How did Kingz come to be?
A group of lady improvisers were talking about times that they had dressed as men in their lives (Halloween, for shows, etc). We talked about who enjoyed doing it, who didn’t enjoy it and also if at any point you were perceived differently if someone did actually think you were a man. It was interesting to hear the different accounts of various women in the community. For those who were perceived as men while in drag they had noticed people speaking to them differently, having different body language around them, and relating to them differently when they were thought to be male. Some of us loved dressing up in drag, some of us had never done it, and some of us were uncomfortable doing it but wanted to explore it more. We decided it would be a fun cagematch idea and we submitted. Not only did it end up being fun, but we found that the particular group of people that had come together had amazing comedic chemistry. Performing together felt easy and fun and we decided we didn’t want to stop after our reign as cagematch champions ended.
What format do you use, and how did you decide on it?
We do a monoscene with pop outs. It’s basically where the characters stay in one location, exploring a moment in time. The exception being if someone mentions a time in their life, a memory, etc we might do a “pop out” and explore that memory or moment briefly and then go back into the monoscene. We all really enjoy relationship based performances. The format allows for us to explore our male alter egos more fully. At this point they are very familiar to all of us. Down the line I don’t know if we will always have the same guy character every time, but for now it’s great getting to know our dude selves better and better with each show.
What makes you different than other troupes out there?
I guess the obvious would be that we dress in drag. I doubt we are the only improv troupe that does this but at least in Austin we are the only drag king improv group that I am aware of. It’s fun to explore gender roles and stereotypes with these characters. We don’t try to make all our characters walking male stereotypes. They’re all over the spectrum. Sensitive dudes, dudes filled with anxiety, cocky dudes, mellow dudes, etc. There’s also usually a lot of dick jokes.
Is it difficult to play women playing men, and then if the scene requires it, women playing men playing women? What are some difficulties that come from your unique form?
Not really. Occasionally someone might slip up and call someone she when they are their dude character but that seems to happen less and less the more shows we do. When we do the pop outs and become female characters it’s just like becoming a female character in a regular show. I don’t know that we go as deep as to do it as how our male character would play a woman.We are a troupe with a large number of people. Monoscene’s tend to work a bit better with smaller troupes. The main challenge is trying to give some focus to all our different characters and to not talk over one another. Sometimes one persons character gets highlighted more in a show, but that’s ok. It’s sort of like with each show we get to learn a little bit more about the lives of our characters.
What is your favorite show you’ve ever done?
It’s so hard to pick just one! We’ve had a lot of really fun and wonderful shows. We had one the other night where everyone just kept breaking because we were all cracking each other up so much. I know breaking in scenes can be frowned upon but I think all of us get quite a bit of joy out of making one another laugh.
What advice do you have for new troupes and new performers?
Have fun. Play with people you like. Play with people you’ve always wanted to play with. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to do a troupe with you if you want to perform with them, more often than not they will be flattered and say yes. Hang out with your troupe mates outside of improv shows. Some of the best warm ups can just be talking to each other about what happened that day.
Who is a teacher/coach (at any theater!) who inspired you?
We have so many! Erika McNichol, Jill Bernard, Kristin Henn, Mick Napier, John Ratliff, Rich Talarico, Rachel Madorsky, Michael Jastroch, Clifton Highfield, Stephen Kearin, Roy Janik, Shannon O’ Neil, and so many more. We could go on and on. But if you haven’t you should check these folks out cause they’re all rad.
What is your favorite Austin landmark?
I feel like the dudes in Kingz (especially Tyler) would really enjoy Hippie Hollow.
Tell us a bit about your current run!
We are coming to the end of our crazy fun Februrary run, OKingzCupid! Each week we try and “date” different all female improv troupes. They perform a set, then us and then we do a big mash up speed dating round at the end where one person from each troupe gets crowned the King and Queen of the night. Kitty Nasty hosts the whole thing and there’s a photo booth and free Kingz Boozy Love Punch at each show. Our last one is on Februrary 25th at 8:30PM and Toxic Chakra will be opening up for us. It’s a great time and features some of the funniest ladies in Austin.
Arian Brumby aka Dan
Lisa Jackson aka Freddie B
Molly Moore aka Jason
Meredith Roberts aka Tyler
Xaria Coleman aka Denzel
Emma Holder aka Tony
Cene Hale aka Carlos
Kingz is an Austin, TX based improv comedy troupe of women who dress like dudes. Through the art of drag and audience suggestions these gentleladies bring the perfect combination of laughs, beard stubble and manliness to their relationship based performances. It’s good to be the Kingz.