Sarah Wyatt

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)

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)

Here's Why You Should be a DCH Intern

DCH Interns Sarah Wyatt met her best friend through the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) internship program. Jason Hackett got a behind-the-scenes look as a DCH intern. Cesar Villa got a sweet, staff shirt.

There are approximately 30 interns each term working for DCH. Most of them are night interns, but some fill duties as bloggers, tech, and graphic artists. And since the club is made up of people who are supportive, creative, and ambitious, those are the types of interns it is looking for.

"Being an intern is more than just taking out trash and seating people," Wyatt said. "It's becoming a part of the community that can sometimes seem out of reach. You get to know your fellow students and performers quickly and more closely than if you just saw your two classes per term and ordered a few drinks from Ashley behind the bar. (Shout out Ashley! You killin it, gurl!)."

The internship program also gives you insight into how to smoothly run a comedy club's operations (that behind-the-scenes look).

"The most important aspect of all is that it gave me a sense of pride to be a part of DCH, a sense of stakes and ownership in the success of the Dallas comedy community itself," Hackett said. "As it grows, and my role within it changes, I still find myself feeling like that quiet intern I was for at least five terms, still in awe of the ephemeral magic that happens with frequency on those stages, and it makes me proud to have done my part to make that ship run smoothly."

Ashley Sarah

DCH prefers first-time interns to be going into Level 2, although exceptions have been made with a recommendation, usually from another improv community or DCH instructor or performer. Theoretically, too, you could intern for improv Levels 1 -5, Sketch Levels 1-3, Stand-up class, and then endless workshops.

"The internship program helped me do the one thing that classes can't teach, that has to come from your own motor: talking to people," Wyatt said. "I was very shy and introverted when I came to DCH. I was pretty shy and introverted during Level 1, too. It was being an intern that really made me come out of my shell. Having to talk to my comedy idols on a nightly basis was terrifying and thrilling, and I honestly can't say that I would have done it without being forced to as an intern."

Villa added that he was able to quickly fold into the DCH community as an intern.

"Performers I admired, teachers, and students ahead of me became friends," Villa said. "I went in with the mindset that no job is too small, and it didn't go unnoticed. I went from mopping the stage, sweeping the sidewalk, and restocking the beer fridge to now managing the intern program and techs."

Now is the time to consider being an intern. Not only do you receive tuition exchanged for your time, you get the inside track to an amazing community of supportive people. Term 6 applications are now open. Deadline to apply is Thursday, October 1, at 11:59 p.m.

"DCH is such a special place, and getting to be a part of showing that to people who come in, whether it's their first time or their millionth time is really amazing," said Andrea Urbina. "There is always something to do when you're interning. You get to know so many funny people and see what goes on behind the scenes each night. Interning at DCH has been such a fun and unique experience. I'm so glad I've gotten the opportunity to do it for the past three terms."

#ProudDCHIntern

Troupe Talk: Primary Colours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends, I happily present to you: Primary Colours!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ash: Form - the Harold. Style - Shenanigans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tori Oman is a Level Five student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.

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.

aDSC_0663

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.

The DCH Diaries: The Passion of Sarah

Sarah WyattImagine what you would do with 27 hours every day instead of the usual 24. Would you get more sleep? Play with the dog? Work overtime? Start a Tumblr? Oh, wait. I forget who’s reading this blog: you’d join another troupe or take another class at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) or wrangle some additional stage time. Yeah, I got your number. You can take a lesson or two from Sarah Wyatt. Six troupes, teaching in the DCH training center, coaching a Ewing team, judging auditions, and more recently tending to your food and drink needs at DCH. Hmmmm, I’m sure I’ve left out a thing or two. Oh yeah, during her off hours, she’s a substitute high school teacher with D.I.S.D. and helps produce an online comic called Cyanide & Happiness at Explosm.com.

Sarah is also why I’m here at DCH. She performed with Roadside Couch in the first improv show I ever saw. I was thrilled when fate brought us together in my Level 1 class (and later in my husband’s Level 1 class—we want to adopt her, and have discussed it with her mother, who stubbornly refuses to give up custody. Who could blame her?).

From that first night, I’ve been intensely interested in why improv is as addictive as cocaine, but without the negative social consequences. I have set out to understand why and how improv changes lives. One of the first stops on my quest was a table at the All Good Cafe with Sarah.

You wouldn't know it to see her on stage, but Sarah hasn't been doing this very long. She started classes at DCH in January 2013 at a time when she really needed a diversion.

"2012 was the worst year of my life. Something from every part of my life was not good. And I decided that I was going to do something for myself,” she said.

Her only previous experience had been a drama class in high school, which she dropped after the first day. Years later, though, something clicked.

“I always wanted to do something like this. People told me I was funny so I signed up and—legit—it was Day 1, I fell in love and have not looked back," she said. "It was the best decision I have ever made.”

Why did it affect her so profoundly, I wondered. To Sarah, the answer was immediate and simple.

“More opportunities, more friendships, more real living than anything I have ever done. . .Elsewhere we're weirdos, but not when we’re at DCH. This is the one place, out of the entire city, where it doesn’t matter. And it’s encouraged that it doesn’t matter," she said. "Life is for the living. I stretch myself so thin, but I would so much rather be up at a Jam, tired, seeing people that I love, and meeting new people and seeing improv in this community affect people, than just being at home doing nothing. Experience over anything.”

Sarah Wyatt and Tommy Lee Brown

According to Sarah, the principle of "Yes, and" is a powerful force that spills off the stage and out of the classrooms to foster the sense of community DCH.

“After you learn ‘Yes, and,’ it is jarring when you go out into the real world and people say ‘no’ to you," she said.

Inside that community, she has seen improv change the people around her, like her roommate Ashley Bright, and many others who in turn pass along their love of improv to others.

“It’s a ripple effect that never ends,” she said.

Maybe it’s a bit hackneyed to say she’s a “natural” on stage, but it fits. In fact, I’d venture that in some ways, Sarah is more comfortable on stage than off. Even so, her stage work is not her favorite thing about improv. Her passion is teaching.

“It’s just instantly more engaging when you can tell that somebody is into something. I went through the five levels and was so into this, like 100 percent, sold, check please, cause I love this place," she said. "I TA’d and really enjoyed that. It helped me grow so much as a performer. I learned so much TAing that when I got the chance to teach, it was “Fuck, Yes.”

No doubt, “Fuck, Yes” is a variant of “Yes, and,” which materializes in class as boundless energy and constant support designed to build the confidence of novice and veteran improvisers. Even though I've moved on to other classes and other teachers, I still look to Sarah for guidance. An hour before my last showcase, I could not get out of my own head, so I sought her out. Her advice was unequivocal.

"Just stop it. As of right now, stop thinking. Stay in the moment. When you take the stage, keep it real, listen and stay in the here and now.”

Every word dripped: “You can do this.” Later, standing in the Green Room, laughing with my classmates, I realized that I was no longer worried or nervous. I was excited. That showcase was the most fun I have ever had at DCH.

As for Sarah, she sees no end in sight. This is her life and she loves it.

“What we have now [at DCH] is just the beginning. This is going to become a destination. DCH is going to change Dallas a little bit. Everybody who’s passionate about it thinks, 'I wish I’d been here in 2009 when this started. I wish I had found it earlier,'" she said. "But I found it when I needed to find it, when I was ready to change and be open and allow myself to be on this journey.”

Quite a journey, indeed.

Carron Armstrong is currently in Level 3 and has been obsessed with improv and DCH ever since she discovered that someone can actually take classes to learn this stuff. She is currently negotiating to purchase the naming rights for the brand new stairs added to ease access to the stages of DCH’s Main Street theaters (Thank you, Amanda and Kyle). During the day, she’s a lawyer.

(Second photo: Isabel Lopez)