sketch comedy

Scoop on Sketch: Walker Sky

It was 103 degree and hotsy flotsy as Blitsy made her way down Main Street to Dallas Comedy House. She was on her way to interview Walker Sky, a real up and witty group of swanky doozles. The doozles being, Nick Scott, Brian Harrington, Collin Brown, Frank Buttafarro, Olivia Frasher, and Kim Kline. Blitsy sat on the leather couch in the P-Dogs green room when the real story began:

Blitsy Kittenz: Hey guys! How has everyone’s Walker experience been thus far?

Scoop On Sketch: Walker Dog

Scoop On Sketch: Walker Dog

It was a Dark and Stormy Cocktail of an evening when Blitsy Kittenz dusted off the Taco Bell shell crumbs from her jumpsuit while she skipped down Main Street. She was running late to interview at the Dallas Comedy House. She was to interview Walker Dog, you see. Walker Dog is a wonderful group filled with sweet cream cornies, a bunch of crunchy granola guys and gals like, Elizabeth Burkhead, Brent Crable, Jay Jacoby, Jeff Garlish, Molly Jakkamsetti and their lion leader, David Allison. Blitsy ran into the green room and bellowed, “Tea for two and how about I interview you?!” They all stared at her and said, “Interview, yes. Tea, no.”

That’s when the REAL talk began:

Scoop on Sketch: Return of the 90’s

*GUSH, GUSH* Was the irregular noise that Blitsy Kittenz, a real interviewess, heard as she trotted over a busted water pipe on the way to Dallas Comedy House. She was meeting with the cast of Return of 90’s, you see. Now, this was a sweet group, a hotsy-totsy crew, a glittery, glammity bunch of talented woozles. Famous woozles include, David/Daniel Allison, Madison Frihart, Cody Hofmockel, Gabriel Vasquez, Sarah Anne Adams, Cesar Villa, and Jonda Robinson. Blitsy Kittens opened the dressing room door unnannounced while the group was warming up like the statue professionals they are. Blitsy blurted, “I’m asking you some questions! You potatoes are going on the record and the paper!” and they all answered, “Okay”.

Blitsy Kittenz: So, this is your second round of a 90’s show! Was it easier to pull stuff from the decade this time around?  How was it doing a sequel of a sketch show?

David: I think it was easier this time as far as the initial creative process goes because we knew what worked in the last show. We knew that we needed to reference things that people would understand. Things like, “pop-up video”, for example, got Sarah and I really excited because we knew what it was, but there were a lot of people in the audience that weren’t as familiar with it. So we made sure that we referenced truths in society this time that everyone could get so the show was more accessible.

Sarah: What David said.

Madison: What Daniel said.

Blitsy Kittenz: Oh! Daniel is your name?

Cody: I’d say this one was easier. I think the challenge of it was that the first one went so well that we wanted to make this one just as good. We had a lot of material though.

Sarah: I mean it’s ten years. It’s a decade.

Cody: Looking back we should have done one for every year!

David: And it was easier because we had already worked with each other so I, as a writer, knew how to write for these players in the show. Going into the first show I had never really worked with Cody before or Madison or Colin. So I wasn’t really familiar what their strengths were.

Jonda: Directing has been great, especially since we’ve already done a show and I knew this cast pretty well. I knew how they operated which made it easier, like they said, the second time around. I think the challenge was knowing that we had set a bar with the first 90’s show and wanting to jump over that bar as well as making sure everyone had fun.

Sarah: I do have to say that my parents have seen both shows and they really loved this version. They wanted to see Dionne Celine, though. They loved that character so much.

Jonda: They should come chant that tomorrow night in the audience.

Everyone chants: *DIONNE CELINE! DIONNE CELINE!*

Cody: Does anyone here sing as Dionne Celine at home?

Jonda: Madison’s co-workers

Blitsy Kittenz: There is an homage to it in the show when you say Clinton comma Bill

David: That’s crazy.

Gabriel: What else do you want to know?

Blitsy Kittenz: Does this show make you sweat a lot? With the Wigs?

Gabriel: All the time. I think it’s just my genetics. *Slurps his water*

Jonda: I like watching you play with your Meredith Viera wig. It gets in your face a lot.

Madison: I think it’s funny. That’s my interview answer.

Blitsy Kittenz: Madison you’ve been so distant during this interview.

Gabriel: Well she’s been distant the whole show. Like right before the last show, we’re just NOW getting to know her.

Sarah: That’s true.

Cody: She stands really far away from everybody.

David: She also has been trying to hug us? Which is weird because I’ve been told she doesn’t like hugs.

Sarah: For the record, Madison LOVES being hugged so if you see her at DCH...give her a big squeeze.

Gabriel: She is always tickling my a**hole.

And just like that, after Gabriel’s touching line, the stars ran to their posts off-stage and made the audience roar and cackle into the dusty evening. What a charming bunch of bananas. You can catch them as they take their final, flannel bow tonight at 9:00. You don’t want to miss this show!


Blitsy Kittenz is a fake character, created by Emily Gee, that interviews lovely people. Emily writes for the DCH blog and performs improv at Dallas Comedy House. She loves peanut butter, blooming lilies, her pup Gutter and the owner of the XBOX name: IceColdHofsicle. You can see Emily perform with Photobomb, Out of the Blue, Rapid Weight Gain and the Family Friendly show.

 

Sketch Scoop: An Interview With Sketch Group, Walker Herschel

Sketch Scoop: An Interview With Sketch Group, Walker Herschel

It was a hot and musty Wednesday when the Herschel Walker team wiped their hard-working brows in the P-Dogs green room. After a successful and tight inaugural show, nothing could stop the energy of this quippy gang. A gang filled with cool cats like Jordan Armstrong, Kent Wicklander, Jonathan Patrick, Darcy Armstrong, Todd Anderton and their gang coach, Cody Hofmockel. They were sharing a hefty group guffaw when a reporter entered the room. Blitsy Kittenz was an interviewer with a recorder that wouldn’t quit until she got the story. Blitsy sat down and cordially wiped a brow in solidarity. She screamed, “This is all goin’ on the record!” and they all looked at her and said, “Okay."

JFK, Sugar Ray, and the Sixth Floored

Our latest Level 3 Sketch class work hard to produce a stellar show, and it's evident they succeeded with Sixth Floored. Performer Jonda Robinson and assistant director Julia Cotton fill us in about the revue and how sketch writing can help make you better improviser. How did the group land on the theme of the show? What is the through-line in each scene connecting with the overall Dallas/Kennedy title?

Jonda: Because this is the first sketch show at the new Dallas Comedy House (DCH), we thought it would be nice to try to write some things that were inspired by Dallas. Nick Scott (our director) asked us to bring in pitches that involved the city, and almost all of them had to do with the Kennedy assassination in some way. This made us think about how that event is still such a big deal for the city, and Dallas has never really moved on from it. In our scenes, we saw this related theme of characters being stuck in situations, unsure of how to move forward, and that became that thread that runs through the show.

Julia: Nick and I had them go around the table and just tell what was going on in their lives. In everyone's response there was some mention of not knowing what was coming next in their lives. Everyone seemed to hint at the need to move on to the next thing, but not quite being sure what that next thing was or even if moving on would be the right thing to do. So that's something underlining the show, for sure: staying stuck in a situation or moving on from it. JFK came along because I think we had them bring historical pitches and Dallas centric pitches in the same week. There was some grim holocaust stuff, some grim 9/11 stuff, but I think mostly JFK stuff came through the pipe that week, and we ended up running with that. There was a joke about the JFK assassination being the thing Dallas is most known for and there's like this weird sense of pride about it. The title Sixth Floored, though, is also a reference to the band Sugar Ray, which is another prominent element in the show (their second studio album was titled Floored).

Sixth Floored

How does working together as a sketch group differ from working together as improv troupe?

Jonda: When you are onstage as an improv troupe, you don’t have time to overthink—you just have time to react, and once a scene is finished, you’ll never do it again. In sketch, you get to take your basic idea, write it, and rewrite it until it’s something you really like. Sketch involves a lot of bouncing ideas off of each other and, as a group, picking the ones that work best. The collaboration is different, because you get to actually explain the reasoning for your choices and hear other ideas to see which is best before putting anything up for the audience.

Julia: You're getting to explore each other's ideas further, which is great on a lot of levels. Not only does that mean you're digging into the sketch and what can make it great and better and finding different directions it can go, but you're also digging into each other more. In improv, you make things up on the spot and scenes and moments pass so fast and you forget about them so quickly. With sketch, obviously you're planning things, so you can ask someone, "How did you get to that thought," which prompts a lot of conversations in and out of that writer’s room. Being able to bounce ideas back and forth, you end up getting a deeper look into each other's psyche. I like that, because there’s the opportunity for writing specific things about the people you’re working with.

Sixth Floored

How does writing influence your improv skills?

Jonda: Writing sketch has helped me become more aware of just how important the basics are in an improv scene. When you write something, you know that you need to get the set-up of the scene out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Without this foundation, the audience is left missing out. Writing sketch has also forced me to take the time to analyze the game of a scene and figure out how to best heighten it, which in turn has made it a little easier to recognize the game when I’m in the heat-of-the-moment of an improv scene.

Julia: I think both skill sets go hand in hand. I signed up for improv with the intention of getting into sketch writing. Doing improv makes you focus on things like “who, what, where” and “relationships” and “finding the fun” and “burning the leaves.” When you go into writing a sketch, all of those improv “rules” are so vital in giving you places to take a scene and finding out which one of those places is most interesting to explore and make a sketch out of. I feel like going back to improv after writing, you end up finding those interesting places faster.

What kind of work goes into putting on a sketch show?

Jonda: The work is basically four phases:

  1. Pitch a million ideas and pick the few that you like and have the most potential.
  2. Write, perform, rewrite, perform, rewrite again, rewrite some more, etc., until you have your sketches where you want them.
  3. Memorize your scripts and rehearse to get your performance down.
  4. Spend the entire run of your show having lots of fun with your group, because you’ve got it all down and are excited to show an audience what you’ve created.

Julia: Each week, everyone meets together in a “writer’s room” environment. The first couple of meetings everyone pitches ideas based on whatever’s happening (in their life, in the world, etc.), or maybe a prompt or theme is thrown out there (“pitch something about Dallas,” “pitch something about a particular historical event,” “pitch something about sports”). We go through all of the pitches, pick the ones that jump out enough for everyone, talk about them for a bit, and then improvise them. If something is working as an improvised scene, someone is assigned to take it and write it out. When there are enough scenes that kind of lean toward a similar theme, we get a few more pitches specifically for that theme and go through that same process with them. The directors take them all and come up with a preliminary show order and after that, it’s much like doing a theater production: Everyone needs to get "off book." Usually there’s some rewriting. There are ALWAYS sketches that get cut. There are revisions to the show order. There’s a prop list. There’s blocking/staging. There’s sound and lighting. There are rehearsals. There are tears. And then there’s a show!

Sixth Floored

Which skills does one need to be a good sketch performer?

Jonda: To be successful as a sketch performer, one needs the dedication to memorize lines and the willingness to try to play scenes in different ways, even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone. To use a term from my days playing team sports, you’ve got to be “coachable” and willing to listen to your director and fellow performers to make the performance the best it can be.

Julia: Having an improv background is definitely helpful, not only for writing but for the nature of live theater (because who knows what will happen that one time when someone forgets to bring the birthday cake prop on stage!). Also, all improv fundamentals are relevant in putting on a sketch show: support, react, use the environment, make eye contact, etc.

Confidence. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, it comes across in your performance, so the audience won’t believe it either.

Thick skin is important. Not only are there ALWAYS sketches that get cut, not all pitches get the reaction you’re hoping for. That doesn’t mean you can’t write them and prove everyone wrong! But also, writing them doesn’t always prove everyone wrong… :)

Patience with yourself, your cast mates, your directors, your tech people, and those people building a brand-new theater for you to perform in. Sketches don’t always come together the way we expect them to come together in our heads. You may write something for a long time and it end up making no sense to you or anyone else. There are always technical challenges. There are sometimes new theaters being built in the middle of trying to put together a show, and you don’t have a stage to rehearse on for a while. Trust that all will come together as it should.

Also, night vision is good if you have that, because sometimes it gets dark on that stage.

Sixth Floored

Are there any scenes left on the cutting room floor that you wish could have been performed? If so, which ones?

Jonda: I don’t want to give away too much information about those top-secret scenes, as we might want to pull them out at some point, but the one that comes to mind was entitled “Peanut Butter Slap” and involved Ashley in the role of an office janitor who violently interrogated us all because someone was slathering peanut butter all over the workplace. Sometimes those sketches that never make it to the stage are the most fun because you’re trying hard to make some crazy premise work, and along the way inside jokes are created within your group.

Julia: SO MANY!!!

Katie had a really good idea that no one really latched on to that I was kind of in to. Something about a woman that talked to people that kept leaving or dying, but someone else would come in and be there for her to keep talking to. Then I saw an episode of Louie later this season where he did EXACTLY THAT! It was a good idea. Louis C.K. thought so.

Also, there was a "Middle Aged Mutant Lawyer Turtles" thing that never quite came together.

Jason Hackett had one that I really loved, but I do believe he’s still going to perform it somewhere, so I don’t want to ruin it. Stay tuned for that.

Plus, who knows what we can add back throughout the run of the show...

Speaking of the show, you can catch Sixth Floored May 21, May 28, and June 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for advance purchase

Sixth Floored was written by and stars Ashley Bright, Jessica Dorrell, Jason Hackett, Jon Patrick, Katie Pedroza, Jonda Robinson, and Cesar Villa. It is directed by Nick Scott and assistant directed by Julia Cotton. 

Sixth Floored

Hey Now, We Have a One-Night Only Sketch Show

Butt Stuff Sketch ShowThe Dallas Comedy House presents a new sketch show for one night only, and that night is tonight, May 20. The show is called Butt Stuff, and with all things backside, more needed to be known. Lauren Davis and Paulos Feerow fill us in on the details. Who is in the show? Lauren: The show is me, Paulos Feerow, Jeremy Schmidt, Andrew Woods, Tyler Simpson, Justin James, and Dante Martinez. Just a bunch of dirtbag stand-ups trying to make good.

What's the show about? Paulos: We tried to write the show so obscurely that everyone left there with their own meaning—it means everything and nothing at the same time. Also a bunch of 1990's references.

Where did the idea for the show come from? Lauren: These are a bunch of the funniest people I know but we're also all comics so we're lazy and easily distracted. With our powers combined, though, we have made what can without any stretch of the imagination be described as a "series of sketches." And even though we each wrote one, it was super collaborative and we made decisions as a collective mostly, which was sometimes frustrating but really fun because everyone's so funny and we're all learning how to do this together.

Why this show, at this time, for this generation? Paulos: We're tackling some pretty heavy issues with this show. Everything from dates to pop stars from different generations to superheroes and recent movies—the stuff that the liberal media is too afraid to touch!

How will this show change a viewer's life? Paulos: In all honesty, if the viewers come in with open hearts and open minds they will probably be enlightened or something. Honestly, I'm not sure. Not sure what enlightenment is. Hey, did you watch the Mad Men series finale? Wait, where are you going?

The Butt Stuff sketch show happens tonight, May 20, at 8 p.m. Improv troupe CLR also performs in the same time slot. Get your tickets now