Mark Leopold "Interviews" Aubrie Williams

Mark Leopold is a Philadelphia improviser, sketch comedian, employee, future-skin-cancer-victim-because-he-doesn’t-really-believe-the-scores-of-studies-linking-sunburn-to-skin-cancer-risk, and a friend. He is a member of the PHIT house team Hey Rube as well as a new addition to the cast of Comedysportz and he does sketch comedy with his group The Hold-up. When he isn’t doing one of these things he is busy doing other things, like working and laundry, and so while he sincerely wishes he was able to be a real interviewer, the best he is able to do is interview people in his head while he drives different places. Today, while on 476 north, Mark took some time to sit down in Rittenhouse Square with Philadelphia comedian, improviser, sketch lady, and King Friday member Aubrie Williams.
MARK LEOPOLD: Hey Aubrie, it’s me Mark!
They knuckle dap ironically.
AUBRIE WILLIAMS: Boom.
ML: So let’s just clear up the question which everyone is asking. Are you related to Alan Williams?
AW: Nope, we just have the same last name.
ML: What about my friend from college Tom Williams?
AW: Again no.
ML: And you were never married to either of them.
AW: I was not.
Mark scans his list of notes about what to cover in this interview.
ML: (making thoughtful noises) Okay then…moving right along. Tell me about your childhood.
AW: Well I grew up in the suburbs so…
A panhandler walks by them slowly with a sign reading “Out of work (line break) lost my home (line break) Anything helps” Mark becomes very interested in his notes and begins making amendments and additions which will later prove to be nothing more than a series of squiggly lines, but he assumes that the panhandler will not be able to determine the difference. Aubrie meanwhile speaks in the slow halting fashion of someone who is focusing more on a passing panhandler than on the response she is giving.
AW: …there…wasn’t…a…lot…to…do…so…I…found…ways…to…amuse…myself…with…stuff…like…I…don’t…know…stuff…and…
The panhandler, having passed a far enough distance away to be spoken about, is now approached by an older man around forty seven and given what appears to be five dollars. Mark ponders what his responsibility in such situations is. People always say not to give panhandlers money, but is it uncharitable not to? Or conversely, is it wrong to give them money?
ML: Would it be wrong to give him money?
AW: I don’t think so.
ML: But what if he’s like a drug addict and he uses the money to buy drugs. Am I responsible for that?
AW: I don’t think so.
ML: I read a Steven King short story once about a guy who makes like a hundred grand a year pretending to be a panhandler and now I doubt the honesty of every panhandler I meet.
AW: That doesn’t seem fair.
ML: I saw a guy down on Columbus Ave. with nicer sneakers than me.
AW: He might have gotten them before he lost everything.
ML: I think by definition, that means he hasn’t yet lost everything.
AW: Just his home and his livelihood?
ML: Yeah…but he still has some really nice sneakers.
AW: You’re a glass half full kinda guy aren’t you?
ML: I think it’s the little things in life that make it worth living.
AW: I need an example.
ML: Okay, like when you’re driving down the highway in the rain and you go underneath an underpass and there is that momentary respite from the sound of the rain hitting your roof.
AW: I don’t think these people have cars…
ML: …and they probably spend more than just a moment beneath underpasses…
AW: What?
ML: I imagine they live below underpasses.
AW: Do they?
ML: Yeah, they have little villages right?
Another panhandler walks by, a woman this time. Her sign is even sadder. It’s so sad I won’t even read it to you. It’s just super sad.
AW: Wow.
ML: Yeah…that sign…whew.
AW: Gut-wrenching.
ML: Does it seem like there are more panhandlers now than there used to be?
AW: When?
ML: I don’t know, before.
AW: It’s probably because of the economy.
ML: Weird…if you lost your job would you ever consider becoming a panhandler?
AW: I’d have to be in pretty dire straits.
ML: I don’t think I could do it.
AW: Too proud?
ML: No, I just couldn’t be on my feet all day. They’re just walking up and down the same forty feet of pavement all day.
AW: Yeah, they’re actually pretty industrious if you think about it.
ML: There is a hierarchy of the laziness of the poor and I would put panhandlers at the least lazy end.
AW: Who’s on the other end.
ML: I’d rather not say.
AW: Very diplomatic.
The sad sign lady is back and we discover that the sadness of her sign compounds with each reading. Mark starts blinking a lot. Aubrie weeps openly.
ML: (clearing his throat gruffly) Well…
AW: …yeah…
ML: I’m going to scoot now…
AW: …yeah…
They knuckle dap sincerely, happy to share a moment of physical contact with another human being. It may be the saddest knuckle dap of all time.
Oh God, the sad lady is coming back…

Mark Leopold "Interviews" Alan Williams

Mark Leopold is a Philadelphia improviser, sketch comedian, employee, someone-who-sleeps-laying-directly-on-his-back-with-his-arms-down-at-his-sides-and-with-his-legs-straight-and-slightly-set-apart-on-top-of-a-memory-form-mattress-which-makes-him-feel-as-though-he-is-an-action-figure-in-it’s-original-packaging, and a friend. He is a member of the PHIT house team Hey Rube as well as a new addition to the cast of Comedysportz and he does sketch comedy with his group The Hold-up. When he isn’t doing one of these things he is busy doing other things,like working and laundry, and so while he sincerely wishes he was able to be a real interviewer,the best he is able to do is interview people in his head while he drives different places. Today,while driving down route 1 on his way to the shore, Mark took some time to sit down on the beach in his head with Philadelphia improviser and Comedysportz teammate Alan Williams.

MARK LEOPOLD: Hey Alan, it’s me Mark!

ALAN WILLIAMS: Hey Mark.

Mark and Alan sit quietly together, watching the waves roll in. The sun directly overhead beats down upon them. Alan reapplies sunscreen. Mark checks over at Alan to see if it seems like he wants to talk. It doesn’t seem like he wants to. Mark reaches into his bag and in brings out the book he brought to the beach, mostly because the beach seems like one of those places you’re supposed to bring books. He opens up the first page and begins reading.

AW: Ahem.

Mark looks over at Alan, unsure if he said something or not. He mentally weighs his options and determines that if Alan has said something it’s far ruder to seem like he’s ignoring it.

ML: Sorry?

Now it seems like Alan hasn’t heard him. A wave was coming in just as Mark was saying it, so it’s entirely possible that Alan just didn’t hear him.

ML: Did you say something?

Alan, still looking at the waves, now notices that Mark is looking over at him and seems to be saying something. Alan takes his earbuds out.

AW: Did you say something?

ML: Yeah, I asked if you said something.

AW: When?

ML: A few seconds ago.

AW: …I don’t think so. Was I saying something?

ML: That’s what I’m asking.

AW: I was listening to a book on tape…

ML: Right…but did you say something?

AW: I don’t know.

ML: Never mind then.

Mark and Alan both turn back to the waves, rolling inexorably in to the beach. Mark returns to his book. Alan, checking to see if Mark seems like he wants to talk and ascertaining that he doesn’t, moves to put his earbuds back in.

ML: It is really hot.

AW: (abruptly stopping putting his earbuds back in) Hm? Oh…yeah.

ML: You want to go?

AW: What? Already?

ML: Yeah man, it’s terrible here.

AW: Terrible? We’re sitting on a beautiful beach, watching the waves come crashing in on a gorgeous day.

ML: It’s just way too hot.

AW: Go in the water and cool off then.

ML: What? Ew. No. Do you know how polluted that water is?

AW: It’s fine, don’t be a wimp.

ML: Ugh, all I can imagine is all the tiny microscopic things living in that water and finding their way into my body.

AW: I never knew you were such a germaphobe.

ML: It’s not just germs in there man. There are tiny fish and plankton. It’s just gross. The water is actually opaque with the density of non-water material in it.

AW: So you’re too hot, but instead of going and cooling off in the OCEAN of water directly in front of you, you think it makes more sense to drive two hours home?

ML: It would be different if the water was clear, like if we were at one of those beaches you see in rum commercials.

AW: You should have put us on one of those then.

ML: I’ve never been to one of them, I’ve only been to beaches in New Jersey and I’m serious man, it is boiling lava hot out here. Can we just go?

AW: You go, I’m going to stay.

ML: How are you going to get home?

AW: I’ll figure it out.

ML: Don’t be crazy, just ride with me.

AW: Mark, it’s fine, I’ll grab a cab or something.

ML: A cab from the shore? Do you have any idea how expensive that’s going to be?

AW: Not really.

ML: Me neither, but I’d imagine it’s probably super expensive.

AW: I’ll rent a car then.

ML: Just ride with me!

AW: We just got here. I wanted to come to the beach. You said you did too. Now we’re here and I want to actually spend a little time here before I go back.

ML: It’s too hot!

AW: What did you think it would be like on the beach?

ML: I don’t know okay? I didn’t think it out very clearly. It’s summertime and I know people talk about going to the beach and seem excited about the prospect so I thought it wouldn’t be this terrible.

AW: It’s not terrible! It’s just warm.

ML: Not warm, hot. And it’s also really sandy.

AW: So you’re complaints about the beach are that it’s hot and sandy? Congratulations, you just described what a beach is.

ML: Fine, we’ll compromise.

Mark and Alan stay at the beach, but now it’s not as hot, it’s maybe 77 degrees and the humidity is really low and there’s a nice breeze coming in. Not a strong breeze, because then that would kick sand up onto Mark and Alan and since they’re still sweating a little bit (I’m a really easy sweater okay?) if any sand got blown onto them it would stick to their skin and make it really gritty and that would be super uncomfortable. So a nice, soft, gentle breeze. And you know what, screw it, the water is clear and nice like the water in those Corona commercials. That sounds good too. Alan and Mark sit in two beach chairs facing out to the water as the waves come gently lapping onto the shore, they clink their Coronas together over a bucket full of ice and more Coronas.

ML: Now this is miles away from ordinary.

AW: Ugh, you’re the worst.


Significant Passages from Dick Cheney’s Memoir “In My Time” Removed by the Editor (by Greg Maughan)

Confession that he didn’t like Kid Rock’s country music, or Rock music in general, or kids: “I always found children were more useful as a way to avoid being drafted than as a source of happiness and meaning in one’s life.”

Details of meeting with Hollywood director Bryan Singer after he stepped down as Secretary of Defense that served inspiration for the character Keyzer Soze in The Usual Suspects: “When the movie was released I was furious – I had made an explicit deal with Singer to name the villain based of myself ‘Haddam al-Sussein’ and make him middle-eastern, not eastern European.”

Admission that he found daughter Mary “hotter” after she came out as a lesbian, but didn’t think she was a “MILF” after the birth of his grandson Samuel: “Perhaps I would have felt differently if the birth hadn’t left a C-section scar, or Mary’s partner Heather hadn’t let herself go so badly.”

Pushed for war to overthrow Saddam Hussein because watching Wolf Blitzer report live from Iraq was wife Lynne’s only turn-on: “Watching Lynne become flushed any time she heard The Situation Room theme music always made my heart race, or at least it did when I still had a pulse.”

Vivid description of hunting trip in Bend Bend Ranch State Park with Texas Governor Rick Perry during autumn 2005 at which Cheney won a contest to see who could kill more migrant workers: “I was both surprised and deeply offended to learn that the blood of Mexicans is red, just like American blood.”

Moment when he realized “enhanced interrogation” wasn’t as effective as claimed after personally failing to waterboard David Chase into revealing whether Tony died when the final episode of The Sopranos cut to black:“Chase did eventually begin trying to bargain, promising he would write a Sopranos movie that made Tony’s fate clear, but by that point I had lost interest in anything he said that didn’t immediately address my question.”

First-hand account of meeting where Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales agreed to replace Bush’s Presidential Daily Briefing with Marmaduke comics during height of the Iraqi insurgency:“Rummy was insistent that we include the ‘Dog Gone Funny’ sidebars from the Sunday strips as well, but Al wouldn’t have any of it. He claimed the President might recognize one of his own letters to Brad Anderson about Barney as the inspiration for the panels.”

Entire chapter dedicated to his time since leaving office filled with synopses of 24 episodes and a rank order list of former Vice President’s favorite crossbows available for purchase at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming Kmart: “I especially enjoy 24 because the creator Joel Surnow assassinated not one, but two African-American Democratic Presidents.”

Passage in which Cheney explains he feels more human since he had a pump installed in his heart that leaves him without a pulse: “While it’s true that being alive without a heartbeat is unusual, it’s also unusual to have a metal plate for a skull – and I don’t see anybody claiming Gabby Giffords is a machine.”

 


Mark Leopold "Interviews" Dennis Trafny

Mark Leopold is a Philadelphia improviser, sketch comedian, employee, someone-whose-affection-for-cheese-leads-him-to-buy-far-more-than-he actually-ends-up-using-and-in-the-end-probably-wastes-more-than-he-eats-and-just-really-wishes-he-had-that-part-of-his-life-worked-out-a-little-more clearly,and a friend. He is a member of the PHIT house team Hey Rube as well as a new addition to the cast of Comedysportz and he does sketch comedy with his group The Hold-up. When he isn’t doing one of these things he is busy doing other things, like working and laundry, and so while he sincerely wishes he was able to be a real interviewer, the best he is able to do is interview people in his head while he drives different places. Today, while on 95 south, Mark took some time to sit down on a Euclidian plane in his head with Philadelphia improviser and Hey Rube teammate Dennis Trafny.

Mark Leopold: Hey Dennis, it's me Mark!

Dennis Trafny: Where the hell are we?

ML: It's a Euclidian plane.

DT: Is this a metaphor?

ML: Nope, just a mathematical plane.

DT: I mean, does the existence of this place inside of you represent some subtle and ignored aspect of who you are?

ML: Uh...maybe. I just thought it would be a neat place to do an interview.

DT: Why?

ML: Because it's a place where math and physics exist perfectly. In the real world, the imperfections of matter prevent those things from being observably true.

DT: This is starting to sound a whole lot like a metaphor.

ML: It’s not a metaphor. Just drop it. I thought you would like it here.

DT: I don’t.

ML: Why not? It’s awesome…math and physics exist as a reali…

DT: Pirate ship.

ML: Pardon?

DT: You should have chosen to interview me on a pirate ship.

ML: …that…seems…dumb.

DT: Pirate ships are in no way dumb.

ML: Okay fine.

The Euclidian plane, which was totally awesome, fades away and is replaced by a big dumbpirate ship. Mark and Dennis are now suddenly dressed as pirates, which makes no sense at all,but hey, whatever right?

DT: What the hell?

ML: What!

DT: These are the worst pirate outfits ever. They’re not even close to anything authentic.

ML: What did you expect? I have no exposure to pirate culture. My only reference for piracy is a news item from a few years ago and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

DT: I think you misspelled Carrbiean.

ML: Nope, I had to check with Google, but it’s spelled Caribbean.

DT: You’re sure? Two Bs in a row?

ML: It’s a crazy mixed up world Dennis.

DT: Well either way you could make us look more badass…

ML: Swiss Family Robinson.

DT: …

ML: There were pirates in that movie as well, but again, they were like cartoon pirates.

DT: Whatever, let’s just shoot cannons or something while we’re here.

ML: Forget this, we’re going back to the Euclidian plane.

DT: No, come on…

ML: Hey, I’m running this interview okay? I’ll do it where I want to do it. I initially thought you’d be psyched about the Euclidian plane…

DT: Why would I be excited about that?

ML: Because you’re a doctor! I thought you’d be impressed.

DT: I’m a veterinarian.

ML: …which is like a doctor.

DT: Not really.

ML: You went to animal medical school and stuff, so it’s like a doctor.

DT: It really isn’t. I mean, when pretty much the first thing you recommend is euthanasia, it’s not exactly…

ML: …this is starting to feel really disrespectful towards veterinarians.

DT: We’re cool with it.

ML: Well you better be. I don’t need Dr. Dolittle showing up at my door…

DT: Okay, now you’re crossing a line dude.

ML: Ugh, whatever. I need to pull over and get some gas anyway.

DT: Later.

ML: Yeah…later.

Dennis stands there on the Euclidian plane dressed like a stupid pirate…and it makes no sense.


Mark Leopold "Interviews" Aaron Hertzog

Mark Leopold is a Philadelphia improviser, sketch comedian, employee, driver-who-talks-on-his-cell-phone-but-is-constantly-scanning-the-road-for-police-officers-because-then-he’ll- totally-just-drop-his-phone-into-his-lap-and-pretend-he-was-just-resting-his-head-on-his-hand- and-they’ll-never-even-have-a-clue, and a friend. He is a member of the PHIT house team Hey Rube as well as a new addition to the cast of Comedysportz and he does sketch comedy with his group The Hold-up. When he isn’t doing one of these things he is busy doing other things, like working and laundry, and so while he sincerely wishes he was able to be a real interviewer, the best he is able to do is interview people in his head while he drives different places. Today, while on 476 north, Mark took some time to sit down in a very quaint coffee shop in his head with Philadelphia comedian, improviser, sketch guy, and Hey Rube teammate Aaron Hertzog.

MARK LEOPOLD: Hey Aaron, it’s me Mark!

AARON HERTZOG: (laughing) Hey Mark.

ML: I’m glad you took the time to sit down with me today.

AH: I’m happy to do it Mark.

ML: So let’s just dive right in, who are you and what have you done with my son?

Aaron laughs and Mark joins him. Aaron stops laughing and looks at Mark expectantly.

ML: Do you want money? Is that it?

AH: I don’t have your son, I didn’t even know you had a son.

ML: I don’t in real life, but I do here.

AH: Here in your head?

ML: Yes. Here in my head at the coffee shop which, now that I stop and think about it for a second, is just the coffee shop from Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio explains the premise of the movie to Ellen Page.

AH: You want to make everything explode? This is your day dream after all.

ML: Get real Aaron! That would be so derivative.

The coffee shop explodes but, since my memory isn’t great, the way it is rendered leaves a lot to be desired.

AH: That was fun.

ML: Eh.

AH: You didn’t think that was fun?

ML: The whole thing just felt forced.

AH: …okay then.

There is a moment of uncomfortable silence as Mark looks at a speck of something that is floating in his coffee. He hopes it’s just a coffee ground, but with all the explosions and everything, it seems more likely to be a piece of debris. He picks it out of his coffee and wipes his fingers on a napkin. Aaron tries to force small talk.

AH: I don’t drink coffee.

ML: No?

AH: No, I don’t like the taste.

ML: Yeah, I could see that.

AH: I guess I’m not an “adult.”

ML: Do you still like the smell of gasoline?

AH: Yeah.

ML: Me too, but not as much.

AH: That’s weird how you grow to like some smells when you grow up and you stop liking others. You always hear about acquired tastes, but you don’t hear much about acquired smells.

ML: Like body odor.

AH: I don’t think that’s true.

ML: I think I read somewhere that Matthew McConaughey doesn’t wear deodorant because he thinks women like the way he smells naturally.

AH: I bet he smells like vanilla.

ML: …but like, really manly vanilla.

AH: That wouldn’t work out as well for me.

ML: Yeah, me neither, I’m an Old Spice man now. I made the switch. It took a little while for my armpits to stop burning when I put it on, but I think the nerve endings are dead now. So it was tough, but hey, I really like their commercials.

AH: Well you had no choice then.

ML: True. Op! This is my exit Aaron, I gotta run.

AH: See you! Friendship!

ML: Friendship!

The coffee shop re-explodes.