by KC Ryan
It’s almost that time again! Obviously, the most wonderful time of the year, Dallas Comedy Festival (DCF) kicks off on Tuesday, March 22. To help you put together your festival schedule, we want to make sure you get to know as many of the fabulous out-of-town acts as possible that will be dropping into Dallas Comedy House.
Do you like comedy? Do you like podcasts? Do you like both?
Well, get ready for sketch troupe, Victrola! That’s Victrola! I mean, the name of the troupe is spelled with an exclamation point at the end, it’s not only me being really excited. That being said, you should be excited because they are heading to the Dallas Comedy Festival from Austin’s own Coldtowne Theatre to spread some hilarity around, exclamation point!
I had a few questions for Victrola!’s Michael Jastroch and the team’s track record. (I’m not proud of that pun either, folks. I promise I won’t do that anymore.)
Can you describe the format of your show?
Victrola is a monthly sketch comedy podcast. The cast gets together once a week in my cramped office and riffs around premises that we come up with during the week. After that, Dalton Allen (our editor) and I spend a huge amount of time culling through the material and cutting it down into sketches.
For our live show, we'll be improvising around premises on stage in front of microphones and running sound FX from the stage. We'll have some of the jokes planned in advance, but there'll be plenty of room for tomfoolery. We're also working on getting some awesome guests who'll also be at the festival.
In addition to performing live, Victrola! also has a podcast available for download on iTunes. What inspired you to take your comedy the audio route, and how does your comedy benefit?
We started out as a podcast and then decided to perform live. However, the cast has been performing together in various incarnations - improv and sketch - at ColdTowne Theater for close to a decade.
I'd spent the last decade doing these great shows with these amazing people, but unlike stand-up or sketch, there was no record of it afterwards. It somehow felt less weighty, like we were leaving nothing behind.
Which I'm OK with. In our hearts, we're live performers and improvisers first. But there's no reason we can't have our cake and eat it, too.
I first got the idea for doing this podcast on a road trip to do some shows in Oklahoma City. We spent the seven-hour car ride pretending to prank call each other in the car. I don't think I've laughed longer or harder than that.
Three of us from that trip (Josh Krilov, who's now in L.A.) and Bryan Roberts found that we worked really well together. We started getting together and recording silly audio bits on our cell phones. I knew I wanted to harness that energy and put something out, but it wasn't until I heard the incredible Superego Podcast (whose format and tone we are HEAVILY inspired by - all due credit to the masters) that it came together in my brain.
The problem with a lot of recorded improv is that it doesn't always translate well. I wanted to find a way to capture the atmosphere of a live show while putting out the refined quality of great sketch or stand-up. The benefit of doing this audio only is that the audience can use their imagination to fill in the gaps. We're able to put out way more quality content simply because production is less of a headache (if it doesn't get done, I have no one but myself to blame).
What Hogwarts house [from Harry Potter] do you think Victrola! members would be sorted into?
We're all Hufflepuffs who think they're Ravenclaws. (Author’s Note: Same, Michael. Same.)
Do you have any advice for sketch groups and improvisers? Maybe some tips for those who may want to start up a podcast?
Rule No. 1 for long-term creative success, always be the easiest person to work with. If you NEED absolute control, work on your writing or stand-up. But even then, don't be a dick. I know, I've tried. It doesn't work.
Rule No. 2 if you want to do something, do it. Don't wait for permission or for someone else to cast you in something. I wasted a lot of time in my life waiting for someone to notice me. You have the tools, go out and make something.
Victrola! perform on Friday, March 25, at midnight. It's a free show. First come, first seated.
KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.