And you know what that means—they’re entering the “terrible twos”! Actually, my mom always said age 3 was the roughest. So watch out next year, when this gang is toddler-aged. If the developmental patterns of early-stage humans are any indication of behavioral phases for improv groups, it’s gonna be tantrum city!
Anyhoo, in honor of their two-year anniversary, the members of Iron Lung have taken a moment to feel some feelings about one another:
Corin Wells on Kevin Pettit:
“Everyone who has had the opportunity to both befriend and improvise with Kevin can notice parallels in who he is on stage and who he is off stage. On stage, he supports his scene partners whole heartedly. He listens intently. He’s patient. And he’s a goof. But you can go to any of his shows to see what a great comedian he is (Hot Dish and Davenger at PHIT, Feb. 2nd at 8:30PM). I’m going to talk about Off-Stage Kevin. All of those on stage attributes come from who he is in real life: a supportive, caring, loveably huggable, hilarious teddy bear. He’s been Iron Lung’s keystone, making sure that we not only practice, but that we hang out and have fun together. He’s always the first to suggest we get a drink after practice or Bar-B-Q at someone’s house. He’s the first to volunteer to help you move, even if it’s for the 7th time, or suggest making turkey burgers for a Game of Thrones viewing night. He’s the first to offer a bottle of wine and a listening ear when some guy is being a douche. Kevin is a big part of the reason that I joined Iron Lung and being Jersey-ites, I think we both pushed each other to make the smart move to Philly. I am super lucky and blessed to have had Kevin on my first-ever improv team not only because he’s a fantastic improviser but because he’s an even better friend. I owe him so much. Watching him grow from amazing to phenomenal in these two years by getting cast on Witout Award-winning Best New Act Davenger and going back to school is so rewarding and inspiring. I wrote a Tanka/Acronym poem to better express all that I feel for him:
Kevin Petitt, oh
Even still I smell your brown,
Vinegar stained pants
In that small black box theater
N’er will I ever forget“
Kevin Pettit on Jess Carpenter:
“Jess Carpenter might be the nicest person I know. Literally. He is probably one of the most honest people I’ve met as well. The thing I love most about Jess is that he is always learning something, always trying to make himself better and trying new things. I’m so glad we got to spend the last two years cracking each other up!”
Jess Carpenter on Dennis Trafny:
“Dennis is one of the first people I met in improv class. He is very physical and can make anything creepy, ANYTHING. I am in awe sometimes when I see what he comes up with from the offer. He can take the most mundane scene and make it a roller coaster ride that everyone in the room can enjoy. The audience is always in on the joke when he is on stage and his playful characters are easy to like. Even the psychopaths…which are numerous.
My favorite thing he does is refers to his characters’ hair—and never a lack of it. [Editor's note: Dennis lacks hair.] I don’t think he’s ever actually played a bald character, but on the other hand, some of his female characters have had beards.
I am lucky to have shared the stage with him the many times that I have. Did I mention how creepy his characters can be? And funny fact: He loves to dance, but it’s in a kind of an interpretive style!”
Dennis Trafny on Maureen Costello:
“M is for her alter-egos, Marlene and the Million Dollar Man
A is for aficionado, of the donut variety
U is for umlaut; she has an amazing German accent (and a lot of others as well)
R is for ratty; in most of her solo photo sessions she morphs into disgusting characters
E is for eccentric; you know she’s about to say something weird when she starts laughing to herself and then you can’t understand her for the next 2 minutes while she laugh-speaks her idea.
E is for ebony; she is very pale.
N is for number 1! She is a great improviser, friend, blogger, tweeter, lady, American, human, stalker, photographer, vegetarian, Jack Russel owner.”
Maureen Costello on Tara Demmy:
“Tara Demmy and I first bonded over our mutual love of cheese fries and I like to think that we haven’t looked back since. Over the last two years I can fully state that I’ve learned a lot from her as an improvisor and not just a lover of cheese and potatoes. Tara is definitely a pirate. She is fearless on stage and will commit to the most ridiculous of scenarios. Whereas if I was playing a dinosaur with daddy issues, I would probably say “Maybe I won’t dye my head scales pink and pierce my dino navel,” but not Tara—Tara would go all the way. Tara would go out with her dino friends and steal cigarettes from an improvised 7-11, then give you the finger when you’re trying to use the crosswalk like a normal dinosaur just trying to get to work on time. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Tara can commit to what she starts and when she does it, she’s like an improv tornado, both majestic and beautiful but with the intense power to turn scenes upside down (in a good way, not a natural disaster way, maybe I shouldn’t have compared her to a natural disaster). Tara is a lot like the Lincoln assasin—OK, I’m done. Tara is spectacular. I’ve learned so much from her and am glad to not only call her a teammate but a friend. I don’t know what I’d do with out her. Tara, never leave me!”
Tara Demmy on Carly Maurer:
“Carly is the master of commitment. That girl knows what she wants in a scene and she gets it. She is a super intelligent and cognitive player, but does not let that get in the way of her yesAND-ing her fellow Iron Lungers’ outlandish initiations. Carly’s facial expressions (whether it be a tired kitten or a disappointed yoga teacher or a young teen boy picked last for basketball) are the best, especially when they are accompanied by a long pause—genius. Watch out Harold Pinter!”
Carly Maurer on Simon Burger:
“Simon is all about commitment. When he steps out with a character or physicality you have to jump on board because you know he’s going to stick with it. He has a way of really engaging his scene partner which helps bring the scene to life. Simon also brings his own brand of wit and intelligence to the group which keeps us all on our toes.”
Simon Burger on Corin Wells:
“I took my first improv class with Corin, and she has improved more than anyone else in that class, by far. Corin is a fountain of hilarious experience and a powerhouse on the stage, and I would put her on my improv super band.”
Is there such a thing as a sophomore slump for improv teams? We may never know, because clearly these guys love each other and have their ish together, and I’m sure we can look forward to spectacular scenes from this group for years to come! Decades, even. They could be the Rolling Stones of improv groups! Only with less drug use. Or maybe more! Time will tell!
See Iron Lung this Friday at ‘Sideshow Presents: Iron Lung’s 2-Year Anniversary Show/PARTY’ (featuring a special announcement—hopefully it’s not that they’re breaking up, or I’ll have to take back everything I just wrote about their potential to be an immortal supergroup!). Show is 8pm at the Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad Street). Admission is $5.
Want even more Iron Lung? Check out the latest episode of the Gettin’ Close with Mike Marbach podcast!