Greetings from Amsterdam: Dave Buckman talks Boom Chicago

Dave Buckman, ColdTowne’s Executive Producer and co-owner is in the middle of a two month gig in Amsterdam where he is directing a comedy show for the world renowned Boom Chicago. In addition to its famous alumni (see your faves below), Boom Chicago also has a couple of Austin performers as alumni including: Ace Manning (The Knuckleball Now), Cene Hale (Loverboy, Damn Gina) and now Tyler Groce (Missed Connections) who is in the current cast. Dave took some time from his intensive rehearsal schedule to clue us in on what the hey-ho is going on out there.

What is Boom Chicago?

Boom Chicago is an english speaking comedy theater in Amsterdam, NL that just celebrated its 25th year this summer. The alumni of Boom Chicago include Seth Meyers (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Jason Sudeikis (SNL), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Nicole Parker (MADtv), Alison Silverman (The Office), Jessica Lowe (Wrecked), Pete Grosz (The President Show), Heather Anne Campbell (Whose Line is it Anyway?), Ike Barinholtz (Mindy Project, Blockers), Colton Dunn (Superstore) Liz Cackowski (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect), Matt Jones (Breaking Bad), Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers) and about 100 more comedians, writers and actors… and me! They perform revues that include short form improv, long form improv, musical improv as well as live and filmed sketch comedy.

Why are you in Amsterdam?

I am directing their new MainStage revue. It’s a devised process, which means the show does not exist yet and we are currently writing it and previewing it at the same time. It’s a two month process and I am only in week 3 right now.

What do you do all day?

We rehearse all afternoon (noon until 5:30pm), writing and improvising, refining and re-improvising, blocking and running through transitions, game intros and pitching ideas to each other. We take a dinner break for a few hours and then meet up an hour before the show to go over any new parts or new sketches so we are all on the same page as to who does what including when and what the end of the sketches will be. We make sure everyone who is in an improv game knows how to play it and everyone introducing a game knows how to run it. The show is in two acts with a brief intermission and then we perform a third act for anyone who wants to stick around of sketches and games that are too raw and undeveloped to be in the actual show. We grab a cocktail or beer and do notes for about an hour until about midnight, go home, and then meet up at noon again the next day to start all over again. That’s Tuesday through Saturday. We have off Sundays and Mondays (although a lot of the cast coach and teach on their off days for extra $$). There is no show on Tuesday, that’s an extra night off when I catch up on laundry, grocery shopping, ColdTowne, SketchFest and Out of Bounds.

What’s the show going to be?

Unlike The Second City that writes for a few months and then figures out a title and theme a month before opening, Boom usually picks a theme and title first based on news and economic trends and then writes towards that centralized idea. This year’s show will be called “The Future is Here, and It’s Slightly Annoying” It’s about technological advancements and the automation of the workforce. We have sketches about Siri and Push Notifications and Data Privacy encroachment from Loyalty programs, delivery drones, etc. We’re working with a few A.I. companies here in Amsterdam on developing intuitive software to incorporate into new improv games. It’s really exciting stuff. I mean were not even halfway done yet, but that’s where we’re at so far. Anything can change in the next 5 weeks.

Is Rachel Madorsky (your wife and ColdTowne co-owner) going out there to visit?

Yes! This is the longest Rachel and I have been apart since our first year of dating in 2003. We Skype each other everyday. It’s super hard but we make it work. Rachel is coming out the weekend before we open to see the opening. We’re going to go to Rome to catch up for a few days, then back to Amsterdam for a weekend, a two day hang out in London where we will likely perform a show with some of our friends there and then back to Austin by late April.

And then what?

I start rehearsals right away for BigFoot: The Musical. It’s a new musical written by Boom Chicago Alumnus Amber Ruffin & David Schmoll premiering at Austin SketchFest in late May and running Saturdays at ColdTowne in June. It had a run in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and we’re only the third production of this musical. Amber is headlining the festival and will be there for opening night. Can’t wait for that night. Rehearsals have already started with Will Cleveland and Ammon Taylor. By the time I get there all the singing and choreography will be down pat, so I can just focus on about blocking, acting and transitions.

Anything else?
I’ve been thinking a lot of about tribes since I’ve been here. Visiting and training with this old tribe of mine that has a lot of the same elders but being led by new warriors. And missing my tribe at ColdTowne terribly, where we have dozens of new warriors every year or so. I am also learning a lot about what it takes to get ColdTowne to that next level of live comedy venue. Boom is so much more than a comedy theater with a bar now, whereas 20 years ago that’s all it was. I think we can get there too. Evolution is good. Challenges are good. I can’t wait to get back and use everything I gained while I am here.

DAVE BUCKMAN has directed, taught and performed at some of the world’s leading improvisational comedy institutions. After several years studying and teaching improv in Chicago, Dave served as Artistic Director of Boom Chicago in Amsterdam for 2 years, where he was fortunate to work with and direct some of the funniest people working in television and web-based sketch comedy today. He culminated his run in Europe with directing “Boom Chicago: RockStars” the second stage-swap with The Second City’s Main Stage in its 50 year history.

Don’t miss Dave’s return as the director of Bigfoot the Musical opening Saturday May 25 at Austin Sketch Fest featuring a stellar cast:

Bigfoot, Mike DiChello
Francine, Tauri Laws-Phillips
Doctor, Adam Protextor
Joanne, Arielle LaGuette
Mayor, Kyle Romero
Ensemble / Understudies, Sophia Sherman, Jennifer Rosario, Ben Bazán, Scarlett Alexandra, and Chris McKeever

Written by Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers, ASF19 headliner)

Directed by Dave Buckman with Musical Direction by Ammon Taylor.