Channel I publications is beginning a new series of articles: WHAT’S SO FUNNY!
Returning to the “real world” is not happening with a blast but with a cautious tread. Places are opening to half capacity or full capacity; masks and vax’ing are required/optional/lifted. We’ve heard tales about plays reopening, movies that have begun or resumed filming, etc. The art world is looking the same in some places and vastly different in other. The liveliest of the lively arts is comedy. Shakespeare can be done to a camera lens, but can you do comedy? Jen Bush chatted with a group of comic artists who have shows opening shortly about what they can expect – or fear!
PART 1: Nannette Deasy and Robert Baumgardner
The Improvisational Theatre Repertory Ensemble, LLC, is an award-winning group consisting of comedy actors and writers. They create, produce, and perform a season of original themed improvisational shows. This season they are hoping you’ll be wowed by their newest work entitled Wow Wee! Adventures of a Little Girl Killbot Christmas Special. It’s a post-apocalyptic 80’s sitcom Christmas special. That’s a lot of wow factor right there! Let’s meet some of the cast members and creatives.
Nannette Deasy is the fearless leader of IRTE. She will be playing the role of Andie the Android in this season’s production. Comedy is easy-peasy for Nannette Deasy. She has been making people laugh for years both nationally and internationally. The Founder and Artistic Director of this award-winning and nationally recognized improv comedy troupe has performed at theatres including the Public Theatre, LaMama Etc., Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, the PIT, UCB, Chicago City Limits, Gotham City Improv, Gotham Comedy Club, theatre festivals all around the country and the Teatro Franco Parenti in Milan, Italy, as well as in various films and one half of the comedy duo Double-D (with former IRTE company member Graceann Dorse), creating and producing original comedic live shows and films. This month, they will be premiering their latest comedy “The Vole Sisters Invite You to a Peculiar and Intimate Evening of Mystic Spiritualism,” an improvised and audience interactive comedy séance.
“Now that we are slowly beginning to emerge from that bizarre alternate universe in which we were all trapped, funny is going to (hopefully) look like actual smiles. Shows during the pandemic were just weird -It was so hard to tell whether jokes were landing or not. Either our audience was muted on zoom (just a lonely number count at the bottom of the screen) or just pairs of eyes peering out from behind masks. “Smizing” only goes so far. (Sorry, Tyra Banks).”
Robert Baumgardner, her partner on stage and in life, has multiple skill sets in the arts. He is directing this season’s IRTE work.
“I’m Robert Baumgardner, director of Wow Wee! Adventures of a Little Girl Killbot Christmas Special! I’ve directed several IRTE shows, among them The Marvelous Mrs. McCluskey, The Ship Be Sinkin’, and The League of Extraordinary Blondes. I’m also an actor and improvisor, and like most people improvised my way through this pandemic by sharing my work on Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, and however else hackers and cat fishers find you.”
Robert’s response to what funny looks like right now is very fruitful! There is a definite theme going on in his response. It could have something to do with the fact that “gardner” is part of his surname. I’ll stop now.
“These days, “funny” looks like it could be a bumper crop this year. There is so much fertile ground and muck that is out there that the seeds of comedy may take root and soon flourish. (This plant metaphor is growing out of control.) Comedy lives off the fertilizer that is fear and stupidity and anxiety that just seems everywhere these days. Wow Wee’s comedy grows out of our feelings that we’re past the point of no return in so many ways these days. But there is always hope, and hope and laughs are the tasty fruit one can harvest from a good comedy crop. (That is really stretching it thin.)”