Posts Tagged ‘Sexy Baby’
This month’s Director Series, “The Setup,” comes to us from the brilliant mind of Eleanor Lewis. Eleanor is most often seen on stage with Megawatt team Sexy Baby, but for the month of September, she’s sitting in the director’s chair, working with a special cast on a show of her own creation. We’ve interviewed her to find out more about the show and where her compass is pointing!
Tell us about the concept of The Setup. How did you come up with this idea?
First of all, thanks for having me. This studio is very comfortable and expensive-looking!
The Setup is an improvised one-act play where the audience designs the set – so, basically a monoscene with a theatrical style. A few months ago I was thinking a lot about my favorite improv shows and realized that the ones that stuck with me were always the ones that were either so funny they were unforgettable, or ones where the actors took their scenes seriously and took the time to explore the subtleties of their characters and relationships. The ones I still think about all the time have both – it’s something that a lot of really good duos have because they’re so patient and trusting with each other. They can be so silly and dumb, and then in the next breath extremely human and touching.I started thinking of ways to set up a show that encouraged this kind of improv, and the idea of giving the actors a designed set, just like in a real play, was the one that was the most interesting to me. I thought it would give the performers the sense that they could take their time and explore their world without giving them an explicit directive to form a narrative, or forcing them into being artificially dramatic.
Then I just had to pick a cast of strong actors who are also – and I hope they’re cool with me saying this – incredible weirdos. People who can do complete nonsense with gravity and a straight face, and love doing it.
How does the audience get to design the set for the show?
How is improvising with a set different than working without one?
Your show is an improvised one act play. What plays inspire you as an improv director?
I’m actually extremely ignorant and poorly-read when it comes to scripted theater, so my references are kind of limited. I think 12 Angry Men is a great play for clear and believable character behavior because each juror has such a clear perspective. I think it’s also a strong lesson for improvisers because the show wouldn’t work unless the jurors let themselves be convinced one by one. Even juror #3, who is never actually convinced, eventually goes along with a not-guilty verdict because he gets so worn down and upset. From an improv perspective, he follows the logic of his character all the way to the end but ultimately accepts the offer given to him even though it hurts and feels like a loss.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (the musical!!!!!) is great because the characters are all super smart and capable, but get into extremely stupid and absurd situations anyway. The show is so good because nobody seems to know that what they’re doing is funny or that they’re in a comedy at all, so you have things like a guy singing “love is my legs/ and you are my love/ so you are my legs/ my love” from the bottom of his heart while a woman holds back tears.
If you could do improv on the set of any play you’ve ever seen, what would it be and why?
I’d love to improvise on the set of Hamilton because that means I get to be all smug right now and say I saw Hamilton. You guys, it’s good! Also the set of Clybourne Park because there are so many sub-spaces to explore within it (the garden, all the upstairs rooms, the main foyer, etc) and because the set itself had so much personality.
The Setup is playing every Thursday night in September at 10 pm, as a part of Thursday Night Out. Don’t miss it!
Comedian and rapper, KATY BERRY, talks with host Louis Kornfeld about performing with a chip on her shoulder, why Sexy Baby is so damn hot, and her hip-hop improv team, North Coast. They also discuss how their personal lives show up on stage, how Katy found herself doing comedy in NYC, and the importance of being a motherfucking role model. For anyone who hesitates to be themselves and tell the haters to go screw, this episode was made just for you, with love, from KBizzle herself. Do. Your. Thang.
When we asked Katy what she might want to discuss on the show, she said, “Saying ‘fuck the haters’ and slaying all day, every day” which proved to be a wonderful jumping-off point for the episode. We find out what exactly that means to Katy as she and Louis talk about putting the personal and private lives on stage for all to see. Katy feels as though she has something to prove as a performer and that it comes from her childhood, both parts of which we get into. A shock to no one who has seen both of them perform, Louis theorizes that he and Katy may deal with private matters in opposite ways! For Katy, it all ties into her resolve to never back down from being herself.
Katy considers herself very lucky to have been on three incredibly supportive, incredible teams who have all celebrated her approach to improv and allowed her voice to be heard, loudly. She shouts out Cool Blanche before getting into her current teams, Sexy Baby and North Coast. Louis asks Katy about Sexy Baby’s modus operandi and she boldly claims that fart jokes are the birth mother of all comedy. Katy tells us what Sexy Baby tends to focus on in practice and she provides us with a little bit of her own NYC-comedy origin story.
Of course, we can’t hear from Katy Berry and not discuss North Coast, her hip-hop improv team that is about to celebrate their eighth anniversary (this coming Friday)! Katy got onto the team after going to an open audition and tells us why it was not only a match made in Heaven, but maybe even fate. She talks about what goes through her head when doing scenes with North Coast and how the confidence gained doing hip-hop improv slips into her daily life. Katy and Louis both think that people who have never struggled have very little to offer us on stage and Louis has an epiphany on the mic! As a performer, Katy urges everyone to play fearlessly, to lead, and to be a role model when on stage. By simply being yourself, you allow others to be themselves too. Finally, Louis brings to light a very interesting point that we should all be keyed into and we end this episode with some excellent plugs. Want more on Katy? www.katyberrycomedy.com
Warm-blooded baby of sex, WILL JACOBS, drops by to talk about his foray into playwrighting, being malleable on stage, and how to provide balance on a team. A comedy quadruple-threat, Will can be seen performing on Magnet shows like Musical Megawatt, Megawatt, and The Friday Night Sh*ow; in schools all over the city with the Story Pirates; on the internet with Cake I.D.; and oh yeah, he’s also a playwright. There’s a lot packed into this one, so let’s just dive in!
Will begins the episode talking with Louis about Telegraph, a play he wrote while attending the Washington University in St. Louis. He discusses the undertaking of staging something so daunting as a first-time playwright. Louis and Will talk about college and Will describes what it’s been like to find permission to indulge in his interests. Find out where Wills ideas come from and if their origin is different when improvising versus writing! He and Louis discuss the hurdle of playing with people who really impress you and the challenge of being malleable not only while acting but in life.
Will relays some great advice for how to behave when youre being judgemental of a scene! They discuss wherewithal as it relates to improv and wonder if it is the opposite of being in your head? Louis points out one of Wills greatest abilities and diving into the technique, Will offers tips on how to point out an unusual thing in a way that matters and can sustain scenes. They both agree on an improv rule: Dont be Ironic Comment Guy! Finally, these two gentlemen talk about providing balance to a team and why Spock was so great on Star Trek. Finally, we hear about how Will went from, “I could never do that” when watching improv to performing it almost every night of the week!
Friendship Club founder and genius-level baby, ELEANOR LEWIS, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the best improv exercises, how modern comedies fall short, and why mixers are so wonderful. There’s oodles of improv talk in this one and, by golly, that’s probably why you’re here. Plus, they do some two-person monologue hotspot and Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of [Redacted] Water.
This episode begins with a rarely heard cold open as Eleanor and Louis discuss hot spot, one of the very first warm-ups most improvisors encounter. They debate whether or not it’s a good exercise for a class, or even for a team, to use. They talk about ego in improv, both its destructive and creative tendencies, and Louis offers the theory that the ego of the character and the comedy of the scene are intertwined. He then asks which improv exercises Eleanor really loves. They get into talking movies, where modern comedies fail us, and the greatest comedic strengths of film versus improv. Plus, they ask the question on everyone’s mind: Is Branson Reese the ideal improvisor?
They also partake in a rousing rendition of Getting To Know Each Other in which many great topics pop up. Louis shares his ULTIMATE BELIEF and Eleanor discloses her FAVORITE IMPROV THING! I mean, these are huge. The episode wraps up as Eleanor and Louis discuss shock-value comedy and hosting the Thursday Magnet Mixers, which you should all attend! Finally, Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of Nestle Pure Water even though Nestle is a horrible company and we don’t endorse them. Superman sucks too!
The sexiest baby on earth, DERRENCE WASHINGTON, swings by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about spirituality, working with our egos, and making cultural adjustments while improvising. Derrence tells us about his upbringing in Houston, TX and when it was that he truly began to remove judgement from himself. He also talks a bit about acting and how improv can improve for those underrepresented in the art form. Catch Derrence each week with his Megawatt team Sexy Baby and on the Friday Night Sh*w!
Derrence and Louis begin the program talking about spirituality and what it means to be a spiritual person. Derrence says that forgiveness, love, and loving yourself are key. Louis asks Derrence about his Instagram account and the videos he posts to it which highlight both his inspirational thoughts and his superego. We hear a bit about his religious upbringing in Houston, TX and what began his turnaround as someone who felt spiritual and meditative. Derrence speaks more about removing judgement from yourself and how we have to navigate our own egos. He suggests looking for symbols outside of the ego that we can go to for help. Taking it in another direction, Louis wants to talk about acting! How do ego and a persons sense of self play into acting? Louis also sets about describing a couple of improv epiphanies. Toward the end of their conversation, Derrence talks about making cultural adjustments when improvising and the experience of being black and going through improv classes. Louis asks him how improv can improve for those that are underrepresented and how can we make more people feel more comfortable? All the great talk leaves no time for a two person hotspot this episode, but you know we got that Serious Scene Opposite A Jar of Pickles.