The Performant: Talk Lobster
By Nicole Gluckstern
Published: SF Bay Guardian, December 5th, 2012
Killing My Lobster sends up San Francisco
“Funny can mean different things to different people.” Perhaps no tagline better describes the fluctuations of sketch comedy than that of veteran gagsters Killing My Lobster. And they should know, since they’ve been dishing up their irreverent brand of short-attention span comedy since 1997. Even if, as a performance format, sketch comedy isn’t really your thing, the variables built into its basic equation — rotating writers and cast members, wacky themes, and the unique juxtaposition of the ludicrous with the everyday — ensure that, like the weather, if you don’t like something, just wait 10 minutes, and you will probably be rewarded with something you do.
The blink-and-you-missed-it one-night run on Saturday of “Killing My Lobster Takes it to the Streets,” at Stagewerx naturally included the weather in their microhood-specific roundup of familiar, Bay Area moments.
Fog, of course, and even the sun (in the East Bay, natch) got referenced in sketches which ranged topically from botched muggings and marauding food trucks to a series of wildly ineffectual 911 dispatch calls and a night in the life of a drug-loving cabdriver. Using San Francisco as their canvas, the Lobsters created a humorous collage of snapshots of city living, in a city that takes making fun of itself more seriously than most.
Opening with a brief spate of beat-boxing from Tommy Shephed aka Soulati of Felonious, (whose creative partner Dan Wolf directed the show), the first sketch featured the aforementioned mugging. A menacing Brian Allen tried to divest a pair of yupsters of their cash only to have them snort derisively that they don’t carry “money” and obnoxiously compare his mugging skills to that of robbers past, until he was forced to flee out of shame for his poor performance. The obligatory roommates from hell trope got a ribald twist in the form of an orgy, and a flashback to the birth of MUNI gave insight as to why the Richmond District has been deprived of metro lines for all these years.
Other highlights included a tearful wake being held for an amiable youth, Cody (Anthony Tupasi), who, it turns out, wasn’t dead at all, but might as well be, since he moved to the East Bay, a video of clip-board zombies soliciting donations on 18th Street, a retro-hipster faceoff which included the best line of the evening “I want to have your babies so we can watch them die of cholera,” and a visit to Blue Toad Farm which included the second-best line of the evening: “This is a locally-grown, artisanal, heirloom carrot root.” Maybe you had to be there.
Which brings us right back to that tagline. Humor is so highly subjective that conveying it adequately, sight-unseen, can be a tricky business, and it’s precisely why seeing it live is so important. Fortunately, this is a lesson that KML fans seem to have fully absorbed as the house was packed despite the torrential downpour. And happily this is a lesson that KML seems willing to teach often, the only real question being, what sacred cows will these Lobsters skewer next?
To view the full article visit http://www.sfbg.com/pixel_vision/2012/12/05/performant-talk-lobster
Check out today’s edition of the SF Chronicle, because we’re the COVER STORY in the 96 Hours arts insert!
As they say in real estate, “location, location, location”. The same holds true for placement of an article when it’s on the COVER of the Chronicle’s 96 Hours! Many thanks to journalist Chad Jones for a great set of interviews and a great resulting article! Visit link below for full article or, better yet, grab a copy on your local newsstand!
Journalist, Corey Andrew, interviews Guest MC about her upcoming appearance (this Friday!) at the Killing My Lobster 15th Anniversary Quinceanera Prom fundraising event!
Killing My Lobster’s Quinceañera Prom
When: September 14, 8 to 11:55 p.m.
What: There’s nothing sketchy about this comedy gang who deliver some of the best, wiggle-in-your-seat-uncomfortable moments during their crack-up live performances. We expect this “prom” fundraiser to benefit the troupe to be no different. So don your best cotton-candy-colored dress, rhinestones, and dark lip-liner, pull that hair up in some sweet tendrils, and go awkwardly stand up against the wall until someone asks you to dance.
Where: Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St (between Potrero Avenue and Hampshire Street), San Francisco; 415-861-9199.
We had a great run with KML Chops Down the Family Tree over at TJT. So great, I think Norman Rockwell would have painted a quaint portrait of the Killing My Lobster family arguing at the Thanksgiving table. WE HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME, SALLY! Let’s just hope that Mom will let you read these great interviews with KML’s own Andy Alabran:
And hey look! We were an art and music pick by the San Francisco Chronicle!
On January 27th 2012, KQED’s Forum had Killing My Lobster and two of the founders of Sf Sketchfest, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton, on to discuss sketch comedy. They talked to KML’ers Paco Romane and Todd Brotze about our 15 years in SF, our shows in Sf Sketchfest and the current state of comedy.
We were also thrilled and honored to perform a few sketches LIVE from our Sketchfest show. You can hear Lobsters: Todd Brotze, Calum Grant, Ally Johnson, Allison Page, and Paco Romane. If you missed the original broadcast, you can listen to it by clicking above or by visiting the KQED Forum page here!
Our current sketch comedy show is underway! And while we wish it were Purim everyday of the year, the show closes THIS weekend. We have a special performance on the holy holiday itself (march 7th) at the JCC on 3200 California St and remaining performances (March 8 – 10) will be at the Jewish Theater on 470 Florida St. Grab your yarmulke (free drink if you dress in something BC-style!) and c’mon down to the TJT on Florida St. We are kvelling, and so, too, are some local papers. Check out the sweet press we’ve received:
This one’s a FULL PAGE spread in the pink section of the Chronicle. Online version is here.
SF Weekly review:
SF Weekly’s top pick:
7 X 7′s Hot Event:
Congratulations to our video department, meaning, congratulations to all involved, and especially writer/producer team Chris Parisi and Damon Brennen, the brains and talent behind Oakland! and a majority of our films. They’ve done it again, but this time, their new video “The Phone” has racked up an impressive 120,000 views and counting in less than one week on youtube. It’s even featured on NBC’s Today Show blog! As well as being big in France. Seriously.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here.
If you want to see it on the big screen, and even more comedy action, check out our newest show, Killing My Lobster Reboots!
Our friends at The Bold Italic feature KML in a pretty sweet article by Laura Beck. Here’s a small taste of it:
Before I can join the cast of SNL and make the show funny again, I need to hone my chops. Los Angeles has the Groundlings, Chicago has Second City, New York has Upright Citizens Brigade, and San Francisco has Killing My Lobster. While not as famous for churning out SNL stars like its contemporaries, Killing My Lobster is noteworthy in its own right. Its members’ comic sensibilities mimic the city’s inhabitants; maybe that’s why its tagline is, “Funny can mean different things to different people.” Founded in 1997 by a group of graduates from Brown University, KML has grown exponentially since. The group now has two full-time staff members and a large rotating cast of actors, directors, writers, and stage managers who work together to produce original sketch shows, full-length plays, and tons of digital shorts for KML‘s YouTube channel. Fresh.
SF Weekly just officially awarded Killing My Lobster its readers poll winner for Best Comedy Group of 2009. Meaning, well, YOU think KML is among the best in arts and entertainment in the Bay Area.
We are humbled and honored to hold a spot on the list alongside Dave Eggers, E-40, Flex Bronco, The Fillmore, and a bunch of other people and enterprises we’re huge fans of. Thanks so much, have a look at the official list, and come on out to our next show.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
KILLING MY LOBSTER PRESENTS ITS FIRST EVER ALL-FEMALE SKETCH COMEDY SHOW, KML FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, NOVEMBER 8 THROUGH DECEMBER 8 AT ODC THEATER
Proclaimed “Best Comedy Group of 2007″ by SF Weekly, KML Rounds Out its 10th Anniversary Year with Lady Laugh-athon
WHAT: KML For the Very First Time
WHERE: ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco
WHEN: Thursdays through Sundays, 11/8 through 12/8
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm
Saturdays at 7 and 10 pm
Sundays at 7 pm
*No performances 11/22 (Thanksgiving) or 11/23
$20 regular admission; $15 students (with valid ID)
Available via killingmylobster.com and at the door on the night of the performance
*Thursday, 11/8, and all Saturday 10pm shows are pay-what-you-can!
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 17, 2007–Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, critically acclaimed sketch comedy group Killing My Lobster in conjunction with ODC Theater present the world premiere sketch comedy KML For the Very First Time, Thursdays through Sundays, November 8 through December 8. There will be no shows Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving day) or Friday, November 23.
KML’s first-ever all female sketch comedy show, the production presents scenes and shenanigans all about first time experiences: from first kisses to first alien abductions and more. The production is made possible by support from Grants for the Arts.
Tickets [$20 regular and $15 students, with valid ID] will be available beginning September 15 via killingmylobster.com and at the door on the night of the performance. Performances on opening night, Thursday, November 8, and all Saturday, 10 pm performances are pay-what-you-wish shows. ODC Theater is located at 3153 17th Street at Shotwell in San Francisco.
Directed by longtime KML member Shaye Troha, KML For the Very First Time features a cast of some of the Bay Area’s best young comedic actresses: Fontana Butterfield (Shotgun Players, KML’s world premiere Hunter Gatherers), Erin Carter (Exit Theater’s Chemical Imbalance and KML Saves the Day), Melanie Case (Hunter Gatherers and many KML shows), Emily Jordan (SF Shakespeare Festival’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Sarah Mitchell (KML Faces the Music and many more), and Leslie Waggoner (Ray Of Light’s Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical).
“All first time experiences are fraught with the kind of tension and nerves that make our kind of sketch comedy work so well,” says Troha. “Whether the subject is a first date or a first job interview, we can all relate to and laugh at these ‘virginal’ situations. And the fact that this is KML’s first all-female comedy show makes the production its own ‘first time’ experience worth savoring all the more. I can’t wait to work with these hilarious ladies.”
The design team for KML For the Very First Time includes Ryan Junell (set), Cy Eaton (lights), and Jessica Hinel (costumes). The production is produced by Kristin Graham and Doug Proulx. Emilio Racinez is the stage manager.
Killing My Lobster is a Bay Area non-profit theater and film production company proclaimed “Best Comedy Group” by the editors of SF Weekly. This past season, KML presented the world premiere sketch comedies KML Faces the Music and KML Saves the Day. Last summer, their critically acclaimed world premiere production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s Hunter Gatherers received an extended three-month run at San Francisco’s Thick House Theater and was proclaimed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a major achievement for Killing My Lobster.” The play went on to win both the Will Glickman Award for the best new play of the Bay Area (2006) and the Steinberg Award for the best new play produced outside of New York City that year. Hailed by the Chronicle as “the closest thing we have to Second City” and heralded as “an orgy of comic genius” by Comedy Central, KML has created original work for HBO, is a two-time winner of the Best of the Fringe Award at the SF Fringe Festival and was voted “Best Comedy Group” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The group also produces the annual Hi/Lo Film Festival (www.hilofilmfestival.com) and has created numerous award-winning short films taking home the Golden Spire Prize at the SF International Film Festival.
email@example.com or 415-558-7721.
Stop the presses. Check out the SF Examiner’s story on our brand new show, KML For the Very First Time, right here!
Attention east coast KML fans! If you are sick of hearing about KML’s world premiere play Hunter Gatherers (it premiered last summer but won a bunch of awards–thus keeping it in the news and front and center on our site), then take solace in the fact that if you live anywhere near Boston, Massachusetts, you can see it right now. Not our version mind you–the East Coast premiere of the dark and hilarious dinner party opus from KML alum Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (pictured left). Recently, the Boston Globe wrote about Peter and this premiere production. Read more about it right here.
Marin native explores humanity’s darker side in new play
by Rick Polito; published in the Marin Independent Journal, June 27, 2006
Peter Nachtrieb doesn’t call himself a hunter-gatherer. But if he did, he’d have to say he’s moved to new hunting grounds.
The 31-year-old playwright who grew up in Mill Valley lives in San Francisco’s Mission district now, a walk-up apartment away from the multicultural bohemian sprawl of hipster bars, cafes and art galleries.
It’s where he gathered a lot of material for “Hunter Gatherers,” now playing at the Thick House theater, a production of the Killing My Lobster sketch comedy troupe.
But a lot of the modern savagery is right out of Mill Valley.
“Hunter Gatherers,” a dark comedy he describes as “Lord of the Flies” meets “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is a departure from the shotgun laugh grab the Lobsters are known for, but it’s becoming less and less of a departure for Nachtrieb. The boy who grew up “a drama nerd from way back” and was a lost boy in a Mountain Play production of “Peter Pan” is doing more writing than acting these days.
And writing more in the darker corners of comedy than might be expected of the boy raised in the drama departments of Marin’s best private schools.
“Hunter Gatherers” is a play about a dinner party stripped of its dinner party decorum. At Nachtrieb’s party, the hosts slaughter a lamb for dinner and the men wrestle for dominance. At Nachtrieb’s dinner party, primal instincts are on the menu.
Nachtrieb would say that primal instincts and urges are on the menu in every facet of life. A man who majored in drama and biology likes to think of humans as “a product of evolution, as an organism.”
We’d like to believe we left our inner caveman in the cave, but he’s looking over our shoulder every minute, Nachtrieb contends. We are ruled, in large part, by our most primal urges.
“They color everything we do but we layer so much culture on top of it,” Nachtrieb says. “There’s definitely a big separation between how we live and our primal base.”
It’s certainly food for thought but in “Hunter Gatherers” it’s also fodder for comedy. The Killing My Lobster actors don’t get to toss out punch lines and mine their sketch concepts for cheap laughs. Director Tracy Ward wouldn’t let them. But the laughs are there. They come from the ideas, she says.
Ward directs “Hunter Gatherers” and says Nachtrieb’s characters aren’t trying to be funny, they’re being “true.” It’s just that “their truth is pretty outrageous,” Ward says.
Nachtrieb’s work is where realism meets the absurd, the director says. It’s not an easy trick to pull off for anybody, for the actors, for the director, for the writer. But Nachtrieb’s writing pulls it together, Ward says. “He’s challenging in all the right ways.”
The playwright has challenged himself when he could since the days when he was a “third-grade ruffian” in a elementary school play, through high school when he directed a full-length play at Marin Academy and on to Brown University where he spent semesters in the theater halls and summers watching fish spawn in Panama or counting lobsters in Maine on science projects.
He’s been appearing in plays, finding commercial work and sending scripts into theater festivals. One of his plays got produced off-Broadway in a one-act festival that he says “opened a lot of doors.” Like a lot of artists in the late ’90s, he picked up some Web design skills and now finds contract gigs to pay bills between theater grants.
“I have time to not work,” he says.
The biology background “colors all my writing and my world view.” Taking that onto the stage would sound difficult, but Nachtrieb is inspired. “Hunter Gatherers” puts anthropology on the dinner table. A new project for the Magic Theater will explore nanotechnology in a dramatic setting.
His mom’s not worried. If anybody can work nano into a script, it’s her son. “He’s always been an artistically daring,” says Ursula Nachtrieb of San Anselmo.
His Marin Academy drama teacher has full confidence, too. Phoebe Moyer remembers her student as “an imaginative kid.”
She wasn’t surprised to find herself laughing at the concept of a dinner party complete with animal sacrifice and savage rituals.
“It’s very dark and disturbing and at the same time very funny,” Moyer says.
“That’s Peter,” his mom says.
“Hunter Gatherers” is playing in a loft-like space not so many blocks from the apartment Nachtrieb shares with the man he describes as “more than a boyfriend.”
Another of his plays, “Colorado,” will go up in a Berkeley theater housed in the basement of a pizza restaurant.
It’s all very different from the Mill Valley where he grew up, but the Mill Valley he grew up in is a very different place, too, Nachtrieb says.
“You can trace the changes in Mill Valley by the changes at the Banana Republic,” he jokes, recalling how the funky safari wear outfitter became a kind of upscale Gap. Things are more upscale all over his hometown.
Or at least they appear that way.
Nachtrieb knows that the basic primal drive “simmers below” the sophistication. You can put a caveman in a BMW but he’s still a caveman. He may not slaughter lambs at dinner parties but he declares his dominance in the size of his plasma screen.
The hunter-gatherers just hunt and gather a little differently now.
And Peter Nachtrieb has a new hunting ground.
IF YOU GO
What: “Hunter Gatherers”
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through July 9
Where: Thick House Theater, 1695 18th St. in San Francisco.
Tickets: $20 to $25
Information: 558-7721 or www.huntergatherers.com