Terry Catlett

Troupe Talk: Franzia

Franzia Today is a big day. It’s a day when stereotypes break free from their mold. It’s a day when something usually thought of as nothing more than a cheap mind number for boozy lushes gets to step up as something bigger. Today is a day when we can raise our glasses, fill it with a generous helping of our favorite boxed wine, and know that that wine has a bigger purpose. Because today is the day that Troupe Talk talks to Franzia, one of DCH’s very own funny foursomes (individual people that make up a group of four...not boxed wine induced foursomes...at least not most of the time).

Tell us all the reasons you are like a fine, box of Franzia wine.

With us, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Franzia, the box of wine, is tag lined as the “the world’s most popular wine.” What would Franzia, the improv troupe, be tag lined with?

“So so good, so so cheap.”

What makes Franzia unique or different from other improv troupes?

We rely on feeling rather than format. When it “feels like it’s time,” we start the call back crescendo.

Tell us about your most memorable Franzia scene or show.

In the Chicago Improv Festival, we had an amazing show. We had a funeral scene for a horse that was very effective. According to Tommy, the horse had helped him quit smoking. After the show, some Chi-folk said, “If that’s what you guys are doing in Dallas, keep it up.” We felt proud.

Raise your pantomimed improv glass of Franzia and make a toast to each other.

Singing loudly, “Nobody does it beetterrrr, makes me feel sad for the reeeest. Nobody does it haaalf as good as you….baby, you’re the beeeeeessttt.”

Franzia performs at the Dallas Comedy House on October 3 and October 24.

Tori Oman is a Dallas Comedy House graduate.

Troupe Talk: David and Terry

David and Terry There is not much in life that’s more delightful than two people who were made for each other. Two people that just go together. Two people that are great when alone, but better when they’re together. No I’m not talking about Bert and Ernie, Michelle and Barack, or Bruce and Caitlin. Ladies and gentlemen -- Troupe Talk is proud to present this week’s installment featuring the one and only, David and Terry.

To get in a “Two peas in a pod” mood for this interview, I’ve asked you each to bring me three pairs of things that go together. What did you bring me? David: Salt and pepper shakers, Salt-N-Pepa, and two locks from someone with black and white hair. Terry: I am happy to bring you some salt and pepper shakers, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a Thelma and Louise DVD.

So speaking of pairs, how did you two become one? David: I first met Terry in late 2010 at a mix 'em up jam organized by Jude. Then at the 2012 festival, I was bar-backing and Terry approached about doing a two-person show. I was a big fan of his work and thought it would be fun. After our first practice, we talked for like an hour about our vision for the group and it matched up perfectly. We've always had similar goals, which makes it so much easier to put in the work needed. Then in 2012, we had our first show on my birthday and have been working hard at the show ever since. Terry: David and I had a mutual admiration for one another, and one night we got to talking about what we we really liked about improv, and the type of performance we would like to see. The conversation gradually evolved into discussing our appreciation for the two-person format and our ambition to try it. After that discussion, we got together for a rehearsal and the concept for our format came together very quickly. We have been honing it ever since.

Terry, what are three things you love about David? David what are three things you love about Terry? David: Terry’s facial expressions are phenomenal. His ability to emote so well without saying a word is a skill that I will always be envious of. I also really appreciate his ability to serve a story. In a recent show, for example, he kept a key detail of his character hidden for much of the performance. Then, at the end, he revealed it with pitch perfect timing. Also, he's an incredibly supportive partner. Most improvisers at the theater say "got your back" before a show, but his actions on and off the stage have proven that he really means it. Terry: We can all agree that David is a wonderful performer, so I will choose three things that you may not know. He is a truly genuine, sincere human being. In a world full of phonies, I am fortunate to get to work and be friends with an actual, earnest person. I admire that greatly about him. He is football fan. Not just a fan, but a super fan. I really like knowing someone that is so knowledgeable about the sport. He loves nachos. I love nachos. I love David.

What’s it like doing an improv show with just one other partner? David: I think that doing a two-person show is a graduate class that every improviser should take. Find a partner, room, coach, and just start. Even if you never put it on a stage, you'll improve your focus, character diversity, listening, patience, acceptance of silence, memory, and a whole host of other vital skills. Terry: It's exciting. I am always curious as to what story we are going to come up with. We have met some really interesting people in our shows.

What well known dynamic duo do you most relate to and why? David: Salt and pepper. One of us is needed to make things good, and I add unnecessary spice that can be tough to handle. Oh, and because in our show, the ending is in the beginning. Terry: I would have to say the classic comedy team of Martin and Lewis. One of us is a sophisticated, handsome, sex symbol with a dynamite singing voice. The other is a foppish clown that will do anything for a laugh. We are the perfect combination of salty and sweet.

David and Terry perform June 12 with Primary Colours and June 18 with Hammock District at the Dallas Comedy House.

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.

Troupe Talk: .f.a.c.e.

.f.a.c.e. Let’s .f.a.c.e. it—if a troupe talk reader ever came .f.a.c.e. to .f.a.c.e. with me, they'd probably a.) be jealous of all the imaginary snacks and presents the troupes have been bringing to their interviews for me and b.) get in my .f.a.c.e. for having yet to interview one of Dallas Comedy Houses finest troupes—.f.a.c.e.! So in order to avoid any future .f.a.c.e. to .f.a.c.e. confrontations, ladies and gentleman, i present to youuuuu, .fa.c.e.!

Thanks for coming to the interview all wearing masks of the face of someone you want to tell a secret to! Tell our audience who is on each of your masks and what’s the secret?

Ashley: I’m wearing a mask of Terry’s face. I’m just going to lean in and make a fart noise. He’ll understand.

Jua: I’m wearing a mask of Ashley’s face. I’m going to steal her nose, and then wink. She’ll understand.

Terry: I am wearing a mask of Jua’s face. I have just been asked to sing bass in a barbershop quartet. I don’t understand.

Tommy: I'm wearing Sarah's face. The secret is a bonus track on our third studio album. The track is called "Uptown Fu¢k" Look for it, out soon, from .E.I.T.G.

Jason: I’m wearing Tommy’s face, and my secret is that I’m Stephen King, so Tommy actually has been reading my books and loving me all along.

Sarah: I’m wearing Jason’s face. Took it right off his face, no muss no fuss since he was S. King underneath it anyway. I want to tell Jason that his hair is luxurious.

Wow so many secrets. So tell me one more thing—what do the letters in .f.a.c.e. stand for? How’d the troupe name come to be?

Ashley: It stands for, again I’m just going to make a fart noise here. Mr. Hensel rounded us all up; he wanted to do something weird and we obliged.

Jua: Valar morghulis.

Terry: .N.O.Y.B.

Tommy: I think it stands for Fruit And Chocolate Eclair, but also probably not. But maybe.

Jason: Some things are better not known than known. We started as a King of the Mountain troupe. We won five (?) or six (?) times and then were ousted by Nick Scott’s one-man show. *shakes fist at Nick Scott, but then gives him a hug because that was such a great show*

Sarah: .f.a.c.e. stands for opportunity, support, love, trust; we try to show each other our best faces so when it’s show night, ALLLLLL RIIIIIIIGHT

So something NOT so secret: You’re nominated for an INNY award (which is awesome—CONGRATULATIONS!) What’s that mean and how does it feel?

Ashley: It feels profoundly awesome, but I don’t really know anything about the competition or how the heck we got nominated.

Jua: It’s amazing! I’m very proud to be the only Dallas troupe that was nominated. Besides that...fart noise.

Terry: We are up against a bunch of stage dwellers, or as we call them “Stagies.” They all lack imagination.

Tommy: I am also pretty pumped about the nomination. The INNY awards are sponsored by Improvisation News, created to recognize excellence in improv.

Jason: Tommy did a great job explaining what it is, so I second his comment. It feels great to be recognized. It’ll feel even better to win it for DCH.

Sarah: Ditto Tommy and Jason. I wanna bring this thang home for DCH. So vote if you haven’t, DCHers! Let’s show ‘em there’s something exciting happening down hurr.

What is the style of .f.a.c.e. comedy?

Ashley: Full Access. Beans.

Jua: Stage fright.

Terry: It’s is the perfect combination of a knife fight and a Sharknado.

Tommy: We try to be so supportive that the audience feels free to be in the show. We try to involve the audience in our show as much as possible, in a long-form context.

Jason: The style is to be as limitless as possible. Nothing is off limits. Our limits know no bounds. Have you heard about our limits? You wouldn’t have, because there are none.

Sarah: The limit does not exist.

List out all of your team members, and then complete the .f.a.c.e. acronym to describe the person’s name below you (e.g., Billy Bob is Fantastic Awesome Crazy and Eerie).

Tommy: Fierce, Artistic, Comforting and Enchanting

Terry: Sarah is Full of Awesome Cat Energy.

Sarah: Friendly Ace Chap Eeeeeeeeissocoolsupportbestdude

Jua: Jason is Fancy As Childhood Emphysema.

Jason: Ashley is a Fairy Apparition Charming Everyone

Ashley: Tommy is a Fearless, Adept Cornerstone of Ease

.f.a.c.e. performs at the Dallas Comedy House on Friday, May 29, with Manick, and Saturday, June 27, with LYLAS.

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.

Troupe Talk: Kool Aid

Kool Aid It's a pretty neat day at Troupe Talk! I just discovered that Kool Aid is more than a talking pitcher of liquid with a face on it or a package of powder that makes a tasty, refreshing summer drink—they are also a funny team of six that plays TONIGHT at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH)! Feeling a little shy about going to see a team you hardly know? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Check out Kool Aid in this week's installment of Troupe Talk.

I wanted to play some tunes while we chat. You’ve all brought me the first CD you ever purchased—what is it?

Mitch: The Good Burger soundtrack. Terry: Grease motion picture soundtrack. Tim: Beastie Boys - Ill Communication. Mike: Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger. Cameron: Ace of Bass. Tyler: I don’t remember, but I do remember my first music purchase was Kenny Rogers' 8-track album entitled Gideon.

Sweet tunes gang, thanks. Where are you guys from, and what’s a fun fact about that place?

Mitch: Rhonesboro, Texas, is the possum capital of the world. Terry: Garland, Texas. Walker, Texas Ranger, the famous TV series starring Chuck Norris, were filmed in this city. Tim: Garland, Texas. It was the inspiration for Arland, the town King of the Hill was set in, and it was featured by name in Zombieland. It’s also home to a superior public water system. Mike: We're from New York City. It's not actually an apple. Cameron: San Marcos is among the oldest, continually inhabited places in North America. Tyler: Denison, Texas. Birthplace of Dwight David Eisenhower. Yes, THE Dwight David Eishenower!

SO what is Kool Aid’s comedy flavor?

Mitch: Good Burgery. Terry: Equal parts organic, manic, and panic. Tim: Our flavor is very organic and tends be more thematic. Our style reminds me a lot of the type of improv you see in Chicago in that we thrive in group scenes, follow the fun, and often the show as a whole centers around a main theme. Mike: Fast and furious minus the Vin Diesel. Cameron: Ecto cooler. Tyler: Fun, organic, and unafraid.

DCH has some new digs! Why should people come check them out?

Mitch: I haven't been yet, but I'm curious—are the bathrooms bigger? I guess I haven't been sent any emails firmly declaring that one way or the other. Terry: The old place is closed. Tim: Because Kool Aid isn’t performing at the old place! Mike: The ceiling is so high! Cameron: More snacks than before. Tyler: Craft beer (finally!!!), the best improv in Dallas - Ft. Worth, and better parking choices.

So we all know the Kool-Aid man has more to say than his classic tagline, “Oh Yeah.”Finish his thought for us!

Mitch: "Look this is just a job, all right? I like other stuff. Have you see The Wire?" Terry: "I am unnecessarily destructive!" Tim: “… oh wait, wrong wall. My apologies.” *scampers off* Mike: “…Do NOT go in there!” *waves hand over nose* Cameron: “…I guess you could make me with Splenda.” Tyler: “... sorry I’m late.”

Kool Aid performs at DCH tonight, May 15. You can also see them perform May 30, June 5, and June 13. 

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

DCF2015: Squid Salad and Hobo Joe

Betsy Sodaro Day 4 of the Dallas Comedy Festival was off the chain. This show had everything: cross-dressing, musical numbers, group jello shots, the moon.

Headlining the night were Chicago improv superstars TJ & Dave followed by L.A. improv superstars Bangarang!

Of course we have photos. Geez, who do you think we are, Luddites?

TJ and Dave


Bad Example

Terry Catlett

Check out this page for more photos.

The festival ends tonight with shows starting at 5:30 p.m. and closes with two sold-out shows later in the evening.

What We're Loving: Long Descriptions, Short Descriptions, Pre-Teen Interests, Teen Interests, Our Lying Brains

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison shares his inspirations, Jonda Robinson rules middle school, Sarah Wyatt is mesmerized, Amanda Hahn reignites her passion, and Ryan Callahan plows ahead.  P1-AT967_RADIO_F_20100224175520Terry Catlett and myself have been hard at work for a while trying to figure out what sort of written show we wanted to bring to the DCH stage. This week, we’ll finally be putting up the fruit of that labor with the show David and Terry: Portrait of a Crime. It’s a radio play, complete with live sound effects provided by Colten Winburn and Daniel Matthews. In honor of that upcoming show, I wanted to share a couple of clips that inspired the production.

The first idea for the show came about when I randomly heard WC Fields’ “The Day I Drank a Glass of Water” and played it for Terry. It’s super dumb and terrible, but you can check out the ten minute piece here. Favorite part would be the long, drawn out description when he finally goes to take a drink. The sheer absurdity of how they over explain it really spoke to us. After listening to this, and similar radio plays, we realized the sort of show that we wanted to do.

Our primary inspiration for the style of humor would be everything The Smothers Brothers did. If you’re not familiar with them, The Smothers Brothers were a comic singing duo that hosted a variety show in the 1960s. They created these happy, upbeat, clean, folk songs that still hold up today (Especially if you liked my piece on A Mighty Wind.). I love the dynamic between the straight and absurd players, something that is especially evident in “Boil That Cabbage Down.” Check it out here.

So if either of those billion year old clips, or my normal shows with Terry, are to your liking, we’d love to have you join us on 8/31 at 8:30 as we debut the radio play! - David Allison

Middle SchoolIt’s been a big week for students, parents, and teachers around these parts, as school started back this past Monday. Because of this, the thing I’m loving this week is hanging out with middle school kids. No, it’s not a creepy thing--I’m a “highly qualified” teacher by Texas standards, so it’s not only something I enjoy, but it’s something I get paid to do.

The first week is filled with lots of emotion. Crying, complaining, wondering if you’ll make any friends--and it’s pretty rough on the students, too. I teach both 6th grade and 8th grade, so I get to see both sides of the spectrum, all the way from the eleven-year-old on the verge of tears because she can’t get her locker open to the smooth 8th grader who has gotten as good at this middle school game as he did at [insert title of popular video game all the kids are playing these days]  over the summer. I’m only three days in, and I’ve already had had one sixth grader ask me if she could read Milton’s Paradise Lost, another tell me that when he grows up he wants to be “a problem, so people throw money at me,” and a group of 8th graders who have declared an “anti-spork” movement in our classroom, proclaiming the superiority of the spoon and hoping to get #antispork2014 trending.

If you get ever get the chance to hang out, work with, or mentor some middle school students, go for it. It will open up the door for some memorable conversations, you’ll get to make a (hopefully) positive impact, and you’ll also be reminded that even on your worst day, you can be thankful for the fact that you never have to be that awkward thirteen-year-old version of yourself again. - Jonda Robinson

nicki-anaconda-previewOh. If I could sum up Nicki Minaj’s music video for her latest single, “Anaconda”, in one word, it would be “Oh”. It’s a non-stop barrage of ass, sex, glistening skin, and Sir Mix-a-lot doing more work than Miss Minaj. And I kind of love it.

I thought I’d check it out while I was writing, foolishly thinking that it would just be background chatter. I was mesmerized from the first image. Oh. “What is this?? No! Why can’t I turn away??” It’s so much writhing, so much skin, so much Nicki. I mean, there’s no way everyone on set didn’t see her sorganz (my new slang for sex organs, try it out) well enough for a police sketch artist to use in court.

There’s such a build up in this video to her actually dancing but she never really does. Her back up dancers kill some moves while she pats their asses and twerks a little on a chair. Oh. There’s a section of the video that consists of cuts between her suggestively eating a banana and spraying herself with whipped cream and lots and lots of butt.

I’m not feeling it. But I could hear the sound of thousands of young boys closing their bedroom doors while I was watching it. And if that wasn’t enough, the bridge (???) is a scene of Nicki giving Drake a lap dance so good it seems to be a religious experience. I think we sometimes forget that he started as an actor because that lap dance looked weak as hell to me. This whole thing probably sounds like I hated the video. I did. I love that I hate it. I hate that I love it. I love it. Oh. - Sarah Wyatt

pomerantzThe new school year started up again this week. That doesn’t make much of a difference for grad students since our schooling is year round, but this marks the beginning of my third year in grad school, with about two or three more to go. This summer, for the first time since I started doing research almost 5 years ago, I started getting bored with what I do. I cared a little less about my ongoing studies and results. I spent less time playing with my data (usually a favorite hobby of mine). I stopped reading the RSS feeds of science journals I follow. I just wanted to lay in the sunshine all day and do comedy all night. I needed a kick in the pants. You guys. I got it. I got my kick in the form of this video by Dr. James Pomerantz.

Even if you’re not interested in neuroscience, I highly recommend watching it. Dr. Pomerantz was the PI of the lab I volunteered in after college, and he always demonstrated an amazing ability to explain such a vast array of different topics so simply, clearly, and interestingly. In this 8 minute long video taken at colloquia at Rice University, he does just that. He describes how we perceive, and essentially recreate, the world around us. As Dr. Pomerantz puts it, “when our neurons and the external world disagree with one another, the neurons win every time as for as our experience is concerned. We are all prisoners of our neural architecture.”

That applies to everything we experience. If you have vertigo and your neurons are firing in a way that says the world is spinning, then to you, the world is spinning. If you’re depressed, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you cheer up and that they love you. You’re going to be depressed until your body corrects itself or you seek help. Knowing why our brains don’t always mirror reality can help inform solutions. It can change lives. In the meantime, it’s just really, really cool to learn about. To all of you who are going back to school too: let’s learn the crap out of this weird little world we live in, shall we? Bring it on, year three. - Amanda Hahn

urlOver the past few weeks I have been working my way through the novels, stories, and other writings of Raymond Chandler. Okay, I haven’t read any of the stories yet, or the other writings, but I have finished the first two novels, The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely.

Both of these novels, in fact all of Chandler’s novels, star world-weary, hard-boiled, heavy-drinking, quip-ready private detective Phillip Marlowe. Chandler writes in the first person, allowing the reader to see the people and places of pre-war Los Angeles through Marlowe’s point of view, alternately sardonic and empathetic.

It is this point of view that makes the books great. The plots are nothing special; they’re often needlessly complicated. The mysteries are either incredibly obvious or impossible to sort out. It is the words, the tone, those descriptions – "She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.” “Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” – which will keep you turning the pages.

I enjoyed Farewell, My Lovely more than The Big Sleep, likely due with my familiarity with the plot of the latter thanks to the Humphrey Bogart film version. Farewell, My Lovely also benefits from a virtuoso chapter in which Marlowe wakes up in a locked room, having been drugged, and struggles to regain his senses. It’s a terrifying flirtation with madness, made all the more effective by how grounded the character is the rest of the time.

My adventure through the Chandler bibliography shall continue. There are only dozens of stories and four more novels to go. After that, I can rest easy. Until I move on to the complete works of Ross MacDonald. - Ryan Callahan