Joe Wengert (Kroll Show, Comedy Central’s The Half Hour, Comedy Bang Bang) presents his one-person show, Stages of Adulthood, at Austin Sketch Fest. After conducting over three hours of research into the adult experience, Joe has expanded upon the work of Erik Erikson and is ready to present new, little known stages of adulthood to world — stages of adulthood like: “Impulsivity” vs. “Thoughtful Decision Making” and “Creativity” vs. “Obsession with Dumb Shit.”
We sat down and spoke with Joe about Austin plans, Kroll Show, and one of his worst gigs ever.
You come from an improv background. Do you get a chance to use any of those skills in your scripted work?
Joe Wengert: Constantly. What you see a group of improvisers doing on stage isn’t all that different from what you would see in a writer’s room full of people pitching jokes and stories. Being able to listen, think on your feet, and build comedic ideas with others are all skills you need on stage and in a writer’s room.
Kroll Show just wrapped. What was the writing process for that show like?
Joe: We would spend the start of every day hanging out and talking about stuff we had seen, things that were bothering us, things we found funny. If something got a big reaction from the room, we’d start thinking if it fit in the world of a specific character. We would also take time focusing on specific characters/shows and pitch to them.
Once we had ideas we liked, our head writer would assign them to writers, sometimes individually, some times in pairs. Nick Kroll and John Levenstein would give notes before rewrites and then everyone would punch up before shooting.
Which Kroll Show characters would you most want to have their own show?
Joe: I think, like most Kroll Show fans, I am hoping for a ten episode event series about the early life of Inuit Andy.
Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today?
JOE: I think Inside Amy Schumer is the best sketch comedy on right now and it just keeps getting better. I’d been a big fan of The Birthday Boys stage shows since I moved to LA. Their TV show was extremely unique and specific and very well executed. I’m also a big fan of WOMEN comedy and these videos called “How To Make It In USA” from Joe Pera and Connor O’Malley
What makes you laugh the most?
Joe: After you do comedy for a while you start to watch it and appreciate it, but you don’t laugh a lot.
The last time I got into an uncontrollable laughing fit, I was seeing a friend’s short film as part of a two hour program in LA. Right in the middle they showed this crude animation of flags. Like, it would be the flag of Italy and then that would break into three little blobs of color and they would fly around the screen and then morph into a different flag and then that flag would turn into, I don’t know, lightning bolts or some shit. The soundtrack was this fuzzed out electric guitar that was probably definitely being played by the same guy who drew the flags. And this thing went on FOREVER. Just flag after flag after flag. I mean, they hit EVERY flag. It felt like it was forty five minutes long. Or an hour and a half? Time started to lose all meaning. And I started imagining the weirdo burn-out working on this thing forever. “Can’t come out tonight, man! Gotta animate more flags, man!”
So I guess I’m really into “too long animation of flags” right now.
Do you have any fun “worst show” or “worst audience member” stories?
Joe: I had to do AN HOUR at this banquet for a bizarre group of trade schools in Long Island. This was about a year after I moved to LA so I flew back across the country, and then took a never-ending series of trains and buses to some remote part of Long Island.
This coalition of trade schools was a weird grab-bag. It included everything from beauty schools to actuarial schools.
I did NOT have an hour of material at this point. And they specifically asked me to write material about the schools, which I did in character. I was Pauly Shore’s brother who was somehow involved in the accreditation of trade schools… It made zero sense. And then I tried to transition from this terrible half baked Pauly Shore character into my own stand up. It was a nightmare.
And these poor people just wanted to eat dinner, so everything fell on deaf ears. It was so much work and effort for basically nothing in return.
Do you have any fun “best show” stories?
What are you looking forward to while visiting Austin?
Joe: An unhealthy amount of BBQ
Share with us your tips for a job interview.
Joe: Just be yourself, unless you are a nightmare person that people wouldn’t want to spend all day with - then I would switch it up.
We need to increase the visibility of this article. Any suggestions for a clickbait headline?
Joe: “This comedian has the secret to reducing unwanted belly fat.”
What’s on the horizon for Joe Wengert?”
Joe: I am going to be writing for the next season of New Girl and I’m really hoping that we do some episodes where Jess gets into animating flags. Also, I’ve cracked the secret the reducing unwanted belly fat but I can’t talk about that yet.
Joe Wengert performs Saturday, May 23rd, 8:30pm at Spider House Ballroom with Bullshit Women. TICKETS HERE.