WitOut: How did Til Death Do Us Part form, and how long have you and Steve been performing together as a duo?
Mary Carpenter: I guess we started about 3 years ago. We’ve been in ComedySportz together for over 10 years. I just always loved watching and performing with Steve. He’s incredibly selfless and brilliantly funny. He is always 100% present and working with him is effortless. We often talked about working on something outside of ComedySportz, and we realized that we often wound up playing couples on stage. So, we decided to take our improv relationship to the next level. I got down on one knee, and the rest is history.
WO: Your show is described as “an improvised take on wedded bliss.” Is it always “bliss,” or do you also explore other states of marriage—like unhappy, stressed, etc.?
MC: Oh, we explore all the fun, stress, awkwardness. Those are the juicy nougat-y parts of marriage. And we don’t always play a couple, we try and hit it from all angles.
WO: Can you describe the format for your show? Do you play two-person scenes as a couple, or create a wider cast of characters?
MC: We use this brilliant book that Steve’s in-laws gave him: How to Start Your Marriage from the Catholic Church. We give it to a member of the audience and have them skim through it until we say stop. They then read a few sentences from the page they’re on and we use that to inspire our scene. We have them read 3-5 times during a typical show. Sometimes we revisit characters if the opportunity arises.
MC: It informs everything. Between the two of us, there’s years of marriage to draw on. The good, the bad, the surprising, the weird. It’s not a conscious choice to include what we know, but what comes out in the moment is inevitably filtered through the experiences we’ve had. And since we’re not married to each other, there’s no fear of potentially offending the other person and ultimately sleeping on the couch that night.
Catch Til Death Do Us Part at ComedySportz (2030 Sansom Street) this Friday, March 29th at 8pm. Tickets are $12; $5 for improvisers who use the password “I Do.”