This Friday, Philly Improv Theater will debut two new House Teams, known until then by their codenames: Brandybuck and Shadowfax. All this week, we are going to bring you special editions of our 10 Questions With series profiling each of the new house team members. First, we will profile the directors of the groups. Shadowfax’s director, Kristen Schier, was already featured in a 10 Questions With column, which you can read HERE.
How and why did you get into comedy? In college, I tried it out as an experiment. I found that it really suited me.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I like weird stuff, smart stuff, and comedy that isn’t afraid to try something new. I like different formats and structures and techniques.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I think my favorite venue has been the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. It’s in a basement under a grocery store, and there are pillars that kind of block certain views, but it’s big enough to have a large, energetic crowd engage you as a performer, and it’s not too big. With improv, you want to be close to the audience. I’ve performed in plenty of venues that were tight, and actually I’ve performed in a lot of rooms that were too big (and empty).
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I remember laughing so hard I cried at a Ponycoat show in the Troika improv competition. I remember some pretty interesting audience member partnerships for my show Matt& (a few drunk people, someone who left me alone on stage, having to improvise a love poem).
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Lately, I’ve started preparing less for my shows. A lot of people get themselves riled up for improv, as though it’s a 40-yard-dash. I like being at a stage in my performing career where I’m confident enough to relax.
What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? I think improv is pure. There’s no filter, no judgment, no limitations. You can do anything in it.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I’m a big fan of Andrew Stanton, Scott Shepherd, Kristen Schier, and Amie Roe for their energy and improv skills, and I’m also excited to see more from a newer group of improvisers, like the new PHIT house teams. For stand-up, I like Brendan Kennedy’s unique style.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share, a particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I’ve done a couple shows for a ridiculously small audience, and I did a show where food orders were announced over a loudspeaker.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I’ve said for years that the next level for Philly comedy is having a home. If you look at the growth and easiness-for-the-audience that have orbited around PHIT, Helium, and other regular performances, it shows the importance of real estate. It’s been great to see the start of a community and the trajectory for the future.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Again, I want to see more regular shows, different shows. I have some ideas, and I’m sure there’s a lot more floating around in people’s minds. I’d like to do a theatrical run of an improv show and get a theatrical review from the press. And I’m really interested in helping the next wave of performers.