Women's rights are men's rights and men's rights are human rights. We don't actually believe that but Katie Stone and Erica Lies' characters from their smash hit sketch show Menenists might. Check out what else they have to say in this Hot Seat interview
When did you first start working together?
EL: Last December, really. Katie had suggested we collaborate and she’s hilarious so of course I agreed. We didn’t have any ideas yet or know what shape our project would take, but when I thought about what both our voices had in common, I was like, “Let’s do a ‘Matt & Ben’ style show where we play racist misogynist bros.” And she was down! We were both, to put it mildly, disheartened post-election and freaked out by all the hate and misogyny that was rising to the surface in the U.S. And I goof better than I argue, so I needed an outlet for my snowflake angst.
How did you come up with your show title?
EL: Uh, despair? We literally just texted titles back and forth.
What was the first sketch idea you can remember having as a group or an individual?
KS: There are some really great sketches we pitched early on for this show that we ended up cutting for lack of resources or necessary secondary talents. I wrote a whole parody of Dave Matthews’s Crash Into Me called “Trash History” about the revisionsim the Alt Right practices, and Erica wrote an AMAZING sketch about a law firm called the Devils Advocate that we hope to release as a video later this year.
My own first super funny sketch was about a vampire named Drakeula that only spoke in Drake lyrics, played by Nathan Ehrmann. It’s the best thing I have ever written; please bury me with the transcript.
What's your creative process like? How do you generate ideas and keep it fresh?
EL: It’s some combination of deep dives into scary parts of the internet, reading up on Red Pillers and the white nationalist bros, and then we get coffee and talk about what’s especially galling or ridiculous or hypocritical in those forums. Sometimes we just text each other egregious quotes or awful links. I mean, there’s plenty of stuff to choose from, so it’s mostly about whatever holds our attention enough to write a sketch.
Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today? Who has blown your mind?
EL: I worshipped The State as a kid, and no one else really compared for me. As far as today, My Mans came to sketch fest a couple years ago and they for real did blow my mind. Everything they set up was paid off later, no line was wasted. It. was. Perfect. And King of Kong was fantastic at OOB last year. Some of the best sketch I’ve seen in recent years has been right here in town with Latino Comedy Project, and Heckle Her’s Doper Than Dope. Both of those shows had the total package: strong writing, electric performances, and a point of view with something to say.
Do you have any fun "worst show" or "worst audience member" stories?
EL: Well… this is more “dumbest personal moment.” It wasn’t a Menenists show, but maybe five years ago, I busted my face open backstage at TNM (The New Movement) during a set with my old sketch team, There’s Waldo. My face went numb immediately and it was wet. Because... blood was pouring down my face. On top of it, the sketch I was about to do was a rap duo, so I was dressed like a fancy Juggalette.
Do you have any fun "best show" stories?
KS: Man we did a reading of this at Tightrope at the Institution when we were working it out before we had even hired Chris McKeever as our director, and we slowly felt the blood drain from our faces as we realized we had said the words “white men” maybe 70 times in our 10 allotted minutes. THE SHOW HAS BEEN REVISED SINCE THEN and the audience was actually incredibly supportive as we worked out this show that we knew would toe all sorts of lines.
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.
EL: I’m still shocked Katie even said yes to this concept. I don’t remember either of us ever not being into an idea. There were premises we both liked, but then there ones that felt effortless and that’s what got into the show. But both of us know when something we’re writing isn’t working or isn’t clear, so neither of us is precious about our material.
What should people interested in comedy know about performing sketch that you didn't know when you started?
EL: Well, you definitely need good writing, but it doesn’t live and die on the page. You gotta rehearse enough to make it precise and still look and sound like it’s effortless. It helps to give performers the room to improvise some lines because you find some of the funniest stuff on your feet. And be willing to try anything. My old team would sometimes toss out ideas that sounded horrendous but then we’d put them up in rehearsal and I’d laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe.
What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year? What do you have cooking
KS: We are currently pitching an hour long version of this half-hour show to larger venues in Austin for the fall. Erica has an upcoming reading of her pilot script Beard Mountain and runs the monthly show called Highly Suggestible at the Institution, and my sex-and-dating-advice comedy show Naughty Bits is returning 6/9 (heh heh heh) and troupe Martini Ranch (performing This is [Not] the Gayest Show You’ll Ever See at Sketchfest) will have a new revue out in November.
Check out Meneneists Friday, May 26th at 8:30 PM at ColdTowne Theater! Tix Here