Los Angeles

DCF2016: Forever Dog

It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House. Forever DogForever Dog, based in New York and Los Angeles, are multi-taskers. And that’s putting it lightly. These guys do a little bit of everything! Co-founder, Joe Cilio, let me in on what we can expect from his and Alex Ramsey’s (also a Forever Dog co-founder) sketch show at DCF, as well as the awesome stuff we can look forward to from the Forever Dog team this year.

Get to know Forever Dog!

Describe what your show at this year’s Dallas Comedy Festival will be like. (Without, you know, giving everything away…) What’s it called?

Our show is called “All the Kinds of Comedy.” It’s a two-person show in which we showcase a hyper-theatrical, energetic but polished voice. The material is very meticulous in its design but you can expect a lot of high energy, a goofy show, something like watching people having a heart attack. A very thought out heart attack.

A bit of a loaded question here: Forever Dog Productions does everything from podcasts, short films, plays, live shows and more. WOAH! First, what inspires/influences all of this awesome material?

We work with tons of people with tons of different backgrounds in New York. Our fellow writers, dancers, and directors, the core of the group, that’s where we draw a lot of inspiration from. We’re also really inspired by dramas. We really love classic novels and epic movies and plays. And as far as comedy goes, we love the same things as everyone else does, you know? Monty Python, Tim and Eric, but I think the most interesting things we draw inspiration from are just those things we don’t have enough money to do. That spectacle! We like to put on a show as if we have $6,000,000, when we really have like, $60!

Please visit the Dallas Comedy Festival blog to learn more about Forever Dog and to purchase tickets.

Megan Radke is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.

Comedians in Bars Drinking Alcohol

This blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) with some of the funniest stand-up comedians in the area. Read to learn about your favorite local funny people and about the curious emotional makeup of people who like to go on stage alone every night to get laughed at. Lauren Davis

Lauren Davis: Human Friendster

Lauren Davis is a famous writer, famous comedian, famous improviser, famous sketch performer, and a famous dame about Dallas. But not for long, because she's moving to Los Angeles, a city on the west coast that's primarily known for its concrete import business and nothing else. I recently spoke with her at DCH after one of her open-mic sets, which like concrete, was a solid performance.

Thanks for meeting with me. You are the inventor of the popular DCH blog series "Comedians in Bars Drinking Alcohol." Yes, I don’t even know how I thought of it. It was like a flash of inspiration.

No one's ever done anything similar to it. You're in the shower and say, "Hey, that's a great idea." Exactly, I was shampooing, I think.

How did you select your comedians for the series? It was pretty arbitrary. I don’t know, usually it's like I have a conversation with someone maybe earlier in the week and I say, "Oh shit, I should interview them." It's very random.

How did you get started with the videos for it? That was totally Sean Alexander. He enjoyed the series, and he came and took beautiful pictures of everyone for a couple weeks and then he said, "I want to do a video, too." And because he's a dad and he’s a boyfriend and works a full-time job and does all these videography stuff on the side, he hasn’t been able to do it more -- well I’m leaving soon but if we got a sponsor in the next two weeks maybe we could do one more. He was great. He would set everything up. He did all the work and I got all the credit [chuckles].

What's the most interesting part of doing these interviews for yourself? It's interesting just to talk to people about stand-up. A lot of people who you'd never think would care and who'd never care when they're on stage get really nervous and really in their heads and you can see wheels turning. They're trying to filter, they're worrying about the clubs sometimes. It's just stand-ups being stand-ups, I guess and trying to spin and control the interviewed the same way they do their sets.

Lauren Davis

Let's answer some questions you would ask stand-up comedians in your series. What's the first joke you told? Oh no, embarrassing, but the first thing I said on stage I think -- I can’t remember my set. I was just drunk and talking, but the last thing was like, "And I have small boobs, bye."

My first joke was even worse. It was, "Having sex is like riding a bike, you never forget when you learn and you learn when you're five from your dad," and then no laugh and then it's like, "What? How old were you guys?"

What drives Lauren Davis to perform comedy? Oh geez, I can’t do anything else. I literary can’t do anything else. I don’t have a degree. I am really scatterbrain. I have a hard time focusing. I haven't even made it into a completely marketable skill yet, but it's the only thing I love. It's my passion.

What's your greatest fear? I guess shutting down. I’m probably getting too deep. I'm such an open book, though. There have been times in my life when I've been so depressed and anxious that I can’t function. Since comedy, it's gotten easier and easier to function but I worry about shutting down and not being able to do anything. I worry about my mind attacking me so bad that I can’t function.

That's a good subject you bring up because I think a lot of comedians and a lot of performers experience that. The panic attacks, the high anxiety, the depression, the, "I want people to like me." How do you overcome those feelings when you have them? I don’t know. How do you? I have no idea. I just go out and get more validation. It's not a healthy way to live.

For myself, you move toward the fear. I guess it's why it doesn’t scare me as much as it used to that I’ll shut down because it's like -- well now it's like everyone's scared all the time. It's just still showing up. It's not letting it stop you. If it's not scary, you don’t give a shit. 

You are moving to L.A. Boo, big yay. It's one of those boo-yay things. Total boo-yay.

Why L.A. and not New York or Chicago? New York seems more expensive and cold. I guess there's just more opportunities ideally in L.A. I'm hoping I’ll just fit in better. I love the community here but in LA, it's probably a lot of people who have worked themselves into a corner and don’t have any other marketable skills. They're desperate and grinding their asses off, trying a bunch of different things hoping that something sticks.

Hopefully, there'll be more projects, and I want to work in entertainment. It's only going to be a matter of time so I might as well go now because I’ll have to start over whenever I go.

Lauren Davis

What do you say the people who have trouble with the cliques in a community? For example, there are certain cliques -- people who always get picked for stand-up or people who always perform in sketch shows or picked for improv troops.

When I first started stand-up, there was one particular clique I got really jealous about because I felt like they looked down on everyone else. I was really frustrated. And then when I found my group of friends, people felt the same way about us and I realized it was unfair. 

You can make up stuff in your head all day, but I don’t think it's a ranking system. I don’t think it's about worth and you definitely shouldn't measure your worth by it. It's about people who work together who want to keep working together. Networking. I know I’m about to start new in the belly of the beast, but you find someone you like to ride with and you make a connection and then it's about once you find that moment of magic, of creating something great with someone or being understood by someone, I think that's what sparks this chain reaction of collaboration that continues to grow.

Our sketch group, Fraud City, it was so random that we were all in class together and we just had chemistry. I think that so much of it is just chemistry. 

What will you miss most about the DCH community? The incredible love and support. People care about fostering one another's growth and encourage weirdness and taking big risks. I love everyone. I could say a million things, but I'm just so in love with everyone. They're the most talented, kind people I've ever met. It's such a privilege and still so unreal to belong to it. It's magical.

Comedians in Bars Drinking Alcohol

This weekly blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) open mic with me and some of the funniest stand-up comedians in the area, most of whom just happen to be my best friends! Read to learn about your favorite local funny people and about the curious emotional makeup of people who like to go onstage alone every night to get laughed at. Landon Kirksey: Local Hero

Landon Kirksey is many things: actor, writer, comic, former Dallasite, current Los Angel (the correct designation for L.A. dwellers), friend to all, and avid supporter of DCH's plan to buy a bus to perform sketches on during parades. Kirksey is a DCH favorite because not only is he one of the funniest people in the world, but because of his incredible kindness and generosity as a performer and a human being. His laid back, game-for-anything demeanor and incredible talent made him perfectly suited for his former post as the host of the DCH open mic. Most comics I knew respected him too much to hassle him about when they would go up, and the ones who did it anyway, he usually dealt with pretty patiently. Though Kirksey is currently livin' the dream as a working actor and comedian in California, DCH's prodigal son returned for Dallas Comedy Festival and I snagged a quick interview with him about his lifelong love affair with comedy. Sean Alexander, local rockstar, filmed and Alex Piertreforte, local goddess, helped.

Lauren Davis is an improviser and stand-up comedian from Dallas, Texas. Currently a student at the DCH Training Center, she can be seen weekly performing improv with her troupes LYLAS: Girl on Girl Comedy and Please Like Us, as well as doing her stand-up act at clubs around the area.

Comedians in Bars Drinking Alcohol

This weekly blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) open mic with me and some of the funniest stand-up comedians in the area, most of whom just happen to be my best friends! Read to learn about your favorite local funny people and about the curious emotional makeup of people who like to go onstage alone every night to get laughed at. Jeffrey Jay: O, Pioneer!

Jeffrey Jay is an L.A.-based comedian who makes his living touring colleges with his stand-up act, both entertaining and illuminating the youth of today about his life as a transgender man. His story is an inspirational one for comics. After years of honing his craft, Jeffrey now has the confidence, polish, and storytelling ability to deliver a message and actually change the world through laughter. In an industry full of naysayers insisting that the stand-up industry is a narrow and limiting thing with room only for acts that fit within the expected, Jeffrey's success proves that audiences are not only open, but hungering for new jokes and new stories. The thing I find the coolest about Jeffrey, though, is the incredible courage, focus, and commitment he found through his journey to become his true self. He may be trans, but dude has some of the biggest balls of anyone I know. I sat down and switched shirts (footage not found) with the passionate, sincere, and delightful Jay and we talked about Dallas comedy, gender roles, and his advice on making the big move to Los Angeles. Filmed by the great and powerful Sean Alexander. Special thanks to Alex Pietroforte and Korbin Chase.

Lauren Davis is an improviser and stand-up comedian from Dallas, Texas. Currently a student at the DCH Training Center, she can be seen weekly performing improv with her troupes LYLAS: Girl on Girl Comedy and Please Like Us, as well as doing her stand-up act at clubs around the area.

DCF2015: Bangarang!

Bangaran! The Los Angeles-based troupe Bangarang! is a tour-de-force in the improv world. We're very excited that they're performing twice during the Dallas Comedy Festival, and through the magic of electronic mail, troupe member Dave Theune happily answered a few questions for us. He loves galas and soirées, by the way, so I expect everyone to help make his time in Dallas a Texas-sized gala and soirée.

DCH: I see in your bio that you performed in ComedySportz for many years. In what ways does short-form help you be a better long-form player?

DT: Yeah, I performed with ComedySportz in Milwaukee and Los Angeles for 12 years, and I will always love short form. ComedySportz is very, very audience interactive, and as a result, I think that those with short-form experience tend to be keenly aware if the audience is enjoying themselves or not. Consciously or subconsciously—and for better or for worse (usually better, I think)—we tend to adjust our long-form choices accordingly. I also think that because of the crowd work required of short form, we tend to be a bit more "presentational." I don't think this always benefits a long-form scene, but it for sure is a plus when doing more abstract group games that may involve speaking directly to the audience or a story-telling type group game. That's another benefit. Lots of long-form styles have a short-form "sister." If there is a long-form style, there is probably a short-form game that is similar, and vice versa.

DCH: How did Bangarang! form, and how has the troupe evolved since its first shows?

DT: Bangarang! started at the end of 2009, beginning of 2010. We all went through the required levels at Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) and then auditioned to get onto a Harold team, which would be the first "house team" one would get on at UCB, as far as improv is concerned. Several of us had played together in different configurations prior to that, but Bangarang! was our first time all together. In fact, Ryan Meharry and I weren't added to the team until the second year of the group's existence. Since then, the lineup has remained the same.

As far as evolving, we have gone from being a UCB Harold team that does only Harolds at the theatre, to a "weekend" team (sometimes Harold teams "graduate" from Harold night, and get their own weekly show. After three years, we were able to do that and now perform every Friday at 8 p.m.) that does whatever we want. We do different forms and have guests, and it's just the most fun. While on Harold night, we worked with coaches multiple times a week, and that was HUGE. Harold teams are required to practice at least once a week, and for three years, we had three of the best (Billy Merritt, Eugene Cordero, and Suzi Barrett). During that time, our scenes became more grounded, our groups games soared, and we just got tighter and tighter as a group. I cannot stress how important it is to work with a coach on a regular basis and how important playing with the same people week after week, month after month, year after year, is. It's like anything else in the world. You have to put the time in if you want to get good at it.

DCH: Have you ever been to Dallas?

DT: Never. Not intentionally. I've just never been invited to any galas or soirées in Dallas (I love galas and soirées).

DCH: What are your impressions of it?

DT: I know almost nothing about Dallas, but when I think of it, I think of these three things: First, you had a TV show named after you, and that is pretty damn cool. Second, I'm from Wisconsin, and you used to beat the Packers a ton before we were able to turn the tables and sneak in a few wins. Third, I can never remember if your city gets real humid or stays pretty arid. I don't know why I think about that or why it matters to me, but I think about it just about anytime anyone talks about Dallas.

DCH: Why do you think comedy is important in life?

DT: For the same reason everyone else thinks it's important. Laughing and making people laugh is the best and most fun thing to do always and forever. Better than money. More fun than sex. Always.

DCH: Cooking time: What are the signature dishes of each member in the troupe?

DT: What is our favorite dish to make? Hmmm... Betsy Sodaro—Whatever six-pack of IPA she brings to the party Lauren Lapkus—Pickle Pie Toni Charline—Dump Cake Adam McCabe—Rabbit Stew Jacob Reed—Whatever that dish that Johnny Depp's character in Once Upon A Time In Mexico would kill people over Ryan Stanger—McDonald's Big Mac Ryan Meharry—He just bought some stupid jello mold, so usually something jiggly in that round shape Dave Theune—Homemade Ny-Quil

DCH: What's the most unexpected thing you've learned along your career path?

DT: That I can do a job that makes me happy. When I lived in Wisconsin, unhappily doing my "normal" job living my "normal" life, Hollywood was a fantasy land. It didn't seem real. Sure, people lived there and worked in the business, but certainly not any people that I knew. Just magical people with talents and gifts that I could never posses, living in a magical world that I could never step foot in. Then I moved to Hollywood and realized that it's all possible, and everyone there is just like me (some much more handsome/smarter/funnier/better-smelling/etc., but you get what I mean). You just have to do it. Pack your bags, and do it. And when you finally decide to go to wherever your version of Hollywood is (taking flying lessons, starting your own pork rind business, or moving out of your parents guest bedroom that used to be your bedroom but they made it in to a guest bedroom because they didn't think you'd come back after college to live with them for SIX YEARS), work your ass off and make it happen, because you can.

Bangarang! performs Friday, March 27, at 11:30 p.m., with Franzia, and Saturday, March 28, at 10 p.m., with Roadside Couch. Both shows are currently sold out.

A Most Interesting Interview with the Ladies of Lady Town

By Ashley Bright This week I had the honor, privilege, and joy to interview Jaime Moyer, Kate Duffy, and Maribeth Monroe, the ladies of Ladytown. Do not miss them this week as they'll be performing on Saturday, August 2nd at 10:30pm. Jaime and Kate are also teaching workshops on both Friday and Saturday. Registration and tickets still available!

We drive past the "Welcome to Ladytown" sign, what's the tagline? How about on the "You're Now Leaving" sign?

MM: "Welcome to Ladytown! We're a sure thing!" "You're now leaving Ladytown! Was it good for you?"

JM: "Ladytown - Population: Six Boobs" "You're Now Leaving - So it wasn't a nightmare after all...You're welcome."

KD: "Welcome to Ladytown - We May Show Our Ankles" "You're Now Leaving - We warned you"

If Ladytown were made up of three historical/famous men instead of you three ladies, what men would they be?

MM: Don Rickles, Jerry Lewis, and Rob Ford. Cause we're dirty, misogynistic, and love a hit off a good crack pipe.

JM: Tom Selleck, Paul Newman, FDR

KD: Sammy Davis Jr., Rodney Dangerfield, and Curly from the Stooges.

Katy Duffy's Alternative Lady Town

If the three of you were lost in the jungle, how would the duties be split up? Making shelter? Food collection? Defense from monkeys? Etc.

MM: Honestly, I think we would all just freak out and get eaten by the monkeys. Jaime would last the longest cause she's charming as fuck. But we definitely wouldn't go all "Lord of Flies" on each other. Mostly because only one of us read that book.

JM: Maribeth would figure out where to get the best fronds, I would cook the fish, Kate would make rope. I think we could make it work, from our keen observations of "Castaway" alone.

KD: I'm pretty sure we would all die. I come from a long line of indoor people. I think we'd sit on a log laughing and eating the rest of our supplies until we died peacefully from exposure. We'd probably be embarrassingly close to shelter and help. People would say, If only they had just walked a few more feet....I also hope in that short period of time though we really bonded with those monkeys, Jane Goodall style.

Is there a scene with Ladytown that still incites giggles among the three of you no matter how long ago it happened?

MM: It's never easy to try explain scenes that have already been improvised, but here goes. I think we have the most fun when we are all playing versions of the same character. In improv it's referred to as "peas in a pod". We once played Dutch Hookers in the red light district of Amsterdam sexily attempting to sell our "puppies" to Johns. We would snap back and forth between disgusting chat with each other and then attempting to seduce men into buying us. It was a very weird and very funny scene.

JM: Hands down, a bridal shower scene with three two-faced friends, at one point I remember begrudgingly writing Kate a personal check for the gift.

KD: I love the bridal shower scene so much, but I also really loved the scene where Maribeth was our lisping drill sergeant. I could hardly keep it together. I love any scene where we play 3 of a kind.

For her birthday, I took a large magnet from the freezer section of a national grocer for my roommate; "Meals For One" now hangs across our fridge. What is the nicest thing you've done for a lady friend?

MM: So....you stole from a grocery store just to remind your friend of how lonely she is? Jesus. I guess I should start kidnapping babies and parade them around in front of my barren girlfriends. I've been doing this "bestie" thing all wrong!

JM: I hope the best thing I've ever done is be a good listener. And also recommending my lady friend watch the short-lived, four episode, 2-minute or so each series "Fancy Catz" on YouTube.

KD: I will hang with your kids while you go do you for a while.

Lady Town is performing this Saturday Night at 10:30PM. CLICK HERE for advance tickets!

Take workshops from Jaime Moyer and Kate Duffy this weekend, too! CLICK HERE for more workshop info! 

Ashley Bright is a graduate of the DCH Improv Program and a level 2 student in the sketch writing program. She performs every weekend at DCH. And check out the feature on Ashley in the Advocate Magazine HERE.