This is my third year in Panties in a Twist, the all-female sketch comedy show produced by The Pushers. I’m by no means a senior cast member (the show is in its sixth year), but it’s not my first rodeo, either.
Here is a taste of this very unique experience:
During rehearsal for the 2016 show, inspiration strikes. Make mental notes about sketch ideas for next year in the hopes that I don’t wait until the last minute to start writing (again).
First show sells out (Amen!) and the second show isn’t too shabby. Biggest note: PROJECT your voice.
Mom says there’s too much potty humor (in 2016 I wrote a sketch about a haunted vagina that required Ghostbusters to “exorcise” it with Silly String). Spend the rest of the year trying to come up with sketch ideas that aren’t obscene, but you know what they say: “Write what you know.”
Though the show is over, the Facebook group for the 2016 cast is alive and well. It’s a sisterhood that perpetuates itself. Memes are FLYING.
Actually make several notes in my phone about sketch ideas that I’ve been mulling over since last winter. No complete sentences yet (one note is literally just a list of all the Muppets in Dr. Tooth and the Electric Mayhem). Hope to flesh them out later.
When writing sketches, I try to keep in mind things like the diversity of the cast, and creating opportunities for several women within a single sketch. (If the entire show consisted of 2-woman dialogues, things would get boring pretty quickly.)
December 24, 2016:
Deadline for sketches is December 25. Still haven’t “fleshed out” those incoherent notes. One of the producers posts in the FB writers group that they’ve extended the deadline to January 1. HALLELUJA.
January 1, 2017, 11:50 p.m.:
Submitted four sketches just under the wire. Considered submitting a conceptual piece that’s just me reading a Dixie Carter monologue from my favorite episode of “Designing Women,” but decided this town isn’t ready for it.
AUDITION DAY. Every year I say I’m going to get there early, get in and out. NOPE. I was like 24th on the list. Sigh. All good. One of the producers suggested that I do interpretive dance during my scene partner’s monologue (which I would have CRUSHED), but the others decided against it. *sigh*
Next year I’m preparing a monologue. It may or may not be a tribute to Dixie Carter.
Snow has interrupted the auditions, so it’ll be a while before we hear who made it into the show. I keep mulling over choices I made during my audition (Was my impression of a hip-hop mogul too weak? When I impersonated a clown, it kind of came off like Groucho Marx…Should I have gone more Krusty the Klown?)
I’M IN THE CAST. Holy shit. The show is in just three weeks. There are 40 women in the show! That means fewer roles for everyone. Or the show will be 5 hours long. We shall see…
First rehearsal went well. Lots of new faces. (Guess who has 15 new Facebook friends!)
I remember what it was like my first time. (“What do you mean we have to supply our own costumes and props? What do you mean we won’t rehearse at the Wells Theater until the day of the show? There is singing and choreography? How can we pull this off in three weeks?”) TRUST, ladies. Hell or high water, we’ll get it done and it will be funny.
We read 30 scripts, and there were at least ten more that we didn’t get to. Just because you read a part in this rehearsal doesn’t mean you automatically get the role. I did a dry run with my homegirl Mindy and we KILLED IT. Hoping we get those roles when they are casting for real. I didn’t write the sketch (Evan did), but it’s one of my favorite roles EVER.
Tentative casting announced. Mindy and I are in the same sketch! I’ve known her for two years, but we have never performed together. We have incredible comedic chemistry, and her knack for improv means that if someone flubs a line, we can make it work. Now we just have to ensure our sketch doesn’t get cut.
Ok, rehearsal at Muse Writers Center. (Thanks, Muse.) This is the first time we have seen scripts since the initial run-through. Sketches have been cut. There are re-writes. Gotta learn the lines. Gotta work out timing and blocking.
I brought my 5 year-old with me to rehearsal, and he was an angel. He watched videos on an iPad for several hours, and came out at one point to ask me why I was screaming at my friend. “Um, it’s fine. Don’t worry. Mommy is just acting.”
More cuts. It’s a bloodbath. They’re trying to get it down to 20-25 sketches.
Working out the opening musical number. Lots of “spirit fingers,” “jazz hands,” shimmying, pelvic thrusting and booty shaking. Alba, the director/producer reminded us “It’s a comedy show. They’re not expecting the Rockettes.” So, you know, keep that in mind. The bar is low.
Wrangling 40 comedians is no small task. I’ve learned to be a better listener. Alba and the stage manager, Heather, really have a knack for communication and management. (Mental note to apply their zen-like flow to my everyday life/parenting style.)
NO REHEARSAL. Worked a little on choreography and lines at home while the kids played in their rooms. And by that, I mean watched YouTube videos on their iPads (much love, Steve Jobs). Worked on an article for AltDaily to promote the show. All I could come up with was a fake diary about what it’s like behind the scenes. Rehearsal tomorrow. Reading with Mindy and Evan. Maybe if I mention the sketch in the AltDaily article, it won’t get cut…
Panties in a Twist VI: the All-Female Sketch Comedy Show will be at the Wells Theater on February 10, 11 and 12. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased online here.