Musical Improv with Andel Sudik

ColdTowne is thrilled to present a musical improv workshop taught by one of the acknowledged masters of the form.

Anděl Sudik was born and raised in Santa Clarita, California and spent her winters and summers on her family’s farm in Nebraska near Wahoo, before moving to Chicago right after high school.

Sudik has performed all over the US with The Second City Touring Company and all over Europe with Boom Chicago and was a member of the legendary ensembles Baby Wants Candy and The Deltones and comes to Austin October 22nd!

We had the opportunity to chat with Sudik in advance of her visit.

Hey! What brings you to Austin? I came to Austin for the first time for OoB two years ago and died from joy. The weather was fuxking gross, so I knew it was true love. I also got to see one of my oldest friends who lives in Austin now, and I realized that if I was ever going to do cool stuff like catch up with my friends and visit cool places, I would have to do that for myself. So I booked the flight and then figured the rest out.

You spent a few years in Amsterdam at Boom Chicago. What was that experience like? Boom was the most amazing and hardest experience of my life. I moved there when I was 24 and had never even been out of the country before. I got to travel to places I had only ever dreamt of, give my family a reason to visit Europe, all while living in a town that looks like a story book and drinking and doing drugs as though I was a 300 pound man (Which is kind of how I see myself, comedically).

European audiences are awesome. They like to heckle (esp. British ones, who will also tell you how they don’t find “American humor” funny), and they find it equally enjoyable for you to shut them down. It’s like an acceptable game you play and very freeing as a performer. You learn how to take care of yourself, while also getting laughs. Pop culture doesn’t fly out there, which is great for me because I have no retention of that sort of info.

We got to play big and bold and wear a lot of wigs, so I was basically in heaven. Though there’s a decent amount of culture shock. There’s a thing called “Dutch honesty,” which is basically like talking to a kind of shitty 9 year old: you are delighted that they don’t have a filter and still occasionally hurt by “truths” they so freely spout. One of favorites was a guy on his way out of the theater upon seeing me, declared, “Oh hey! You are just like a person but smaller.” So that was pretty in line with the typical show non-compliments you’d get (and one of the tamer things said to me as a woman).

I found it more challenging as a single straight woman both within the Boom Culture and also in Amsterdam in general. I think the experience helped to harden me in a way that forced me to protect myself too hard and too aggressively after I left, but I found similar battles as a woman in the stateside theaters I’ve worked in. Which is part of why I started directing and teaching more. But the experience was well worth it, the people I got to know and the friends I made and worked with are family.

You’ve also toured a lot with the Second City. Any fun stories? I love getting paid to go places I would never choose to go on my own (Eureka Springs, Arkansas anyone?) After touring, I got to do some theatrical gigs which were city specific shows, so you’d settle in a city for a month or two and live like a local, and I just thought that was the best.

I loved Cincinnati and La Jolla equally. Tucson was a dream (except for the meth and occasionally getting bottles thrown at me on my walk home). I fucking LOATHED Phoenix (except the place we were living was called Zazu Pannee and there was a gay bar called Plasma ATTACHED to it which was so wonderful).

I also worked on cruise ships on and off for a thousand years. I loved the safety of having a reason to talk to a bunch of people from a bunch of places (they saw me onstage) and also knowing that they would all be gone after a week, so no pressure. I love performing for people.

On one of my very first tours with Second City (I was like 20), at the very end of the show we were playing freeze, and I was an oscar statue and the gal tipped me back and forth and let me go and I fell, landing straight onto my face. Everybody gasped, so I – with my head trauma logic – thought “I better laugh to let them know I’m ok.” So I did, then one of the cast members asked  “Are you ok?” I lifted my head, and as I did, said “I’m bleeding. From my face.”

The lights went out, I was rushed off stage, the lights came back up on Ithamar Enriquez who said “Good night Dubuque!” and waved to stunned silence. There was a doctor in the house who came back and checked me out as I sat in front of the mirror looking at the gaping hole in my forehead and apologizing profusely for ruining the show, sure that I would be fired. Instead, I was taken to a plastic surgeon who sewed it all up, and I had an e-mail sent the the producers from an audience member framed that read “It really was a shame because up to that point it was such a great show. I hope the young lady is alright.”

You’ve been part of some legendary musical improv groups, including Baby Wants Candy and the Deltones. What are the unique challenges to doing musical improv? Can any improviser learn how to do it, or does it take a special skill set? Confidence and commitment. Some of my favorite musical improvisers are not technically trained. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more fun you let it be. When you’re first learning (like any skill) there are some mechanics that make it easier, but the trick is getting to know that stuff internally so you don’t have to think about it. Thinking is the enemy of improv, if you ask me.

What are you looking forward to in the next year, career-wise? I feel like, for myself, the election paralysis just wore off, so I resurfaced as a creative body in the last couple months. I’m starting/picking up work on some of my own projects (writing a farce, directing Man of La Mancha, working the structure of a solo improv piece, doing Stand Up) and becoming re-inspired to be a bit more proactive in fostering comedic POV in the unbelievably talented comedy community in Chicago (workshops, putting up a sketch show with the most talented people I can get my hands on).

I just got back from John Waters Sleep Away camp. (Yes. It was a thing. And Yes. It was spectacular.) And I watched his movie Female Trouble which was too subversive for me when I first saw it in HS (my delicate suburban sensibilities could only handle Crybaby), but this time I was ready. And damn, he nailed it. It inspired me to push farther, and make a little trouble.

Register Now