ColdTowne’s Victrola Debuts Album

ColdTowne Theater’s sketch and improv comedy podcast, Victrola, debuts album

ColdTowne Theater’s sketch and improv comedy podcast Victrola’s debut album, Virtual Aurality, is due out on Austin label Sure Thing Records October 5th.

Victrola is a monthly smorgasbord of sketches written and performed by some of Austin, Texas’s best improv comedy talent – Michael Jastroch, Bob McNichol, Bryan Roberts, Lance Gilstrap, Cortnie Jones, Jericho Thorp and Molly Moore. As regular performers at ColdTowne Theater, the cast of Victrola have been performing with one another for over a decade.

Splitsider called Victrola “Plucky” and “delightful” and “painstakingly edited.” Another dope on the internet said Victrola was his favorite podcast. Recently, Victrola was a national finalist in the popular Earwolf improv podcast Improv4Human’s Contest4Humans and produced a podcast pilot for Audible.com. So, people are talking.

Recorded in the middle of nowhere over a long weekend in February of 2017, Virtual Aurality employs the technique Victrola uses for their podcasts. Namely, recording hours and hours of improv and cutting out the parts that aren’t funny. The end result is hilarious and chaotic, and captures the spontaneity of a live improv show without all the awkward bits.

Virtual Aurality will be available on online retailers (iTunes, surethingrecords.com,victrolapod.com) starting October 5th and is available for pre order and sampling right now.

We sat down with some Victrola cast members to to discuss the upcoming release.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

What was the recording process like for the album?

Jericho: We recorded at my cabin in west Texas. It’s near an old Union fort where they stationed Buffalo Soldiers. The cabin is on the San Saba River, not too far from Menard, TX. It’s beautiful, quiet, and peaceful out there. The perfect place for a bunch of comedy nerds to get intensely liquored up and laugh loudly around a fire.

Lance: A lot of the sessions ran really long and we would often start the day a little slowly, holding back ideas because we were just getting warmed up. By the time a two hour or more session was almost over, we would get very ridiculous. To the point where I don’t think anyone was afraid to say anything and we supported it all.

Bob: We spent Friday night hanging out and talking about ideas we had, and put them all on the huge piece of paper. We went through all of those ideas and more over the course of recording on Saturday and Sunday. We had fires going outside for alot of the weekend, and it was so far away from big cities that you can see so many more stars than usual. Like 10 or 20 more stars. Insane.

Molly: Someone brought a very fancy telescope, but I got there late and everybody had already had their telescope fun so I went out alone. The trek to the ‘scope was cold and spooky and dark and no doubt filled with lurking snakes and once I got there, I couldn’t figure out how to work it so instead I just looked up with my own two (20/20, bragging) eyes and invited the cosmos right in. Another cozy moment happened around the fire as we listened to a playlist curated by soundhound Bob that was heavy on deepcut soul, funk, and reggae — all very warm music. As each song began, there would be an identical fifteen-second pause before Dalton would say “hey, this is great. What is this?” and Bob and the rest of the guys would geek out about the song.

Cortnie: My favorite part was Dalton, who brought a stick of cinnamon. We never used it, I have no idea why he brought it but it sat on the counter. I also saw a hat at the cabin that I assumed came with the cabin. A week or so later I saw Dalton wearing it and thought he stole it. Turns out, it was just his hat. It was really fun to stand in front of mics and just fuck around with what was funny about each sketch idea. Michael is really good coming up with usable premises. Bob’s understated straight man paired with Lance’s crazed straight man is always hilarious. Lubu brings the jokes and Molly and Jericho’s voices and game ridden bits are over the top hilarious. I think I almost peed myself twice during recording. Two days of recording sketch comedy is pretty tiring, but I was pretty proud of us for all getting along and still having fun and coming up with some really good sketches and jokes in the end. I’m really proud of the work we’ve all put into the album, especial Michael, who has worked endlessly on editing out all our thirty hours of bullshit material into one hilarious album.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

What sketch from Victrola – album or podcast – did you have the most fun recording?

Molly: We entered some strange time vortex during the recording of Smorgasborg and emerged – no joke – an hour later sweaty, disoriented, and newly registered with Discover. It was JAZZ, my man! It’s also always fun meeting up with grumpy old Mr. Peters and ragging on the guy.

Bob: We did one recently with Juliet and Aly sitting in where we were in a Target dressing room. I could not stop laughing during it. I’d say Jastroch and Dalton cut maybe 60% of it out, and rightfully so.

Jericho: I love any sketch that devolves into the characters and world succumbing to some ultimate evil. I mean, just in general. One of my non-evil favorite moments is when I brought my horse to a dog training class and insisted it was just a really big dog.

We make each other laugh constantly. I’m always surprised/pleased when a moment where we all are laughing makes it into the final product. People do this sort of laugh/word vomit thing to get out their line before they bend over and try to laugh as quietly as possible off the mic. When we’re all doing that together, it’s pretty great. I think people seeing that from the outside without any context would assume we were all having some kind of fit.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

Any moments from sketches that you wish weren’t cut out?

Cortnie: There was a moment with special guests Kasey Borger where we were at a swimming pool, we were lifeguards and I said, “Tweet!” thinking Jastroch would cut it out and replace it with a whistle, but Kasey asked why I said that, so I explained and the whole thing made it into the episode. It’s pretty funny, but I wish I had just made a better whistle noise. We are improvising, so it’s nice when those little reminders pop into episodes.

Bob: Cortnie and I played these bumbling cops early on in the first season.  It was super-fun and super long. It was eventually released as like 6 minutes, but I’m pretty sure we went on for like 30 minutes as these cops.

Molly: There have been a few moments that I have felt personally attacked for being left on the floor (one about mixing up the name for Netflix comes to mind). Whenever this happens, I confront Dalton who says something to the tune of, “I think it played better to the room than it would in an episode.” Very polite but also VERY RUDE.

Lance: I do remember Molly doing some kind of counting thing once that got cut and when I heard the episode, I thought to myself “why would that not be in the episode? I was literally on the floor, laughing when she did that! But I don’t remember the specifics and I’m sure there was a good reason. Maybe you had to be there.

Jericho: Jastroch, Dalton, and anyone else that helps with editing/recording do a pretty great job of picking the most perfect cherries to put into the episodes/album. I pretty much trust them at this point to make me sound way more witty, quick, and amazing than I do in real life. They left in a bit where I gradually reveal that not only am I James Taylor, but also a ghost hovering outside a man’s window, giving him life advice. Not sure what else I could want.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

What’s been a favorite Victrola memory ?

Cortnie: I love our live shows. My favorite is when we went to Dallas and did a show for three people, Dalton being one of them. The lobby was so loud we could hear them during our entire set. It’s those times we have the most fun.

Molly: We did a SXSW show this year. The setup was two big chairs in front of a mic and a small couch with a mic. Cortnie and I took the chairs while the guys squeezed onto the couch, a reality I didn’t realize or appreciate until a photo surfaced. I do remember watching the guys struggle to pass the mic around on their tiny little couch while I sat cross-legged on my giant chair in front of my very own mic and felt at peace. QUEEN ALERT!!

Jericho: Improv is usually a very in-the-moment, “you had to be there” form of comedy. Writing the show on the fly with some of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life has been such a great experience. These people are not only my creative partners, they’re my friends. It’s kind of amazing to have something like this together. We meet once a week, walk into a tiny room together, and have the best time. Then that’s distilled into something that’s genuinely funny and of which I am very proud.

Lance: My favorite part is always getting lost in recording a sketch. One where we are all cracking each other up and then we end it and we’re like “we were recording that ONE sketch for forty five minutes.”

Bob: I just love how easy it is to get together on Mondays and record. It’s low pressure and everyone’s open to whatever ideas we bring in. I don’t know if it’s a favorite memory, but we’re frequently listening for practicing drummers or trumpet players who live in the same building as Jastroch and Cortnie. I’m sure it’s tough to edit around, but it makes me laugh when i start hearing trumpet scales bleeding into some scene in our headphones.

Courtesy of An Indoor Lady

 

Midnight Society: Don’t Call it a Comeback

Midnight Society formed in 2007, and have since built a reputation among audiences and improvisers for the quality of their work. With shows that can deliver grounded scene work, absurdity and raucous physicality in the course of a single show, their command of the stage is never in doubt.

Recently adding super talents Molly Moore and Sanjay Rao, they’re experiencing a new wave of attention and regularly packing it in Saturday nights. We sat down to talk to them about their history, favorite shows and adding cast.

Tell us about how and when Midnight Society formed.

Lance: Midnight Society was the second student troupe formed at ColdTowne in 2007. This means that we each auditioned and the theater selected the members. We were lucky enough to have been put on that one student troupe that stayed together more than a year or two. The group has been through a lot of changes, but have the same excitement for playing that we had nine years ago.

Photography by Roy Moore (ahpook667)

An early version of Midnight Society at Out of Bounds. Photography by Roy Moore (ahpook667)

Who, among the current cast, are the original members?

Lance: Lance Gilstrap, Jericho Thorpe, and Joel Keith are all original members.

What does the current cast look like? Why were those cast members chosen?

Lance, Joel, & Jericho: The current cast includes those aforementioned original players plus Molly Moore and Sanjay Rao. Molly was chosen because she makes brave choices and backs them up. She is goofy as hell, but also great at listening and calling out absurdities.

We picked Sanjay because he’s got serious stage chops. He commits to game like a monster and brings full emotion to absurd choices.

But we mostly picked both of them because they’re SO funny and we have so much fun playing with them. We click.

Who inspires you, individually or collectively?

Molly: I am inspired by people who look like they’re having a lot of fun being with each other on stage. I think joy and engagement are the most translatable energies both between performers and out into the audience, so when I see groups able to really harness that, I am one happy camper.

Sanjay: I get inspired all the time. There are great improv shows happening all the time and with the internet you can catch great stuff that happens in other cities too. I love Fuck That Shit from UCB and Cook County Social Club from iO. But I also get inspired by movies, television, and books. I love watching great acting and great characters. Lately I’ve been really into Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, and Ian Mckellen as Macbeth. It changes all the time but I get really excited when I get into something new. Who knows what it will be next?

What is a favorite memory?

Lance and Jericho: We have so many favorite memories (The “Comet Creepers” Show, That time Jericho lifted and then threw the entire cast using the force, etc…), but we thought it would be more fun to ask the two newer members.

9677469784_49e6c17f2f_z

Jericho uses his powers. – OOB 2013.

Molly: My favorite memory is when we were all 9th graders in a band classroom and Lance realized that he forgot to get his permission slip signed for our band trip to like, Fiesta Texas or something, and we all realized that we forgot ours too and everyone freaked out on stage and in the audience. It was like everyone was experiencing the same collective memory with a great singular howl of regret.

Sanjay: I’m fairly new to the group but I already have some great memories with Midnight Society. The first thing that comes to my mind is a mono scene we did where we were working at a restaurant. Our suggestion was Pokemon Go. The show had nothing to do with the game up until about halfway through when Joseph Dailey mentioned people were coming in here just to play Pokemon Go and not ordering any food. In response, Lance Gilstrap, who was playing the owner of the restaurant, created a sign that said something like “You can’t catch a pikachu unless you take a seat and chew!” and not only did the audience lose it but I lost it as well and I’ve always felt I was pretty good at not-breaking during shows. I couldn’t help myself.

Why should someone see your show?

Molly: Parking is very easy, beer is very cheap, we’re very cute, flirty, good listeners and honestly I don’t know what else you could want from a Saturday night.

Sanjay: Midnight Society has been a staple in the AIC for so many years. Molly and I have brought in some new blood and our rapport has been quite honestly amazing. We’ve been putting on some amazing shows. So if you want to see some great improv at a great venue on a Saturday night then I guarantee you Midnight Society will not disappoint. We’re getting such good feedback with the stuff we’re doing on stage that I’m so excited to play every Saturday night.

Lance: Honestly, I think you should just come to see us for Molly and Sanjay.

Midnight Society plays Saturdays at 10pm each week* and will perform in the 10pm time slot on Saturday, 10/22 in the Anniversary weekend lineup #coldtowne10.

*Toxic Chakra will play for MS on 10/8.