troupes

"Troupe Talk: Shameless Pug" by Jason Hensel

The Dallas Comedy House (DCH) improv troupe Shameless Pug has a performance opportunity for DCH students Level 3 and above. It's all in honor of the recently befallen “Student Lotto.” For their show on Wednesday, August 16, at 10:30 p.m., they would like two-to-three students to perform with them. This is a great opportunity to play with an experienced troupe. Interested students can leave a comment on the post on the DCH Training Center's Facebook page or contact Glenn Smith via Facebook. Those selected to play will be notified this weekend.  

If you don't know who Shameless Pug is, well, that is where I come in. I recently sat down with the Pug outside a PetSmart in Plano to learn more about being shameless.

Who makes up the Shameless Pug?
I am currently owned by Mano Galaviz, Josh Hensley, Becky Rentzel, Glenn Smith, and Ryan Vicksell, but I like having a different human for each day of the week, so I am looking for prospects. If you are reading this and like walks in the park and having your face licked, then hit me up. I’m on Facebook!
 
How long has the Pug been around?
I was initially raised on a Ewing farm over two years ago. Hey, I guess that makes me a teenager in improv years.
 
Who trains the Pug?
Well, after a youthful foray into academia at Pupperdine and DePaw universities, I roamed the Earth in search of spiritual guidance. This is where I met my current sensei, Tyler Via, who has helped transform me into a comedic Hong Kong Phooey.
 
What tricks does the Pug like to play?
I love putting someone’s paw in bowl of water while they sleep. That is a classic! They still won’t let me back at Dotty Dumplin’s Doggie Daycare because of that. I can also twirl on demand and play "Uptown Funk" on the banjo. A dog has to have a few extra tricks under the collar in case this improv thing doesn’t work out.
 
What is the Pug's favorite pun?
Hmm, that is a tough one. Do you smell up-dog?
 
Where does the Pug see itself in five years?
My psychic told me that you would ask that! In light of the fact that Keegan Michael-Key has opened many doors for improvisers with his varied successes, I feel like I will be in line to at least be a Kibbles N’ Bits spokesperson, become a staple on the TV series Downward Dog, and film my version of a cult classic, called Doggie Darko…..or playing the banjo on a street corner.
 
Who's been a good boy/girl?
Well, you, of course, Jason. Here’s your treat! Pats on the forehead to Stephen Colbert, Wonder Woman, Kumail and Emily, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. May their bowls be filled with Scooby Snacks. My owners? No, that lot needs some serious obedience training! I would hit them on their noses with a newspaper…..er, if I could actually hold a newspaper.

Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.

Troupe Talk: Wiki Tikki Tabby

Wiki Tikki Tabby This troupe talk is dedicated to and written in loving memory of Jake Malnaughty.

If there’s one thing you should know about the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) troupe Wiki Tikki Tabby (see also Wikki Tiki Tabby, Wiki Tiki Tabbie, or Wifi Tiffy Tubby...spelling varies), it’s that first and foremost, member Byron Dow will do anything for free. And he means anything. In fact, he agreed to participate in this troupe talk for free. In addition, you name it, and Byron will also gladly f*** it or eat it, as long as he has the proper instruction to do so. Well, on one fateful day, the name Jake Malnaughty was whispered in hushed tones around the dark corners of DCH, as Dow was instructed to sacrifice the late great Malnaughty to the almighty gods of improv. Fortunately, the sacrifice appeased the gods, so they bestowed improv powers of passion, courage, whimsy, support, and bold choice-making upon Wiki Tikki Tabby. Thus, from that day forward, they were forever bonded in solidarity. Wiki Tikki Tabby (Emily Baudot, Byron Dow, Joe Halbouty, Houston Hardaway, Shawn Mayer, and Danielle Seright) is a troupe that always brings the unexpected, the outlandish, and the wildly creative to the stage. Like the love children of Lewis Carroll and Willy Wonka, a Wiki Tikki show is a delightfully trippy experience, full of laughs and lots of love for the craft and each other. It’s like a meticulously woven tapestry or an intricate mandala of colorful scenes that each seem bizarre on their own but somehow all come together in a mesmerizing and mind-blowing arrangement. A Wiki Tikki show is truly a one-of-a-kind...and probably would not be possible without the sacrifice of Jake Malnaughty.

Beyond Byron’s human sacrifice to the gods of improv, Jake Malnaughty may he rest in peace, how did Wiki Tikki Tabby originate?

Danielle: It was a cold, rainy day...

Emily: ...We were all in Level 3, and Byron came up to us, either together or separately, and he had this grand vision, and I think his vision was...(Byron starts grinning) well you know what, Byron, I don’t want to speak for you.

Byron: (Still grinning) No, go ahead.

Joe: Byron had a vision?

Shawn: Let’s all guess Byron’s grand vision. I got a text message like, “Hey, you wanna be in a troupe?” And I was like, “Yeah. OK.”

Byron: Yep, that’s actually the whole story.

Emily: Really? I got a face-to-face invitation.

Danielle: Darcy asked me.

Shawn: Wow. I got a text, man.

Byron: I was probably like, “Hey Darcy, can you ask Danielle?” I don’t think I knew you very well.

Emily: Then Byron said, “I think you guys will all play well together.” And I think we do. ...So that’s that story.

Houston: I agree. We all came up in the same levels together, not necessarily the same class. And we all had the same energy level and passion toward improv. We kind of just gravitated toward each other based on that and became friends that way.

Danielle: I knew who you all were, except for Joe really, but I guess we met at Jams and through interning and being at DCH all the time.

Houston: I knew you [Danielle] through interning.

Shawn: I had Danielle in my third level class, but I didn’t remember. When you [Danielle] came and talked to me after your open mic, I was like, “Who are you?”...in my head. But, now I know. I know your name.

Byron: What’s her name?

Shawn: Don’t put me on the spot.

Byron: Hey, you guys wanna make a troupe?

Houston: Yeah.

Joe: Yes.

Danielle: Yeah.

Emily: Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Shawn: We can form another troupe.

Byron: It’ll be Tikki Wiki. Reverse it.

Shawn: What would we do differently?

Houston: It would have to be everything opposite. Right?

Wiki Tikki Tabby

Speaking of Tikki Wiki’s and Wiki Tikki’s, where did the name Wiki Tikki Tabby come from?

Emily: Well, the original idea was that we were going to get a suggestion from the audience like...

Joe: ...Like, “What was the last Wikipedia page you visited?” And then we came up with the name based off of that...and then we dumped that idea.

Emily: Yeah, but we still kept this idea, or concept, of being on a Wikipedia page and clicking blue links until you’re like 3,000 steps away from where you started and still relate it somehow. I think we’ve still maintained that.

Houston: Well, we went through a bunch of “What should our name be?” and stuff like that, and I think it came from when we were in earlier levels, we were all interested in pushing boundaries and seeing other weird stuff we could do. What are some other formats and other weird things we can do that we haven’t been doing in class? And we thought, “Let’s do a Wikipedia thing for the suggestion.”

Danielle: I don’t know where the “Tabby” part came from?

Joe: Browser tabs, but we kept it as “Tabby” because someone made a bunch of posters of us with our faces on cats.

Houston: Also, I’m not sure any of us spell it the same. I think we all mess it up all the time.

Emily: That’s kind of like us, too, though. It’s [correct name spelling] not really a rule, more like a guideline. It’s a conceptual thing. I’m OK with that.

Since you guys took inspiration from the dark hole that is Wikipedia, what’s been the weirdest Wiki rabbit hole you’ve found yourself traveling down recently?

Emily: The Bell Tower.

Houston: Like the guy who shot people from the bell tower?

Joe: What?!

Emily: No! Jesus Christ!

Houston: Sorry! I didn’t know what we’re talking about! We were talking about Wikipedia rabbit holes, and then you said “The Bell Tower.” And I was like “What could be an article about a bell tower?”

Danielle: It was a scene. Did you forget our improv?

Emily: I was talking about a performance inspired by a Wikipedia thing. I’m sorry, I misunderstood the question.

Byron: Well, the last Wikipedia page I visited was an article about a torture device called the brazen bull.

Emily: Ooooh! I love that!

[All laugh]

Emily: Hold up. It’s a cool thing.

Byron: It’s a bronze bull, and you put someone inside it, and you heat it up, and basically...

Houston: They’re cooked inside.

Byron: And they get cooked. There’s also a horn that comes out of the bull’s mouth and as they’re getting cooked they start screaming...and it sounds like a bull. (making bull noises) I don’t know.

Is that what happened to Jake Malnaughty?

Emily: Well, that’s one thing that happened.

Byron: That is what happened to Jake Malnaughty.

Danielle: And then Byron ate him.

Byron: And then I ate him afterward, because they asked me too. I f***ed him, too. I got right up in there!

Joe: Before or after?

Houston: While he was in the bull?

Wiki Tikki Tabby

What’s Wiki Tikki’s style of improv? Do you guys have a format?

Houston: We’ve kind of evolved. We were trying to incorporate a bunch of different styles into one, but now, I think our main focus is having organic, playful shows and going wherever it takes us. Not placing any restrictions on ourselves.

Byron: It’s like Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit hole. That’s how we like to view it.

Emily: Exactly. It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets Donnie Darko meets I don’t know...

Byron: ...A drug trip?

Emily: Is that pretentious?

Joe: Very pretentious, but that’s what we’re about.

Byron: I’m totally cool with being pretentious. I think it’s hilarious.

Shawn: We’re pretentious meets...

Joe: ...Mongooses. Or is it Mongeese? How do you pluralize “Mongoose?”

Emily: Mongeese. I’m pretty sure.

Houston: I hope it’s “mongooses,” because that sounds stupid.

Shawn: Couldn’t the plural and the singular just be the same?

Byron: Yeah, it could. But what if it was like “Duogooses?” Like you got two of them?

Houston: (Googling) The plural form is “mongooses” or rarely “mongeese.”

Emily: So once again, as is the usual, both Joe and I were correct.

Houston: Oooh a group of “mongeese” is called a “mob.”

Byron: Anyway, I think, and we’ve kind of all talked about this, we do scenes and we do super organic stuff. I have this challenging question: “Can you do a successful improv show without doing any scenes?” Non-scenic improvising. So, can we make the parts where we’re not in a normal scene more interesting?

Houston: I think it’s interesting with our group evolving because we’ve been trying to figure out what we want to do as a group. And Byron was gone in Chicago for a little while, and then we had some group changes, so now we’ve been trying to get back on our feet and figure out what direction to go in. I think Danny has been really helpful in pointing out, “Here’s things that seem fun that you’re already doing, so here’s the direction you might want to go.”

Byron: Shawn describes our style being like a dream.

Shawn: A fever dream.

Byron: A fever dream. It’s very weird. If you try and recall your dreams, they’re strange and weird things are happening, but they’re sometimes connected. You can go from one place and then have it magically transform into another place.

Shawn: Sometimes you can remember dreams exactly and recount it to somebody, but other times you can be like, “I was talking to my mom, but she had my dad’s face...and popcorn kept falling out of her mouth.” And I think that could be a scene. I’m cool with that.

Houston: I think we definitely have a stream of consciousness type vibe, where we’re using the show to build on each other and connect the dots. And wherever it's fun, we’ll follow that.

Byron: My favorite thing about a Wiki show is that it’s out there, it’s pretty unique, and we take a lot of risks.

Joe: I think it works pretty well...except when we forget we can edit.

Houston: That did happen. We had a 30-35 minute mono-scene once...I don’t know if it was really that long, but it felt that long. It wasn’t until the end of the show that someone edited and I was like, “Oh yeah! We can edit!” ...Anyways, to answer your question, I don’t think there’s a name for our format, but we take what we have and build on it.

Emily: I think we joked around calling it [our format] “Fever Dream Machine” at one point. Or some iteration of that, I guess.

Byron: I think it’s closer related to a Courtesy Sleeve. It’s very similar in that we follow rabbit holes down to interesting, unique scenes. Our scenes are out there, but they’re cool.

Wiki Tikki Tabby

What do you dig about performing with each of your fellow Tabbies?

Houston: Joe, I love that you are always super patient in scenes, which is something I’m not good at. You always have such witty things to say. You have some one-liners, where I’m just like, “Motherf***er! Damn you, that’s really good.”

Emily: (to Joe) Quality just leaks out of your mouth. I don’t know how you do it. Well, probably because you don’t just say the first thing that pops into your head.

Joe: (Wiping the quality from his lips) Is the quality still there?

Emily: Yeah, I don’t think you’re ever going to get rid of it.

Joe: I’m sorry. I probably need a handkerchief.

Byron: You [Joe] probably have an economy of words that’s like better than a lot of other performers. Like you choose words carefully.

Danielle: You got good words, Joe.

Houston: And you know when to say them.

Joe: Rad.

Emily: Houston is like a little pinball...

Danielle: Set on fire.

Joe: Or a super ball that you bounce and it goes higher and it shoots off all the walls.

Danielle: And is set on fire.

Emily: But not the shitty kind [of super ball] you get at Chucky Cheese, but like the good kind you get at Dave & Buster’s.

Shawn: I was thinking Houston is like a wet noodle covered in cocaine.

Danielle: Set on fire.

Joe: I would say he’s al dente.

Danielle: Yeah, cooked, not wet.

Byron: I don’t have any clever analogies, but I just love Houston’s use of emotion. I think it’s better than a lot of other performers out there. You’re not afraid to make something.

Joe: You’re really good at angst.

Danielle: Taps out like a motherf***er.

Emily: You’re an edit ninja.

Byron: I like Shawn’s analogy best about you, though.

Shawn: Oh, and he can mirror anything. (Houston mirroring) He’s that! He’s you!

Houston: Danielle, you always think of these really funny, goofy things that I would never think of. Whenever you’re on stage, I’m super excited to see what you’re going to say and what you’re going to do. You’re just so good. I’m always excited to see what happens.

Emily: When I go out into a scene with Danielle, I know it’s going to be a good time. I’m not worried about anything. Sometimes you go in to play with somebody and you get anxious because you’re trying to figure out what to say to them, but with Danielle it’s very natural, and I’m just like “Thank you!” You’re very grounded energy-wise.

Houston: You have great physicality, too. And you always surprise me with your choices. There was one time in class you had a scene with Joe, and you didn’t like the drink he had, and you just straight up poured it out. Like I would never think to make that choice, and it was such a great choice.

Shawn: I don’t know what to expect.

Byron: Yeah! Surprising, most definitely. A little goofster!

Shawn: Your face during the show-and-tell bit during the graduation show, so perfect. So beautiful.

Byron: Classic goofster!

Danielle: I feel really comfortable playing with Emily, always. She’s so creative, the things Emily comes up with, and her initiations are always awesome. She’s so good at that. I like her energy. Her characters are always really good. I like her little kid characters.

Emily: (using a little anime child voice) Thank you very much.

Houston: You [Emily] are always so bold and confident. More than anyone, you are always out in the first scene. You’re out in a lot of scenes. When you make a choice, it’s bold and big. You are so confident. That’s something I admire and try to emulate. You just go out there and f***in’ do it!

Byron: Courageous. Very courageous and brave. It’s inspiring to me because I still get super scared walking out into scenes and I’m hardly in the first scene of a set ever, and Emily consistently gets out there. (To Emily) You don’t let the stage be empty, you attack it.

Joe: I think you [Emily] have grown a lot too, since Level 1. You’re really good at being in the scene and building the world. The thing you did at Block Party was really good.

Danielle: You always make 100 percent choices. Bold and confident and awesome. You stick to your shit.

Shawn: You commit.

Byron: You do stick to your shit. A little sticker! OK, now Shawn...I’m going to start this out and it’s not going to sound like a compliment. Shawn, you are NOT balanced! You are not balanced. You are like a scale and every single thing you are really good at is on one side...and it blows my mind. Why is that guy so smart? Why is that guy so bold? Why is that guy...not me?

Emily: Why does that guy look so much like Gene Wilder?

Shawn: It’s the hair.

Byron: I do think you are good at everything. Not just good, amazing.

Joe: I don’t think you [Shawn] really look like Gene Wilder, but you act like Gene Wilder. Not mimicking him, but you’ve got a similar feel to the way you act in scenes.

Emily: I feel like we give each other a hard time, but I feel like that’s because you’re like my improv brother, my big brother. I try to emulate the way you think on stage because it’s so good. I wish I could crawl in your brain and live there. It’d be such a weird, wacky place.

Shawn: It’s a dirty place.

Joe: You did a really good bit about truck nuts last night.

Emily: Truck nuts?

Shawn: I was fondling nuts all over the place.

Houston: You’re so whimsical, Shawn. And playful. Even when you’re playing a character that’s pissed off, there’s still a sense of fun to it, which I think is so important in improv. You’re always having a good time, and you bring that energy to whatever you’re doing on stage. Interesting, quirky, unique, and it’s not something you can learn, it’s something you have.

Byron: You’re just a little curly whirly.

Emily: If Houston is a super ball, then Byron is like a nuclear power jet. He’s got so much energy, but like in a great productive way.

Shawn: Like the Kool-Aid® Man.

Byron: Thanks! That’s who I aspire to be.

Joe: Smashing through stuff. Also, you [Byron] went to Chicago.

Houston: Yeah, he went to Chicago

Shawn: He went to Chicago.

Byron: Yeah, I went to Chicago. Make sure you put that in the article. I went to Chicago and studied at the Improv Olympics...you know, the iO.

Emily: Yeah, he was there for a week, and then they got sick of him and sent him back.

Houston: You [Byron] have a lot of knowledge about improv, like way more than I do. Like way more than a lot of people I know do. You’ve opened my eyes to a lot of ways shows can be built. And you play with a really good intensity. You make really big, strange moves, but they always completely work within the structure of what we set up.

Joe: The first time we ever played together, I knew I wanted to be in a troupe with this guy. You [Byron] initiated with “Timmy have a seat”...and I was thinking in my head “Have a seat, Tim” I had the exact same idea in my head as you.

Danielle: I love how passionate about improv Byron is. Byron subbed in my Level 1 class, and he was the guy with the notebook out.

Emily: I don’t think there’s anyone as committed to improv as you [Byron]. You bring a passion that’s remarkable. When you perform, you can tell you love being there.

Let’s end this Troupe Talk with some fond words of farewell and a moment of remembrance, for the one and only, Jake Malnaughty, Wiki Tikki’s first sacrifice to the improv gods.

Joe: Poor uh...Johnny...uh what was his name?

Danielle: Jake.

Shawn: You’ve already forgotten?

Byron: Jake Malnaughty.

Houston: You know Jake Malnaughty. His name.

Joe: Yeah, that sounds right. That guy, oh how I miss him.

Emily: I think it’s good to distance yourself, you know, and dehumanize it. He served his purpose well, and that’s the kind of thing I can say about him. The reason we picked him to be our sacrifice was that he was a bit of a dick.

Shawn: He was an asshole.

Danielle: He did improv in New York.

Shawn: We weren’t havin’ none of that!

Houston: Also he fit in the bull really nicely. It was a small bull.

Joe: He was a petite man.

Emily: Except for the pot belly.

Houston: He was petite with a belly.

Emily: Well, you know, I don’t remember him well. But if I could go back and sacrifice somebody again...I’d do it.

Lauren Levine is a DCH graduate. 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.

(First three images: Tom Halbouty; last image: Darcy Armstrong)

Plaid to Meet You: Bonnie Criss

Plaid To Meet You is a new way to introduce the community to our performers. I will be choosing performers whose plaid patterns catch my eye. This week, my attention was caught by a wonderful brown-and-white plaid shirt worn by our very own Bonnie Criss. I sat down with her and got the info on that shirt and her feelings about improv. Bonnie CrissWow, great shirt Bonnie. Who are you wearing this evening? Thank you. Wow, so formal with your questions. It’s Runway Seven from JCPenney.

What made you choose that shirt this evening? It was a little chilly. I love plaid, and it’s soft.

So which troupes can we watch you perform with? Oh, are we done with questions about my shirt? I’m in Pretty People With Problems, Impractical Magic, and Pinot Memoir.

When can we watch you perform? Impractical Magic: 10/6 at 9 p.m. Pretty People with Problems: 10/8 at 8 p.m. Pinot Memoir: 10/19 at 9 p.m.

What attracted you to improv, and what keeps you performing? I love comedy. I want to have a career in it. All of my role models started by doing improv. Tyler (Johnston) got me started here. And you can perform in plaid.

Finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to all performers? Don’t hold back. It’s advice for myself, too. Sometimes if I don’t step out enough in a show, I feel bummed afterwards. So always trust your gut.

Collin Brown is a graduate of the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) Improv program. You can catch him around DCH any given night.

DCH Reimagined: Disney Edition

Hello, DCH blogosphere homies! It has been a really long time, and I’ve missed you all terribly. Some of you probably thought I fell off the face of the Earth, since I haven’t posted anything on here in what feels like an eternity. But I have good news, in the words of Mushu from Mulan: I LIIIIIVE!!! I am indeed alive, kickin’, and still a part of Earth, at least to the best of my knowledge. Anyway, speaking of Mushu and Mulan and Disney animation, I decided to commence my return to the DCH blog squad with another exciting edition of DCH Reimagined. Huzzah! This week, I’ll determine what Disney film some of our favorite DCH troupes embody. You’re welcome.

Mirror, Mirror I must insist, let’s find out which troupes made this list...

Impractical Magic = Hocus Pocus

hocuspocusFeisty and full of snark, the ladies that comprise Impractical Magic are representative of the beloved 1993 Halloween classic, which showcased starring performances from Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker. Like the film Hocus Pocus (and all great Disney flicks tbh), Impractical Magic shows often teach audiences valuable life lessons, such as the fact that boys can be easily distracted by a pair of “yabos,” virgins should never light mysterious candles with black flames, and one is never too cool for Halloween. Full of sass and badassery, the high energy the ladies of Impractical Magic bring to each performance rivals that of the Sanderson Sisters themselves and has a way of “putting a spell on you!” To top it off, with “magic” right in the troupe name, it’s only fitting that these gals are represented by a movie about witches. *Side note: this troupe may or may not actually try to steal your child’s soul, so leave your kids at home when seeing their show.

Franzia = Oliver & Company

oliverFranzia is a troupe that leaves us ordinary folk wishing that some of their innate coolness would please rub off onto us. They’re a bunch of comedy BAMFs, who don’t care about formats or rules; they’re just down to create memorable scenes with bold characters, causing audiences to laugh til they pee. If there’s a Disney film with an almost equal no-f---s-given attitude, it’s without a doubt Oliver & Company. It may be tad underrated, but it’s a classic none the less, and furthermore its coolness is undeniable. Three words: Billy Motherf---in’ Joel! Disney couldn’t get any smoother with a cast that starred the Piano Man himself, as well as friggin’ Dom DeLuise, Cheech Marin, and Bette Midler, #blessup. Also, you haven’t experienced cool until you’ve found yourself wearing a sausage scarf and badass Ray Bans, parading down 5th Ave with your own dog posse...I assume the members of Franzia have probably had parallel experiences.

The Monthly Junk = Fox & the Hound

foxandthehoundOK, I know what you’re thinking here: “Why would you choose like the saddest, most tragic Disney film ever to represent the two most cheerful, positive ladies at DCH?” I’m not suggesting that a Monthly Junk show will make you openly weep and ponder the nature of social conditioning and human behavior (although, I’m not NOT suggesting that either). At the core of this Disney film is a story about friendship, and at the core of Monthly Junk is a friendship that gives these gals their special onstage chemistry. It’s a friendship that transcends the stage and infuses everything these two do together. I mean, “Best of Friends” is the song that everyone thinks of when they hear Fox and the Hound, it also happens to be the song that comes to mind when I think of The Monthly Junk, though a version of the song that’s far less sad and much more upbeat...maybe an EDM remix with a sick drop (Does that exist? I need to know. The world needs to know!). Two ladies, who are the best of friends, making us laugh and cry (tears of joy of course) and laugh some more.

Glistlefoot = Peter Pan

peterpanA bunch of lost boys (and of course the incredible, fierce lost girl Darcy Armstrong), who can’t be tamed and like to get weird and wild on stage, like a rambunctious gang of unsupervised kiddos in a magical faraway land where grown-ups don’t exist and pirates and mermaids and fairies roam free, yeah, that pretty much sums up a Glistlefoot show. Thus, Glistlefoot is Peter Pan. This former Ewing troupe always seems to put on a hilarious, surreal set, often venturing into whimsical and absurd territory. I’ve heard that the recipe for magical flight, as well as a strong improv game, includes faith, trust, and a little Glistlefoot dust...not sure of the exact ratios/measurements on that, though; will have to confirm and get back to you.

Boink Bros = A Goofy Movie

goofymovieThere were many reasons why I chose 1995’s A Goofy Movie as representative of Boink Bros, but mainly because of that one scene where Pauley Shore’s character eats straight up cheese whiz right out of the can. He piles the cheese on his hand, proclaiming it the Leaning Tower of Cheeza (does anyone else remember that?!)...for some reason, I just associate that with the shenanigans and boinkenings of Boink Bros. A Goofy Movie (which, arguably, along with Encino Man may have been the height of P. Shore’s career) featured the voice of Pauley Shore. And any movie that features simply the voice of Pauley Shore, rather than the whole live human Pauley Shore, is dope in my book. Boink Bros are also dope.  Two dope dudes, doin’ dope improv. That’s a lot of dopeness.

Empty Inside = Muppet Treasure Island

muppettiBecause puppets. Of the Disney movies involving puppetry, Muppet Treasure Island is by far the best. Why? Because Tim Curry, pirates, hilarious jokes, and all the yo-ho-ho and a bottle of fun. It’s a Muppet masterpiece. A humor extravaganza. I highly recommend it. Of the DCH troupes that involve puppetry, Empty Inside is by far the best. I highly recommend these humans and their puppet babies as well.

 

Clover = The Aristocats

aristocatsBecause “everybody wants to be a cat.”

Nuff said!

(Click here to see why Clover are like a bunch of kitties)

Feel free to post your suggestions for other editions of DCH Reimagined in the comments below. Until next time, peace out girl scouts!

Lauren Levine is a DCH graduate. 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.

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)

DCH Reimagined: TV Shows From The 90s

Heyyo comedy party people! It’s about that time again. Yep, it’s time to reimagine Dallas Comedy House (DCH) troupes as something completely different. We’ve previously re-imagined troupes as iconic professional wrestlers and super pawesome dog breeds, so you’re probably wondering what’s in store this time.   In this edition, we’ll get a little nostalgic and head back to the pre- Netflix/Hulu/DVR days of the 1990s, when TV was teaming with an excess of Day-Glo and flannel and subversive cartoons. It’s the decade that introduced us to the Fresh Prince, Zack Morris, and Stefan Urquelle (a.k.a. Urkel’s smooth talkin’ alter ego that dresses a little douchier and isn’t  quite as obsessed with cheese). So slip on a pair of bike shorts and Air Max runners as we jog down memory lane to combine the best of DCH improv and 90s TV.

Hold on to your butts, we’re doin’ this thing!

areyouafraidofthedarkThe Midnight Society = Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Spinning hilarious campfire urban legends from a single audience suggestion, The Midnight Society is totally Are You Afraid of the Dark?...or at the very least I'm pretty sure that's where their troupe name is derived from. Exploring a gang of badass bandana-clad teens (you know a bandana means butt-kicking-ain’t-afraid-of-nothing business) swapping scary stories, Are You Afraid of the Dark? fueled the nightmares of countless 1990s kids. The Midnight Society’s brand of improv is equally thrilling and spine-chilling. Full of kooky characters and crazy plot twists, probably a demon summoning or a séance or two, and plenty of comedic shenanigans along the way, The Midnight Society brings both the fun and the spooky to the DCH stage. It’s improv that would make Gary (Are You Afraid of the Dark?’s fearless storytelling leader) and baby Ryan Gosling (who once made an appearance on the show's “The Tale of Station 109.1”) both super proud and pee their pants due both to lots of lolz and lots of scares.

mysocalledlifePretty People With Problems = My So-Called Life

If there's a '90s show that spoke most to your brooding and awkward teenage soul, it was probably My So-Called Life, which featured some of the most memorable, relatable, and Jared Leto-filled teen angst TV moments. And, if there’s a DCH troupe that also lets you relive those same melodramatic high school feels, it’d undoubtedly be Pretty People with Problems. Pretty People take all the angst and the teen stereotypes and add in a dash of their improv magic to create wonderfully vibrant and hilarious teen dramas. Pretty People will make you laugh your butt off and then want to go home and write some pissed off poetry about how nobody gets you, because "sometimes it feels like we're all living in some kind of prison" and "the whole conversation thing is like totally overrated." You do you Pretty People.

quantumleapEncyclopedia Moronica = Quantum Leap

Encyclopedia Moronica is obviously DCH's Quantum Leap. If you weren't a huge sci-fi nerd during the early '90s, allow me to briefly explain the show's premise. Scott Bakula, a.k.a. Dr. Sam Beckett, is trapped in a time-travel conundrum, travelling across history by leaping into the bodies of historical figures and people of the past, creating zany and altered realities. Quantum Leap explored everything from JFK's assassination to the Watergate scandal to Michael Jackson learning some sick dance moves, brah (that's right, there is a show in which Scott Bakula teaches a young MJ how to moonwalk). Like Quantum Leap, Encyclopedia Moronica isn't afraid to mix the educational and historical factoids with gamey bits and playful scenes. A little drama, a little history, and whole lot of comedy, Encyclopedia Moronica is learning done fun!

peteandpeteRelease the Hounds = The Adventures of Pete and Pete

The Adventures of Pete and Pete was one of the dopest kid shows of the 1990s, following the adventures of Big Pete and Little Pete. Likewise, Release the Hounds is one of the dopest two-man troupes at DCH. If you want a dope improv show with a bunch of wacky characters, endearingly strange worlds, and a whole lot of heart to it, then Release the Hounds is a troupe you need to check out stat! Like The Adventures of Pete and Pete, the gentlemen of Release the Hounds celebrate goofy worldviews, supportive play, and brotherly love. Intelligent and surreal, Pete and Pete were the real MVPs of early Nickelodeon programming. Release the Hounds keeps on bringing the spirit of the two Petes to DCH, and for that the fictional people of Wellsville and all of us real life two-man comedy lovers thank them. As Little Pete would say, don't be a jerkweed and go watch Release the Hounds.

liquidtvBig Stupid Fun = Liquid Television

Liquid Television may have been one of the greatest things to come out of MTV during the 1990s or possibly ever (I suppose that's up for debate). The cult series showcased original animated cartoons, the intermittent music video, and lots and lots of other miscellaneous, stupid weird stuff. Heck, the animated music video for They Might Be Giant's "Istanbul" premiered on Liquid Television, and that's like the most weirdly fun song about Istanbul ever! Right?! Big Stupid Fun, a group of former Ewingites who love a good call back and lots of side support, is equal parts stupid cartoon-like fun and witty sensibility. When this crew comes to play, they play hard, with lots of sass and bold characters. And, just as Beavis and Butt-Head, two of America's most nacho and bunghole loving individuals, first appeared on Liquid Television, the two have also been known to make an appearance in a Big Stupid Fun performance. Ain't no show like a Big Stupid Fun show, cause with a Big Stupid Fun show there may or not be references to Cornholio.

Feel free to post your suggestions for other DCH troupe reimagining or just say hi to me in the comments below! Peace out, girl scouts!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 5 improv and Sketch 2 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.