11 Unexplained Links Between Austin Sketch Fest and the Alt-Right ASF HOT SEAT: Ladies and Gentlemen

Ladies and Gentlemen! We present the ASF HOT seat interview with Ladies and Gentlemen (Mason Pitluk and Tess Hermes

When did you first start working together?

The first show either of us ever did was Lovefest 2014 at The Institution Theater. We had a combined three levels of improv experience between us and were both GREEN AF while everyone else in the cast was legitimately very, very good. Naturally, we were united by our mediocrity, became besties, and have been working together ever since.

How did you come up with your team name / show title?

We’re classy AF. Next question.

What was the first sketch idea you can remember having as a group or an individual?

During Lovefest, we somehow had the balls to write a sketch and ask our director (the super dope Clifton Highfield, shout out Clif) to put it in the show. He obliged and it was actually really funny. It was two people meeting for a first date over a cup of coffee, then experiencing every phase of a relationship over the course of that first date. Up until shockingly recently it was still the best thing we’d ever written.

What's your creative process like? How do you generate ideas and keep it fresh?

Mostly we just get high and try to make each other laugh. Tess is normally much funnier while Mason tries to write it all down. Then, later, we try to make sense of the garbage we wrote down and figure out what made it funny to begin with. It’s never AS funny, but luckily when we’re high it’s REALLY funny so there’s some wiggle room. 

Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today? Who has blown your mind?

We have numerous individual influences, but the sketch we’re most jealous of having not written is Mitchell and Webb’s “Women, Sort Yourself Out.” We consider our brand of comedy “feminist satire.” Also, we are truly despicable people. To us, this is perfect. It’s only a minute. YouTube it for CHRISSAKES.

Do you have any fun "worst show" or "worst audience member" stories?

Every show we’ve ever done has been FINE. Seriously though, there have been sooooo many times a sketch kills one night then tanks the next. Comedy is a fickle dickweed. Also, there was that one time we put together an episode of our show not knowing two of the people we’d cast hated one another until that became blatantly apparent minutes before showtime. Ahhhh, memories.

Do you have any fun "best show" stories?

We created a show together called Late Night Time Machine. The success of that show is easily the worst thing that could’ve ever happened for our egos. Our “fun best show” story is that we are now both ego monsters. Mostly Mason, though. He needs to cool it.

Are there any ideas that you've had that you can't seem to make work or convince the rest of the team / troupe is actually funny.

Mason wanted to end a sketch about a dad and a daughter where it turns out that the daughter is actually a prostitute, not really a daughter. I mean, I guess she’d still be someone’s daughter, just not that guy’s. Anyway, Tess thought it was too dark because she has sense. We still might do it, though.

What should people interested in comedy know about performing sketch that you didn't know when you started?

The script you write is never as important as the fun you have performing it. If you don’t have chemistry with your teammates, just like in improv, it won’t matter how good everything else is. Good lines can’t save mediocre performances. Enthusiastic, committed performances can make comedy gold out of comedy garbage.

What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year? What do you have cooking?

We’re both in an improv troupe, Channel 2, that’s headlining the Threefer every Thursday in May at the Hideout Theatre. After this month we have nothing to look forward to, comedically or otherwise.


Check out Ladies and Gentlemen Monday, May 22nd at 8:00 PM at ColdTowne! Tix Here