You know what they say: the bigger the turtle, the bigger the fun. And, Dallas Comedy House (DCH) is home to a pretty big turtle, a “burtle” in fact, all its own. While turtles are easily the chillest of all the reptiles, this big one at DCH happens to also be a collection of some of the chilliest and illest broads (Yes, Danny, we will print "broads.") and two “turtley shellarious” dudes who definitely do not suck when it comes to delivering the funny. Big Turtle (Marilou Canon, Chelsea Gomez, Patrick Hennessey, Danny Neely, Andrea Urbina, Hayley Waring) was forged in the bowels of the comedy ooze-covered Deep Ellum sewers, where they learned the art of improv ninjutsu. Once ready, they crawled their way out to bring their hardcore burtle power to the stages of DCH. And, we’re all so glad they did.
Also, let it be known that in no way, whatsoever did Chelsea’s legion of demon minions force me to write the above paragraph or the following Q&A (checks in with demon minion hovering over my shoulder and receives a nod of approval to continue).
Hello, Big Turtle homies! Let’s start this Q&A off with your troupe’s riveting origin story:
Big Turtle: Hayley, Chelsea, Andrea and Patrick were all born in a sewer and once crawled through some toxic sludge. A really nice, kung-fu sewer rat named Ben Splinter found them and raised them as his own. When they grew into full, big turtles they saved Marilou, a scrappy young reporter in a yellow jumpsuit, from being buried alive under the beach. They then found Danny, a feisty street urchin with a hockey mask and passion for justice. It was then that they formed BIG TURTLE.
Are there any big things coming up that Big Turtle is excited about, either in life or in improv, or both?
Marilou: I’m excited to drop my kids off at the pool, and by kids I mean “eggs,” and by pool I mean “buried three feet underneath a beach.” (finger guns into the air)
Patrick: We’re looking into submitting to out-of-town venues to bring turtle joy to all the girls and boy(s).
Hayley: Our littlest turtle (Andrea) is graduating college in Maaaaay.
Andrea: Yes! I'm graduating, hire me! This big turtle needs a big turtle job.
Danny: My summer shell is coming in nicely.
Chelsea: My life is really pathetic. (cracks up laughing)
For those who might not be familiar with Big Turtle, what might one expect to see at a BT show? How would you describe your performance style?
Marilou: Just like a big turtle, our performance style is high energy.
Chelsea: Expect Marilou to squat her eggs and bury them underneath a beach.
Patrick: Expect Hayley to check in with you throughout the show and make sure you're having a good time.
Hayley: Expect Patrick to physically hurt himself…or others.
Chelsea: Expect Danny to be an old man.
Danny: Expect Andrea to fall madly in love… with the stage.
Andrea: Expect Chelsea to sacrifice her body.
Patrick: Like as part of a ritual…to summon her army of demon minions.
Improv and cute, oversized critters make for a good combination. Besides turtles, what other oversized animals would each of your troupe mates be most like and why?
Chelsea: Mini horses. Look at my face right now…mini horses.
Hayley: That doesn't sound oversized?
Marilou: A mini horse is still a f***ing horse.
Patrick: Y’all aren't answering the question.
Chelsea: OK, a big mini horse.
Marilou: I am a big fertilized turtle egg buried underneath the beach.
Hayley: Patrick is a big cockatiel.
Chelsea: Hayley is a big Great Dane puppy who can’t figure out what to do with her legs and is always searching for validation from her human.
Patrick: Danny is big raccoon playing the bongo drums.
Hayley: Andrea is big carnival goldfish.
Marilou: Because she’s worth a buck fifty and if you shake her too hard, she will die. Chelsea is a giant version of the stuffed unicorn from Despicable Me.
Hayley: So true. If you’ve seen her hair, you will understand. It’s so dang fluffy.
Andrea: OMG, Hayley is one of those big rabbits; have you guys seen those?
Danny: Ah dude, Bongo Racoon sounds dope.
What do you enjoy most about getting to play with this particular group of people?
Marilou: Performing with you (Big Turtle) makes me confident that my babies will make it to the ocean.
Hayley: I think it’s great that we all genuinely like and support each other. Also, they’re all crazy smart, and that’s so fun to play with. I hope I’m not being presumptuous in assuming that we all like each other.
Chelsea: I’m so lucky to play with them because they make me look good when I’m really a solid 5/10. That’s what my Yelp reviews say.
Patrick: (In an old-timey gangster voice) I like the chance to play with some real live-wire broads. They keep me on my toes. All my other troupes are sausage fests.
Andrea: Everyone is always down to get pretty weird—like choke each other out at brunch.
Danny: Also the broads. (Do you think they’ll print "broads?")
Turtlenecks, Turtle Doves, Turtle from Entourage: Pick one. Which do you choose and why?
Chelsea: None of the above; f*** birds, I’m claustrophobic so I can’t wear turtlenecks and f*** Entourage. I pick turtle man, look it up.
Danny: Turtle from Entourage. What an interesting show.
Hayley: I just googled what a turtle dove is. I don’t think I should have admitted that. I’m far enough in life that I should know.
Patrick: One of my favorite things about this troupe is that they let me wear my chain and my turtle neck sweater.
Marilou: My three turtle children, who survived the crawl across the beach with all the dingos and birds trying to eat them.
Andrea: I have a turtle car air freshener so I always have my burts with me when I'm traveling from land to sea (Denton to Dallas).
“Heroes in a Half Shell,” “Cowabunga,” and “Turtle Power” are just a few of the iconic Ninja Turtle catchphrases. So like that great turtle team before you, it’s time for BT to choose its own nifty catchphrase.
Marilou: Our improv does well on land or sea! (Or buried underneath the beach).
Patrick: We’re turtley shellarious!
Chelsea: We don’t suck.
Danny: Now that's-a-big-a Turtle!
Andrea: And who am I? That's a secret I'll never tell, xoxo Tig Burtle.
Hayley: Purtle, Murtle, Durtle, Churtle, Hurtle, and Andrea rock!
Andrea: I haven't earned a Burtle nickname yet?
Patrick: Vowels are hard! Fix that and you’ll earn one.
Lauren Levine is currently a Level 4 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.
(First image: Allie Trimboli. Second image: Kate Alleman)