Kyle Austin

Sketch Speak: "Trump’d: The Musical" - The Off-the-Record Interview

trumpd-posterI know you know it, but it has to be said: If art can send messages, comedy can scream them like your violently political uncle. But in the same way that not all political uncles are immature screamers, comedians can make effective points without embarking on diatribes. True to form, a Dallas Comedy House (DCH) sketch show has struck this balance in a fun, exciting way. They even put music to it! Trump’d: The Musical, directed by Kyle Austin, honestly portrays the show’s namesake and his recent…shenanigans. (Kind of a light word, shenanigans. Escapades isn’t right either…Crusade? Sure, that’s a nice, strong word with no historical significance whatsoever.) It stars the writing, acting, and vocal talents of Ashley Bright, Sallie Bowen, Josh Hensley, Cody Hofmockel, Andrew Plock, and Gabe Vasquez. Though they were not present for this interview, the show received invaluable help from Raye Maddox as show tech, Randy Austin as the show’s composer and live pianist, and Lauren Levine as assistant director. Despite their exhaustion (it’s no easy thing to do an hour-and-a-half long show), they very graciously accepted my request to interview them. The transcript follows. First of all, congratulations, that was a wonderful run. The advertisement that you put out, it’s just Trump’s wig and his name. A lot of people might think, just based off the look of the poster, that this is show driven by politics. Was your goal in writing this sketch to be political?

Cody: [quoting the show] Politics, politics, can be fun.

Josh: [quoting the show] Politics, politics, kill someone. I mean, yeah, wasn’t that basically the whole case? We came together, and we all wanted to do something that was important, and not all of us feel like this election year is really the greatest, and who hates anyone more than Trump, you know? I think it was all political in nature, if you had to look at it.

Ashley: We talked about the issues before we decided on Trump. I mean, we didn’t know we were doing a Trump show when we started writing.

Cody: I think it was on everyone’s mind.

Josh: I think there was so much material with Trump as the character he’s presenting – I don’t think we have a super political agenda, we just made fun of Trump.

Andrew: We did take little snippets of like, what we hate the most about the kind of things he’s spreading – hate against immigrants, hate against women, the weird things he does with his daughter, and all the weird stuff he’s about.

Ashley: And just, how did we get to now? You think in the ‘90s, like who Trump was then, and he’s seriously the Republican political candidate? Like, how did we get there?

Trump'd

And so, using comedy to make a more serious approach to how you feel?

[All laugh.]

Well, you know what I mean.

Cody: Well, once we started, once we decided, “Hey, this is a topic right now, and we can do this and people will respond.” I think we tried to be the least political – I mean, we tried to be as silly as possible. And not really try to push a huge political message. More like, “Hey, this is the show we’re going to do, but we’ll keep it true to the people that are writing it, and just be silly rather than political.”

That makes sense. When you were studying your… "artistic subject," – what kind of research did you do, for Andrew when you were getting into character to imitate him, and when the rest of you were writing about [Trump] for Andrew?

Andrew: I don’t know – for me it was just, I think we all shared a lot of articles about his worst quotes and things that he’s said, which a lot of material just presented itself. You don’t even have to change anything half the time. Everything he says is so ridiculous in the first place…but for me, I just watched him give some speeches, his hand motions, stuff like that.

Kyle: His little bitty hand motions?

Andrew: His ittle bitty hands…Oddly, it felt really easy to be Trump, I don’t know why.

[Author note: I would hazard a guess that it’s because he’s a walking caricature, but who am I to cast judgement upon such a towering, orange monolith?]

Andrew: It’s not a great Trump impression – it’s all body language. And that’s the main thing that I got from it, is that he uses his body a lot to talk…[under his breath] because he doesn’t have good words, probably…

Gabe: And even if you follow the news badly, you know about Trump. It writes itself, because everywhere you turn there is something.

Ashley: Which is why we didn’t go that way. You saw the show, we didn’t write about Trump himself – and when we picked periods of time to send him to, we thought, “What is this time period, and how does it mirror what Trump is about, like the sexism of the witch hunts. That was more what we were going for, with that.

Josh: And every week, people would come in like, “Did you hear this? Did you hear that?” And we had to have a cutoff date, we had to stop writing new stuff and just improvise the show after a certain point. We actually stopped writing at the Republican National Convention – like it says in the beginning of the show, we couldn’t keep up. But even after that, it was so funny to hear us all come together and say, “Did you hear this? Did you hear about this? How ridiculous.”

Trump'd

Is it different when you write sketch to accommodate songs?

[All laugh]

I mean, obviously it was. Could you talk a bit about the ways that you wrote and how those ideas came about?

Cody: Thank god for Randy.

[All agree.]

Andrew: That’s Randy Newman Austin.

[All laugh]

Gabe: That was the thing about it, though. We could write ideas of what we wanted a song to be like, or what to do, and then to come back the next week and he’d say, “I’ve got it! I’ve changed a little bit of it, but it’s the same thing,” and man, ‘cause none of us have that musical background needed to write a song. We can do lyrics, we can be funny about it, maybe, but not make the music like that. It was so hard to tackle, and I don’t think we could have done it without Randy.

Kyle: That’s for sure.

Cody: We would kind of – I guess, when we decided to write a musical, one of the first things Kyle made us do was have everyone go write a song. And so we’d write some lyrics and have a little tune in our head, and when we brought Randy in, we’d just be able to sing the tune we thought of and he would…just be able to play it, because he’s ridiculous. And we worked with him enough to where we got a cohesive song.

Did you have to do vocal training of any kind to –

[All laugh REALLY hard, like, I was killin’ em, guys.]

All: Yes, yes.

Cody: Um, yes.

Kyle: …When I asked these guys if they wanted to do a Trump show, they said, “YEAH!” I asked if they wanted to do a musical - “YEAH!” Can anybody sing? “…ehhhh…”

[All laugh.]

Kyle: I think what’s great about this is that the content is so rich, the songs are so catchy, that we didn’t bother with worrying about that. We knew it’d be fine. It’s a musical that we put together in two-and-a-half, three months. It should’ve taken six months to do. And the amount of time that people put into it is very obvious. When people come prepared and ready and know their stuff – you know how much time they’re putting into it, how many times they’re listening to that song in the car, or at work or whatever. Josh got caught working on Louis and Clark at work doing this [Kyle bobs up in down, in the style of the dance performed during the show].

[All laugh]

Tump'd

Was there a particular part of the show that ya’ll enjoyed the most? Performing, writing?

Andrew: I think everyone’s got their favorites, right?

Cody: My favorite line in the whole show is when Trump says, “I can pivot.”

[All agree.]

That’s a very good line.

Cody: I just think it encompasses the entire show.

Josh: I love Louis and Clark.

Cody: That’s my favorite one, too.

Sallie: Gets me every time.

Gabe: I like the now. We aren’t learning the show any more, and we can just have fun with it. And – oh my god, the preview was so stressful!

Really?

Gabe: I mean, it was our first time performing in front of an audience. And just, “[Redacted] do I remember this line, that line, do I remember where to step?” Now we’re past that point…it’s more second nature, and –

Cody: Now we’re changing stuff, improvising, [redacted] with each other.

Kyle: And, how many people was that their first time to sing in front of people?

[Half the group raises their hands.]

Ah, so that’s Ashley, Terry…

Kyle: Um. That’s Gabe.

[Cue me crapping my pants.]

Oh – what? Oh my god, Gabe, I’m so sorry.

[All laugh]

Andrew: Oh no, don’t worry. That’s what we call him, Gabriel Terry!

Kyle: Off the record, my favorite part is where [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted]. Off the record, of course.

Off the record, gotcha.

Andrew: Oh, and how [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] [redacted]. Off the record, too.

Trump'd

Haha, OK. And last question – this comes standard – if your group was a vegetable, what would it be?

Cody: [no hesitation] Corn.

[Author’s note: Please see my interview with the Look at Us show for reference.]

[Andrew laughs.]

Josh: Everybody’s corn…

Cody: [sadly] No, we’re not corn.

Ashley: Maybe we can be moldy corn.

Andrew: Yeah, we’re moldy niblets.

Kyle: What would Trump be?

Cody: An orange bell pepper?

Gabe: Or a carrot, maybe?

A taco bowl?

Sallie: That’s it. That’s what vegetable we are. A taco bowl.

Kyle: We would be Home Depot filled with taco bowls.

Josh: Yes. Agreed.

Gabe: Hm…Maybe an eggplant?

Ashley: I was thinking an eggplant, too!

[Everyone babbles excitedly]

No, The Wrong Party was an eggplant.

[Everyone awws dissapointedly. Go look at that interview, too.]

I’m sorry…I mean, ya’ll could be eggplants too…

Ashley: Maybe an orange eggplant…?

Cody: What’s a type of vegetable where they’ll be like, “Oh, wasn’t expecting that…”

Andrew: What’s a vegetable that has tiny hands?

Josh: Potatoes?

Kyle: We could do like, baby snap peas?

Oh, well, ginger, you call them “fingers of ginger.” That’s like, the technical cooking term or whatever.

Josh: Huh. That’s pretty good.

Gabe: Ginger is gross.

Kyle: What vegetable describes a bunch of random people that probably haven’t worked together a lot in other settings coming together and talking through it at the beginning (followed by yours truly) all pretending to know what they’re doing, and then faking it until we make it?

Ashley: [disgustedly] What vegetable is that?!

Cody: Yeah, what even is that?

[All laugh]

Gabe: Well, we just made that vegetable.

Cody: Wait, we brought a potato up…

Josh: Ooh! A sweet potato!

Ashley: A sweet potato, yes!

Sallie: A yam.

Cody: Once you peel it away…

Gabe: A potato is used in a lot of ways. Very versatile, you can use it in all three meals of the day, snacks…

Cody: Also very accessible to the masses.

All: Ahh, yeah…

Gabe: You could fry it, you could bake it, sauté it…

Kyle: The versatility, that’s worth throwing out there. True to Trump.

Cody: [to me] So, a potato. Sweet or unsweet.

Starchy and terrible for you.

Andrew: [in Trump’s voice] But oh so satisfying.

[All laugh]

Nice…I think that’s all the questions that I have.

Andrew: [In Trump’s voice] All I gotta say, is that if you see Derek Jeter, run. Don’t ask questions, protect your nuts, and turn the other way.

Trump'd

The Dallas Comedy House prides itself on being an open forum. Anyone with a show idea, script, or routine can submit to dchbackstage.com and it will be considered for a show slot. I bring it up because DCH did not ask for this show to be made. Rather, people moved by today’s political atmosphere came together and made it happen. This in itself says something about the passion they have for their subject, and if you can get yourself down to the House to see it in action, you certainly won’t be sorry. So go buy a ticket…and for God’s sake, go vote, too.

Emily Baudot is a DCH graduate and sketch 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.

(Poster: Ashley Bright. Images: Jason Hensel)

Learning to Bulldoze

Ew, it’s group scenes. Group scenes are the absolute worst. OK, no, they're not actually the worst, that's a bit of an unfair exaggeration. I'm sorry group scenes, I didn't mean to hate on you. Let's try and start this post again. Group scenes are...challenging? Yeah, yeah, that sounds better, I'll go with that. Groups scenes are indeed challenging, especially if you're anything like me: quiet, introverted, and at times a little bit socially awkward. For those of us improvisers who fall into that category of human, we can sometimes lose our voices in the cacophony of the group scene. This happens to me a lot, not just in improv but also in group conversations in life. Frankly, it’s the lifelong struggle of being the overly polite, quiet kid. Yes, shocker, I was the quiet kid and now I am the quiet young adult, and in group scenes, I’m the quiet young adult improviser who tends to just hang back and is happy to let everyone else do all the talking.

Kevin Hart

For me, speaking up in a group scene often induces the same anxious feelings as trying to merge a car onto a busy highway. All the other cars are zooming by and it's crowded and chaotic, and for the unobtrusive quiet person it’s easier and a lot less painful to just wait for an opening than assert yourself in and accidentally cut someone off or worse, making a messy driving situation even messier (I also suffer from driving anxiety, in case you couldn’t tell. It’s fantastic.). When it comes to being assertive, I'm definitely on board the struggle bus. As a people pleaser and rather passive individual, I tend to hold back from speaking up a lot. A LOT. I hold back, even though I know it's probably not a good thing to do, in order to avoid any uncomfortable feelings or confrontation.

One particular instance, in which I went out of my way to avoid asserting myself, sticks out in my mind. I went to this Mexican restaurant that had just opened down the street from where I live. I had ordered a bowl of tortilla soup, thinking, "Soup should be good. Nobody can f*** up soup, right?" Wrong! So wrong. Unfortunately, to my surprise, you can indeed f*** up soup. I could only describe what was served to me as overly salted dishwater garnished with floating bits of stale Mission chips. Pretty gross.

When the waiter came to our table and asked us the standard "Is everything all right here?" question, I should have said something like, "No, everything is not all right, Mr. Waiter. This concoction tastes like the chef put the sweat and tears of his dying abuelita in a bowl, scooped up the three-week-old Tostitos crumbs off his stoner friend's couch, called it soup, and then thought, yeah that's good for human consumption." But I didn't say any of that. I didn't speak up. Instead, I sat there and suffered my sweaty, dishwater soup in silence. And that’s on me, folks.

polite

But now I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to change and grow and be a better human and fellow improviser.

Although my default setting is to sit back and listen to and absorb everything/everyone going on around me, content with not uttering a single word for a solid chunk of time, I’m working on pushing myself to speak up, or, as my teacher Kyle Austin phrases it, “bulldoze” my way into a group conversation. I’m now envisioning a little Kyle Austin/Jiminy Cricket character on my shoulder telling me, “Be the bulldozer, Lauren. Be the bulldozer. You can do it!”

Now by bulldozing I don’t mean suddenly giving myself the license to be rude and pushy, ignoring what others have to say and bullying my way in just to hear my own voice. Geez, let’s be real, people. Nobody likes a super-aggressive, attention-grabbing, conversation-stealing Biff Tannen of a human...unless of course you’re improvising a scene from Back to the Future, which could be the exception here. But what I mean by bulldozing is this: Allow myself the opportunity to contribute when I know that I have something worth saying.

spongebob

In other words, when you got something to say, don’t hold back. Go ahead and assert yo bad self. Your scene partners really do want to know what’s on your mind (at least that’s what my teachers and coaches keep telling me) so you don’t always have to politely wait your turn to say something. In fact, Dallas Comedy House OG, Chad Haught, will tell you that politeness and improv don’t often go hand in hand. The overly polite, quiet kid improviser, who is all too eager to let anyone and everyone else take the lead, doesn’t help drive a scene forward by hanging back and keeping her ideas to herself.

As the quiet kid, you're the observer and the analyzer. Your mind is constantly engaged in what's taking place around you, allowing you to view the scene from a different perspective than your more extroverted peers. This means that your contributions to the scene are indispensable, because no one else will have the same voice or the same views as you. You're one of a kind baby! As my homie Dr. Seuss puts it, "There is no one alive who is youer than you." And that is a pretty magnificent, cool thing to be.

So when it comes to group scenes, be respectful, be generous, but don’t worry about being polite. If you got something to say, just say it. (I know, totally easier said than done, btw.) Be the bulldozer. I think rapper A$AP Rocky said it best, “Wild for the night. F*** being polite. I’m going in.”

quiet people

Are you a quiet kid? Do you have any stories from being the quiet kid? Do you have any stories from being the NOT so quiet kid? Do you just maybe want to say hello and tell me what the worst soup you ever ate was? Then put it in the comments bellows, please and thank you! All thoughts, comments, questions, and tellings of worst soups ever eaten are welcome!

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.

When the Going Gets Tough

Head in Hands During a recent practice, one of my troupe mates expressed struggling with improv lately. Rehearsals had felt difficult and discouraging, and this person didn’t know what to make of the experience. The first thought that came to my mind was, “It’s a cycle.” I had felt crappy about my play just a week before. I’ll probably feel crappy about it again soon. We all know the feeling when things just aren’t clicking. It’s improv puberty; it happens to everyone.

I've been performing improv for almost four years now. That's a little while. I've been able to buy a drink at a bar (legally) for less time. In my near-presidential-term stint of making pretend, I've experienced plenty of ups and downs. We will always have both.

One of the toughest parts about practicing and performing improv is getting better. When you start, you’re overjoyed just to be able to express the thoughts in your brain. You feel an unmistakable exhilaration the first time you nail a great group game. Because you have done so little improv, every scene is a new scene. The work you’re doing might be good, but it is certainly good enough.

However, somewhere along the road, you get better. Your scenes become more consistent and you develop a small cache of improv memories. From this point forward you are cursed with the knowledge that you have done well before, and you feel a great sense of shame when you don't automatically replicate previous success.

Then you start to notice at shows how certain performers (many of whom have been improvising and teaching for years, mind you) always seem to stick the landing in scenes and why can't I be like them and just do good scenes like I used to and when did this get so frustrating and hard!?

A few things to remember:

  1. If you’re self-critical, it probably means that you care about the work you’re doing.
  2. You’re not the only, or necessarily, the best judge of your own work.
  3. Long-term consistency can consist of short-term inconsistencies. (LeBron James is shooting 30.9 percent from 3 this season. He’s a career 34 percent shooter from that range.)

It’s only because you’ve gotten better that you notice the flaws. A performer’s relationship with improv will always be cyclical. You will always go through phases of struggle and phases of euphoria. For me, it can even change week-by-week.

It’s a commonly held belief that you should regularly mix up your workout routine in order to maximize the time you spend exercising. If you do the same thing every day, your body adjusts and you no longer benefit from the activity.

The same is true when it comes to improv, comedy, and performance in general. If you spend all of your time practicing, you need to perform. If you spend all of your time performing you need to take a workshop or read a book. If you always improvise, you need to write. If you always do comedy you need to try drama. Change-ups give you a new perspective and offer an alternative when the fastball isn’t working.

In college, when I tired of our free-range improv environment, I’d focus on stand-up. When stand-up got sad, I’d work on sketches. When sketches felt difficult, I’d try to write a Regular Show spec script (I’ve got a pretty solid premise if it hasn’t been done yet. I haven’t watched Regular Show in like two years). With this system, when I felt deflated in one area, it didn’t prevent me from working in another.

It’s important to remember that this improv thing will never be automatic. Every time you complete the cycle of doubt and self-loathing (*cue graphic) you come out stronger and more consistent. When you watch a performer who always seems to have good scenes, it’s probably a product of many frustrating cycles. Even the established performers at Dallas Comedy House experience ups and downs:

“When I find myself in a period of regression or stagnation, I try to shake things up by playing with new people, new formats, and new characters. I watch more improv and go to more Jams.” — Tommy Lee Brown

“It’s easy to overanalyze. I used to do it a lot. A LOT. But I really try to dust it off as quickly as I can now. We’re adults playing make-believe, so it’s silly to beat myself up. And on the same note, when I walk off stage feeling too baller and cocky, I remind myself of the same thing. Learn from the good. Learn from the bad. Keep walking.” — Ashley Bright

“When I struggle, it feels like I'm forcing myself into the show instead of trusting the process and letting the show come to me. When that happens, I'm always more confident, creative, and generally having more fun.” — Ben Pfeiffer

“I think we make [improv] hard. We catch a glimpse of its splendor here or there and start chasing it. We think we can comprehend it or ‘do it this way’ so we can feel that thing we felt again. That's when it gets hard for me. When I think I can outsmart improv and make moves that aren't already there.” — Kyle Austin

The bottom line: Choosing to continue strengthens your skill set and ultimately gives you confidence for the cycles to come.

“The biggest thing I've realized about these peaks and valleys is that they pass. Focus on yourself, not just your improv but your life outside of it. Read more, take a walk, travel. Get out of your head and into your life because that's the real inspiration for everything we do on stage.” — Sarah Wyatt

Danny Neely is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. He works part time at a bakery and another part of  the time as a freelance writer. You can see him perform as a member of Big Turtle, Clover, Coiffelganger, Empty Inside, and Warm Milk.

(Image: Alex Proimos/Creative Commons)

Troupe Talk: Small Town

Small Town Not sure if you heard friends, but LOVE is in the air at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH). And not just the love between that drunken couple that caught a show on Saturday for their Tinder date, but the “for reals” kind, where like, you get married and stuff. DCH improv veterans, instructors, and Small Town troupe teammates Kyle Austin and Maggie-Rieth-but now she’s-Austin tied the knot this past month! So go ahead, start ooooo’ing and awwww’ing and sink your teeth into this week’s edition of Troupe Talk: The Love Story Edition.

You guys just got married! Congratulations! What’s being married to your improv scene partner like?

Maggie: It's the best. We haven't technically performed together since we got married, but I have really high hopes for it. Or it could be a miserable disaster, and we will both quit improv. Tomato, to-mah-to. Kyle: I don't know what it's like to be married to my scene partner, yet...but come out this Saturday and find out the same time I do.

What rules of improv are also good rules for relationships?

Maggie: All of them. Mostly, "You look good if you make your partner look good." I don't want to be in a relationship - or improv troupe - that's about cutting one another down or competing. I want to build this thing together! Kyle: Good improv/relationship rules: - listening - give-and-take - compassion for the other person's decisions/choices....even if they are silly

How long have you both been doing improv, and how long have you been improving together?

Maggie: I started taking classes in the fall 2011. I think Kyle and I have been performing together for a little over a year or so ... unless you count the performance of dating, which we've been doing for the last three-and-a-half years. Kyle: I have been improvising for 10-plus years now, and together we've been doing it since I moved my stuff into her house while she was at work. So a little over a year...

Give us the similarities between a wedding and an improv show.

Maggie: All eyes are on you, and afterwards everyone wants to talk to you about how great it is. Or, people avoid eye contact and just want to get drinks at the bar. Kyle: Similarities between an improv show/wedding: - Lots of agreeing with last second changes - The people there are (for the most part) there to support you - Everyone is watching

When does Kyle/Maggie make you laugh the most?

Maggie: Kyle gets this weird, mischievous look on his face every once in a while and then does something ridiculous and weird: like some strange musical dance number. I always laugh at that. Kyle: Maggie makes me laugh the hardest when she thinks she's right, but then finds out she's wrong...it's like a huge revelation!

Small Town perform at the Dallas Comedy House on August 29, September 12, October 17, and October 30.

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: Roadside Couch

aDSC_0578 Pop quiz. Choose a couch to learn more about your personality!

  • A “barely used” couch on Craigslist
  • A spanking new, modern couch from the oh-so-trendy C&B
  • The one in your buddie’s living room (aka your current place of residence)
  • The roadside couch…you know, the one on the side of the road

If you chose:

  • SILLY YOU. Don’t you read the news? #creepercentral
  • SILLY YOU. You paid too much #couldhavebeenbeermoney
  • SILLY YOU. Get a job. #Getajob
  • GENIUS! BRANIAC! YOU’RE SO SMART! Because Roadside Couch is actually a solidly hilarious squad of seven Dallas Comedy House veterans who just so happen to be this week’s Troupe Talk feature. #awesomesauce #evenawesomersaucestainsonthecouch

On your way here, you each picked up something on the roadside to bring me as a present! What did I get?

Kyle: A penny. A heads up penny. Amanda: Febreeze! Those couches are so gross. Nikki: A busty antique dress form. Maggie: A BOX FULL OF KITTENS! Chad: TORI! I have an old washer IN MY DRIVEWAY. Please come and take it. I have to move it around front for the trash people to get it, but it's SO HEAVY. Mike: A CD of Nickelback's No Fixed Address. No really. It's for you. Sarah: A plastic hanger.

How did Roadside Couch get together? How long have you been a thing?

Kyle: We started a while ago when a few us were sitting around saying, "Hey, let's do something..." Amanda: I'm not big into defining relationships, or whatever. But four years and three months. Nikki: Roadside started a while back. People moved away, and about two years ago the remaining members asked me and others if we would like to join in on the fun. Maggie: Probably a mythical creature came down from a cloud and anointed the original members...and then when people moved away and had babies, those members were like, "Oh, these other people are cool..." and that's how it got to where we are now. Chad: It was birthed during a golf game with Kyle and I in 2011. We also birthed a litter of kittens just off the fairway on hole 11. Mike: Oh, gosh. Years. I'm 44, so...10 years? Sarah: Roadside is an institution that knows no age. I joined in 2013, but it was already a mighty beast of 'prov power by then.

Let's do some superlatives, cause like, everyone liked high school (...?). Of Roadside Couch members who is:

Best Smile:

Nikki: Maggie. Kyle: Maggie. Amanda: Maggie. Even her stage scowl is more infectious than any of our normal smiles. Maggie: Kyle xoxoxo SMOOCHES BABE! Chad: Maggie - she does it the most. Mike: Maggie or Chad. They can fight over it with their smiles. Sarah: Maggie. She has two though. One regular, and one mischievous. I love both.

Best Dressed:

Nikki: Maggie. Kyle: Sarah/Nikki. Amanda: Chad. Two words: Denim shirt. Maggie: Nikki - when she wears those shoes that everybody hates but are actually super trendy and neat. Chad: Amanda - she's always asking if we can see her bra straps or if we can smell onion on her blouses. Mike: Amanda. Always has on deodorant. Sarah: Nikki or Amanda, those ladies be STYLIN'.

Best Athlete:

Nikki: Maggie. Kyle: (cough) Me. Amanda: Kyle. He can literally play any sport. It's so annyoning. He also throws Sarah around stage a lot. Maggie: Chad - playing a fisherman and a fish. Chad: Kyle - we should buy him a letter jacket. Mike: Kyle. The boy has some solid hamstrings. Or Nikki. The lady can jump. Sarah: Kyle. He's a basketball champ.

Clown:

Nikki: Maggie. Kyle: Chad. Amanda: Sarah. If clowns were supportive and fun and always the wild card. Oh wait. That's a clown for sure. Maggie: Sarah - she's silly. Chad: Mike or Sarah - Mike's mannerisms are the funniest thing to watch ever, but Sarah will bust out with a character or word that cause me to lose it offstage. Mike: Wyatt. She used to be in a circus, so that one is easy. Sarah: Chad Haught. Easy.

Class Drama Queen/King:

Nikki: Mike. Kyle: Amanda. Amanda: Mike because just getting him to hug you is the biggest production ever. And maybe Nikki, only because she loses her phone and keys and mind sometimes right before shows. Maggie: Amanda - because she's the queen. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN! Chad: That leaves Nikki and I. We're the oldest and have kids, too, so we're always making sure people have brushed their teeth and called their moms. Mike: Definitely me. I don't like people. Sarah: Mike. Or me. We're kind of the same person anyway.

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What's the comedic style of the Couch?

Kyle: A little Art Deco mixed with free standing pottery. Amanda: US Weekly. It changes every week, and we're terrible at following trends. Nikki: Free and easy. Maggie: Mike - because he loves for people to sit on him. Chad: We're idiots. I love playing with these people. We're all so different (outside of being a bunch of white people), so it's fun to just wind each other up and let the focus shift back and forth. Mike: Ever seen a little movie called The English Patient? Sarah: Fast and Furious.

Pick someone famous to come sit on the roadside couch with you guys, and tell them something important.

Kyle: Jordan Speith. You're a Dallas dude, we're Dallas dudes...let's be friends! Amanda: Justin Timberlake. I would tell him that everyone else will be leaving the couch shortly, and we'll perform our two-man show. A show where TWO BECOME ONE! Nikki: Living or dead? Living: Peter Dinklage, Dead: Rube Goldberg. I would regale them with stories of the Texas Revolution. Maggie: Probably President Obama, and I'd say something like, "Don't be nervous - improv isn't as hard as running the country I bet," and then he'd laugh and perform with us and afterwards he'd say, "Maggie - thank you for your encouragement." Chad: Hey Ariel the Mermaid - you're important to me. I can sing all of "Part of Your World." I think you're pretty, and your red hair is beautiful. I talked to my wife and she normally doesn't let me date, but she said she's cool with it if you wanted to grab a coffee or something sometime. Mike: -------------------------------------- Sarah: Andy Daly, I love you from the bottom of my big ol' heart, please be my friend?

See Roadside Couch perform at the Dallas Comedy House on July 3, July 17, August 8, and August 29.

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.

DCF2015: Soft Butter and #SoLong2645

So Long 2645 The last day of the 2015 Dallas Comedy Festival started in the afternoon with some great improv sets from local and national acts and ended with a massive dance party. This was the last festival at the current location, and we were honored to have TJ & Dave perform last on a stage that has seen a lot of talent on it over the last six years.

Bangarang! performed another great set and dropped some truth on us, too.

Here are some photos.

TJ and Dave

Bangarang!

Nikki Gasparo Rose

Last Night

Kyle Austin and Amanda Austin

Dance Party

Please visit this page, this page, and this page for more photos.

Thank you to everyone who attended, worked on, and volunteered for the festival. And just as important, thank you for your support over the last six years. We look forward to many more laughs and dance parties at the new location at 3025 Main Street in Deep Ellum.