This week our show of the week is Wisconsin based sketch group Live! From La Crosse. On the 3rd and 4th of November, the show will take place in Cavalier Theatre and Lounge starting at 8pm. I caught up with performers Michael Bubbers, Emily Ware and Lincoln Freimund to find out more.
Hey guys! Tell us a little bit about your show?
Michael – Theres usually something for everyone, whether its topical, political, or something pop culture you can usually find something you can relate to. And as always…. adult oriented so you can get the fun wholesomeness of an ABC TV variety show with all the naughtiness of late night HBO.
Emily – In general, it’s a mature sketch comedy show where all the sketches are written and performed by current cast members. We touch on everything from politics and workplace problems to back to school shopping and relationships. We have a rotating cast of usually 12 performers for each ‘episode’ and we’re opening our fifth season! It’s pretty exciting.
Lincoln– A bindle of coke notwithstanding, it’s the best thing $10 ($15 at the door) will get you in La Crosse on a Friday or Saturday night. In reality: it’s a live sketch show, brought on by some of the funniest, most creative people in the region. Each episode features 12 sketches as well as original music courtesy of our head writer (whom I am contractually obliged to refer to as:), Mr. Nick Peterson.
Tell us about some of the characters that you play?
Michael – Well, in one sketch I play a homeless guy using my cardboard signs to convince potential donors to put their money in my cup, rather that the other homeless guy doing the same. I also get to play a ventriloquist’s dummy. So that should be interesting.
Emily – I tend to play the ‘straight man’ in sketches because I can keep my composure through just about anything. This episode, I will be a cheeto perfume model and also a ridiculously over the top photographer. I’ve played just about everything, although a few of my favorites have been a beatnik poet, the black panther in our recurring zoo sketch, and a pseudo-big foot hunter.
Lincoln – Honestly, I’m most excited to have wound up behind the news desk this season. I’ve always enjoyed SNL, but the news has always been my favorite piece, and I’m really excited for my chance to get Norm to notice me.
How did you get into sketch comedy?
Michael – It actually all stemmed from our director starting in improv. He would excitedly tell me about it and it sounded like fun so I just wanted to come and see them work on some material. Eventually he got me involved in some of the warm up games and then started performing with his group. All the while he had this idea to start a sketch comedy show and after the improv group disbanded he asked me if I wanted a part in that. I liked the idea of knowing what my lines where ahead of time rather than trying to think of them on the fly.
Emily -I’ve been doing theatre since I was a kid and I have always loved sketch comedy. I came on board after seeing the first episode because i knew a few of the people involved and I’ve stuck around since!
Lincoln – Inertia? My friends were doing it? I’ve been performing since I was a teen: first playing music in bands, then moving gracelessly into standup comedy and now falling into this rabble.
Who are your comedy inspirations and why?
Lincoln – Yeesh. This is a long list, so I’ll try to keep it tight. For standup – I’m a huge Marc Maron guy, but I also love Dana Gould, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, etc., etc. For sketch – probably an unsurprising list: KitH, Mr. Show, Kroll Show, UCB, and SNL (natch).
Michael – I would have to say Jim Carrey is a huge one. I grew up watching a lot of his movies. How he always was able to use his physical comedy just always amazed me. And really the whole Monty Python gang. How they can take some of the most simple day to day, seemingly ordinary things and turn them completely on their head was just awesome. They had an incredibly unique perspective on just about everything and they could make it work.
Emily – Whoopi Goldberg and Carol Burnett were huge inspirations in my life as a kid. I used to have terrible stage fright and they’re both larger than life personalities that give off such positive messages. They also aren’t conventionally beautiful and made of cardboard. It reminded me, and still does to this day, that not everything in life needs to be pretty – especially when it comes to physical comedy. It’s such a constrast to my classical training and I love it.
What are your favourite things about performing sketch comedy to an audience and why?
Emily – The energy both from the audience and backstage. Also the little rituals we all have and how we’ve come to depend on certain things occurring before a show for it to be solid. Even if they have absolutely nothing to do wth the performance itself. It builds that sense of comraderie and family that only enhances the performance experience. I trust the people I’m with on stage.
Michael – One of my favorite things about it is also one of the most dumbfounding and frustrating things. How the audience laughs at some of the most unexpected, innocuous parts of a sketch . You’ve heard the jokes and you’ve rehearsed the sketch into the ground yet theres 80+ people who found a joke that you didn’t even know was there. And its even better when you see that your cast mate also didn’t find it and suddenly realizing it, tries to hold back their laughter.
Lincoln – Validation? I guess probably validation.
Your show was inspired / loosely based on SNL – what are your favourite sketches you have seen from that and why?
Lincoln – Smart Reagan, hands down. That and – like I mentioned before – the news. The way Norm McDonald could give a reading of something that was essentially true, but make it hilarious has always really impressed me.
Michael – Oh man, this is kind of tough. I grew up during the late Chris Farley, Adam Sandler days into the Will Ferrel, Maya Rudolph days. This is a terrible answer to your question and i apologize but it is way to hard for me to only pinpoint a few when I’ve seen so many and still haven’t seen enough.
Emily – WHERE TO START – I have so many spread out throughout the seasons. When I go to youtube and am feeling nostalgic, I tend to go for Celebrity Jeopardy, the Target Lady, the Spartan Cheerleaders, and Marty and Bobbi Culp sketches.
There are apps now that allow you to do stand up or comedy in virtual reality to real audiences – do you think this is going to have an effect on how comedy is performed in the future and why?
Lincoln – Wow. This is a big topic, so I’ll try to keep it as tight as I can and not go on any rabbit trails on theories of media. That said – I’m curious to see how these platforms can incorporate the (or lack of the…) audience, which I feel is a baked-in feature of what we currently think of as “standup” and to a lesser degree sketch. I think a substantial change in the medium will HAVE to impact the text, so referring to… whatever this may one day be called as “standup” would be doing it a fundamental disservice, like calling a human “basically a monkey”. TL;DR – I’m very curious about what the end result would look like, but I think it’s a bit early to predict how it might shake out.
Michael – Theres so much of me that wants to say it wont, but I would be lying to myself if I didn’t think it would have some impact on the performing arts. I will say, however, that for the performer…. I just don’t think it would be the same. When you are speaking through a screen, its easy to disconnect, physically and emotionally. When you are there, exposed, and pouring out the material you worked hard at, you can’t help but build some sort of connection with that audience and them with you. I haven’t been doing this for very long but I feel like thats pretty essential for a great show.
Emily – So, as I said before, there’s something about the energy that really feeds into the performance. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to do stand up through my phone or computer and not getting a real time response that has the same power as the laughter of a group of people right in front of you. Of course, with time, it could definitely feel like it and it could really change the face of touring professional shows – make it more accessible for those without the funds to travel or if that comedian isn’t slotted to have a Netflix special or whatever. It could also change the face of festivals, expanding access around the world. Partnered with a live audience, I could see it taking some good turns. I will wait and see.
Whats the best piece of advice you have been given about performing comedy?
Emily – Don’t overthink it, don’t try to be funny, find the humor in day to day life, and breathe because timing is everything.
Michael – Do your very best to make the other person funnier than you are and they will do the same. Also, always work on diction. Words won’t mean much if people can’t understand what they are.
Lincoln – “You’re funny. Relax.” – one of my very early feature spots at a tiny, tiny little room. The headliner was this old comedy vet named Jim Wiggins. Some of the best advice I ever got.
If anyone wants to find out any more about you or the show where can they visit?
Michael – We have a Facebook page you can follow for all the current LIVE! from La Crosse news and shows coming up as well as a Youtube page we are always trying to update with videos from shows past.
Finally in three words why should people come to your show?
Michael – I only need one……. Scotcheroos.
Emily – Fantastically formidable fun!
Lincoln – 1. For. 2. The. 3. Antidote