If you’ve been paying attention to Philly’s improv scene in the last few years, by now you’ve probably heard of Bed Savage. Starting out as an independent team coached by Kristen Schier (The Amie & Kristen Show/The Kristen & Amie Show; Director of ZaoGao; Artistic Director of The N Crowd), they’re now the house team for two shows produced by stand-up and improviser Jess Carpenter: Comedian Deconstruction and The Not Just Comedy Show. If you want to learn more about the team, their form, and recent additions Claire Halberstadt and Jeff Kremzier, read on.
WitOut: How did Bed Savage come together?
Bed Savage: A bunch of us met in PHIT classes together (Grimley 101 and Edmondson 201). We included Dan Jaquette before he got all famous with Beirdo and Mayor Karen then retired like Jordan at the top of his game to become an adult, get married, and start a family (lame). RJ Payne was into it because he just broke up with his girlfriend, and everyone knows chicks dig comedians. Steve Klarich (retired) was into it because it was an excuse not to hang out with his girlfriend at the time. Anthony Fedele (retired) planted the seed, along with Sean Landis and Caroline Rhoads. They helped secure a great coach and consummate professional in Kristen Schier. Kristen’s experience and insight as a coach made the group easy to launch. Although some of the original cast retired/furloughed due to personal commitments, we have had the good fortune of bringing in other talented performers (Claire and Jeff). The team is now a 6-person totem pole consisting of Sean Landis, Caroline Rhoads, Nick George, R.J. Payne, Jeff Kremzier and Claire Halberstadt.
WO: You guys are the house team for both Comedian Deconstruction and The Not Just Comedy Show. How’d you land those gigs?
BS: Jess invited us to do Comedian Deconstruction and we absolutely loved it. Then we deconstructed him for the F Harold festival last year. It was around that time Jess decided to put a ring on it, and make Bed Savage the house team. Jess was initially looking to form a house team for the Not Just Comedy Show, and asked us to fill in until he did that. We did the first show, loved it again, and Jess and Bed Savage got married for a second time! Jess Carpenter is the mastermind behind these gigs. His energy and effort to find local comedy legends and get buns in the seats make the shows work.
WO: For those shows, you deconstruct a stand-up comic’s and a musician’s set, respectively. When you’re not deconstructing, do you have a regular improv form that you use, like a Harold or Armando? If so, how did you choose that form, and which do you prefer—that form, or deconstructing?
BS: When we’re not deconstructing we perform a Leonardo, which is a loose Armando mixed with some Harold. So that entails a monologue from one of us to start the show, then some follow-up questions on the monologue (mostly just to make fun of whoever told the story), some scenes, some games, some more scenes, some more games then a blackout.
Every one of us really likes deconstructions. It’s probably because our parents never let us take apart our Legos after we’d built something. If you wasted a set on some stupid block tower, oh well, you had to live with that forever. Now we’re making up for all that pent-up aggression to break things down by deconstructing amazing comedians such as Chip Chantry and Mary Radzinski. Doing the deconstructing is really fun because you have the advantage of seeing the audiences’ reaction to different jokes and you have the freedom to put your own spin on the scene and incorporate the stand-ups’ punchline or premise. It also allows for some great callbacks to jokes that the audience may have overlooked or didn’t quite catch. Oh—and our deconstructions are not “classical” deconstructions as known by many in the improv world.
WO: Claire (of Suggestical and previously ZaoGao) is the most recent addition to the team, correct? How was she recruited, and how has it been working with her so far? What do you think she brings to the team?
BS: We don’t know how we landed Claire. We kinda fell ass-backwards into that one. It was like wait, she’s into it? Really? Why?? She brings so much to the team though, like a creepy basement with a mattress in it, or huge bags of snacks that have both salty snacks like chips AND sweet snacks like chocolate, or bags of wine for us to slap. Oh, and she’s an amazingly talented improviser and performer who brings energy, creativity and general awesomeness to the team. She provides a great level of intensity onstage and really commits to each character and scene. She brings her “A” game every night and it’s fun trying to keep up with her.
Jeff Krezmier is also a recent addition to the team. Jeff has some great characters and voices that often end up sounding like Kermit the Frog. Sometimes things get a little weird on stage.
WO: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming your name has something to do with Ben Savage. So…Can each of you describe either your favorite episode of Boy Meets World, or the influence the show/Ben Savage has had on the team or its members personally, spiritually and/or comedically?
BS: Our name is a play on the duality of man, reflecting our animalistic origins, while commenting on our addiction to materialistic comforts and predetermined departure from nature. Who the hell is Ben Savage?
But Jeff is definitely a Fred Savage fan. He’s still trying to unlock the secret of how Fred landed Winnie Cooper.
You can see Bed Savage next at ‘The Not Just Comedy Show’ TONIGHT at The Grape Room (105 Grape Street, Manyunk) at 8pm. Admission is $5.