Rob Cutler is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Brandybuck. He also performs with The N Crowd, Dumdumstupiddumb, and is in the upcoming Fringe Festival puppet improv show Friends of Alcatraz.
How and why did you get into comedy? I always loved to make my family laugh. My father had a great dry wit, and I just tried to keep up with him growing up. Plus, the majority of the work I’ve been able to do in Philly as an actor has been comedy related, and its been something of a niche for me. As I got older, I found that nothing quite matches the experience of performing before a group of people you don’t know and having them truly enjoy what you are doing.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I tend to go darker. I like walking the line between uncomfortable and funny. Andy Kaufman was a huge influence on me. I can’t touch his level of creativity, but his work informs my style. I like playing with taboos and social norms and turning them on their head. That said, I don’t think I’m very funny, as I tend to play the “every” man or straight man in most of my scene work.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? I love working with Ladies and Gentlemen if only because the work we put in during rehearsals really shows in the performances. Musical improv is incredibly challenging, but when its done well it can be amazing. In terms of venue, I like the ones that serve alcohol.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I thought Banana Breakup’s set at duofest was pure genius. Meg Favreau’s roast was hysterical. For me personally, I had a great set during Stage Fright, where I got to play the killer and strangle Ali Soowal on stage, I suppose that was a highlight.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I read a newspaper everyday. (not online) It keeps me up to date on pop culture stuff I would otherwise be oblivious to, and it gives me an idea of what’s going through the world’s collective consciousness. It helps to keep tuned in, even to things I don’t find particularly interesting, in order to relate to your audience, regardless of what walk of life they come from.
What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do…) that draws you to it? As an actor, its a great opportunity to experiment with new characters, physicality, environments, etc. It keeps you sharp. The bonus is that its the most actively supportive “scene” in Philly. The talent level is enormous and deep, there are constantly new faces, and the is ALWAYS something going on. The people involved are what keeps me going, even when I feel like I’ve hit a creative wall.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? Matt Holmes. Rare Bird Show was one of the first things I saw and I immediately thought “that is someone I want to work with.” (Yes, he’s the director of my team and this may seem like brown nosing, but its true)
I get to work with a ton of my favorites with the N Crowd, Ladies and Gentlemen, Superheroes Who Are Super, dumdumstupiddumb, and Stage Fright, so I’ve been really lucky to work with incredibly talented people.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I block them from my memory. We all have bad shows, but dwelling on them only hurts you in the long run. You figure out what went wrong, work on it, and move on. If I had to name one, I suppose playing a show to 6 people in a 200 seat room in New York was rough. One of them was asleep by the end of our set. Also, my first audition for PHIT, back when they were doing the first round of house teams. I had the flu and had to run to the bathroom of the Shubin to throw up in between scenes. I remember wretching to the sounds of laughter coming through the wall.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
A permanent home. Having a dedicated space will do wonders for this blossoming community
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
I want to do sketch. I have a ton of half finished scripts, but I don’t have a group to work with. I’d like to try standup, but sketch is the priority.