interview

New Troupe/Old Troupe: Pit Bull Mentality and Photobomb

From one new “weird kind of Armando” troupe (according to Ryan Rousseau) to…well, I don’t want to call them a “normal” Armando troupe, this week’s New Troupe/Old Troupe features Pit Bull Mentality asking questions of Photobomb.

Pit Bull Mentality approaches improv with “with fierce and relentless determination.” They consist of Rousseau, Sara Aisenberg, Lindsay Lintelman, Mack McCullough, Amy McGiffin.  

Photobomb is Maggie Rieth Austin, Daniel Matthews, Ben Pfeiffer, Sarah Adams, Ryan Goldsberry and Colten Winburn. You’ve probably been coached or taught by several of them.

Comedy Centerfold: Vicki Ferguson

Welcome to Comedy Centerfold, where we feature a Dallas Comedy House (DCH) performer and get to know him or her a little better by using questions that Playboy centerfolds are usually asked.

Have you ever met anyone who bargained their way into free race car driving school when buying a Porsche? Have you ever received comforting, loving, and caring advice when you most needed it from the same person? I HAVE! That wonderful someone is miss Vicki (yes, she is single!).

TJ and Dave say it's our jobs as improvisers to lead rich and wonderful lives so we can bring those experiences and gift them to our scene partners. Vicki puts us to shame in that department! But make no mistake; she is passionate, committed, and always wanting more awesomeness on stage, however already awesome her life is.

                                                                                                                              -- Paco Giurfa Ley

Hometown?  
Dallas.

Guilty Pleasures?  
Red wine and champagne with just a splash of orange juice.

Ambitions?  
My ambitions change every day. However, in the end, I hope to say I have conquered most of my fears and was the best person I could be. 

Best Concert?
Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company at The Fillmore. 

Favorite Book?
How to Feng Shui Your Home.

Favorite Movie?
Titanic.

Favorite TV Show?
Outlander, but I'm enjoying The Handmaid's Tale.

Pets?
I have two, long-haired chihuahuas, Maddie and Mia, and a Pom-Chi, Bella. I also have a Grand-dog, Marley Mae. I  also have a mini pig named Elvis and a 7-year-old Beta fish, Sylvester.

Foods I Crave?
Chocolate and French fries.

People I Admire?
My grandmother for her infinite wisdom and the Dalai Lama.

Dream Role?
Lead in the 2018 remake of Pretty Woman

Favorite Song to Sing?
"This Girl Is On Fire."

Good First Date Idea?  
The Dallas Comedy House, of course!

See Vicki perform in the troupe Out of the Blue on August 3 and August 17. 

Podcast Profile: Diabetics Doing Things with Rob Howe

DDT Podcast After my brief Podcasting 101 series for the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) blog, I received a few questions from friends and readers about how to get their own podcasts started. However, the hardest part of doing something new is actually starting. That’s when I decided I would write profiles of DCH performers and community members who have podcasts of their own, showing by example that everything is just a fun and wild downhill slide after recording your first episode.

This week, I profile Rob Howe’s Diabetics Doing Things. Rob performs with Dairy-Based and Primary Colours, but I had the pleasure of being a student in his improv Level 2 class. I heard through the grapevine at DCH that he had a podcast of his own in which he interviews people that share his experience of having Type-1 diabetes and refusing to let that put any stop on their lives. His podcast is filled with inspiring conversations that make me want to take the bull by the horns. (But figuratively… not literally… I don’t think bulls like that.)

Hi, Rob! Thank you for doing the thing. Please tell us what inspired you to make a podcast Diabetics Doing Things.

Super excited to be able to do the thing! OK, so I've been super fortunate in that I've had some pretty amazing experiences in my life, whether in athletics or travel, etc. and I also have Type-1 diabetes. And more often than not, people think that T1D is this debilitating disease that takes away your hopes, dreams, and future. So I found myself thinking that someone should be telling the stories of the things people with Type-1 are doing OUTSIDE of their diabetes. So I started Diabetics Doing Things.

One of my favorite moments from the podcast is from Episode 2. You're talking to Scriven Bernard about dealing with other people who ask the wrong questions about diabetes and you say, "What's the right question to ask?" How do you find those "right questions" to ask during your interview podcast?

I have a sort of boiler-plate interview list to get people comfortable with the types of questions I'll be asking, but what's great is that while most of the episodes start the same, they always end up a little different. It's amazing to hear about the different challenges that my guests have overcome throughout their lives, and the great things they're doing in spite of and alongside their disease.  

I know you more as an improviser and instructor through DCH, but Diabetics Doing Things is more grounded in what life is like as a diabetic, something that could be considered a very serious topic. I'd love to know more about the dichotomy of recording this podcast as opposed to performing with a troupe. Does the comedy lend itself to the vulnerability of the subject, and vice versa for your performance?

There's so much about everyday life that's funny. I guess the main difference between the podcast and performing is that I often don't know my guests. Sometimes it's the first time I've talked to them so it takes a little while to develop a rapport. My troupe mates are also my soul mates so we can skip all the intros and get right down to having fun. While life as a diabetic IS a serious topic, I think some of the best comedy comes from those serious, unique, poignant moments that people share. So while sometimes the discussions are vulnerable and serious, more often than not my guests and I end up having a good laugh at our own expense.

Every beginning (and occasionally some seasoned) podcasters experience some mishap during recording or editing, either by our own hand or a forced computer update. Do you have an example of podcast failure during the recording or editing process?

Oh, I definitely do. I was doing an interview for Episode 009 and my guest was from the U.K. so we had the usual scheduling challenges associated with different time zones and we had this amazing conversation on a Sunday afternoon and as soon as we hung up on Skype I realized I had only recorded like 30 seconds of the interview. I was super embarrassed and felt really unprofessional, but I just asked if we could re-do it, and she was more than accommodating.

What advice would you offer for those who are interested in podcasting? (Or as I like to call them, "Podawans.)

My biggest piece of advice is to make your podcast about something. If you can define your audience, and really appeal to them, you're more likely to have enough success to keep you motivated to continue. Other than that, you've just got to ask for things. My podcast success has been 100 percent due to the help of others. Most people are more than willing to help you if you ask, so you just have to overcome that fear and ask away. On the tech side, starting a podcast is super easy. Your phone is a great recording device (full disclosure: I use a USB microphone and GarageBand) and there are tons of great software out there available for free. So figure out what you wanna talk about, then do it!

For more information about Diabetics Doing Things, visit diabeticsdoingthings.com. You can also download episodes from iTunes via your podcatching app of choice.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Comedy Centerfold: Brian Moody

Each week, or maybe every other week if we’re lazy, we’ll 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. If you’d like to volunteer to be a centerfold before we come for you, email us and let us know. The only requirement is that we need a full-length, CLOTHED, photo of yourself for, you know, the centerfold part. Brian MoodyThis edition of Comedy Centerfold features Brian Moody, who you can currently see perform in the troupe Samurai Drunk. Or you can see him perform the opening of beer cans and pouring of drinks behind the bar at DCH. That is actually where he completed this Q&A, in fact. Thank you, Brian, for not spilling any beer on it. Brian also took the time to add more questions and answers. Guys, he really wants you to get to know him.

Hometown? Mansfield, Texas, the town with most high school improv troupes per capita in the state.

Guilty Pleasures? Kanye West, Kevin Costner, Bad Action Movies, Theft

Ambitions? To make a living doing things I would do anyway. Basically, I want to eventually get paid to do things i would do for free. If i could make money sleeping and eating, I would consider myself highly successful.

Best Concert? Pukkelpop 2009. I made some amazing friends at that festival and probably consider that the four best consecutive days of my life.

Favorite Book? Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. Its extremely bizarre, yet poignant and informative. And (spoiler) they steal Jesus' body from the Vatican catacombs. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Favorite Movie? Everything is Illuminated. Elijah Wood is highly underrated, and Eugene Hutz needs to be in more movies. He is fantastic.

Favorite TV Show? Community. It is smart and stupid humor at the same time. However, the best show ever made is by far The Wire.

Pets? I would love a dog, but am responsible enough to know that I am far too busy for the responsibility of having one.

Foods I Crave? Gas station/food truck tacos with green salsa and a squirt of lime. I'm very specific about my food that is horrible for me. I also enjoy Taco bell's beefy crunch burrito. I'm a huge fan of crap mexican food.

Where Would You Never Want to Live? Branson, Missouri. It seems like the place where people go to let their dreams die.

People I Admire? Donald Glover, Ian Mckaye (because of his contributions to music, not because of the straight edge movement), Louis CK

Soup or Salad? Frankly, I feel like that is a highly inappropriate question.

What Really Chaps Your Hide? The name Kyler is a stupid name. I would never name my child that.

What is Your Favorite Kind of Kebab? Doener Kebab, a Turkish specialty found in Germany.

Dream Role?  I prefer biscuits with creamy gravy.

How Would You Stop an Intruder Breaking Into Your House? Roundhouse kick.

Favorite Song to Sing? "I Gotta Man" by Positive K. It's so damn sassy.

Good First Date Idea?  I usually come up with them after the date is confirmed and plan based on the girl. I am definitely not into the dinner and a movie first date. I like to be spontaneous and fun. (source: Brian Moody's profile on www.christianmingle.com)

Comedy Centerfold: Lauren Gravois Brizendine

Each week, or maybe every other week if we’re lazy, we’ll 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. If you’d like to volunteer to be a centerfold before we come for you, email us and let us know. The only requirement is that we need a full-length, CLOTHED, photo of yourself for, you know, the centerfold part. Lauren Gravois BrizendineThis edition of Comedy Centerfold features Lauren Gravois Brizendine, who has been involved with DCH since 2009. She was the first female graduate of our training program, and she's been a member of several troupes, such as Apocalypse Wow!, Circus Office, and The LaImprovalogues. Lauren is from Cajun country, so when you meet her you'll now know where she gets her accent.

Hometown? Thibodaux, Louisiana--Home of Boudreaux and all things Cajun!

Guilty Pleasures? Judge shows, margaritas with Everclear, proper grammar, riding motorcycles with my hubby, self-help books (see second in list).

Ambitions? To change the world, starting with the fashion industry. I want people (women especially) to feel good about themselves and how they look when they try on clothes. I want to bring back Reniessance times when being a "plus size" person meant you were wealthy, royal, and worthy of admiration. This is the 10s--skinny is soooo 2000s.

Best Concert? Tesla Unplugged 2011 (don't judge).

Favorite Book? Oh the Places You Go by Dr. Seuss.

Favorite Movie? Coming to America--I can quote almost the whole thing! Favorite TV Show? 30 Rock.

Pets? Three--Inky and Ozzy, my cats; and Chi, my dog.

Foods I Crave? Mexican food (ALL THE TIME), dark chocolate, and crawfish.

People I Admire? Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, and my Memere (grandma) Elvige.

Dream Role? Wonder Woman.

Favorite Song to Sing? ANYTHING by Elton John--particularly "Levon," "Sad Songs," and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues."

Good First Date Idea? It's a good idea not to have sex on a first date. You don't want to get pregnant! :)

Andy St. Clair's Workshop Secrets

We recently spoke with Dina Facklis about improv and some upcoming workshops she and her buddy, Andy St. Clair, would be conducting at DCH. She offered some great advice and choice quotes. But you know what was missing? Andy. Andy was missing from that article. Andy St. ClairNot anymore. We have some Andy now, and he has seasoned our questions with answers.

Why do you think people have such a difficult time initiating scenes? 

Because people are too busy playing plot man. Plot will kill you. It's boring. I want to see relationships and how you treat that person or how you and that person interact with each other. Great ways to initiate scenes? Give that person a gift about their personality. Also, emotion. I'll also give you a workshop secret.....ready....here we go.

Workshop secret  No. 1: Dina has mastered the art of watching improv scenes while playing Angry Birds on her phone. She's a master at it.

Most improv is based on short exchanges of dialogue. How can monologues help with scenes and character development? How can improvisers perform monologues without being thought of as scene hogs?

Monologues help with scenes and characters because it can set up who you are to people/fellow improvisers, almost making it easier and giving them (fellow improvisers) an easier time helping them have an opinion on your character. Also, keep those monologues short. Don't give it all away in the monologues.

Workshop secret No. 2: Dina loves drinking a gallon or two of vodka before any "rehearsal." You can't smell it. Girl can put it down! Don't be afraid to buy her a drink or seven. Watch out Texas!

What can improvisers learn from scene writing that they can bring to their stage work?

Kinda similar to question  No. 1 to me. Let the character move you forward and not the plot. Did Dina say that?

Speaking of Dina, workshop secret No. 3: When Dina says in a workshop "Look, I know it's hard when you're 27. Hell, I'm 27, and I get OUR problems." She's not 27, everyone. She's 77. But she looks great.

How do you remember to keep fun top and center while improvising? 

It's improv. It's not rocket surgery (see what I did there? Don't steal it. I've been saying that for years). It has to be fun otherwise the sadness/anger you feel about it not being fun will make its way onto the stage. Nobody wants that. It's comedy!

You think I'm doing a workshop secret No. 4, don't ya? Nope. Rules of three guys. Brain science everyone.....brain science! (I really forced that in there but I did it.)


Thank you, Andy. Now, readers, improvisers and countrymen, go forth and take Dina and Andy's workshops.

March 26-8:30 p.m.Scene Intensive with Dina Facklis Believe it or not, starting a great scene is easier than you think--you’re the only thing getting in its way. This intensive will get you out of your head and into a place where successful scenes can’t help but happen. Get ready for an early evening of effortless scenework that will help you figure it all out! (14 person maximum) Register
March 33:30-6 p.m.Finding the Comedy Gold in Your Improvisation with Andy St. Clair The No. 1 rule of improv: have fun! How many times do you forget that little gem? From personal experience, my guess would be A LOT. Hell, with all the rules and nuances of improv, who wouldn't forget? This workshop will show improvisers how to make the rules work for them while having a ton of funso that you have a ball while mining every single piece of comedy gold you can from a scene! (14 person maximum) Register
March 3 & 4Noon-3 p.m.Monologue Development with Andy St. Clair You can count on this: You have more characters in yourself than you think. And this workshop is not only about finding them, it's also about developing a written piece from them that is carefully structured with perfect timing. This workshop will conclude with a showcase of these monologues on that Sunday night at DCH. (14 person maximum) Register
March 3 & 43-6 p.m.Writing Scenes from Improv with Dina Facklis How many scenes do you have in your improvisation past that you wish you had written down? I personally have ABOUT ONE MILLION. This workshop will allow you to either bring in beat outlines for a scene that you've already improvised or find your scene with a partner through improvisation. You will then work with me to write this scene as to maximize its potential in terms of timing, character development and story arc. This workshop will also conclude with a showcase of these monologues that Sunday night at DCH. (14 person maximum, please feel free to sign up in pairs) Register