One Idiot was formed at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York as part of Maude Night, their in-house sketch program. Their latest show, “What the Horse Saw”, earned them a permanent run at the UCB and was presented at the New York Comedy Festival as The Best Of UCB Sketch.
We spoke to One Idiot’s Caroline Cotter, Andrew Freed, Yoni Lotan and Katelyn Trela (who answered as a singular hive mind) about their process and what they have planned for this year’s Austin Sketch Fest.
I’m interviewing a Maude Team from UCBLA as well. How do the coasts compare, artistically/comedically speaking?
One Idiot: The content is different – and, you know, content is king. In L.A., all their sketches are probably about L.A. things – beach stuff, agents, auditions. We do New York stuff – subway sketches, dirty street stuff, rats – very urban sketches. We do it by and for the people of our dirty city. Also we’re funnier?
What do you have planned for Austin Sketch Fest this year?
One Idiot: We’re really pumped to be part of the Austin Sketch Fest! We’ve got a mix of classic sketches and some new babies going up. Plus, it’s the first trip to Austin for all of us! We’re very excited about tacos, In’N’Out, all other foods, observing and talking to nice people, driving, swimming in pools, and releasing our weird into Austin.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of coming up through the UCB ranks, being put on a team vs. striking out on your own?
One Idiot: Coming up through UCB is great – you get to work with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. When teams are formed, actors and writers are specifically picked to work together – so someone objectively says these sensibilities and personalities would work well together and produce funnies. There’s also an added sense of responsibility; the work you put up is representing the UCB Theatre in New York, which is iconic. So that, plus the time and energy you have to put into creating the kind of shows we create – we’re really focused on one-act comedic plays – really made us a cohesive unit. What The Horse Saw – the one-act play that got us promoted off of UCB’s Maude Night and into our own bi-monthly slot – was a huge solidifying moment for One Idiot. We all had to consciously decide to make this change, take on more responsibility, and keep creating ambitious projects, which we’ve done.
Who are your influences? Who has blown your mind?
One Idiot: We blow each other’s minds. In all honesty, there are too many of us with different influences to answer this question without it becoming a listicle titled “95 Comedy Influences From a Bunch Of Idiots.”
Do you have any fun “worst show” or “worst audience member” stories?
One Idiot: We haven’t really had any of those. It’s hard to bomb at UCB! The people who come to the shows are there to laugh at your funnies, and they will. Probably our craziest show as a team was last summer when we were still on Maude Night. We decided to try to do a theme show — 6 sketches that were all set in the same house during a teenager’s high school makeout party. We put together this really fun show, got a bunch of extras, and the crowd was loving it. But the show was going long, so we were going to get cut off. The writers had to try to communicate that to the actors on stage from the audience without breaking anything up. Two of the actors’ parts were lines yelled from backstage, so the writers told them, they changed their lines, fast forwarding to the end of the sketch (essentially cutting out 95% of it), the actors on stage rolled with it, and we ended the show with a totally confusing quarter of a sketch. But, the audience didn’t notice, they still laughed, and we are still performing at the UCB Theatre.
Do you have any fun “best show” stories?
One Idiot: Our last show, What The Horse Saw, which ran for four-ish months at the theatre. It’s such a fun, goofy show that everyone on and off stage really, really loved. Having the run we had – four months versus one night on Maude Night – made it even more fun. It got better every time we did it. Our last performance of it, which was in April, all the actors really got loose and had a great time. I think generally, theme shows and one-acts — the stuff that we’re doing now as a House team at UCB — is so much fun. We’re really an ensemble team, so getting to show off that ensemble as much as possible makes for the best shows.
What should people interested in comedy know that you didn’t know when you started?
One Idiot: Stop waiting for an opportunity and just do it. Start writing sketches or jokes, take classes, go to comedy shows. Comedy is a lot more work than it looks. Structure and, with sketch, scripts, and cohesive-ness are very important.
What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year?
One Idiot: Oh man, oh man. We’re performing What The Horse Saw at the Philly Sketch Fest (5/20) as part of a Tennessee Williams’ comedic homage, of sorts. We’re also going to be creating some really fun web content using the YouTube studio spaces in New York. We just started the run of our new show — This Murder: A Real Murder — at the UCB Theatre in Chelsea in New York. It’s a satirical riff on shows like Making A Murderer and Serial, and it’s got a lot of very high quality poop jokes. In the long term, we’ve been talking about filming What The Horse Saw. So, if you know Harvey Weinstein, or if Harvey, you are reading this, we would love to talk funding
We need to increase the visibility of this article. Any suggestions for a click-bait headline?
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You can catch One Idiot performing Friday May 27th at 10pm at Spiderhouse Ballroom, along with Your Terrific Neighbors and Martin Urbano. TICKETS HERE