Practicing With...Watermelon!

In spending two hours with Watermelon, a semi-experimental former Ewing troupe currently dabbling in musical inspirations for their scenes, there was only one item they insisted be included in this profile, and that is this: Watermelon is Kaspars Skels’ 11th-favorite improv troupe. Even though he’s in it.

a montage of that warm, fuzzy Watermelon love

a montage of that warm, fuzzy Watermelon love

Taken at face value (probably not a wise idea) that really says something about DCH improv troupes, or at least the troupes Kaspars has seen, because man, what a fun, funny, warm, and just awesome troupe Watermelon is. I didn’t go into this rehearsal expecting to come out a drooling fanboy, but here we are.

Besides the discriminating Kaspars, the rest of the troupe is made up of Adam Fullerton, Austin Guttery, Heather McKinney, Caroline Phillips, Frank Buttafarro, Sara Aisenberg, Jame McCraw, and Jesse Gonzales.

They seemed especially relaxed and there to have fun, all of them, which was striking for a Sunday morning. I asked them if that comes down to their obvious chemistry, or did they have some sort of hack to shed nerves?

"I think most of our [relaxed nature] is our chemistry, and we know we are going to support each other,” answered Adam. We’re big fans of each other."

Heather emphatically drove home the point. "Everything I say will be liked, and loved, and accepted."

If you’re an improviser, you’ve probably been in improv situations where “I got your back” has been more of a plaudit; not insincere, but not deeply felt and invested in either. Watermelon is a shining beacon to the magic that happens when you are there for your troupemates from the very bottom of your heart.

Is it because they’re rigid practitioners of proper improv? Perhaps, but it seemed more because they just like each other so damn much. "We're obsessed with each other. Our Facebook chat is constantly going. My boyfriend will hear my notification ding and say, 'Is that The Melons?'" said Sara.

Their skills and coaching were on point too. I didn’t recognize their warmup games. Turns out that’s because they make ‘em up on the spot. Their adviser, David Allison, encouraged them to "…perform like no one is going to come out and support you. If you're on the sidelines, come out and support."

Check out Watermelon when you can (the new semester’s schedule should be coming out soon with the deets). When you do, ask Kaspars what his ten favorite improv troupes are. Be sure to see them too.

Kevin Beane graduated from the DCH improv program in 2016 and is in the DCH troupe Preschool Fight Club. He also cohosts Quizprov, with occasional DCH shows, and performs in the Dallas-area troupe Autocomplete.He likes sports, eating, sleeping, board games, poker, euchre, and procrastinating. He hails from Akron, Ohio.

 

Scoop on Sketch: Return of the 90’s

*GUSH, GUSH* Was the irregular noise that Blitsy Kittenz, a real interviewess, heard as she trotted over a busted water pipe on the way to Dallas Comedy House. She was meeting with the cast of Return of 90’s, you see. Now, this was a sweet group, a hotsy-totsy crew, a glittery, glammity bunch of talented woozles. Famous woozles include, David/Daniel Allison, Madison Frihart, Cody Hofmockel, Gabriel Vasquez, Sarah Anne Adams, Cesar Villa, and Jonda Robinson. Blitsy Kittens opened the dressing room door unnannounced while the group was warming up like the statue professionals they are. Blitsy blurted, “I’m asking you some questions! You potatoes are going on the record and the paper!” and they all answered, “Okay”.

Blitsy Kittenz: So, this is your second round of a 90’s show! Was it easier to pull stuff from the decade this time around?  How was it doing a sequel of a sketch show?

David: I think it was easier this time as far as the initial creative process goes because we knew what worked in the last show. We knew that we needed to reference things that people would understand. Things like, “pop-up video”, for example, got Sarah and I really excited because we knew what it was, but there were a lot of people in the audience that weren’t as familiar with it. So we made sure that we referenced truths in society this time that everyone could get so the show was more accessible.

Sarah: What David said.

Madison: What Daniel said.

Blitsy Kittenz: Oh! Daniel is your name?

Cody: I’d say this one was easier. I think the challenge of it was that the first one went so well that we wanted to make this one just as good. We had a lot of material though.

Sarah: I mean it’s ten years. It’s a decade.

Cody: Looking back we should have done one for every year!

David: And it was easier because we had already worked with each other so I, as a writer, knew how to write for these players in the show. Going into the first show I had never really worked with Cody before or Madison or Colin. So I wasn’t really familiar what their strengths were.

Jonda: Directing has been great, especially since we’ve already done a show and I knew this cast pretty well. I knew how they operated which made it easier, like they said, the second time around. I think the challenge was knowing that we had set a bar with the first 90’s show and wanting to jump over that bar as well as making sure everyone had fun.

Sarah: I do have to say that my parents have seen both shows and they really loved this version. They wanted to see Dionne Celine, though. They loved that character so much.

Jonda: They should come chant that tomorrow night in the audience.

Everyone chants: *DIONNE CELINE! DIONNE CELINE!*

Cody: Does anyone here sing as Dionne Celine at home?

Jonda: Madison’s co-workers

Blitsy Kittenz: There is an homage to it in the show when you say Clinton comma Bill

David: That’s crazy.

Gabriel: What else do you want to know?

Blitsy Kittenz: Does this show make you sweat a lot? With the Wigs?

Gabriel: All the time. I think it’s just my genetics. *Slurps his water*

Jonda: I like watching you play with your Meredith Viera wig. It gets in your face a lot.

Madison: I think it’s funny. That’s my interview answer.

Blitsy Kittenz: Madison you’ve been so distant during this interview.

Gabriel: Well she’s been distant the whole show. Like right before the last show, we’re just NOW getting to know her.

Sarah: That’s true.

Cody: She stands really far away from everybody.

David: She also has been trying to hug us? Which is weird because I’ve been told she doesn’t like hugs.

Sarah: For the record, Madison LOVES being hugged so if you see her at DCH...give her a big squeeze.

Gabriel: She is always tickling my a**hole.

And just like that, after Gabriel’s touching line, the stars ran to their posts off-stage and made the audience roar and cackle into the dusty evening. What a charming bunch of bananas. You can catch them as they take their final, flannel bow tonight at 9:00. You don’t want to miss this show!


Blitsy Kittenz is a fake character, created by Emily Gee, that interviews lovely people. Emily writes for the DCH blog and performs improv at Dallas Comedy House. She loves peanut butter, blooming lilies, her pup Gutter and the owner of the XBOX name: IceColdHofsicle. You can see Emily perform with Photobomb, Out of the Blue, Rapid Weight Gain and the Family Friendly show.

 

“The Long Lost Forgotten and Barely Remembered Ancient Art of Listening” by Meili Chao

Here's a photo of my adorable dad not even pretending to listen.

Here's a photo of my adorable dad not even pretending to listen.

Why do we tell stories? To relate to one another. To feel less alone. To educate. To inspire a scene. To avoid the discomfort of silence. To implore the comfort of mascara- stained girls in bathrooms adorned with too personal of insults. How did they know I’d be here? To remind ourselves of the good ol’ days. To forget the bad new ones. To rid us of the darkness within ourselves, or to shed our eco-efficient light on someone else. To escape the dreaded hand. To make that monay hunay. To guiltlessly gossip. Kylie Jenner 2020. Or, to remind ourselves that sometimes it’s time to listen. Say what?!


My father has given me three pieces of advice in my life, and consequently left me fumbling through unabridged darkness in all other moments. (JK dad. Luv u, meen it.) One of those times, was when I left for college and he curtly informed me that, “if you ever want to get to know a person, don’t talk. Just listen. They’ll tell you everything you need to know.” This lost pillar of ancient Chinese wisdom, called listening, has washed over the sands of my life in ways I never anticipated, in both forms bad and not so bad. It often manifests itself in making me appear shy in social settings, because what happens when you listen like a creepster with your hand to your ear and eyes wide to the floor, rather than talk, respond or act in any way that a normal human person would? In comedic settings, it makes me more hesitant in Improv scenes because I assume value of my scene partner’s ideas over mine. (Additional skills: extreme humility) But in more appropriate times, it guides and informs me in defining what kind of characters my friends, enemies, coworkers, classmates, strangers are. And to gain a quicker grasp on those people who are consequently that moment in my life’s, scene partner. Listening is an invaluable skill. Let’s Ted Talk here and imagine if you had gone your entire life without listening. You would have acquired no knowledge, obtained no experience, no musical or artistic delight, received no iPhone updates, no learned calculus that you’ll never have the chance to not use, no discouraging update on the financial gains of unskilled famous twenty year olds. What would you do without the humbling insults from your high school’s soccer team, or most importantly never been informed that the battle between man buns and rompers was all a government ploy to distract us from the real war going on. Skinny Jeans. (People don’t forget!)


This isn’t a message to never speak up, stand out, or communicate your own ideas. But more so, to respect and honor that others may have the same inclination. So next time you get that warm, bubbling sensation to speak over, “eh-hum” or flip off...just remember that listening has taught you everything you know. Just like it’s taught me everything I know. I’m just too busy listening to tell you about it.

Meili Chao is an improviser, stand-up comedian, and musician who lives in Denton with her cat, Miles Voldemort. She spends her spare time wearing off-the-shoulder tops in coffee shops "waiting to be discovered."

New Troupe/Old Troupe: Preschool Fight Club talks to .f.a.c.e.

You’ve done it. You’ve graduated from the Dallas Comedy House Improv program, you’ve put together a team of like-minded improvisers almost as brilliant as yourself, and you’re ready to take DCH, and then the world, and then the universe, by storm.

But wait! A couple practices in, you realize that you don’t have a teacher and a TA to hold your hand anymore. You need guidance. You need assistance.

That’s why we’ve created New Troupe/Old Troupe. It is a vehicle for new troupes (together a less than a year) to get their burning questions answered by troupes that have been together for more than a year. If you have been together for precisely one year to the day, I have no use for you. Sorry.

Sketch Scoop: An Interview With Sketch Group, Walker Herschel

Sketch Scoop: An Interview With Sketch Group, Walker Herschel

It was a hot and musty Wednesday when the Herschel Walker team wiped their hard-working brows in the P-Dogs green room. After a successful and tight inaugural show, nothing could stop the energy of this quippy gang. A gang filled with cool cats like Jordan Armstrong, Kent Wicklander, Jonathan Patrick, Darcy Armstrong, Todd Anderton and their gang coach, Cody Hofmockel. They were sharing a hefty group guffaw when a reporter entered the room. Blitsy Kittenz was an interviewer with a recorder that wouldn’t quit until she got the story. Blitsy sat down and cordially wiped a brow in solidarity. She screamed, “This is all goin’ on the record!” and they all looked at her and said, “Okay."

"Spotlight On Storytelling" By Meili Chao

 "Spotlight On Storytelling" By Meili Chao

We sit down with instructors, Julia Cotton and Devon Kodzis, to discuss Dallas Comedy House's new course Storytelling. A breathe of fresh air in a world of monotonous anecdotes and suffocating moments when you find yourself trapped listening to words fall out of a face hole that relay a story so horrifically dull that it contains no beginning, middle, end, plot, twist, sneeze, character, snack break or even a remnant of any act that could be mistaken for something significant or better yet something worth retelling. Storytelling is a course that breaks down the structure of what makes a good story and the transformative process that we all undergo in the day to day stories that make up our lives.