La Frontera Finál: Latinx in Space

The cast of La Frontera  Finál

Latinauts: La Frontera Finál is ColdTowne’s newest MainStage show. Set aboard the L.S.S. Edward James Olmos, the crew explores new worlds, seeks out new resources for their home planet Earth, and passionately goes where no Latinx has gone before. Carlos LaRotta and Lilli Lopez (co-producers) and Ben Bazan (co-director, alongside Mical Trejo) got together to discuss the show amongst themselves, their background and the genesis of the show in this chat. 

Where are we all from? And where is your family originally from?

Carlos LaRotta, Co-Producer. Photo by Steve Rogers

Carlos LaRotta, Co-Producer

CARLOS: I’m from Houston, Texas. I’m a first gen dude. My family is originally from Colombia, South America.

LILLI: I’m from Edinburg, Texas. A lot of my family is from Mexico, specifically Monterrey. My mom’s parents were first generation Texans.

BEN: I’m a sixth generation Texan from Garciasville, Texas. My grandparents and great-grandparents were from Mexico.

What do telenovelas mean to you?

C: Telenovelas make me think of my abuelita in Colombia. She, and later with her nurses, would always watch telenovelas in her little house in Bogota. They were Mexican telenovelas. If you know your geography, Mexico and Colombia are pretty far apart. But still, Colombians consume and enjoy a lot of Mexican culture – from food and music to television. However Colombians will always claim to speak better, more eloquent Spanish. Colombians, whaddya gonna do?

Kate del Castillo from la Reina del Sur.

Kate del Castillo from la Reina del Sur.

L: Telenovelas make me think of when I was really small and our babysitters would have novelas on. I remember watching the telenovela Luz Clarita, and thinking the little girl was so cute and wanting to know what she was saying. A few years ago I got really into watching La Reina del Sur with my mom on Netflix, and again, I remember thinking “I wish I could watch this without subtitles.” Soy pocha.

B: Telenovelas remind me of the times when I got stuck having to watch them with my mom, sister, and aunt. Mari Mar was one of their favorites. It also reminds me how passionate and dramatic we can be.

Ben Bazan, Co-Director

Ben Bazan, Co-Director

What are your thoughts on the two genres becoming one for your show?

C: I know from when we first started talking about this idea of mashing a sci-fi show with a telenovela, some of the cast didn’t feel too strong about their sci-fi knowledge, which worked for me because I didn’t know much about telenovelas. If I’m honest, I’m not a huge sci-fi buff either. I don’t know what I’m doing here!

Edward James Olmos, from Battlestar Galactica.

Edward James Olmos, from Battlestar Galactica.

L: I was a little worried leading up to our run that not knowing much about sci-fi was gonna be difficult for me, and some of the others on the team who weren’t into sci-fi specifically, perhaps creating some roadblocks. But that hasn’t been the case, because we work great as a team to create the space around us and understand it for the show. And we made it a goal for the show to focus on relationships and that very much informs how the show is laid out. And it reminds me of just being around a bunch of people who understand me. I feel very confident that everyone is gonna support me, and that scenes we do together are informed from the common cultural background that we all share.

Why is it so weird to see a crew of Latinos in space? What does that say about the people of Latin American and the way they’re treated in history or technological fields, or how they have been portrayed in film and tv?

CARLOS: When Dave Buckman asked us to think of a concept that doesn’t put latino/as in a stereotypical setting, the first thing I thought of was “Latinos in Space!” – which, you know, made me laugh a lil bit. Adding “in space!” to anything is already kinda fun in a cheesy way. But for some reason it was weirder because astronauts and other space-faring sorts are typically caucasian folks in real life (big ups to the Chinese Space Program) and in fiction. And while it’s humorous to me, the fact that it’s a stretch kinda bothered me. Will I or my children ever see a mostly POC space crew in real life? Probably not, right? And that’s when the idea started getting really exciting: Fuck it, we’ll see it on the ColdTowne Stage.

How did we start planning and how did the cast get chosen?

Lilli Lopez, Co-Producer

Lilli Lopez, Co-Producer

Lilli: Okay so that takes us a little back in history. There was an all female Latina troupe called Prima Donas and at some point they asked the latinos in the scene to join together and we had our first show at Say It Loud! Produced by Ryan D.

We were invited to play where all the performers of the night were POC. I submitted us for the upcoming ColdTowne schedule, then Dave asked me if we were interested in a run. NO DOI!

That’s when Carlos messaged me with the “Latinos in Space” idea and I loved it! I really wanted it to be like a telenovela as a nod to our roots. Also, I really wanted the opportunity to get *~dramatic~*.

The cast was chosen from the original Prima Donas lineup and then we added another couple of ladies and now we are here living our best lives.

What do you hope the show will accomplish?

C: Me personally, I hope that more young latino funny people will see the show and see us up there and think, “Yeah, there’s room for me too.”

L: I agree with that, I grew up watching and listening to white actors and artists. I never 100% related to any of my available “role models.” I think that makes confidence and self-love hard. I want to see more America Ferreras and Gina Rodriguez’s on TV. If someone sees themselves in a character at a local improv show, that could be the beginning.

B: I hope it inspires and encourages other Latinx artists to continue to push the boundaries and tell stories that usually don’t get told on stage.

The cast of La Frontera  Finál

The cast of La Frontera Finál

CAST!

C: I sincerely believe this cast is full of the funniest improv/sketch folks performing in Austin who at the same time are Latinx –  and that was important to me from the get-go. Sure, we all had to be brown, but we also all had to be funny and talented improvisers. Growing up, I always saw Latinxs being portrayed so cartoonishly – slurring, farty, horny, sleepy characters – or they were violent drug dealers. Or one dimensional Latin lovers. That’s about it. But dammit, we’re capable of everything under the sun – from being hilarious comedic actors to working for NASA to just being regular old people with hopes and dreams and Old Navy giftcards we don’t care about.

And I want you to see all of that. But I gotta admit, I’m most concerned with you seeing how funny we are. (It’s a lot.)

Experience new frontiers in comedy with Latinauts: la Frontera Final every Saturday at 8:30pm through May 6th. Advanced tickets highly recommended due to show popularity.

 

Airport Blvd. Showdown(e): #teamtysons vs. #teamgrand

Tyson's sign by Gia Marie Houck
As comedians, we can get embroiled in dumb bits and running jokes that are only entertaining to those on the inside. In this case, nothing could be more important to the well-being of humanity and necessitate public debate than the ColdTowne rivalry between those who are #teamtysons (tacos) or #teamgrand for pre and post-show hangouts. In this blog post, we get takes from those on one side or the other of the Airport Blvd debate, as well as those who champion a new hero [insert echo effects: (hero) (hero) (hero)].
Please note: The views expressed are each respondent’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of ColdTowne Theater, because we’re partial to both.
Caitlin McNally, #teamtysons

Caitlin McNally, #teamtysons

Caitlin McNally
A #TeamTysons haiku:

I like to drink beer
Tacos are important too
Tyson’s has both though

Emma Holder
Tyson’s is great. They make good tacos, they have beer they are friendly. I like going to both places, but if I had to choose one, it would always and forever be The Grand. The Grand is more than just a dive bar/pool hall, it is a home. I joke that it is my Cheers but it’s true. Every bartender there knows my drink order and my name. I have been going there after shows and rehearsals since I started improvising at ColdTowne in 2008. The smoking ban had been in effect or was just going into effect but the servers at the Grand didn’t give AF and would bring you a little plastic cup of water for an impromptu ashtray if you lit up inside. That was 9 years ago and they (thankfully) don’t do that anymore. The Grand is now clean and renovated and has a great patio for smoking (not that anyone should smoke but I am not your mom), but that history is still there for me and the drinks are still as cheap as they were when everyone was smoking inside. I love that I have never played pool there but don’t feel out of place in a bar that is 70% pool hall. In fact, the pool hall gives you space you rarely find in a bar. The Grand is expansive, it is its own little universe, a microcosm of chill. You can always find a quiet spot to talk with friends, you can hide from people you don’t want to see but easily see anyone you do want to run into.I love that the Grand is at least partially female owned and operated. Rachel is one of the owners and she is awesome. TBH I don’t know exactly who else owns it because everyone who works there is so chill they could all be owners and I wouldn’t have any idea.

Emma Holder headshot

Emma Holder, #teamgrand

I only know Rachel is an owner because it came up in conversation when I was complimenting all the really awesome changes she has made. I like supporting a female owned business, but it’s more than just that. The servers and bartenders all hang out there when they aren’t working. This speaks to how great a place it is. The staff seems to like each other and like their place of work. That makes me happy. The Grand makes me happy. Whenever I do a cleanse and am not drinking, I still go to The Grand. Alcohol is great but honestly I just love this weird giant bar with an even bigger heart. They also have tacos and other food now and it is pretty good but you can still get a Digiorno pizza cooked in their legit pizza oven. #teamgrand

Ashley Blom, Food Writer
From a purely culinary lens, without question, Tyson’s is the clear winner. I feel confident in my authority to declare this as I am a local food blogger and published author (forkingup.com and “How to Eat a Lobster and Other Culinary Enigmas Explained” Quirk books 2017). So, trust me when I say this is no contest. Let’s break it down.

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Ashley Blom, Food Writer and author of “How to Eat a Lobster” #teamtysons

Tyson’s: While the jury’s out on whether or not their tortillas are made in-house, they’re definitely of a higher quality than price-comparable taco joints in the city. The breakfast taco selection is the clear star of the show, taking up the majority of the real estate on the board. And the expertly crafted Austin favorite is certainly worth a bite. However, their lunch and dinner tacos are equally unique and tasty. What other place in town can you get a crispy duck in any form for under $5? I challenge you to try. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any meat on their menu that isn’t deliciously cooked to perfection.

Their sides deserve a mention as well–the street corn and queso are both top notch. For those who don’t trust their house specialties can build their own, and as an added bonus, if you order enough of them they’ll name a taco after you. Even better, if you’re a troubadour of sorts they’ll allow you to sing for your supper–a taco a song.

Alcohol is purely secondary in my review, but their new selection of draft and canned beer has something for everyone. I recently found the new Austin Eastcider’s Blood Orange (they happen to be sponsoring Not the Gayest Show You’ll Ever See if you’d like to try a sample!) in their display. The crisp, light flavor of orange and cider pairs wonderfully with their braised beef cheek Barbacoa taco or perhaps a Diablo Shrimp.

Overall, Tyson’s provides some of the most unique and tasty tacos in town, and are the only option for hungry theater-goers either before or after a show.

The Grand: The markup on grocery store frozen pizza should be enough to keep any food-conscious person from even considering this place as a viable option for post-show snacking, or food consuming in general. They make no effort to hide the fact their offerings are Dijorno’s pizzas and, occasionally, a hastily thrown together taco or “nacho” akin to what you’d find at a movie theater, after being dried out under heat lamps for hours. And for about the same price.

I will give them credit for their alcohol specials–I’ve enjoyed a pitcher of cold draft beer many times while in their “Mafia Room.” This review is purely about the food, which comes off as more of an afterthought and quick buck than a solid attempt to appeal to anything more than a tipsy bar patron who forgot to hit In-n-Out on his way in.

But while their beer drafts and bottles are decent, the cocktails are definitely not their strong suit. They did not have the ingredients for an Old Fashioned, a popular cocktail, on at least 3 occasions, and anything beyond a simple gin and tonic seems a bit out of their range. No offense intended to the bartenders, the bar simply does not cater to those wanting something more than a simple beer.

One simply does not visit The Grand for food. If you have $10 in your pocket, go get three tacos from Tyson’s and then head to The Grand, if you must, to play some pool and sip some draft beer. #TeamTysons.

michaels-face

Michael Perkins, #teammcguiresclocks

Michael Perkins
Perhaps, the cognac is speaking for me and so I will be brief. My concern lies not with the space we inhabit but rather, with the time allowed us to do so. For those with interests akin to my own, please know that there is a place where they may be discussed. The space is secret. The time could never be for those who would blaze it with Grandfather Time.

Everything you need to know to find us is in this message. #teammcguiresclocks

Xaria Coleman

Xaria Coleman, #teamtysons

Xaria Coleman, #teamtysons

The Grand is dope, I’ve had my past couple of birthdays there and have hung out in the Mafia Room quite the bit. Pun intended. Buuuutttt Tyson’s is the bees knees and real OG’s remember when they had delicious burgeeeerrss!!!  Which, I will try to convince them to bring back. It’s better because they are a somewhat young growing business, they have been stepping up their game recently and you can tell they mean business, but they’re also about love. Their logo is literally a heart and the food fills mine with meet, cheese and love. Here’s my breakdown…

Xaria's comparison chart

Xaria’s comparison chart

Danielle Gonzalez

Danielle Gonzalez, #teamtysonsbutkindateamgrandnow

Danielle Gonzalez, #teamtysonsbutkindateamgrandnow?

A small but hopefully valid point. As someone who is new to the ColdTowne community with heaps and bundles of social anxiety, I felt (and feel) much more comfortable going to Tyson’s after a show. The Grand definitely has that “everyone knows your name we come here all the time” atmosphere, but only if that’s true. I remember being very nervous my first, 10 times?, going to the grand because it felt like a space with a history I wasn’t a part of. Tyson’s like that, which feels great for a dork like me. It’s a place where everyone can go, there’s no special things you should know. It’s just a place where you can eat and exist, never worrying if you’re out of place.

At the end of the day, it matters less to us which business you prefer frequenting before or after the shows at ColdTowne (not mentioned here: Sweet Ritual, Omelettry, Juice Peddler, Kome, Sala + Betty, House Pizzeria or ESP): what matters is that we’re in this love together and that locally-owned Airport Blvd businesses are our friends and neighbors and what makes Austin great.

Interview with Michael Jastroch of Victrola

Molly Moore

Victrola is a weekly comedy podcast produced by ColdTowne founder and senior faculty member, Michael Jastroch, who recently appeared in the 2017 SxSW comedy lineup. In this post, we discuss Victrola’s start, the cast and their selection as finalists in the first annual Improv4humans/Earwolf competition.

How did you get started with Victrola?

Funny. I just had a facebook memory come up for this. Bryan Roberts posted in 2013 the phrase “Car Bits, Seriously.” It refers to a road trip we took to OKC along with Josh Krilov and Steve Donovan to perform sketch. The way there and back, we improvised dumb audio bits for seven straight hours – basically pretending to prank call us and it was maybe the hardest I’ve ever laughed.

Josh, Bryan and I started getting together to record audio bits from time to time with the intention of turning it into something –  a podcast or a stage show – but nothing ever came from it. Mostly because of lack of know how and proper equipment.

I have a few recordings from that time, and I may release some of them someday as curios. There’s a bit – unedited – we did that I eventually cut up into an audio add for ColdTowne. I can’t find the finished version, but the unedited clip is pretty solid.

A few years ago, I got fed up with doing shows and having no record of my work or “product” to sell. A decade of shows, and the only thing to point to was some vague memories. The kicker was one night doing a show one night with Irene White that may have been the best thing I’ve ever been involved with and realizing that even though 50 people saw it, it’d be forgotten in two months.

Film is challenging, because you need a lot of people to make it happen and having relied on goodwill and favors for most of my creative life, I knew it’d be difficult to put stuff out consistently. With podcasting, at the end of the day, if it doesn’t happen, I’ve only myself to blame.

So I bit the bullet, dropped $500 on audio equipment and podcast hosting, taught myself some basics, and made myself a rule. I’d never miss a deadline, even if I put out crap, I’d put something out. Recording sessions are deliberately kept fun and casual, so people never have to feel like a dick for not making it  – although everyone in the cast makes 9 out of 10 sessions. And here we are.

My only regret is Krilov moved so he can’t bit out with us.

Bryan Roberts, Jericho Thorp, Dalton Allen

Recording: Bryan Roberts, Jericho Thorp, Dalton Allen

What do you think each of the cast members brings?

I casted the thing mostly based on a history of hanging out and doing bits. How easy does this person play and get what makes something funny? So they all have that in common. Plus, they all have a few voices up their sleeve. We all make each other laugh, and that’s important.

Lance Gilstrap – the perfect straight man. Very few people can maintain that much anger on stage and keep the ball rolling. It’s a skill I envy.

Molly Moore – such great character work. You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth, completely sincerely, as whatever nutball she’s playing.

Bryan Roberts – perfect timing and delivery. He could make a phone book funny. He’s also great at constructing actual jokes on the spot.

Bob McNichol – plays three dimensional chess while the rest of us are playing checkers. He doesn’t say the most, but everything that comes out of his mouth is funny on another level. Plus, he’s got that amazing dry delivery that sounds so sweet on podcast.

Cortnie Jones – is such a great character actress and she swings for the fences with

Molly Moore

Recording over a weekend retreat in west Texas: Molly Moore (foreground). Michael Jastroch and Bob McNichol (background).

whatever she’s doing. If Molly plays the affable loons, Cortnie plays all the sociopaths.

Jericho Thorp – One of the best character improvisers in the city. Such a great listener and so wonderful at making even the nuttiest stuff grounded in truth.

Me – I don’t know anymore.

Also, Dalton Allen, who helps with the editing and is unofficially now in the cast has a wonderful dry wit.

What do you think is the biggest deal about Victrola as a comedy podcast?

The great thing about podcasts is they are so easy to start. The horrible thing is they are so easy to start. Meaning, it’s real easy to assume you’re charming enough to carry on unscripted comedy – scenic or banter. But the truth is, that’s not only difficult to do, if you’re not a known quantity, no one gives a shit.

I didn’t want to do another four dudes talking around a microphone podcast. That niche is filled. So what makes us a big deal is when we put stuff out, the extra effort has been put in to make it as funny as it can be every time. Otherwise there’s literally no point in us existing.

If you could have one special guest superstar, who would it be?

All of Superego, who are huge inspirations. We were doing these bits and thinking about releasing this before we heard Superego, but they showed us the way forward.

What’s up with Improv4Humans and Earwolf?

Yeah! We are among the top three finalists in the Improv4Humans Contest4Humans. Which is awesome, because locally and nationally we were up against some heavy hitters. It’s a real honor and very validating to make it this far.

We’re recording a set on Tuesday the 28th. If we win, we get flown to the Del Close Marathon in NYC to record with Matt Besser. Which, given that we’re laboring in obscurity far away from industry or celebrity, would be very validating and hopefully expose us to a wider audience.  We don’t do this to be famous, but so much work goes into the thing, audience is nice.

How many sandwiches have you eaten at once.

More than 2, less than 6.

What do you have strong opinions about?

Everything. It makes me a better teacher and director, but occasionally paralyses me as a performer.

On the podcasting tip, one thing I hear all the time is how awesome Victrola sounds. Which to me is nuts, because I literally have no idea what I am doing and basically watched two youtube videos.

Which means if your podcast sounds like shit, you don’t care enough to watch two youtube videos. If you’re going to phone it in, isn’t there a better way for you to spend your time?

Recording: Lance Gilstrap and Molly Moore.

Recording: Lance Gilstrap and Molly Moore.

ALSO – I support crowd funding thing as a concept, but I think we’ve gone too far. What happened to – you know – paying your dues. I’m annoyed by people who have never made anything asking for handouts for friends and family. Make a few things on your own dime before you start begging for funds. You’ll learn more.

If Victrola wins and gets to go to DCM, what are you going to do to celebrate?

Go to New York on Matt Besser’s dime is all the improv reward I need. Maybe finally get one of those fancy VIP DCM wristbands so I don’t have to wait in line 6 hours to watch shows I used to be able to just pop into back in 2005.

Victrola records for the Improv4Humans finals tonight at ColdTowne at 10pm.  Check out the Facebook event here. Even better, subscribe to the podcast for weekly goodness.

Interview with Keith “Keebler” Horvath, Director of This is (Not) the Gayest Sketch Show You’ll Ever See

Cast of Not the Gayest: Ashley Blom, Laura de la Fuente, Luke Wallens, Mason Kerwick, Javier Ungo. Not pictured: Katie Stone

Keith “Keebler” Horvath is a veteran of the Chicago Comedy and Theatre scene. Keith has nearly twenty years of theatrical training and experience, and has devised and directed over three dozen original sketch revues, plays, musicals, and solo shows, and has coached dozens more improv groups. He is a former director of Sketch Cast and Coached Ensembles in The Second City Training Center, and was AD for BlueCo, one of The Second City’s National Touring Companies. Also: He lights up the room.

Director, Keith Horvath

Director, Keith Horvath

In this interview, we chatted him up about his newest hit machine “This is (Not) the Gayest Sketch Show You’ll Ever See” (which is like fourteen of those little fireball emojis, according to everyone who has seen it).

Hi, how are you?

Sleepy, as I’m sure everyone is. Everyone is hustling to make their dreams a reality and therefore sacrifice sleep most of the time. Right?

Absolutely, same here, but it’s all good stuff, right?

Without a doubt. I’ve fallen in love with Austin, and I’m so happy I moved here to continue pursuing my art.

Can you tell us a bit about the show?

Sure! This is an original sketch comedy revue that’s inspired by the LGBTQ community. We have been in process since December of last year, and we’re very excited to share what we’ve created with the Austin community. You will see sketches that have been written by the actors performing in the show, and I facilitated the process along the way. It is a very organic process that yields a lot of material, so it was difficult for me to whittle down to the running order we have. There was simply too much good material because I am fortunate to have such amazing writer/performers and crew. Luckily on April 29th, which is our last performance, we will be showcasing some of the material that did not make it into the final running order. Some of those scenes may end up in our next revue!

What motivated you to focus on the LGBTQ community?

I really wanted to showcase the LGBTQ community because there’s a lot the general population doesn’t understand about us. Even within our own community, there are so many different aspects of what it means to be LGBTQ that we are all constantly learning, evolving, and growing each day. With that in mind, our goal was to encompass as much of the community as possible and to give a voice to those who may not otherwise have the chance to express themselves. While we have a lot of scenes that focus on queer issues, you’ll also see scenes about our political climate, scenes about family dynamic, and scenes that poke fun at the status quo of our communities. The purpose of a revue is to showcase variety, and I think we accomplished that quite successfully.

So the show isn’t completely improvised? What is the difference between improvisation and sketch comedy?

Cast of Not the Gayest: Ashley Blom, Laura de la Fuente, Luke Wallens, Mason Kerwick, Javier Ungo. Not pictured: Katie Stone

Cast of (Not) the Gayest from L: Katie Stone, Ashley Blom, Laura de la Fuente, Luke Wallens, Mason Kerwick, Jake Garrison, Javier Ungo.

No, the show has scripts the actors improvised and wrote themselves. Sketch comedy differs from improvisation in that sketch comedy is almost always written, whereas improvisation is made up on the spot. Sometimes sketch comedy revues have improvisational scenes, or utilize improvisation in some way, but not always. Sometimes people create premises before the show, then improvise with or without audience suggestion – we call this ‘sketchprov’. For (Not) the Gayest, we mostly brought in ideas for scenes, or a ‘pitch,’ and would improvise around that premise in rehearsal. From there we would test out scenes in front of an audience and reimprovise in rehearsals to find the structure that worked best for that particular scene – very much so in that Chicago/Second City style.

Why was it important for you to utilize Second City’s sketch comedy techniques/methods?

Growing up I had always wanted to be the next Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. As I got older, I discovered that a lot of my comedic heroes, especially those on SNL, had come from Second City. When I officially moved to Chicago – I grew up in the south suburbs, but no one knows where “Mokena” is –  I learned SO much about not only theater and acting, but comedy, and even life. I was immersed in this satiric lifestyle that was allowing me to challenge myself to get to the heart of what I wanted to communicate with the audience.

(Not) the Gayest cast members: Laura de la Fuente, Ashley Blom and Katie Stone

(Not) the Gayest cast members: Laura de la Fuente, Ashley Blom and Katie Stone

This is such an important part of comedy, in my opinion, the heart. Without it, the audience can’t connect with the scene or the actors; we would be saying jokes that didn’t make sense, or lacked a point. The power then, of improvisation, is it takes away the impulse to be funny, and instead focuses on people, relationships, and emotion. Improvisation forces you to connect with another person on a deeper level, and react in an organic way. This honest connection creates a visceral, empathetic response in the audience, allowing them to go on the journey with us. So, by using improvisation, we cut through the BS of trying to be funny, and instead become real people. The in-the-moment reactions to the situations within the scenes generate a heartier laugh, one that comes from deep within and is uncontrollable – a genuine laugh. Once we have this in place, we are then able to structure our scenes and our comedy within a framework that helps us organize our comedy. Within sketch, we generally have an average of 4 minutes before the lights go out and we move on, so there isn’t much room to (for lack of better terms) “half-ass” it.

Did I go off on a tangent? Sorry.

That’s ok, it was relevant. 

Oh, good.

What do you hope the show will accomplish?

I hope when people see the show, particularly those who are not directly part of the queer and trans community, they recognize and appreciate how much depth we all have as humans. It is easy for us to lump an entire group of people into one category, so this show invites the audience to take a step back and realize that everyone has depth, everyone is three-dimensional, everyone is complicated.

I think a key takeaway is that people are more than just their orientation or gender identity. For instance, I am an avid video gamer, and I am also bisexual. My husband and I like to watch TV, take our dog for a walk, go on hikes, and we enjoy trying new wines. When put together, we see that my orientation is a very minor (but important) part of who I am as a person. There’s so much more to me than who I am married to, and I want more people to see and understand that.

Remember: “Ogres have LAYERS” – Shrek

Did I sound like Shrek?

Close enough?

I’ll take it.

How has the rehearsal process differed from when you were in Chicago?

It’s been surprisingly similar to how I ran rehearsals in Chicago; the only difference is that I’m not struggling to find a place to put up a show, find rehearsal space, or procure actors dedicated to a show. I have not seen as much overbooking down here as I did in Chicago. There are a LOT of people in Chicago who are interested in doing work, then show up late, don’t show up at all, miss several rehearsals, all because they are doing too much at once. I have heard through the grapevine that this happens in Austin, but if that’s the case, I’m impressed with how hard the actors work down here to make all of their obligations a priority!

What’s been the best part of working with ColdTowne on this show?

People who know me know I am not one who tends to be sappy unless I am being sarcastic…however, the people at ColdTowne have truly changed me for the better. The pure love for this work has reinvigorated my passion for creating comedy, and the support from the ColdTowne community is overwhelming in the most wonderful way possible. ColdTowne is a theater that embraces diversity and inclusion, is open to new ideas, and most of all, is a fun place where people hang out, exchange creative philosophies, and create amazing art. I came from Chicago, considered the “mecca” of improvisation and sketch comedy, and I couldn’t be more impressed with the level of professionalism and aptitude the artists at this theater showcase day in and day out. We may not be millionaires, but we are creating theatre GOLD! There are several performers I’ve encountered already that could easily rival the talents of the many-many-many-many proficient improvisers in Chicago. I can say with authority that Austin, and ColdTowne in particular, is a really special place doing amazing things. I will always be loyal to ColdTowne because of the opportunities I’ve been given, and the warmth and passion of this community that looks out for each other.

That’s great to hear! Anything else?

Go see the show, and I have great hair! Ask to touch it the next time you see me*, it’s soft as FUG!

*I will decline if I have not showered that day.

You can ask to touch Keith’s hair and get the full experience of ColdTowne’s latest sketch show run every Saturday at 7pm through April 29th. Tix recommended at least one week in advance, as presales are already high for upcoming shows. Get em here.

 

ColdTownies Doing Cool Sh*t: “Beach Day” Director Dalton Allen

Dalton Allen, Filmmaker and CT performer.

Dalton Allen is a student and performer at ColdTowne Theater, and graduate of the University of Texas Film Program. “Beach Day”, a piece he wrote, performed and directed (with collaborator Matt Stryker) was recently selected for the SxSW Film Festival, wrapping up this weekend. We asked him about the film in this brief chit chat.

Dalton and Matt in Beach Day. From the SxSW 2017 Film website.

Dalton and Matt in Beach Day. From the SxSW 2017 Film website.

Tell us about the short.
The film’s a short, absurdist comedy about my friend and I, who go to the beach on a slow day. It doesn’t go as planned.

What was your inspiration for making it?
My co-director and co-star Matt had the initial premise. We hadn’t made anything for ourselves for a long while so we just wanted to dust the cobwebs off. It was all found on the day. There was no script; we would shoot something and then talk through the beats of what comes next and then shoot that. It very much mirrored improv that way – we worked purely on instinct and discovery.

Who inspires you as a film maker or comedian?
This is a tough question for me because I always want to get comprehensive, but that’s impossible. At least for Beach Day, and I think I can speak for Matt too here, we’re big fans of recontextualizing things that wouldn’t themselves be funny but the situation they’re happening in makes it so it is. Also, playing something that’s deeply silly as straight as possible.

Edgar Wright comes up a fair bit between us. Wright has such a mastery of using the medium of film itself to help frame and tell a joke and he doesn’t waste a frame doing it (in much the same way, I’m a huge fan of Satoshi Kon). That efficiency really appeals to us. We’re both filmmakers first and comedians, or anything else, second, so we’re very concerned about using the camera dynamically to help us be efficient and dense with our comedy.

Beyond SxSW Film, where else can people catch your short?
We’re considering right now if we want to continue with a festival run or move on to something else. However that bears out, the short I’m sure will appear on YouTube at some point in the near future. It seems the natural home for something so silly. If anyone wants though, you can always contact me and I can send you a private link.