One of the stand-out shows from last year’s Austin Sketch Fest was Your Terrific Neighbors‘ whirlwind performance. Shock collars, male cops with women’s sunglasses, the double duck, crab walking, iced tea spitting – it had it all. You can see them at this year’s Fest on Saturday May 25, along with Ennis & Kaye and Ramin Nazer (tickets here). We caught up with YTN (caught-up = sent an email to) and asked them some hard-hitting questions (hard-hitting = softball).
Braden Walker joined the group this year. Was there any sort of initiation ritual or hazing?
Braden Walker: Curtis and Courtney said to say that there’s absolutely no hazing or initiation involved in joining Your Terrific Neighbors, and that I’m just clumsy, is all! Rapid winks that may or may not be a signal.
Courtney Hopkin: But seriously, we have a very intense high-fiving ritual before each show so Braden had to train for six months to get in shape for that.
Curtis Luciani: But seriously, we made him pledge his eternal fealty to the elder gods. If you don’t know those guys, they are pretty intense, nothing like your contemporary gods. They’re really funny, though, and willing to share material in exchange for blood.
Courtney: But seriously, Braden’s sketch chops are super impressive and he fit in so perfectly. In fact, I had to spend several months convincing him to be in the troupe.
What can we expect from your ASF show?
Curtis: A whole new way of thinking about sketch, man. This thing is gonna be like an Apple keynote. We’re gonna drop it on ya Jobs-style. (R.I.P.)
Courtney: Expect interactivity, all new material and rich, clickable content.
Braden: Laughs 2.0, and a 25 minute show that will feel like 100 free hours… of fun!
What are some of your biggest comedy influences?
Courtney: I’m a sucker for anything British. It might be because it’s good or it might be because it just sounds like they’re smart. My favorite shows are League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh, mostly because they make their shows a full experience that is tied together from beginning to end.
Braden: The earliest comedy influence I remember is watching “Bill Cosby: Himself.” Later I was really into Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, and Mr. Show. So if my influences were one person, he’d be a middle-aged British Canadian African-American Caucasian from Atlanta with three kids who lives in L.A. Help me find this man. Money is no object.
Curtis: Monty Python and Kids in the Hall were kind of the sun and stars for me. I’ve loved a ton of other things, but they were the two forces most responsible for restructuring my brain, comedy-wise. I’ve also been a massive fan of Scharpling & Wurster (of The Best Show on WFMU) for the past seven years. Their style and cadences creep into my head constantly.
Why sketch comedy?
Curtis: Because we’re all gonna die, so what the hell does it matter? Right?
Courtney: All the things I watched as a kid were just shows with lots of little tidy stories: You Can’t Do That on Television, The Muppet Show, Pinwheel. It seems like the natural way to tell stories.
Braden: I think what draws me to sketch comedy is the ability to do create short, absurd pieces of theater. I love the unpredictability of a good sketch show.
What are you looking forward to at Austin Sketch Fest?
Courtney: I’m looking forward to Beige, Rabbit, Rabbit, Lance Life and, of course, Superego.
Curtis: Superego is so awesome—they’re taking a totally different and hilarious approach to sketch comedy from anything I’ve ever seen.
Braden: I demand to see Paul F. Tompkins perform comedy at an comedy theater for a nominal fee!