YBY ep 246: Asia Beck and Ben Snaith on vulnerability through improv!
This week on Yes But Why, we interview Australian improv duo, Asia Beck & Ben Snaith.
Asia Beck is a musician and an improviser. They studied Jazz at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. They credit their ability to improvise in the realm of comedy to the training received during music studies. Asia is an advocate for mental health/schizophrenia awareness and encourages anyone else with similar struggles to use comedy as therapy and a valuable learning tool.
Ben Snaith has been creating and working in the performing arts industry since 2007. In the last seventeen years, he has been exposed to an incredibly diverse range of experience that has seen his output include experimental underground music, performance art, and production & direction in physical, experimental & traditional theatre. Improvised comedy is a recent addition to his ever-growing list of creative skills. As a qualified and dedicated teacher and creative, Ben hopes to inspire others to think innovatively and develop deep empathy for other humans and our planet.
In our conversation, we chat about performing improv and building your own performance style. We open with stories about Ben performing music as Orlando Furious and doing shows with the underground theater scene in Melbourne. Asia shares bittersweet memories of singing for their church as a child.
We talk about the community at Big Fork Theater that got them started on their improv journey. Asia and Ben tell me about their current creative passion, their improv duo. They recently had a show (like a real show with people in attendance and everything) called “Ben & Asia Have A Relationship” in which they performed their improvised show totally naked.
Unsurprisingly the show is about vulnerability, so the birthday suits and the musical accompaniment serve to ease the audience into the experience. Wow. These two are pretty amazing. Tune in!
Support Asia Beck & Ben Snaith by keeping an eye out for new projects on the Alt City productions page on the Orlando Furious website. Hopefully soon, Brisbane will go back down on their covid numbers and they can perform in theaters again!
Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com to join in on the fun.
This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by Audible – get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at http://www.audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.
This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com. Go to PodcastCadet.com and put in offer code YBY20 to get 20% off your first consultation!
(production notes: recorded Zoom meeting on 12/16/2020)
TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai
Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan. Welcome to Yes But Why episode 246 – my chat with Australian artists, Asia Beck and Ben Snaith. But first, let’s chat about our sponsors. Today’s episode is sponsored by audible. Get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY. You guys, taking long drives is how I am staying sane these days. And Audible is right there with me, helping to distract my mind from whatever stress I am cooling off from. I’ve read novels, self-help books, poetry books AND recently I listened to this recording of a live show with Common called Bluebird Memories. That was truly amazing! It felt like I was in the theater! I needed that. Audible is available on most of the devices in your home. Go now to audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY to download the app and sign up to get your free audiobook today. Maybe you need it too. Our other sponsor for today’s episode is my company, PodcastCadet.com. My husband, Chris Jordan and I run the company, PodcastCadet.com. We provide advice and production help to anyone who needs it! We do one on one consultations. We have prefab videos to help with specific issues like what audio equipment to use, or best practices for interviewing. We can give you a little push or we can help you with the production of all of your episodes! Contact us now at PodcastCadet.com and use code YBY20 to get 20% off the first service or workshop you buy! Podcast Cadet.com – helping creators navigate the waters of podcasting. This week on Yes But Why, we chat with Australian improv duo, Asia Beck & Ben Snaith. In our conversation, we talk about performing improv and building your own performance style. We talk about their recent duo show, “Ben & Asia Have A Relationship” which they performed totally naked. Whoa. I now present to you: yes but why episode 246: Asia Beck & Ben Snaith on vulnerability through improv! Enjoy! I’m Amy Jordan. And this is Yes But Why Podcast. Yeah. My first question for you guys, is when you guys were little, were you always performing for your family? And, you know, if not, like, what was the first experience of performing? Where you were like, Oh, yeah, this is my jam.
Yeah, I was, I feel like I was pretty much always like, putting on like, magic shows for my family and their friends. And, you know, this memory of being like, that family, you know, in interstate and, like, for some reason, doing like a recital of all these different dance styles that I actually had never trained in, but presented to, like family of uncles and Auntie’s because only needing for like, the second or first time. And like, I remember doing like Michael Flatley style, like Lord of the dance. And like, just like ballet. And yeah, and little styles of dance that Yeah, I didn’t actually know. And, but they were really nice about it. And yeah, and then I guess, all through my primary in high school, I was finding like little opportunities to get up on stage. And yeah, I think especially as like a teenager, I really fell in with like, being that sort of, like, you know, kind of like emotional teen who would be like writing poetry and writing songs and stuff in my room, like, sort of fumbling around with a guitar. And yeah, so I guess, like, on that kind of level, I was just sort of really just loves doing it. But also, you know, my family was very much like, you know, well, it’s like one in a million you making a career out of it. Like there’s no way of you doing that. kind of thing. And I don’t know, just like, Dad just kind of be like, Oh, yeah, still singing Oh, yeah, okay. Well, you know, man. And so like, I mean, it was, yeah, like it took it feels like it’s it took a little while before my, my dad especially like, I remember when I was about 19. And that was starting to get a bit of credit around the city and, and he came to one of those shows. And I remember like, you know, there was this older person there who think going up to my dad and being like, ah, just son is a genius. And it was kind of it took other people before my dad was like, Okay, well, this is what he really does want to do, and it’s not completely crazy. You know? I will support him then, you know, by showing up and not really ever giving any much feedback or even just being like, well, I will see you. I’ll see you.
Yeah, that’s all you can ask for. Right?
Yeah, that’s all I need. Like the one of my bands, we had a dancing dad start dancing, because it was mostly like live bootleg recordings. And during one of these live this real wild show the crowd like, and I could see right at the back of the room. See my dad and his friend just standing there. And I was holding the microphone, I was just like, stop dancing. And that like came through really clearly. And it was really funny. And yeah, so I guess it’s been this interesting path where I’ve like, gradually become more and more confident with just being like this is I literally am this, like, this is what I do this. I just am a performer and an artist. And I’m just like this. And you know, as I’m getting some stuff, all my family and stuff. I’m just getting less and less apologetic about it. Like it used to be like, Oh, yeah, well, you know, I’m doing this thing, but I’m also studying and studying like, Yeah, but now I just kind of like, no, no. Yeah, the show shows on Yeah.
I mean, once you make the decision for the lifestyle that you want to lead, like, your family can be like, Oh, I don’t understand that. You’re like, Yeah, I know what you went through so I can see why you don’t but that’s fine. That’s I’m doing all right.
It really took me moving to like a whole state of another city to be able to find that sense of confidence. Like I grew up where we are now in the state is called Queensland and Israel. It’s really big, but it’s kind of like I from what I understand about America. It’s kind of like Florida like boots like beachy and flagstone you know, it’s sort of has a bit of a trashy vibe to it like a ms like gators if you go up north and you know, it’s Yeah, this is kind of a
stage name was Orlando furious. You had like a real Florida vibe.
Like, Oh, no, no, no, that was like a, it was about a year ago, I was having a drink with a friend. And he was telling me he was a very literary guy. Like he just knew heaps about old literature. And there’s some reason he was just ranting to me about this old like 16th century Italian poem called Orlando furioso. And the title character was just this like, total wild card who just, you know, he like lost his wits at one point because the woman he loved eloped and like his wits ended up on the moon and his friend had to ride his bike Gryffindor up to the moon to like, get his wits back in a bottle. Same story, and I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna take that. Take that like Final Oh of the end. So it’s like, not like an Italian thing so much.
This way. And you being like, I went on a trip to Orlando. And I got real mad. Like, I’m
totally, yeah, but it’s been. Yeah, it’s been a really fun kind of, like, journey with doing that stuff like obtrude pretty hard as like a solo kind of musician. Like I used to describe what I did as sort of like a backyard Kanye. Like, it was kind of like MVP, but like sort of backyard and Australian and like, very, very, like kind of very suburban. And like, I don’t know, like there was just a bit of cheese Yeah, yeah.
New West 170 1000 votes and the recent election just so.
Is that like point 0% of the population?
Definitely. It’s like It’s like the population of the smallest town. Let’s do it. Yeah.
So I read somewhere that he like, didn’t get his, like paperwork in on time.
I thought so too. That’s why I was like, you know, people can write in whatever they want. So people could, he doesn’t have to put in his paperwork.
Well, let’s move on. I got
a ridiculous amount. But hey, what I’m saying is Kanye is popular with certain people just like you.
I I sort of stopped the reason why I say I used to do it was because when he went that kind of did maga lash would be like, Whoa, I don’t know if I’m aligning myself with this. But it was such a good shorthand for explaining what I was doing. Like, it was like, Okay, now I understand you’re just gonna be a bit of a weirdo and jump on the table. Maybe? Yeah, definitely.
Definitely. Don’t let him near couches. And Oprah. It’ll be terrible. Oh, my goodness. So were you you mentioned something about when you were performing your music, and you said that you were touring a lot. And you had mentioned that we went down a bit of a rabbit hole talking about Queensland, but you said you lived in a different place. And now you’re like, now you feel more yourself because you get to be in your own
place. Pretty much. Yeah, I moved. I moved with a band like say about, I don’t know, 12 years ago, now down to a city called Melbourne, which is the, like the New York of like, it’s where like a lot of the music scene kind of is. And it’s where like, you know, it’s very cool to be like, just sort of dressed in black. And you know, you’re very loud. It’s like a thriving theater thing. And it’s lovely. It’s my, I love that city. And it was this awesome place to just kind of, you know, try heaps of stuff. And like, you know, I traded like pretty much one massive open mic night, you could play like heaps of different places. I found myself in this kind of underground theater scene as well. And like, you know, it was really formative to be able to see people who were kind of like, further along in their artistic progression than I was. And, you know, I have people to kind of look towards either for, you know, future inspiration also as like, you know, cautionary tales. Of what not to do, potentially. And yeah, and so I was living there for about eight or nine years. And when I finished my teaching degree, I like moved back to Queensland, just just try and get to know my family again, because I really had basically just been like, I’m going to be noticed and just basically abandon them. And you know, I had all this guilt about like, leaving my sister. So I kind of, I sort of moved back with the intention of getting to know them better. And it’s kind of happened, but also, I’m also now living about an hour away from them. So
an hour is a manageable amount, though. Close enough where you can go, Yeah, like you can go there and get there. Well, if you need to. But you don’t have to,
like this show. No, it was surprising because my family members came. Like, which is bizarre, absolutely bizarre. But But I do, but none of Ben’s family, I think would be able to handle the material at all, like in any way. I think they’d have to walk. I think they they wouldn’t be able to handle being in the ocean. Like saying watching the whole show.
I don’t think I could invite anyone except for my mother to any improv, nevermind, naked improv. So I mean, my mom just sits there and smiles and goes, like, very nice. So I mean, who knows what she really thinks. But my sister would never sit through it. She’d be like, what? And she’d leave immediately, you know? Wow. Like it’s just another scene, you know, not in a mean way. Not not like, oh God, who are these terrible people, but just like, I don’t, I’m gonna just hang out front and I’ll see you after. Bye. Not
as much as I might try and drag them to certain stuff or like, you know, if I made it clear that it was really important that I kind of knew that when we were devising this show, and when we made the decision to go naked for, I was like, well, that pretty much like, you know, my dad, my mom and my sister probably. That was totally fine, because they weren’t really the audience that we were, you know?
with my family, I’m kind of like, no, this is just not your thing at all. So I don’t I don’t want anybody at the show who’s just gonna be there. Because, yeah, for no, for no reason. Like, I don’t I just don’t like that at all. Do you have a sort of feel like when you dad does come, it’s like, Why? Why are you even here.
That’s how it is now. Like, there was a show that I played in Adelaide one time with my music at and Adelaide is like in a completely other city again. And it my dad just happened to be staying there for a while because he was working. And we went out for dinner beforehand. And he ended up getting like really drunk with some of his friends. And then it led to like, when I finally went on at around 11 o’clock or whatever, Dad sort of had come in and was like, standing next to the speaker, like bobbing his head and the crowd was crazy. It was actually really lovely. Yeah, that was. So that was nice, but
I’ve never seen above his head, like ever.
Not all dads are into bobbing heads. Think about how much older he is than me. Bob and his or him? Wow, it’s just not a good. Yeah. Yeah, not all the parts work dads would love to not at all. There’s whole Facebook groups, dads who wish they could not like it’s like. So Asia, tell me a little bit about your beginnings. What was the first you know, performance stuff that you got into? Was it early in life? Or was a later?
Oh, we could just talk about bed? No, this thing? Yeah. Like, we could just do that.
Do that? Um,
did you? first performance was a really terrible. What? What?
No, well, look, it’s my
general upbringing was kind of traumatic. And from what I understand, sorry, Asia. But it seems like performance is like the thing that has been the the light.
Yeah, it has been really cathartic. The performance itself has been really cathartic for me. Always, always hands down, always. I would like to say stay in the performance space and just live there forever. And just not ever be in the real world. Because it’s so transformative for me performing is that it’s so much more comfortable than being in real life. Um, it’s funny because I, yesterday I did an audition to get into my Masters, which, at the end of the day, the boss is the head of masters of Bachelor of Music. a master’s in music is a an old teacher of mine that I went to from, I was going to hear from when I was about 10 or 11. And it was just bizarre because I hadn’t I haven’t performed in in over 10 years in this show was like the first show that actually ever done a public performance. It’s been more than 10 years, actually, since I’ve performed publicly, but then she was she just sort of throws she she said it a couple of times. She’s like, Oh, yeah, cuz Ben was in the room. Ben is officially by Kara. And and my bass player. RUBIN was in the room too. And she goes, Yeah, yeah, she’s, you know, she was a child prodigy. And I was like, What are you talking about? I just don’t see myself in that line at all. And it was made to be From a very young age. So I guess
I like you’re a child prodigy because you essentially whipped into performance.
Which I wish I
did. But I think even before they knew I could sing, and perform, and before they knew I could captivate people’s attention, I knew that I could hear things that other people couldn’t hear. And I could understand emotions that other people are a little bit blunt, too. I remember I have memories from when I was, you know, three, remembering sounds and tone patterns and, and deep feelings associated with, with sound. That, and that was there before anyone could beat me into anything, you know. So it’s been it. And when they say, you know, gifted, it’s a gift, but it’s a curse as well. When you when you have to live in society. And, and, and you’re, you’re sort of bent against other people’s control and will, and now do what they want with you because you’re just a child. But, yeah, it’s so I guess, I don’t know, what do you work? Where do I even begin? It’s? Yeah, it’s a it’s a long story. But does that give you a bit more?
Sure. Absolutely. I mean, you don’t ever have to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable at all. Oh, door into how it got started for you. But the idea that it got started for you and was tarnished by yucky adults to get there, you know, trying to get cash payment for it or whatnot. notoriety
sir, I grew up I grew up in a in what is a religious was until the cult leader died in a religious cult. And they were, they were extreme for what some people would classify the extreme sort of churches, and it was fundamental Christian Christianity, but like, we had a prophet, and Jesus was gonna come back every Wednesday, we were supposed to wait for him, you know. And then if it didn’t happen that week, it’s gonna happen the next week, or the next week, you know. And we had we had, we had tin beans in the cupboard, and we had bottled water and a, you know, gallons of water. And we lived on acreage, and we had a farm and stuff because, and my parents had given up on education and taking us out and quote, unquote, home schooled us while they worked full time. But we were essentially just going out under a train waiting for Jesus to come back. And in in the, in the process, I because they know, they knew I can sing and I had a gift for communicating musically. Yeah, there was there was a lot of like salvation to be made. And other people brought into the fold to become sheep. We’re sorry, I’m really not proud of it all. I don’t like the judgment. I didn’t like what everything I was taught to represent. And everything that I ended up believing quite vehemently just as he as a child as a kid in and just toting yet, sort of holding, holding harsh judgment about other humans. Just very, very harsh judgment. But being so swept, swept up by music, just music itself, it can be any kind of music, you know, and you can get something profound out of it. They used it to they used it for their own. I don’t know, I’m trying to say they don’t absolutely, I
totally get what you’re saying. I mean, there are I what you’re talking about makes me think of some of the like child actors or child pop stars that I’m aware of whose parents like took their money and then like spent it all and then like, they’re adults, and they literally were the most like what was it? Somebody was just talking about, like Britney Spears, like Britney Spears has nothing right now. And she Like has like legal documents where she can’t actually even perform without like, or like, go on dates without her parents like permission, and she’s legit in her mid 30s, if not early 40s? Like, that’s super weird. So like, I did I just heard about that, you know, I feel like once you become a celebrity, then the idea of that is your agency is taken away from you, because like, you’re a commodity. And so you’re commodification means that you don’t have the same rights as other people. And so the people who make money off of you can do what they want. And it happens to lots of people, you know, that, like, there’s plenty of, you know, celebrities we look at, and are like, Oh, man, they must be so happy. And really, they’re just like signing checks all day being like, I wish I could do anything else.
Like, you know, and I mean, also celebrity, you know, and, and, like, you know, more what we would just describe as coats, like, there, there’s such an overlap between, you know, like, especially what I imagined for like a child to be raised in, you know, a sort of a very, like, sectioned off, literally community that, you know, was so rigid and so intense kind of being like, I feel like the same sort of mania exists around celebrity culture as it does within like, these sort of small little like communities that is secluded on these little properties. And you don’t even know what’s going on there kind of thing, I guess, at least in celebrity culture, there’s a there’s a semblance of accountability, because the media is so willing to just be like, oh, Britney Spears, you know, like them willing to bring so much light to it, kind of thing. But yeah, I think it’s like crazy and like, good, you know, to just have my eyes open in recent times, to just the sheer amount of really intense religious cults that are existing just in our, you know, like, Asia group, like that was happening sort of 50 kilometers from where I was growing up, you know, in this kind of normal, you know, quote, unquote, normal sort of suburb, honey. It’s some, it’s fairly, it’s been kind of, like intense. Yeah. the depths of the control that was going on, like, and manipulation. Yeah, it’s
hard to that they took away the joy of music from you, you know, that they made it perfunctory for their purposes, and then it sort of lost the luster and the beauty that it had for you. How Asian, did you? I mean, clearly, you found your way out of that cult, I guess. Thank you, because the guy said, away. I’m not sure how I feel about all that. And also the whole experience of everything you went through. But as you got older, did you what was the experience that allowed you to get back into it? I imagine, rightfully so that you would be like, No, thank you. I won’t be singing or performing anymore. And I get that, but now you’re performing again, how did you get back into it?
I spent a bit of time escaping the code, even before the lady was dead. I got married to get out and get away from my family and married somebody else who was from a similar ideology. So it was acceptable. But I had a major mental breakdown in the process and realize after being hospitalized for, you know, 12 months and then in and out of hospital, but I realized, Oh, they realized the doctors didn’t who got me off a bridge and and essentially rescued me on one level. That did I was that I was suffering from a disease really. And I just spent a lot of time trying to try to survive and try to find because I left my family and died. I’m essentially Oh God, I’d fallen through the cracks. Well, and truly But one thing that I had begged my parents when I, when I was 16. to, to let me go back to school. So, because musically, I was gifted, and I could read music somehow and I, you know, was a still ended up getting high school education. And then I ended up going to university and doing bachelor music. Back when I was still back when I was do you know, 18 1920 and finish that off when I was married, but I was I was very unbalanced. And everybody would just put it down to sort of the devil, you know, the devil is tempting you to whatever we help with was not helpful at all. And how did I get back into it? I don’t really know. Practically, we, I went to, you know, there’s always been this thing where I’m like, I know that I love this, I know that I want this I like to perform, I like to create things. And and I was just, you know, I was already in my 20s. And I was already but there was something inside of me. That was like, make something so I went to him for theater classes, and I met been there. And and thankfully, I was off medication that was I mean, medication is imperfect, at the best of times. I’m not a huge advocate. Either way for being awful on medication, when you have a serious that distorts your idea of reality. I just think it’s hard life is really hard. You know, if you don’t have your, if you don’t have logical mind to navigate safety, it’s just been a disaster. Somehow, somehow, I got myself two buses, and I met an amazing community of supportive people, and was able to sort of fake being relatively normal. And then just finding the right people I’ve heard it said before, you know, in other interviews that, you know, it’s you just got to meet the right people. And it sounds stupid and simple, but it’s really true. I met Ben and then soon after we were, you know, we were we were dating and and we just fell into a routine that where we were creating, we were creating stuff just all the time. And it’s been How long has it been? It’s not been that long.
No, it’s only been a little bit over a year. We Yeah, we met in he did improv class with the theater with that we work with here called Big Fox era, and the lack made up by these amazing group of directors who, you know, I guess when they all started, they all met by going over to like train at the improvolympic. And in Chicago, and they like had all this sort of experience with like, you know, really wanting to follow the path of like, Dell close, like, you know, the truth in comedy, kind of long form improv style. Interesting. And we just, like, you know, I know, for myself, I went into the foundations class, and I was like, hooks, and then before you know, it, I’m going through the intermediate classes, this kind of, like, you know, it’s sort of a wild element to the class, you know, because she would just sort of come in and be this, like, sort of just an energy that you couldn’t really pick, you know, you couldn’t like just immediately put your finger on it. And, and she came to me with the idea of starting like a little sketch group with some of other people who are also in the class. And so, you know, we started meeting on Sundays and trying to write sketches and trying to figure out how to, you know, try and figure out our own little path of improvising. And you know, and from there like that was around when we started dating and black we just, yeah, like I just said, we you know, we’ve worked on like music videos together for the oleander furious project. We’ve, you know, just bombed a lot with big folks here together. And, and they, yeah, and then this show that we’ve just kind of been devising for the past eight weeks slack. That was Slack, you know, just trying to there’s been a couple of the directors that have been off doing like duo shows lately. And we were like, ah, do it, you can just do it with two people, you know, and like being in lockdown and stuff with the Coronavirus. You know, you’ve Well, it is literally just the two of us here, like, you know, we’re gonna have to just do it on our own. And, yeah, and so we started kind of figuring out what, you know, what we could kind of get towards, and the more that we were sort of jamming on, like, you know, working out little scenes together and stuff, like figuring out how we would do it, the more we wanted it to be sort of blurring the lines of reality and, and being leaning into being vulnerable about me with my anxiety, and, you know, and depression and all of that sort of stuff in Asia with her schizophrenia and her background and stuff. And we wanted to, you know, recently Asia was on a, like a improvise lack of people of color, improvisers like panel, you know, this discussion that was on, it was like, a zoom stream kind of thing. And, and on that, like, you know, they were just, they were talking, there was a big message of lack feeling of people of color in improv community feeling like, if they were to make reference to their, their background, that, you know, the people who were kind of there would more likely to get wiped, you know, what I mean? Like, they were more likely if they, because there were, there were all those concerns about lack, or, you know, don’t what is this racism, we being like, what is, you know, when, say, like, an Indian improviser, was would put on an Indian accent, you know, like a, like a Muslim, Indian accent, for instance, you know, they were talking about this feeling of wanting to explore these kind of cultural ideas, but not, but feeling silenced and stuff. And so, when we started devising now, sure, it was very much like, we weren’t going to really have the option to wipe kind of thing, it was essentially going to be locked on our, essentially a Monet’s, same kind of thing. But then we we gradually kind of tweaked the format over time as we were rehearsing it. But yeah, it’s been a really interesting journey this past like year or 30. Like, I feel like I’ve only been studying and performing improv. Yeah, must be about 18 months, because I would have met Asia at sort of the sixth. You know, like, a couple a few months in. And, um, wow,
so you guys created this show? You said, you’re working with directors? What’s the style? Like, is it sketch in that you’ve written stuff ahead of time? Or? Rob with a, with a form like, like Harold, but not Harold?
Yeah. Um, so I guess, the way that we thought about it was, we lacked this idea of exploring a relationship, you know, like, an intimate relationship, and, you know, the stages of a relationship, you know, like, you know, maybe one thing could be like, when this couple first met, but like, maybe the next same could be when this couple is like, in the 60s, or, you know, you know, what I mean, like that. We wanted it to be essentially, the, the initial idea was that it was like four stages lack, and they could be in order out of order, whatever, like one of us would just kind of make the offer, and we would make it clear, like, where we were when we were in the context of our relationship where it had sort of changed what had evolved what, you know. And yeah, and it was basically, it would be kind of for 15 minutes scenes, essentially. That we just so we would just start doing these kind of jams to like a 15 minute time where we would just play out like a you know, essentially be Ben and Asia, but, you know, just kind of abstraction. Yeah, a bit of an abstract
Yeah. And like bringing in things that Might have occurred in like previous relation, you know, and, and sort of kind of mining, those lack reflections for content for this, the way that it’s kind of ended up it has been basically, to give you just like an idea of what our show has the, for the past three nights has been basically, we come out we have our friend Ruben playing an upright bass and he’s so he’s kind of giving the, the jazz the time, though, you know, there’s the sense of gravitas that a big double prints lately, you know, cut black curtains, black floor kind of thing, and just a couple of spotlights. And then we’ve just like turned on the lights and gone, like, you know, we’re doing this thing on intimate relationships, we just want to sort of start a little discussion about any sort of patterns that you might have seen a marriage in an intimate relationship over your life, you know, like, What’s something that is a reason why the relationship fails, or why it succeeds kind of thing. And we’ve had these little discussions with the audience just to kind of flesh out the idea, we sort of let that sit within ourselves. And then we’ve hit the play button on the William Tell Overture and we, we had this like, choreographed dance to that that basically culminated in like, the ugliest strips were like, getting dragged by the shoe around the stage and stuff and like, it’s just kind of ridiculous and silly. And, and it was a really nice way to kind of just warm the audience into the nudity. Because, you know, we knew we were leaning into vulnerability, and I guess that’s the ultimate in being really vulnerable on stage, as opposed to just improvising for an hour. Just you and another person, you know, is to be completely naked. And
then again, you chose to be naked, because it’s like, the ultimate vulnerability.
Yeah, pretty much like, I know, I left for myself, it was a, you know, I was I would have been comfortable just with underwear. And then it was just kind of like, no, like, because literally, with the content that were trying to, like, sift through, I guess, in this context, yeah, this we needed to be naked, we had to be just completely naked and just be like, Well, here, this is who we are, this is this is ourselves, this is us kind of thing. And that was kind of how I got to Atlanta, he got to, she was really pushing that idea from a different perspective. And, and yeah, but that was kind of why we ended up with it. Okay, we’re going to do this big, silly way of getting completely naked in front of the audience, and then basically just kind of putting a moment in this relationship, you know, and the dynamic is kind of developed, and then, yeah, then I guess, the way that the show would kind of go from there is after maybe that scene went on for about 1012 minutes or so, we would just kind of like melt down. And we would sort of give ourselves a break from improvising by Asia would do like a song with the double bass and accompaniment, and that would just be sort of a jazz standard kind of song. So it was really beautiful. Having these kind of contrasts of like, these improvising scenes, then with a Yeah, and then with these, like, beautiful, like jazz singing, you know, kind of moments and like, for that special Golden Gloves to kind of signal, you know, this is like, you know, a single spotlight kind of moment kind of thing for her. And, yeah, so it was about two scenes of that. And then we decided on the third saying being like, like a primordial like a like caveman saying, like, well, we had to really physicalize the kind of underlying, I guess, themes or vibes that had been brought up, and, and that that was like, really insane. Like, some of those got really wild where we were like, sort of screaming at each other or like, you know,
or in these like really strange like flow dances together and stuff like it was. Yeah, some of the responses that we got was just like Jesus, I was like, I have not seen anything like that like and that came more from my like physicals It’s a training, I suppose, like wanting to wanting to find that a bit more. And yeah. And then the final thing was us just kind of emerging, having like just gone through a massive journey together, we want a happy ending, just because we found in some rehearsals when we didn’t have that role, the parallel version of our relationship would like break up. And then we would at home has like two days of just kind of aftercare. And then the other one, though, we went leaving, yeah. Yeah.
You guys talk about the group that you started doing improv with as being, you know, focused on Chicago style improv, that sounds a little bit more serious than that. Less jokey, jokey, let’s do fun time, Herald play and more like deep dive into emotional stuff. Do you do have a coach or a director that, like, led you through that? Or was that just the two of you working together?
I think, you know, we were studying and we we really don’t have you know, we’re quite connected to our community. So we invited a host of different people from either the physical theater community or the improvisational community, but a lot of it was just self worked stuff.
It was. Yeah. And we just kind of would ask, let whoever we got to come along to a rehearsal, we would just, we would sort of ask them the specific questions that we wanted answered as the person sort of looking in, you know, and we were really deliberate about who we chose, like, we knew that like, within Yeah, within Bigfoot, like, there are people who probably are going to be like, Where’s the jokes, guys? Where’s the bits and like, but there’s also other people who are like, really, really receptive to it. And really, you know, like, we were really happy that like, on, you know, Tuesday night, like, all of the directors came to that show, and they were all really supportive. I’m so glad to be a part of this community of people.
Yeah, surprisingly, they were. They, they were they were impressed. They, they were, you know, it isn’t what I’ll say to our Theatre Company is focused on at the moment, you know, deep, the deep expression of sickness and separation are the anxieties of love. Our humanity, the depths of our humanity. And that’s not the focus of the theater group we’ve come from.
But I do appreciate risks like this. And you know, what, we have that really big thing of like, before every show, you know, it’s always about, like, getting each other’s backs and stuff, you know, trust and just being like, Whoa, okay. Yeah, I can do it too loud.
Yeah, that went that was certainly something that we almost had to relearn. So, the, the fundamentals that we were taught from our theater school, were completely invaluable. Because once you think you have it, like we had to remind each other, you know, this is not, this is not, we do, we have to trust, and there’s so many layers of trust, you know, and to say, I have your back. I’m here for you. I’m here to help you create the theme. Oh, there’s so much of yourself. Sometimes, when you’re working scenes through continuously, so much of yourself that you have to put away if you truly, truly want to be supportive of your acting partner. You know,
so you guys are you develop this show, and you put it up? kudos doing that during COVID, though, is Australia.
Good? Yeah, it’s been it’s crazy. How long I don’t know how much you know, that Australia and sort of Australian identity. But like, it’s kind of a trip how there’s a mainstream element of Australia that really prides itself I’m being like the larrikin like the why the outlaw. You know, one of our like, national icons is Ned Kelly, like the bush Ranger who likes shut up The police and stuff like, you know, big, like, kind of energy on that. But at the same time, I think that like, you know, European, like why Australia was were founded on like, convicts, you know, they were like what Australians will like, basically prisoners for, you know, the first, like, big chunk of time in, you know, as far as European history of Australia is concerned. And that has, I think that has trickled down into the way that we responded to COVID. Where when all of our leaders let anyone know, not doing anything. We were like, okay, yes. And we totally, yeah, like, in Queensland, you know, they like locked the board is hard when there were other flare ups in other parts of the country. And, you know, and everyone was just like, Oh, great. We have such a strong leader who will act it will do that. And it’s like, yeah, so we’ve definitely appreciated the benefits of it. Because, yeah, like we, you know, we’ve literally performed a show last night in front of, like, 40 people in, you know, in a theater that, like,
it’s mind blowing, like,
I don’t know, the next time I’ll be able to get into a theater. Yeah, I know.
It’s, yeah, it’s really intense. Like, and, you know, it’s like, even when, like Melbourne had the most slight draconian lockdown, you know, in the, I don’t know if it was in the world, or whatever. But it was this extended period of time. And so I knew for myself, like putting on shows up in Queensland, being like, I’m not really going to promote this on my social media, because I don’t want to be an asshole to my, like, Melbourne friends who are like, you know, I know a lockdown and just sort of being like, it’s Yeah, it’s it’s really tricky. But yeah, definitely feel pretty lucky. Like. Yeah, like when
you say that, when you were telling the story about the national identity of Australians, I really thought you’re gonna go the other way. Like, you were like, We really love this guy who shoots at cops were from, we’re from prisoners, I thought you’re gonna be like, and then there were like, here’s a rule. And you’re like, we don’t care about rules. We’re all the weird people who were like, yeah, I’ll get on a boat or like, what’s a boat? on a boat? That’s who’s America? about that? I’m like, What? What do you think this country was born on? The free? We’re like, I gotta get out of Europe. Out of here for a four week boat trip? Yeah, better than my life. Let’s go. The crowd we want to have is our ancestors is it but
it’s like, it’s definitely gotten somewhere, you know, like, and that it totally is true. Like, when we see America, you know, that’s like, commitment to freedom, that like, you know, that’s like, on the individual level, just being like, Nope, I’m gonna do whatever the hell I want. Well, you know, I’m not gonna argue with it. Like, yo, like, everything it seems, was kind of built on this idea of the individual kind of thing. You know, I feel like, I’m learning so much about this city, Brisbane, where we are now and, you know, the, like, kind of convict settlement here was just so brutal, like, the people were just like, basin into submission. Like, you know, it’s, uh, yeah, like, it’s a different kind of vibe. I think like, you know, it wasn’t until sort of like 60 is on that people actually did stop coming. Here for pleasure. You know, what I mean? Like, as in white people coming to this country for like, Oh, yeah, I’ll come and, you know, see what’s out over there. You know, for the most part, it was just like, No, you are going to hell, like you’re going on a however many months boat ride to, you know, somewhere where they’ve taken ages. Yeah. It was like seven or eight months.
I cannot you know, when people say things like, hey, if you could go to another time in history, we knew when would you go? I’m always like, no. I have science and airplanes. And I feel good. I’m not going back. No, thank
you. And I mean, like, yeah, there’s people who are like, Oh, yeah, I’d go back to 16 for the music or whatever. But like, isn’t that’s what yeah, we have the music
here. It exists with us now.
We’ve got it
going back full.
Yeah. If you want to reflect on the political strife of the 60s, just keep watching us news. It’s available. folk songs about us. And there you go. Same. There we go.
We got it. Done.
We’re here again.
Oh, man, I’m glad that you guys were able to have your show and that you’re able to continue to do stuff is the Improv Theater back in full swing as well?
Yeah, like, I mean, they broken up for Christmas. They, um, yeah, like, they were the ones who sort of dipped their toes back. And, you know, for a little while there, it was, like, you know, they’re like big folk Friday shows which slice to just love, like, wasted, just cram, like, as many people as we can into them was, you know, down to sort of, like, 20 people were allowed in the room, and you know, you had cost of like, five. You know, and then yeah, it’s, I’m pretty sure it didn’t, I think it might have gotten up to like, 30 people were allowed, maybe by the end of the year. Because it was a pretty small feat. It’s a pretty small theater space. where there were and yeah, so it’s, it’s just kind of slowly but surely, like I when we look down, and they, I was so grateful that lack the big foot, people went on to zoom like stream to YouTube shows like, and jams and training and stuff, like pretty much immediately and, you know, I know for myself, I just got like, right on that like, cuz myself being like a really, Mama, like, it was such a challenge, just sort of sitting in the chair. And like listening and like trying to just build the relationships and respond and all of that sort of stuff. And like I loved even just like playing with, like the webcam camera, like i’d lift up the laptop and like, swing it around, and like bring it to and forward like foot dynamicism. And it was like, yeah, just to kind of keep going and keep whacking and knowing that, you know, a handful of people were watching on the live stream to YouTube kind of thing was, you know, kind of all I needed.
Yeah. These zoom explosion is wild. And the international improv connection that has happened. I mean, like, like we were talking about earlier, Asia, I think you and I met on a Facebook group for international improvisers. And it was like, like, what a wild group? And like, how did we ever speak to one another? And then,
like, find us like, what
any of it is that, you know, where the world got a little bit smaller when everyone had to be on zoom? And theaters have taken the harshest hit of anybody. So they’re like, yeah, we’re artists, we’re good. We’re gonna reinvent the entire thing. And now like, every day, at every hour of the day, you could probably find an improv jam, just in a different country. Like you’re like, Ah, it’s a little late tonight here in Texas. But what time is it in India because maybe they got something going on, right? But there’s like whole big connect to now. And it’s just so beautiful, that it exists and that we can all connect to one another. So my like, focus is usually on the positive as far as like, yeah, this is a rough time, but like the, we have, I’ve been connected to other improvisers in such a wide swath that it’s like, I’m so excited and so happy to be connected with all of you and everyone you know, and all the international communities that now I just happened to be like chatting with every day and like seeing occasionally and it’s like what
I love it. Yeah, it’s awesome. And yeah, it literally I think you’re exactly right, that you know, when things just kind of appear like problems kind of appear there are they like to have these kind of positives come out of it? Like, you know, we knew for ourselves, like learning from the Bigfoot directors about how crucial it was that we got across to the talent, you know, and train in Chicago, and stuff like to then be like, Whoa, these guys are running like online jams like we can. I think they might have closed down that but Yeah,
yeah, it was like, I don’t know how I O is handling the whole thing. I don’t even know how Chicago is handling it right now. But, but it’s very interesting that the whole theater was born from I Oh, and the sort of Dell close style, because, you know,
I don’t catch that a lot in other countries. Most people are, are not focused on that kind of thing. But hey, it’s so super cool. And I love the idea that these guys were so inspired. They like went on a trip and then came back and we’re like, Guys, let me tell you like those. That’s the best. Like improv evangelists are my favorite.
You know, for us, like, I remember when one of the directors Jim, he could tell that I was like, really soaking everything up and stuff. And he was like, well, we got a theorist here. We got, we got like, so he like, quickly got me the truth in comedy. You know, I went away and, like, devoured that. And, you know, yeah, it’s been so like, he’s, and the people have been here in luck, you know, what is a pretty small city, you know, and there’s this community here, where people are like, Yeah.
Hey, man, from what I hear from people who have who met him back in the day, he was, you know, engaging in a way that nobody was, you know, like, some people are just draw you to them and, you know, have a vibe that everyone wants to be part of, and you know, this guy was it. So they, they burn hot, and they burn fast, and then they’re gone. And it’s like, wow, what happened? But, you know, I’ve talked to a bunch of people, I’ve talked to improvisers of all ages. And it’s always interesting to be like, wait, you took a class with Dell clothes? And they’re like, yeah, like, okay, now we need to get into that. Like, I know that you’re very I know that you’re like, famous for various other things. But this is what I want to talk about. And it’s also fun to to be to talk to you guys about stuff because like, that’s the same style that I was trained in as well. Right? So it’s like, oh, wow, we’re more connected than I thought, you know, and not to say that like I would ever do, the kind of show that you guys did, you guys are your show about vulnerability and performing naked as a choice is such an intense and amazing choice. And clearly born out of the, you know, deep artists that both of you are, which is really great. I’m glad that you have each other because like you can, like inspire each other and create these projects. That’s so that’s so awesome. My final question to you guys, is to ask about, you know, what advice do you have for other improvisers, maybe right now in the world that are trying to create like, what, how do you like tap into creating your own show? Whether it be able to be in front of people or online? Like, right now such a crazy time? How did you tap into creating this when the world was like so insane?
I think one, I feel as though it’s like, looking in side, like looking into the relationships, like I guess I’m learning where I’m at with improv at the moment is just like, everything is about the relationship that you’re building with your, you know, with the other character in the space, you know, and, and so I guess, just like really zooming in on that, and finding like, the truth in the connection between those two characters, even if they’re, like, totally, really big, Goofy, silly characters kind of thing finding that Yeah.
Or even even if they’re the opposite of that.
And then, and then as far as like, getting the show up, like, you know, I think that I mean, all I feel like we could say is to just like, you know, put the timer on, like do it for see how it feels to actually just go for an hour and then be like, Okay, well what if we What if we added a bit of structure to that so that there was some, you know, some ups and downs that you know, were already sorted there that we can then bounce off again, against, you know, what I mean, like, like, just sort of feeling the time itself. Lack is feels like a really important thing as far as just kind of understanding the nature of a show. And then the final thing that I would say would be just like watching as much improv as possible.
yeah. Like, Ben absorbs so much and, you know, on an intellectual level. And I think, why we come together so well, is because I’m very, I don’t know, just bluntly, practical. I would, I would say, you know, you’re sort of saying, you know, at a time, like they said, maybe we haven’t sort of struggled with COVID, as much as America is unfortunately, struggling right now, but, but I’m always glass, glass half full, you know, it’s always half full, the world’s always have had problems and epidemics. And, and there’s always going to be a Boogeyman waiting to get you always that it’s just inevitable. But if, if you if you’re just going to see the world, and, and, and see your insecurities and see failure, then you might as well no, get out of bed. And, and so, so book, the whole, you know, or book the time. No, you got it, you gotta be ballsy about it. And then and then and then book the times in, when you’re gonna rehearse, when you’re gonna do it. Alright, we’re gonna do it for the, at this time, every week, you know, for the for the next 10 weeks, and then we perform on this date, you know, just just just dive in headfirst. And sometimes, you know, you’ll end up diving in and, and, and under estimating how shallow the water is and breaking your neck, you know, becoming a quad quadriplegic. It could be disastrous. Everything, everything that can go wrong Cougar wrong. Absolutely. But then, you know, can flip the other way completely. Don’t be one of those like, oh, pushy faced people are gonna get on my soapbox now. But that’s just like, Well, you know, and then all of a sudden, it’s two months later, and you’re still going, Oh, guess what? What’s the point? You know, make those bold decisions make those bold moves? because who knows? I mean, the world could go up in flames tomorrow, and
then next Wednesday,
or next Wednesday. That’s how I live my life. Yeah, like, I mean, as much as we our process, I think for, for putting on for, for embodying a show from beginning to end is very different. But and then you seem to you, you know, you you think of structure and the actual show, but like, at the end of the day, I just think it’s optimism and commitment to each other to yourself, to the world around us. You know,
I just feel
like we haven’t been improvising for very long at all. You don’t have to wait 10 years to do this. And it was you know, we sold out on two nights and you know, the third night was full. We, you can’t as much as refining craft is important and and doing it with respect to the Elder Gods of, of comedy. It still it still is is a matter of just just doing it. There’s not enough bravery I find that there’s a little bit of timidity amongst peers sometimes and they don’t just get out there and do it. And I’m just saying and and that’s not a that’s not a negative judgment on them. It’s just like, Come on, guys. You could do it. You can do anything. You can have anything you want. You know, you just gonna
say that the phrase Elder Gods of comedy has really like gotten me going like in
my head. I’m
like, these huge like Greek god looking like, like statues but like they’re sitting on like, whoopee cushions.
They’re they’re smoking weed and
it’s like two statues. are high fiving each other, you’re like what’s happening? Like? That’s so funny. Now these are great answers. No, I really these, this is excellent advice. Both both of you from your own points of view, how to get it done. And you you talked about it, you know, also I think it’s an excellent point he was making that like you guys haven’t been doing it that often yet you were like, I want to make a show. So you did it, that the action is doing it getting it done. Right. People aren’t in improv because they’re like, let’s plan a lot of stuff kind of people there. Right? Playing a lot of stuff, write a play, get a play produced. That’ll take you multiple years if you’d like to wait. Like but you know, if you want to do something fast, improv is the way right.
Yeah, absolutely. Awesome.
Thank you guys so much. Thank you, Ben and Asia for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your day to talk to me and share your stories. It has been really great to talk to you and to hear what’s going on.
Thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you. And yeah, thanks so much for having us.
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