David Blaine does "magic" but Nipsey is really magical. Check out their combined wisdom in this ASF Hot Seat interview.
We're excited to have you come to town! When did you first start working together?
How did you come up with your team name / show title?
We used some complicated math website. Threw out a ton of names and then people voted for ones they liked. The website said 'Majestic Bird' came out as the favorite. So for half a day we were 'Majestic Bird.' Then a few team members went out for drinks that night and somehow a conspiracy formed and one thing led to another and the next day we were Nipsey. Griffin loves Nipsey Russell and lobbied to name the team after him.
What was the first sketch idea you can remember having as a group or an individual?
My first memory with Nipsey was a sketch about 'The Simpsons.' I always thought it was weird that Homer chokes Bart. It was right around the time that the show 'The Slap' was debuting. So I had an idea of what would happen if Homer slapped Bart. It was really challenging to decide how to present that as a sketch, but working with Nipsey I was finally able to figure it out and it ended up being a really fun one to do.
What's your creative process like? How do you generate ideas and keep it fresh?
We meet as a group a lot. We've been trying to do more ambitious shows so that requires a lot of planning. We generally do one pitch where we throw out a bunch of theme ideas. And then another pitch to come up with ideas based on the theme we chose. From there, the writers meet to work on the bones of the script and eventually we have the actors come in to bring life to it.
Who are your influences? Who are some of your favorite sketch comedy acts performing today? Who has blown your mind?
When I first started doing stuff at UCB, I'd say Pangea 3000 was the first live sketch show I remember really being blown away with. As far as groups performing today, I'd say Girls With Brown Hair are my favs. They can do no wrong.
Do you have any fun "worst show" or "worst audience member" stories?
Oh, brother. We have a sketch that involves one of our actors, Yoni, gyrating in his underwear while using a VR headset. Without fail, he gets up next to one audience member who loves it and is doubled over laughing and they're usually sitting right next to someone who is just not having it. We have video of audience members who refuse to even crack a smile during the bit.
Do you have any fun "best show" stories?
The time David Blaine came to one of our shows at UCB and then after the show he came back stage and we asked how he liked it and with a wry smile he said, "It was magical." The whole thing was surreal.
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.
We all have one. Mine is crispy beef. It's a dish you can find on some Chinese restaurant menus and I love it and have tried several times to write a sketch about crispy beef. Griffin always pitches stuff involving Robocop since he spent too much money on a Robocop costume and hasn't been able to use it. He's gotten a Robocop sketch as far as dress rehearsal but never in an actual show.
What should people interested in comedy know about performing sketch that you didn't know when you started?
If your not gonna keep your goofy hats and your silly wigs organized and in good condition, just throw them away.
What else – comedy wise – are you looking forward to this year? What do you have cooking?
This question gives me anxiety.