Tara Demmy is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. They make their debut this Friday at the Shubin Theater.
How and why did you get into comedy? I got into comedy while at Denison University, as a member of Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, the oldest college improv troupe, doing short form with a bunch of wonderful geniuses.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I was always into theatre and became aware of the many rules and styles associated with different theatrical forms. I always felt most connected to comedic improvisation because it gave me much more freedom (with genre, with manipulating the world of the scene) than interpreting a script.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I have only performed in a few spots but I like the community feel at the Shubin. I do like spaces where the audience and the performers are on the same level (physically) it makes more for a connection and spontaneous feel. As for shows- I like the crazy, honest, super energetic ones.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? The 201 class show on Saturday, July 9th was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve ever seen. There was so much support on stage for everyone’s ideas, really impressive work.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I try hard not to think so much. I oftentimes get in my head and blockade nifty ideas. I also try to take at least one big risk per show, something that will keep both me and the team on its toes. Safe is no fun, no fun.
What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? Improv can’t be anything other than contemporary and relevant. It is the HERE and NOW, even if it references a historical time period, it is based on the current climate of society (because that’s what is in our heads) and it has never been performed before and never will be performed again. It is the truest example of ephemerality. Visual and performance art grapples with how much to “invest in past work,” how to make “past work modern,” when to honor tradition and when to throw it out the window. Improv’s content is always new and because of that, it’s structure is always in a state of change. Improv is a necessary force in pushing our arts culture forward.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I really love watching Amie Roe and Kristen Schier in the Amie and Kristen Show. They may be my favorites. They have super range as performers and never lose the “sense of play” so important to the form. I want to be them when I grow up. Creating comedy that does not require a “…and they’re women” after someone says “funny show.”
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? There are lots, especially in college. In college, you know everyone in the audience, so you want to be funny, oh gosh let me be funny! Since then I have learned it is more about ensemble, it’s about support and creating honest scenes.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? I’ve only been in the scene for a short while, but the building of new independent groups, more opportunities for performance around the city, getting people excited so they come to Philly for IMPROV would support growth. Not comparing our models/formats/structures to New York and Chicago so much (even though it’s hard not to) is important to always keep in mind. This comedic community is full of some of the most supportive, encouraging, welcoming individuals- to not lose that when we becoming bigger and bigger.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? Take more classes, think more, practice more, laugh more. I always want to work on being more confident on stage, learning how to better create compelling stories. Basically, to keep creating.