Arts | Comedy

June 14, 2005

Overheard at SketchFest NYC

Quotes and photos from New York's inaugural national sketch-comedy festival.

Keith Huang

At the final Saturday performance of SketchFest NYC, local sketch group Gameface made the audience commit mass suicide.

Photo Gallery

I saw a lot of shows that opened my eyes to different styles and strategies that we should be trying—it's amazing. Changed my life.

Will Hines, Gameface

See a photo gallery of Gameface—shown here leading the audience in mass comedy suicide—along with their comments about SketchFest NYC. Photos and text by Keith Huang.

Debuting their new show "The Church of Positivitology," Gameface spoofed a doomsday cult, offering "life lessons" and a PowerPoint presentation of how wonderful the world would be just as soon as the audience drank from poisoned juiceboxes or ate poisoned Hershey's kisses. Group members handed out the items in paper bags before the show began; they pointed out how considerate they were to offer a choice of suicide instruments.

At approximately midnight, the audience did heed the Church's advice and consumed the juice and chocolate. But after the lights went black and came back up, the scene at SketchFest NYC—New York's first-ever national sketch-comedy festival—was more akin to a comedy communion than a mass suicide. Perhaps for the first time that weekend—after 18 other comedy troupes had graced the stage—it was the audience's turn to show commitment to a comedy scene.

Gelf caught up briefly with some of the performers and asked them to give their thoughts on SketchFest NYC—the mood backstage, the audience reaction, and the impact other troupes might have on their future work. The answers ranged from the sincerely informative to the comically absurd. Gelf expected nothing less. Some quotes are below; photos of the performances and more quotes are in our photo gallery of the SketchFest.

"I enjoyed the slice-of-life' stuff—the really specific stuff about a particular type of person, like skinheads at home. Triplette did a lot of stuff like that, which was really insightful. What does it mean when extreme fundamentalists do laundry? Those are great questions to ask. I also realized that at some point in the '80s I was abducted—I don't know by whom because it was erased from my memory—but there are vast amounts of references to videogame culture that I don't know. Herzog and Warlord, and shit like that, I don't get it. But it's not my fault because I was abducted. I continue to not get those sketches."
—Negin Farsad of Madame Funnypants (New York)

"One of our members peed. And one of our members humped the other up the butt. ... You always gotta have one of those."
—Name & troupe withheld upon request

"We had a blast. We had a smooth ride, we felt the love waves of the audience. ... We also added a disclaimer to beginning of our show: 'Before we get started we want to warn you that there's adult language ... and brief fucking'—which were both true."
—Katherine Bryant of Fearsome (New York City)

"The people who are running the SketchFest are doing this out of love. There's enough sketchfests everywhere that they realized New York really needs this." And they're not doing it for profit. They're doing it because they love all these people—and you can feel it: I saw [SketchFest NYC co-organizer] Becky Poole stop and put her hand on one of the volunteers' shoulders and asked, 'How are you? Are you okay?' She's not just concerned about the performers, she's concerned about the people who are helping out, which is so bad-ass."
—Ruth Gamble of The Animal Club (Chicago)

Gelf: What does SketchFest NYC mean to you?
A: "It means exactly what we wanted it to mean, which is bringing these groups from all over the nation, they did a kick-ass fantastic job, the audiences saw the best sketch in the entire nation. They had a fantastic time and every single person walked away with a smile on their face."
Q: Are you going to do it again next year?
A: "100% definitely."
—Alex Zalben of Elephant Larry, Madame Funnypants and SketchFest NYC producer.

Related in Gelf

•Keith Huang previewed Sketchfest with an interview with Alex Zalben and a photo gallery of the troupes.

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Article by Keith Huang

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