Sallie Bowen

The Improvised Horror Movie

The American horror movie. What cinematic legacy can claim special effects mastery, emotional poignancy, and raw camp in the same breath? Scary movies have done so much good for cinema that it’s sickening. And now that we’re in the season (oh goodness HALLOWEEN I’m excited are you excited I love Halloween like no lie it’s my favorite holiday and I’ve been planning my costume for MONTHS) – Ahem. Sorry about that. As I was saying, now that we’re in season – eeek – the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) has started a month-long series of holiday-appropriate shows. As is tradition, it opened the first weekend of October with a premier of the Improvised Horror Movie. Though the show stands as a tribute to the horror genre, it also exists in memorial to Del Close, creator of the format, and Jason Chin, former director at iO Chicago who perfected the show. DCH runs the Improvised Horror Movie through the month of October as a dedication to their work. Improvised Horror MovieJust like its parent genre, the Improvised Horror Movie takes a couple different forms – forms, mind you, not scripts, because then it wouldn’t be improv, duh. Each form spins off of a particular type of horror movie. The version I had the pleasure of viewing was based off of one of my favorites: the "Slasher," wherein innocent, dumb kids fall prey to a psycho killing machine. Now that’s what I call comedy! Hooray!

The way the shindig worked in practice seemed pretty simple: At the top of the show, the audience assigned each cast member a role, all inspired by classic horror tropes. There’s a jock, a nerd, a goth, a stoner, a popular chick, and the surviving girl who will, in the end, determine who the killer is. (Spoiler alert, most of the archetypical characters die in a spectacularly funny fashion.)

Even though the roles are pre-determined and assigned at the beginning of the show, this doesn’t make things easier for the players. If anything, this is crazy hard. “Here’s a point of view, now understand it, adopt it as your own, and think up stuff to say from that point of view on the fly in front of strangers. Oh, and by the end of the show most of you have to have died and you have to be funny in the meantime.” Like, what even!?! That’s hard enough for me to do on a good day.

“Emily, you’re dumb. Those roles are pretty much stereotypes, and aren’t those at the antithesis of what good character work should be?”

Um, first, how dare you, I’m hella smart. Second, no. Just because the role’s been given to you, there’s still tons of flexibility as to what constitutes that role. Sporty jocks don’t have to be bullies, and the brainiac doesn't have to be socially awkward. For instance, the stoner in the last show (played by David Allison) was far away from being dumb and slow – instead, he was an energetic conspiracy theorist who suspected who the murderer was the whole time. (He felt the perpetrator was George W. Bush, but whether he was right or not is hardly the point here.) The popular girl (played by Maggie Rieth Austin) was ditzy, peppy, and fun – not a sexualized antithesis to the surviving girl the character is usually reduced to. Thinking with that kind of originality takes skill and quick thinking that isn’t often matched.

“Well, OK, fine, so the characters are diverse despite being typified. You still can’t bridge the gap between cinema and stage acting!”

Au contraire! You forget that critical element of improv – scene painting! It’s a heavy and, in this case, a critical show component. We already know what will happen at the end of our “movie” – the audience sticks around for the journey to that conclusion. Performers primarily conduct scene painting through a series of different “camera angles,” wherein they call out cinematic direction you’d normally only read in a script. These camera angles double as edits and is what give the audience a cinematic effect, if an imaginary one. Cast members are given close-ups, split-screens, and even aerial shots that they have to make work and incorporate seamlessly into the ongoing scene. Half of the fun lies in players giving each other impossible views to pull off. (Have you ever seen a dead man fly in circles around two women standing horizontally? Well, I did! You might see it, too, if you buy a ticket). It’s a brain and body workout, to be sure, not to mention the lighting and sound tricks that the techs execute on the fly. (Props to Raye Maddox - you done good, kiddo.)

Boy. What a ride. In short, this show is a keeper. It’s one of those shows at DCH that’s a must see. You won’t get spooked, but you’ll certainly laugh, and any student or fan of improv will also get a great lesson by simply watching the cast. Oh, before I forget – that cast includes David Allison, Amanda Austin, Sallie Bowen, Noa Gavin, Jason Hackett, Tabitha Parker, Ben Pfeiffer, Maggie Rieth Austin, and Nick Scott. The whole shebang is tech'ed by Jua Holt (Raye Maddox was the technical director for the show I saw). They all deserve a big ol’ basket of treats minus tricks, allergens, and razors. For tickets, please visit www.dallascomedyhouse.com.

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.

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)

Sketch Speak: An Interview with LOOK AT US

You know that sinking feeling you get when you’ve done something awful, and you want to take it back so badly, but you can’t? All you can do is just let it wash over you, like a cold tomato bath after a skunky time. And constant readers, I had a pretty skunky couple of weeks. One of the skunkiest things (among many) involved me emptying out my phone cache to try and clear out some space. You want to know what was in there? Well, in addition to some priceless recordings of my grandfather telling a World War 2 story, I also lost my first ever interview with a Sketch 3 class from Dallas Comedy House (DCH).

This is a true story.

The good news is that I had the magic of the Internet and some really nice Sketch 3 people who were willing to redo the damn interview via Google Docs. Oh, Google Docs. You magical tomato bath, you.

LOOK AT US - posterSO, herein lies my interview with Ashley Bright’s Sketch 3 class, made of: Sallie Bowen, Tori Brenna, Bonnie CrissBrian HarringtonPatrick Hennessy, Cody Hofmockel, Tyler Johnston, and Kim Marr. They are all beautiful, lovely souls, and I apologize to them and my grandfather for my gross negligence. The sketch itself, in my humble opinion, was lovely – a reflection of themselves, really, with some of the most meta links the world famous DCH has ever seen. Not at all corny…though I think they’d take that as an insult.

So, let’s get on with it, then!

You've all been doing improv for a long time. What was the biggest change you had to make to start writing sketch? What was different or difficult about transitioning?

Sallie: Definitely doing homework. In improv, you come in, have fun, and go home. With sketch, there is a lot of work you have to put in outside of class. It was hard to discipline myself at first but I learned that if I could get my sketches done early in the week rather than waiting until last minute, I would usually end up with better quality work. Corn quality. (And so it begins.)

Patrick: Doing work outside of class. The beauty of improv is that it's all made up on the spot. You can decide to do an improv set anywhere, anytime. Any one of the sketches in our show was the product of hours of writing, tweaking, memorizing, and rehearsing. One of the things I found difficult was learning how to write dialogue that sounds natural. When you first start, it is very easy to write scenes that sound like two robots talking to each other.

Bonnie: I think committing to writing every day was definitely a change. You have to be really responsible for getting your work done, not just for yourself but for your classmates because everyone is relying on you to provide and put forth effort in the class to make a great show.

Brian: Yeah, with improv you just have to show up, do it, then you’re done. With sketch, you’ve really got to put in effort outside of class and, even harder than that, is not waiting until the morning of your class to do that work.

Cody: Doing work outside of class was the biggest change and the most difficult part of transitioning.

Tyler: The biggest change I had to make was really putting in the work outside of class. There’s more homework in sketch than improv, so preparing yourself for that transition was definitely tough.

Kim: I really struggled with the inner monologue of, “Wow, everything you are writing is terrible. You aren’t funny at all. Why are you doing this!?!?” Is this too personal? I hope not. My favorite part of improv is getting to ignore that voice on stage because there is just no time for it. Writing provided plenty of time for me to dwell on it.

What advice would you give to improvisers interested in taking sketch?

Sallie: DO IT. Just do it. It's so fun and so rewarding. It's definitely different than improv, but I think everyone should do it. Also, take it with some friends or people you like. Improv is a personal journey, while sketch is more of a group experience. We all were friends and knew each other before class so I think it made for a more enjoyable experience

Patrick: If possible, take sketch with friends. If you can’t do that, become good friends with the people in your class. You’re going to spend a lot of time with these people and occasionally you might have to give someone your honest opinion. It’s all much easier if you really know, enjoy, and respect them.

Bonnie: Do it! It’s so fun having gone through all the levels of improv because improv really helps you learn about the structure of scenes and how they look and feel, and when you get to sketch, you know how a scene should look and feel and you’re able to write with so much more confidence.

Brian: A lot of the fun of improv is building a scene, which you still get to do with sketch, but on a grander scale. How many improv scenes have you been like, “Aw man, I wish I had made this move or I wish they had made that move.” Sketch gives you a chance to really get that group mind going. Also, if you can work corn into your show, it’s good luck. (Straight from the husk, this one.)

Tyler: Find your voice and write toward your and your classmates' strengths. Once you start to get to know each other, it makes it easier to say, “Oh, so-and-so can do this weird voice really well, I can incorporate that.” But, don’t forget to know yourself and write for yourself, too. If you think you can write a really bomb sketch and you can knock it out of the park, then do it!

Cody: Write what makes you laugh. Remember to still yes-and your own ideas and the ideas of others. It’s easy to start coming up with reasons why a sketch doesn’t work. It’s far more productive to figure out how to make it work. You’re going to want to throw away a lot of ideas. Resist that and you’ll probably surprise yourself.

Kim: Do it! You’ll probably learn something and become friends with a great group of people. I did. It’s made me more confident in my performance as an improviser, as well. Do your homework earlier than the morning of class!

LOOK AT US - corn posterHow does Ashley help you write? How much of a hand does she have in making the final product?

Sallie: Ashley was our voice of reason. She was honest with us and told us when our ideas were dumb. She always pushed us to do better. She is the most supportive, smart, angel-haired teacher. She would listen to us spout our insane ideas for this show and she'd lay it out for us. She'd say, "OK, here are the risks, but if you want to do it let's f**king make it happen."

Bonnie: Ashley was the best Sketch 3 teacher this group of weirdos could have had. We were constantly throwing out crazy ideas, and she really helped us wrangle them in and hone our sketches.

Brian: Ashley is Wonder Woman and her lasso of truth kept us from getting too out of control, but if you saw the show, she still gave us plenty of wiggle room. (And what glorious wiggling it was.) Ashley was fantastic in looking at the first draft of a sketch, trimming the fat, finding the meat, and shucking the corn. (!!!) She never tried to write her own sketches; she’s got her own show for that. She just made our writing the best it could be.

Patrick: Yeah, it’s easy to go from a simple funny pitch to a cluttered confusing sketch. Ashley would help us focus on what the sketch was really about and cut out anything unnecessary. She also acted as the director of the show, so she had a say in the final run order and whether or not something would get cut.

Cody: Ashley taught me to read so personally she’s played a key role in helping me write. She made us do important things like write sketches, put a show together, and stop talking about corn for a second. She pushed us to do something “different” but probably saved a lot of audience lives by making sure we were the right kind of “different.”

Tyler: Ashley knew most of us really well going into the sketch class, so I think she had an idea of the kind of shenanigans she was getting into. We’re a beautifully, weird bunch, and she made sure we were polished weirdos. She made us go past the obvious corn jokes and dig deeper into the corn field that is Sketch 3.

Kim: Ashley was super supportive of all of our ideas, but was also a voice of reason because we had some crazy ones. She definitely kept us in check but allowed us to explore the weird depths of our hearts. Basically, she was like our mom who put a leash on us at the zoo. (Dare I go for a “and Harambe didn’t try to kill you” joke? Nah. Not my bit.)

I seem to remember the answer to the last question – I asked them what they would be if they were a vegetable. First, they said they would be [redacted], and then they changed their minds and said "corned lizard."

Sallie: I still stand by [redacted]. [Redacted] 4 life. Corn 4 life. Corn is life. Do you believe in life after corn?

Tyler: [redacted] Corn.

Bonnie: [REDACTED] FOR LIFE. BUT ALSO JUSTICE FOR CORN!

Brian: Cody asked Kim to say [redacted] to whatever the next question was. This was the next question. I wish you still had the audio, but I guess you can’t have your [redacted] and eat it too. (I blame the Android OS for confusing my dumb brain.)

Cody: I thought you said animal. It could be a [redacted] corned lizard. Damn, Brian, that was a great pun. Kim answered “[redacted]” to one of the questions but I was the only one who heard so I wanted her to say it again. The rest is Kimstory.

Patrick: It was def animal. “Corned Lizard” is very formal and that ain’t me. I prefer the more colloquial name, Corny Toad.

Kim: I just want everyone to know that after the initial interview, I went up to Cody at the bar and had to confirm that I had the right definition of [redacted]. (You sure did, Kim. You sure did.)

To round things off, I asked Ashley some questions as well.

What's different about teaching sketch vs. teaching improv?

Ashley: Improv is creating a free-flying ball of energy and support out of thin air; it's magic. Sketch is like if you caught that ball, choreographed some moves, practiced them, and became the Harlem Globetrotters.

What is your favorite thing about teaching sketch?

Ashley: The thing I love about teaching sketch is seeing the work pay off. In sketch, you can watch the tiniest half-baked idea become a fully fleshed-out performance. I get to watch the work go into it and watch the progress. It's like watching a time-lapsed video of a tree growing, and I love it.

What was it like teaching this group of writers?

Ashley: This group of writers have etched a li’l corn-shaped spot in my heart. They're these silly, cool kids with immense talent. Each of them. They probably could've skated by on that talent and charm, but they went to work. Citronella lives. 

~

And that’s all she wrote. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go let the tomato drain out of my tub. If you’d like to experience other sketch shows like this one, or maybe even get involved in one yourself, head over to the classes section of this website to learn more.

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.

(Top Image: Patrick Hennessy. Bottom Image: Ashley Bright)

Troupe Talk: Warm Milk

Warm Milk Before we warm things and get all milky up in this blog, I’m contractually obligated to say that this week’s Troupe Talk is sponsored by both Budweiser* and the upcoming film Milkeries 2, starring the incomparable Tom Truise. Milkeries 2: Too Warm Too Milky will be milkin’ up a theater near you this summer!

OK, now that the obligatory sponsor shout-outs and film plugs are done with, we can jump right into this week’s talk with the coolest, or I should probably say “warmest,” milksters at Dallas Comedy House (DCH). Warm Milk (Sallie Bowen, Collin Brown, Sarah Falke, Payton Elizabeth Forrest, Danny Neely, John Spriggs, and Joshua Zuar) is the perfect mix of lactose-fueled fun and friendship, pure uninhibited creative play, and a humbling respect and adoration for their beloved Milk King (Ravi Kiran) and Milk Queen (Sarah Wyatt). This is a group of improvisers that regularly throws convention to the wind, completely unafraid to embrace the bizarro and surreal, which often results in shows featuring things like an insane Evenflow power jam, some kitty marriage/support, and possibly an appearance by Clemaine, a seemingly shady man with nothing but a duffle bag full of antacids and a dream to one day get to Memphis. Their amazing ability to fearlessly unleash their inner weirdos together stems first and foremost from the legitimate love they share for each other, their coach, and their craft. Warm Milk is without a doubt rich in calcium and comradery, and they wholeheartedly enjoy spreading their Warm Milk love to everyone around them. These guys truly embody the spirit of acceptance and community that serves as a pillar of improv comedy. I was incredibly honored to be asked to officiate their troupe group wedding, and then I was even more honored to be given the opportunity to warm-up alongside them in pure buck wild, milk fashion.  They are so welcoming and open, and their zany shows reflect just that. At the end of the day, the love is real, the milk is warm, and the improv bits are definitely on point.

As a side note: Danny Neely could not make it to this week’s Troupe Talk because he was off doing Big Turtle-y things. However, Warm Milk believes he was present in spirit, and therefore his spirit answers will be included below.

Let’s start this interview with your warmest, milkiest origin story. Maybe each of you can add a sentence to the story or something fun like that. Basically, how did you guys all get together?

John: Once upon a time...we...wait, I’ll do a complete sentence. Uh, once upon a time...no f*** that. OK, once upon a time we uh...we all met at...a...restaurant...

Sarah: OK, here’s the real story...

Sallie: We did actually meet at a restaurant.

Collin: We all ran into each other at an Applebee’s and were like “Whoa...

Payton: ...Warm Milk!” and that was it.

Collin: Then we all had Dr Pepper’s and were like, “Do you guys wanna take this on the road?”

Payton: It was originally Danny, Collin, me, Joshua, and another girl, and we started out a block party.

John: Whoa, there was another girl?! Oh no, what happened to her?

Payton: It went OK. We didn’t really talk about it for a while, but then we brought it back up, and Danny had Sarah come in. Then they had someone else come in, but he didn’t work out.

Sallie: Oh, that’s cool.

John: I never got in.

Payton: Then we got John, and I think we got Sallie last.

Joshua: For a long time, I think it was just trying to get people to show up, and eventually this was the group that just frequently showed up after a while.

Payton: Although, John didn’t show up for the first month.

Sarah: And we waited for John.

John: Sorry, I didn’t know we were practicing! OK, serious answer here, I was working. Boring.

Collin: Exactly what we’re looking for in this is boring answers.

John: Oh, OK then.

Collin: Basically, Danny and I were interns and we were like, “Let’s get all our favorite people together!” And we did it...over the course of like nine months.

Spirit Danny:  Yes.

Sarah: This is Sarah speaking. I was in the troupe for two weeks before I even knew I was in the troupe, because Danny doesn’t tell me things.

Payton: Oh yeah! Danny didn’t tell Sarah at all that she was even in this!

Spirit Danny: My b.

Warm Milk

Do you guys remember your first practice together?

Sarah: The first practice that I was at, it was just me, Payton, and Collin, and I had only met them once before, and we didn’t have a coach.

John: How did that make you feel?

Sarah: Uh, it was a little awkward.

Payton: Super awkward because we didn’t know what to do.

Sarah: I just remember a dentist scene that went on for too long, where Collin drank my vomit...like put a straw down my throat and drank my vomit.

Collin: Classic me!

Payton: Yeah, we did two-person scenes over and over, and it was real weird. Then we went out to eat.

Sarah: Yeah, we went out to eat. That was nice.

John: Oh, so that’s where the restaurant comes in! See, it all circles back.

Spirit Danny: Indeed it does, John. Indeed it does.

Where did the name “Warm Milk” come from?

Sallie and Payton and Sarah and Spirit Danny: Ooooh!

John: Can I answer this?

Sallie: Oh yeah.

John: It came from you [Payton] or Collin...

Payton: It was Collin, yeah.

Collin: I think it was Sallie.

John: ...and it was a placeholder name...

Sallie: Yeah, we were like, “We’ll save this for now.”

John: And somebody, not gonna say who, didn’t like it because...

Sarah: Nuh uh, it was my name. I came up with it.

John: You came up with it?! What?!

Sarah: I came up with it.

John: Oh, I guess you did come up with it. Of course.

Sarah: ...No, actually I don’t know. [Warm Milk laughs] I felt responsible for it because I went along with it at first.

John: Boring but true answer, it was a placeholder name, because we thought it sounded gross.

Payton: Yeah, we thought it was a little gross and we’d figure something better out...but then it just started getting too gross, and I liked it.

Sarah: Then she got real milky.

John: Yeah, the Hoover Dam that held all that grossness back broke, and we just unleashed it.

Sallie: We bathed in it.

Payton: Oh yeah, everyone creamed all day.

John: There was definitely a full day of creaming.

Payton: Oh, absolutely.

Spirit Danny: Can confirm. Was there for the creaming.

Joshua: And we’ve all had thin layers of froth ever since.

John: My fingers kind of look like they’re just covered in a thin layer of froth.

Payton: Milk just comes out of my pores some days. I don’t know if that’s normal.

Sallie: I started peeing milk.

John: What flavor?

Sallie: Chocolate.

Payton: Can I come over when you’re peeing one day because I love chocolate milk!

Sallie: Oh, I’ll just start bottling it.

John: Please do. Please bottle it up. Be thoughtful.

Joshua: We’d like to take this time to say that we are now formally changing our name to Sallie’s Milk Piss.

Warm Milk

What is your comedy style? What could one expect to see at a typical Warm Milk show...aside from a complimentary bottle of Sallie’s chocolate milk pee?

Sallie: Experimental!

ALL: Dayumm!

John: Fun!

ALL: Dayumm!

Sarah: F***in’ weird as shit!

ALL: Dayumm!

Sallie: Breakin all the rules!

ALL: Dayumm!

Payton: Rock ’n’ roll!

ALL: Dayumm!

Spirit Danny: Dayumm!

Collin: I guess we decided not to do a format.

Sarah: Yeah, there’s a lot of “yes and.” No format.

Joshua: Lots of support.

Sarah: Definitely group mind.

Sallie: A lot of sweat. We run around the parking lot before shows.

John: Unless it’s in the dead of winter, and probably even then, I think we’ll still sweat. You will always see us sweaty.

Sarah: Expect to see a lot of sweat.

Sallie: And dancing.

Payton: Oh yeah! For sure! Too much dancing!

John: FYI, on the record, we all took Amanda’s dance class.

Payton: And that’s why we dance so much.

Sarah: And so good.

Collin: And that’s what you can expect to see.

John: Moves learned in Amanda’s dance class.

Spirit Danny: Agreed.

What are your favorite things about performing with your fellow milk buds?

Collin: They’re super supportive.

Sallie: Yeah, everybody just jumps on board, no matter what.

John: Well, I don’t.

Sallie: OK, except for John.

Payton: Yeah, he’s never on board.

John: I was at the beginning, but then I was like I just do not agree with anything that we’re doing.

Payton: You got milked a little too hard.

John: I got milked dry, and when all the milk left my body, my love and support did too. No, but this is true, another boring but true answer: We all like each other A LOT, and I think that definitely influences our format (or lack of format) and just how we play with each other.

Sarah: Well, one of my favorite practices was when Joshua played piano for us.

Sallie: Joshua here can play the piano beautifully and make up songs on the spot.

Joshua: We did an improvised talk show.

Sarah: Ya know, I spent the weekend with my family recently. And I like my family, but when I’m around you guys, I am so much more comfortable.

John: You can just be yourself? You feel like you can just be yourself?

Sarah: Yeah, I’m weird as hell, and it’s totally fine. And everybody jumps on board with it, and I love that. It’s really nice.

John: I love when you’re like, “I gotta go home and sleep because I have work in the morning, I’m sorry.” And like you’ll say you’re sorry, but like it’s fine, it’s cool. I’m like, “That’s a girl who is responsible...”

Sallie: “...But knows how to party also.”

Payton: She knows her specific bedtimes.

Sallie: And she don’t give a f***!

Joshua: I like when Sarah goes, “I’ve had enough of your bullshit and I don’t want to listen to you talk another word.” I appreciate it, it makes me feel good about myself.

Sallie: She says it like it is.

Payton: I like when Sarah bitch slaps me a little bit.  I just appreciate that. She slaps me, and I’m like, “Oh, I get it. I get it.”

John: I like when Sarah will pinch the lobes of my ears until they’re like red and numb and hot like lava.

Sallie: I like when Sarah follows me out to my car, and then she’ll trip me. I’ll look up and I won’t realize it’s her until I turn around, and she rips off my glasses and spits right into my eye.

Collin: I like getting messages from Sarah when I wake up like, “I hate you. You’re honestly my least favorite person I’ve ever met. I can’t believe your parents kept you.”

Sallie: I know, right?

John: And your [Collin] shirt looks like it’s Calvin’s uncle’s from Calvin and Hobbes.

Payton: [To John] Oh, OK there Sarah.

Joshua: [To John] Calm down, Sarah.

Sarah: Thanks, guys!

Spirit Danny: You're welcome.

Collin: Practices just feel like I’m hangin out...with my buds.

Payton: Yeah, buds and stuff. Ya know, we like drinkin Buds.

Collin: This interview was sponsored by Budweiser actually.

John: Can you put that down, because if we don’t put that down in the article, we will get sued. They’ll sue the milk out of us.

Warm Milk

Real talk. Would you consider marrying the milk buds in this troupe?

John: This is true, if any one of these people proposed to me right now, I would marry them...any one of them...any single person... or all of them together.

Sallie: You mean that?

John: I do mean that.

[Sallie gets up, spins around three times, and goes down on one knee.]

Payton: Oh my god!

Collin: Oh, this is happening!

Sallie: John, I first saw you at a Jam like a year ago, or maybe more, and you were wearing a Hawaiian shirt...

John: Is this when you had short hair?

Sallie: Yeah, I had short hair [starting to cry]...

Sarah: You can do it.

Payton: Wait, wait, wait!

[Payton gets up, spins around three times, and goes down on one knee.]

John: Oh my god!

Payton: Sallie, I first met you about a year ago. I didn’t even know you were living in Denton yet, but I live in Denton too, and...

John: Hold on, just a second!

[John gets up, spins around so many times, and goes down on one knee.]

Payton: Oh my god! So many spins.

Sallie: Oh my god, so many.

John: Sorry, I lost count. OK, Payton,  we did student lotto together...

Payton: We did!

John: ...and we played brother and sister...

Payton: We did!

John: ...and we danced at prom, and I felt so uncomfortable. I was sweating so much.

Payton: I hated every minute of it! [crying] I’m not sure if this is a proposal anymore or not...

[Sarah gets up, spins even more times than John, and goes down on one knee.]

Sallie: Oh my god, Sarah!

John: Sarah!

Sallie: Do you want my ring?

Sarah: Guys, I say yes to all of you.

Payton: Aww, Sarah!

Joshua: So, Collin, do you wanna get married?

Sallie: Lauren, I’d like to invite you to save the date.

Sarah: Tonight at eight.

John: Actually, can you [Lauren] officiate the wedding? Is that possible?

Sarah: If we all aren’t married by the end of the show, I will quit.

John: If it doesn’t end in marriage, then why I am even doing this?

Spirit Danny: Yeah!

What’s it liked to be coached by your very own dairy mama, Sarah Wyatt?

Payton: She’s the Milk Queen.

John: She is the Milk Goddess.

Sallie: I just want to say, she’s the reason we say, “F*** it, let’s get weird!” She taught us that way. One time, she came to practice prepared with a murder mystery. She had characters prepared for us and everything. My name was Bruce Waggins, and I was an oil millionaire...and then I wanted to cry because that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.

John: That was beautiful.

Payton: That was the best practice. That was so good.

Joshua: Oh man, I wish I was there.

Payton: You were the dead person we were trying to figure out...

Sallie: Yeah, you got murdered.

Joshua: Thanks, guys.

John: Here’s the thing I wanna say about Sarah Wyatt...I forgot what the original question was...

Collin: It was, “What do you have to say about Sarah Wyatt?”

John: Oh good. Well, first of all, she did marry all of us, but also, she has so much fun and passion and is the most supportive. She commits harder than anybody, and she’s so focused. And I hope for anybody who sees our show that they walk away and say, “Oh yeah, that’s a Sarah Wyatt troupe.”

Sallie: She coaches a whole bunch of different groups and she’s so good at knowing exactly how to hone in on what’s needed for each of them. So, for us , she knew to break down walls and just do weird things. F*** a format!

Joshua: Not a lot of other coaches do this, too, but she is the first person to come up to us after a show and go, “That was incredible guys!” So she’s always there for us.

Sarah: Every show.

Payton: She comes to all our shows.

Collin: And she’s helped us book shows at other places, too.

Sallie: So encouraging.

Joshua: I don’t ever want another coach.

Sallie: She’s an angel.

John: She’s a Dairy Queen.

Payton: She’s our Dairy Queen.

Spirit Danny: Ditto.

Sallie: We should also mention that Ravi Kiran is our Milk King.

Oh, perfect! We’ll end this Troupe Talk with a collective, heartfelt message/shout-out to the Milk King himself.

ALL: Dear Milk King, we love you so much, and your milk is refreshing. Thanks for all the milkeries!

John: Milkeries starring Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise tries to assassinate Adolf Hitler in Milkeries...Tom Cruise tries to milk a Hitler dry. Milkeries.

Payton: That was beautiful.

Spirit Danny: Agreed.

Catch Warm Milk do their milk thang at their upcoming performance at DCH on July 20.

*Budweiser did not actually sponsor this Troupe Talk. However, if any Budweiser reps are reading this, feel free to reach out with a sponsorship. We’ll take it.

Lauren Levine is a DCH graduate and a Sketch 3 student. 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.

(Images two through four: Ravi Kiran)

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.

Comedy Centerfold: Sallie Bowen

Welcome to Comedy Centerfold, where we feature a Dallas Comedy House performer and get to know him or her a little better by using questions that Playboy centerfolds are usually asked.  Sallie BowenIt was 1977. Disco was at its height. You couldn't pop into a club without hearing the tell-tale sound of a bass line thumping in four-four time. If it didn't get you at least tapping your foot, then you may have been dead. And one person was responsible for the groove: Sallie Bowen. She was the darling of the dance club, the fox on the floor, the last to leave, and the first to drop a beat. After disco died down, she turned to college rock, 1980's hair metal, boy bands, grunge—basically any musical genre you can think of, Sallie was the instigator. Today, her focus is on improv, where you can find her performing in the troupes Clarissa Explained Nothing, The Midnight Society, and Pretty People with Problems. Ah, pretty people with problems—definitely sounds like the disco era.

Hometown? I grew up in Belton, Texas, a place full of souped-up pickup trucks, a church around every corner, TWO Taco Bell restaurants, AND (as of recently) a Starbucks.

Guilty Pleasures? I hate to admit this even to myself, but I love watching Lifetime movies. The acting is so bad and someone usually gets murdered so it's always a good time. I also enjoying watching Intervention, Sister Wives, and anything on the Investigation Discovery channel.

Ambitions? I would love to be able to perform and/or write for a living one day. But also, I would like to own a fancy(ish) car, a giant fancy(ish) bathtub, and a big fancy(ish) table where I can write fancy(ish) letters to fancy(ish) people.

Best Concert? I saw The Mars Volta at the Palladium Ballroom about five years ago, and it was such a great performance that I passed out. My boyfriend and his brother had to drag my lifeless body to the back of the crowd while kicking people's feet out of the way. Turns out they were kicking my feet the whole time.

Favorite Book? I enjoy reading anything by David Sedaris, because his books are so truthful and always make me giggle. I also love everything by Kurt Vonnegut.

Favorite Movie? My favorite movie of all time is Teen Witch. It's a very cheesy and wonderful 1980's movie featuring some seriously genius musical numbers such as "Popular Girl" and "I Like Boys." It speaks to me on a deep level.

Favorite TV Show? I will always love the American version of The Office, but currently my favorite TV show is The Simpsons. I was never allowed to watch it as a child, so until a couple of months ago I had only seen a few episodes. But don't worry, I have since gone on a binge, and I now have seen all 26 seasons.

Pets? I have two pets: one is an angel of a Schnoodle dog named Zara, and the other is a bitch of a bitch cat named Lil' Kiki. Zara is sweet, quiet, sensitive, will listen to your problems, and snuggle you until your heart melts. Lil' Kiki is loud, rude, demanding, and will yell at you mercilessly until you feed her Meow Mix or let her outside. I love them both.

Foods I Crave? I crave any food that you would find at a 10-year-old's birthday party: cheese pizza, potato chips, cookies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc. One day, I might acquire the diabetes.

People I Admire? Comedically, I admire all the strong and brilliant women like Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Betty White, Gilda Radner, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, plus many more. In my real life, I also admire strong and brilliant women—my mother, my grandmothers, and both of my older sisters.

Dream Role? I would love to play an Igor type character—creepy, humpback, bald/balding, an inexplicable limp. I would want to do a lot of heavy breathing or panting and say things like, "Yes, Doctor" and "Eeeeexcellent."

Favorite Song to Sing? I enjoy singing the country classic "Fancy" by Reba McEntire. Who doesn't love a ballad about a young prostitute turned out by her mother in the vocal styling of Reba? No one, that's who.

Good First Date Idea? A great first date would be meeting up somewhere sexy like IHOP or Waffle House. I would speak in a bad French accent and pretend not to be hungry. Then we would park behind the IHOP or Waffle House and listen to a baseball game on the radio full blast. He would try to yell over the sports announcers and ask me questions like, "SO WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?" and I'd stare at him blankly. He would become frustrated and turn down the radio. I would suddenly become really upset and start crying while fumbling for the door handle. Just before I got out of the car I would turn around and say, "You know, if you surrender to the wind, you can ride it." Confused, he would look down in the seat and see a small turd that had fallen out of my dress. We would never see each other again.