We’re super stoked to be involved with another awesome festival this weekend, Arts Crush! Make your way to the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center on September 23rd to give us a wave, high-five or one of those pretty smiles you do oh-so-well while we tend to our table at the Arts Crush Kick-off Fair!
If that wasn’t enough for you, SketchFest will be sponsoring one of our wild and crazy Mash-Ups at the Arts Crush Fair October 14th through the 16th. For those of you not in the know, that’s a glorious two-day extravaganza of creativity in which participants concept, write, rehearse and perform a sketch show in only 48 hours. Yes, your read that right folks.
Want to join us or just learn more about this sweet festival of artistic wonders? Check them out here or here. And here, here or here. And also there.
About Arts Crush:
ArtsCrush is 31 days of creative adventures in art, literature, music, theatre, dance, film and more. Connect with artists, arts groups, and your fellow citizens in unique and unexpected ways. This month-long festival features hundreds of special offers, creative experiences, and once-a-year interactive arts opportunities for all ages. Visit www.artscrush.org to join in the fun.
While the word ‘titillated’ is a tad on the 50 Shades of Angst-Ridden Housewife side, there’s no better word for that tingly feeling we get when Charles presents Seattle with a brand-spanking new offering of comedic genius. Want to sweeten the deal? The boys from Stanford are pairing up with SketchFest’s own Ubiquitous They and Drop the Root Beer and Run for this journey of jest along with the super sophisticated collective from the north, Pump Trolley.
Saturday, August 18th, 10:30PM w/ Pump Trolley (Vancouver BC) Saturday, August 18th, 10:30PM w/ Pump Trolley (Vancouver BC) Sunday, August 19th, 8:00PM w/ Pump Trolley (Vancouver BC) Saturday, August 25th, Midnight w/ Drop the Root Beer & Run Sunday, August 26th, 8:00PM w/ Drop the Root Beer & Run Saturday, September 1st, Midnight w/ Ubiquitous They Sunday, September 2nd, 8:00PM w/ Ubiquitous They
Have you clicked the links yet? Why haven’t you clicked the links yet? What are you even DOING here still?!
You’re welcome for sparing you the obvious “Bump into you at Bumbershoot” reference. Let’s move on…
Guess what?! SketchFest will be at the Theater Stage (Armory/Center House Stage) on Sunday September 2nd from 3:45-5 pm and if you’re not there during that time, well then you probably should be! If you don’t make it, here is a tantalizing list of comedic talents you will miss:
A cerebral and imaginative sketch duo from Seattle, Charles is intelligent without sacrificing accessibility, seamlessly combining highbrow and lowbrow sensibilities into a brand of humor they call unibrow. Charles has performed throughout the US and Canada, including the San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Toronto Sketchfests; the Los Angeles Comedy Festival; the People’s Improv Theater New York; and the Toronto and Victoria Fringe Festivals.
Ubiquitous They presents ”Jason and Spike In Your House!” um…”In your theater auditorium!” Ubiquitous They have performed at Bumbershoot, SF sketchfest, and Seattle Sketchfest. Spike and Jason have performed at Emily’s house! Do you know Emily? She has a waffle maker!
THE ENTERTAINMENT SHOW The Entertainment Show is Kevin Clarke and Travis Vogt–Stranger Genius Award-Nominated filmmakers/sketch comedians, and creators of the epic sci-fi feature film Steel Of Fire Warriors: 2010 AD, the six-part mini-series Adventure Buddies and countless laugh-inducing short films and mind-bending live sketches.
We had the chance to catch up with Courtney Kocak and Jesse Case; the abnormally hilarious comedic geniuses behind the web sketch series NORMAL as they shared with us their thoughts on sketch comedy, Seattle’s incomparable coffee scene and Courtney’s lady parts.
Alright, let’s not beat around the brass tacks. How’d you guys get so funny? (i.e. when did your love of comedy begin?)
Jesse: We had really different paths to get where we are today. I’ve always loved comedy. I mean, it’s really hard not to; it’s an art form that just creates happiness. Of course you’re gonna love that. But I never worked on being funny or anything before I started standup. Maybe I was a little funny naturally, but I think mainly just annoying. I started standup out of pure arrogance and boredom; I was 19 and extremely miserable and looking for something to do. Thinking of myself at 19 sends a shiver up my back, but I’m really glad the standup stuck. That was a great thing to pull out of the wreckage of adolescence.
Courtney: I think trying to be funny is rarely effective. My dad has one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever encountered, and he just revels in the eccentricities of life. I would always delight in recounting absurd experiences to him, but they were always based in reality. I was a straight actress focusing on classical theatre before I stumbled onto the comedy scene, but it’s really not much different. You know…tragedy plus time equals comedy. Also, Chekhov had quite a funny bone.
Tell us about the birth of your web series Normal.
Jesse: It was a natural birth. We had a midwife on hand the whole time but barely needed her at all. The breathing exercises were key.
Courtney: And my super loose vagina. Just slid right out.
Jesse: SO loose. In truth, it happened the way all sketch shows start: we got a great deal on a good camera. That kicked the whole thing off, really. We both have a way of adapting our ideas to our resources at the time, and the environment had just given us a kick ass camera. Before that, I only had a kick ass microphone, and at that time I had a podcast.
Courtney: It was a natural progression. It started as a one-off idea, which led to other brainstorming in that vein, and, ultimately, we thought it all worked well under the abnormal coupledom umbrella that we’re using now.
I have to ask Jesse, is it great working with a not only beautiful but utterly hilarious cohort like Courtney Kocak?
Jesse: Courtney’s an awesome collaborator. We have two very different backgrounds with entertainment, but we find the same things funny. She’s, like, a legitimate actor. Not the kind that was in one play in middle school and then got implants and moved to LA, but like a legit actor, trained in classical theatre and all that. So it’s a little intimidating working with her for how subtle and nuanced she is, and I’m just balls out funny faces and weird voices. Every time we film I learn something new from her. And she is really beautiful, and that’s fucking weird, too. She’s gotta have macular degeneration or something to be with me. I don’t get it at all. I really don’t know how I pulled this off, nor do any of my friends or family. I keep thinking she’s just a super long-term call girl and I’m going to be billed a few million dollars at any time.
Courtney, how do you concentrate on your work while staring into Jesse’s gorgeous face on a daily basis?
Courtney: I turn him over. Staring at his ass is a great reminder of how much remains to be done. JOKE. JOKE. Everyone relax. God, people get so uptight when it comes to male standards of beauty. Seriously, though, Jesse is amazing. The first time I saw him, he was performing, and I’ve been in awe ever since. He’s a total pro. He works really hard, but he makes everything look so easy. We do this weird foreplay thing where he makes me call him a comic genius. Don’t tell him this, but I’d totally do it on my free will.
You spent some time in Seattle. Do you miss us terribly?
Jesse: Courtney and I spent this last Christmas in Seattle, which was a blast, but I lived in Seattle for two years before I moved to LA. Honestly, I miss it with all my heart. I find myself going to places in LA that remind me of it. It was a crucial time for me, too – that 22-24 period – as it is for anyone, so it made a life-long impression on me. I miss walking around Capitol Hill and Ballard, I miss my old crappy apartment, I miss the comedy venues, I miss my friends; I even miss the weather. And, yes, the coffee in Seattle actually is the best in the world. The baristas in LA are a joke.
How do you feel about YouTube as a vehicle for sketch comedy?
Jesse: YouTube is not so much a vehicle as a garage that everyone can hang out in, waiting on their vehicle. It’s an open cloud, so it’s basically just a corkboard that you hope people will stop to look at. It’s no secret that most of YouTube is terrible. Anyone with a camera has a voice, so there’s very little validation in it. Having a YouTube channel is like having a Facebook page; it’s easy. But that makes it a level playing field, and that’s a good thing.
Courtney: Needless to say, we want more. Our views aren’t exactly off the charts, but a lot of great things have come out of YouTube for people, if the content is solid. Our main concern is making great sketches. The cream rises, and hopefully we’re learning to make great cream. We’re learning a lot and the sketches are getting better. We’re getting better and faster at producing them and establishing our workflow. We’re going to keep doing it and see what happens.
Jesse, what is it you enjoy the most about doing both sketch and stand-up? What do you find the most difficult?
Jesse: This will sound really diplomatic and fake, but they’re two different beasts and equally difficult to do well. Stand-up is more nerve-wracking, that’s for sure, which I think many people would confuse for difficulty. There’s no wall, and you’re all alone. Every audience is different. With video sketches, the environment is completely in our control. But that adds more pressures in it’s own way. As a standup, the results of your labors are immediate, in the form of a live laugh, but you have to fit into this persona box or else it becomes “performance art”, which is usually garbage. With sketch, the possibilities are endless. So I guess I love standup for it’s limitations, and sketch for it’s lack of them.
Courtney, do you prefer performing sketches you have written or do you enjoy acting out sketches by other writers?
Courtney: Gah, I hate either/or questions. Both. They’re different (see above). When you work on classical texts, each word is so important. I come from memorizing very precisely and any deviation from that is jarring to me. It’s liberating to perform my own shit because the reverence isn’t there. Performing is always fun, though. What’s awesome about being in a sketch that isn’t yours is that after you’re done playing, you get to go home, and it’s not your job to get it out the door. Sometimes it’s fun to have the control and sometimes it’s fun not to have the responsibility.
What is your favorite sketch you ever performed?
Jesse: Well, there are sketches that I think are the funniest, but then sketches that were the most fun to do. When that overlaps, it’s awesome. If everyone involved is ruining takes by breaking character and cracking up, then you’re on the right track. The first one we did, “Japan,” is really solid I think. We couldn’t stop laughing when we were filming it. We save all of our outtakes, which we’ll probably release at some point, but I did about 30 takes of just the annoying slurp of coffee that opened the scene. Subtle stuff like that is way funnier to us than “whacky, zany” comedy. We’re trying to do more micro, nuanced stuff. We have some doozies coming up, if I say so myself. But all of our favorites involve food. Just overeating, basically.
Courtney: We’ve been in LA too long. Eating has become utterly absurd.
What do you find is the most important reason for keeping sketch comedy alive?
Jesse: Sketch comedy is alive?
OK, point taken. Any upcoming projects the world needs to know about?
Courtney: We finished a screenplay recently, and we’re working on a TV pilot and a million other little things, as well as our separate endeavors. But we have a few ideas each week that we decide to commit to, because we have no concept of time.
Jesse: We’re morons, but stuff’s happening. Nothing’s a thing until it’s a thing, though, so right now, a lot more NORMAL.
Where can fans learn more about you and find out where to watch you perform?
Jesse: Well, I think all of our “fans” know us personally, so they can just call us. But if anyone loses their phone or something, they can go to the YouTube channel or follow us on twitter at twitter.com/jessecase and twitter.com/courtneykocak. Thanks!
Check out the latest episodes on the NORMAL channel or if you have an irrational fear of commitment, just let yourself get hooked on the video below and we promise you’ll be back for more…
Our extremely talented neighbors to the north (and a bit east) are accepting submissions to Toronto SketchFest! You only have until JULY 27th TO APPLY! What’s stopping you? Get up and over there to represent the Seattle sketch scene. Frankly the CN Towner should make you guys feel right at home.
SketchFest Seattle is the world’s original sketch comedy festival and has established a reputation for presenting the best and most original comedy from around the globe. Our mission is to promote sketch comedy as a performing art by providing a venue for groups to network and showcase their talent.