty jokes. I’ve also heard that Pittsburgh is a city of romance, bridges, and silent H’s, so hopefully we’ll all get some of that. Sarah has a silent H, so that’s a neat coincidence.

Colten: I’m stoked about flying back all together with Ashley’s grandma. I love plane rides and grandmas.

Tell us about the form Primary Colours follows. What’s your style?

Ash: Form - the Harold. Style - Shenanigans.

Tim: I think Ashley said it all. However, I always think of our style as being pretty esoteric, as in, only really funny to us. I’m always a bit confused when people laugh at our shows, because I typically don’t expect people to find our ridiculous shit funny.

Sarah: I think Ashley and Tim said it all. Plus a lot of singing.

Lindsay: I think Ashley, Tim, and Sarah said it all. Plus a ton of support, no matter how crazy it gets.

Jerrell: It’s all been said, plus a lot of smiling and fart noises.

Rob: I think it’s all been covered except my favorite part of the show, which is when someone who’s never seen improv before leans over to the friend who brought them and says, “What’s happening?” loud enough for me to hear.

Colten: I think Harold had the best answer. He covered it all. It’s a Harold, that’s what we do. This is our style.

In Pittsburgh you’ll probably run into improvisers from other cities. What would you tell them is unique about the Dallas Comedy House?

Ash: I'd ask them if they've ever played hangers, but then I'd remember it no longer exists, so I'd mumble something about Tommy and tacos and amble away.

Tim: I’d tell them it’s an incredibly supportive and welcoming community, especially now that I’ve left.

Sarah: Ditto what Tim said. And we should bring back hangers.

Lindsay: I'll tell them that I still feel left out, because I never got to play hangers.

Jerrell: I would tell them all about hangers because it went off. And yeah, just how supportive our community is. It’s wonderful.

Rob: I’d probably corner Aubrey Plaza and spit some mad game for our coach, Tyler Via. I’m actually not going to Pittsburgh, but I can imagine it going something like this, “Hey, **head nod**” She’ll get the picture.

Colten: I’m going to make Tyler Via and Aubrey Plaza play hangers together, so he can explain to her that it was invented in Dallas.

Name something you love that’s the color of each of the three primary colors.

Ash: Well, PC East member Andre lectured us many times that green is a primary color of light (along with red and blue) and that red, yellow, and blue are primary colors of pigment. So, I just go with an overlapping four. But to answer your question: Blue - a nice, semi-cloudy night sky. Yellow - candied ginger. Red - a big, raw cut ruby I saw once and haven't forgotten. Green - dank memes.

Tim: Possibly the smartest, funniest person I’ve ever met pointed out that green is only a primary color in terms of light, and that pigment is different. So, I just want to be clear where I’m coming from and that I’m choosing the colors of fragmented light. But, to get to the point - blue - Amanda Austin’s eye shadow. Red - a scratch from a lil kitty cat. Green - dank memes.

Sarah: Dre-dre all day. Blue - a dark, blue suit that my dude wears that makes him look hella fine; Ashley’s light blue eyes; red - my DCH intern shirt; yellow - that one yellow shirt that Tim wears that is pretty much sheer; green - the tip of this onion that I let just grow outside my apartment for a few months, it was pretty scary but fascinating.

Lindsay: Blue - The New England Patriots uniforms. Yellow - The leaves in the fall in New England. Red - My first car, a Jetta that I drove until it fell apart 200,000 miles later. Green - A four-leaf clover.

Jerrell: Blue - The color of the Lost season 1 DVD set. Yellow - Pikachu. Red - Taylor Swift’s album. Green - Flubber.

Rob: Hi Andre, I hope you read this. Blue - Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber blade hue. Yellow - A type of fever. Red - the “what makes the red man red?” song from Peter Pan. “Why don’t you ask him, Howe?” lolz OK sorry. Green - “The Color of Money.”

Colten: Blue - the ocean. Yellow - Starburst. Red - record buttons. Green - (this goes out to Andre) spearmint flavored gum packages.

Primary Colours performs Friday, August 28, at the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival and regularly at the Dallas Comedy House.

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.