Everyone at Austin Sketch Fest is (total duh) big fans of UCB and we’re perpetually on the edge of a swoon that UCB sketch team Beige is coming down. Check’em out Saturday 10pm along with self-help guru LanceLife. We asked Beige’s Jon Bershad for some brownish information.
For folks at home, what’s the process of forming a UCB sketch team?
Jon Bershad: Unlike the way 99% of sketch comedy groups form (a group of dudes in a college dorm realize they tell complimentary Star Wars jokes and use the same weed dealer), the house sketch teams at the UCB Theatre are put together through a big audition and submission process. The Artistic Director and his cabal of advisers go through all the potential writers and actors and try to put together the best team possible made up of people who will work well together. Sometimes the process doesn’t work. We like to think that, this time, it totally did because we all mesh perfectly.
Except for our one member who really doesn’t fit at all. Come to our show. You’ll be able to pick him or her out.
What’s your writing process like?
Jon: We have six writers, six actors, and four weeks to put together each new show. At the beginning of the month, everyone gets together for a pitch meeting. Then the writers spend a week working on scripts with our director. Then we do a read-through with the actors. After that, the writers do one more draft and we choose the next show which leads into our rehearsal week.
In the writers’ room itself, we try to be as collaborative as possible. Everyone throws out ideas for each others’ sketches. It’s great! And, while the writers aren’t known for their acting, they’ve all gotten really good at politely smiling and pretending like they aren’t going to instantly ignore those suggestions once the meeting is over.
What’s your favorite show that you’ve done?
Jon: Oh man, it’s tough to choose. We’ve done a lot of shows and there are a lot of us choosing. Some of us might say the big musical show we did while some of us are still have night terrors where they wake up screaming about choreography. So, to go for a choice that everyone can agree on, let’s say our first show.
In a crazy coincidence, our first show premiered the exact same day that the gosh darn New York Times published an article about how much fun sketch shows at the UCB were. Combine that endorsement with the fact that people in the community love seeing new teams, and we had a ridiculously packed house. Watching the videos now (is this a good time to plug our YouTube channel?) there were definitely some kinks to smooth out in the months that followed, but the energy in that room was just so amazing.
As much as we love all of our shows, it’s a lot like doing Buzzcock (a crazy street drug they only have in New York); It’s always fun to do but nothing will ever be like that first time you shoved the Buzzcock-filled caulk gun in your nostril and got that first high. Just pure magic.
What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?
Jon: On a sentimental note, our actress Kelly Hudson is a local girl so it’ll be really nice for her to perform for a bunch of her friends and family. Fingers crossed they finally tell her they love her. She’s really been waiting for that.
In addition, I know a bunch of us are excited to see Superego. And we really just want to pop into as many shows as possible so we can go back home and have bullshit, naval-gazing conversations about how “New York comedy is like this while Texas comedy is like this.” We won’t be in any way accurate but it’ll totally make us sound smart at the bar.
What can we expect from your ASF show?
We’ve tried to put together some of everything. We’ve got some dark stuff, some sweet stuff, some weird stuff, and some silly stuff. And we’re going to perform it all with the enthusiasm that only a group of Buzzcock-addicts who caulked up right before the show started can bring!
Seriously, I think you guys will love all of it!
All of it except for our one shitty member. Ugh, they are totally the worst, you guys.
Thanks and please bring us a couple guns of that sweet Buzzcock
Beige performs Saturday 10pm May 25th at the SpiderHouse Ballroom along with LanceLife. Tickets here.