Seattle Sketchfest 2012: A Talk with Charles & The Entertainment Show

[Courtesy of Sketchfest Seattle] Poster image for Seattle Sketchfest 2012.

I refer to myself as the only known sketch comedy groupie. I would like to have done sketch comedy at some point instead of just improv and stand up but like a good man, all of the good sketch comedy groups were taken. So, I just hung out with the likes of Bald Faced Lie and the Habit, and watched them with glee, as well as Kazoo, Up In Your Grill and Flaming Box of Stuff to name just a few.

I am so pleased that my obsession for sketch can live on with the continuing run of Sketchfest and all of the fantastic groups that are helping to carry on the tradition. Started in 1998, Seattle Sketchfest was the original Sketch comedy festival in the US, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t missed a year since.

But enough about my slightly creepy love of sketch comedy, and instead focus on this years’ performers which will include local favorites The Cody Rivers Show, The Ubiquitous They, Charles, Drop The Root Beer and Run, The Entertainment Show and Pork Filled Players this weekend. Next week will feature visiting acts from Los Angeles, Texas and New York.

I sat down recently with the members of Charles and The Entertainment Show, both of whom will be performing this weekend, and talked to them about what makes their respective groups function.

Charlie Stockman and Chuck Armstrong of Charles

Seattle Star: Why should people go see local sketch comedy as opposed to just watching it on television?

CA: When sketches are performed on television like SNL it loses the flavor of local producing and also the sketches can become overproduced, and by that I mean too many people telling the performers what to do.

Many times risks can’t be taken because of the censors and edgier “smarter” comedy sometimes can’t happen. Also, it loses the thrill of “anything can happen live” comedy, television sketches won’t grow or change as they will always be locked in celluloid.

CS: Comedy is a lot more enjoyable live.You will laugh much harder. This isn’t just true of local comedy, but it’s easier to see local comedy in person than say, SNL.

SStar: You work together, and you’re roommates. Does that ever cause problems?

CA: No, we’re fairly diplomatic.

CS: No, not that I can recall.

SStar: Well that’s boring. Really? Nothing?

CA: No.

CS: Nope.

SStar: Fine then, how does it help, do you have revelations in the middle of the night that you have to share with each other?

CA: I would say that living together definitely helps our creative process but mostly by accelerating the early development ideas. In that way, simple ideas that might not really have legs can take shape and “mutate,” so to speak, into something very funny just by virtue of proximity for bouncing ideas around. That said, I don’t think there’s an explicit urgency in our idea sounding.

CS: What Chuck said.

SStar: I get the feeling that Charlie is the quieter, more analytical one, while Chuck is more the showman, do you find that to be true?

CA: I definitely think we are each a little of both, although Charlie is a wee bit more into outlining the sketches and having a clear view of where the sketches are going from the outset. I like that as well, but I’m more likely to jump in and discover more of the dialogue as the sketch progresses.

SStar: How would you describe each others’ comedy styles?

CA: I would call Charlie the P.G. Wodehouse of sketch comedy.

CS: And I would compare Chuck to Stephen King.

SStar: Well, alright then.

Travis Vogt and Kevin Clarke from The Entertainment Show

SStar: How did you two meet and discover a mutual love of comedy?

TV: We had met in 2004 while working at Metro cinemas, where I would yell at Kevin in the back room while customers were present for comic effect though it made said customers really uncomfortable, which we found to be a win win.

KC: We also shared an apartment at that time, it was me, Travis and his now ex-girlfriend. When she moved out, Travis and I spent a week bonding on the couch while watching movies. We discovered a shared love of the movie The Fury, a far-fetched, violent, supernatural/spy thriller starring Kirk Douglas and Amy Irving made in 1978.

We later would use the ridiculous action cliches in that movie as our sole inspiration for our “Adventure Buddy” film series.

SStar: When did you decide to form a sketch comedy duo?

TV: We started shortly after we met, but not as The Entertainment Show. Our first incarnation was The Royal Crown Players; our first production–where we first blended live sketch comedy with short films–was called Shakespeare on Ice, where we realized that the fights we had about the production were funnier than the production itself. We then changed our name to Scarecrow and Mr.Vogt, and then again to The Entertainment Show.

KC: At that time we were also a part of the alternative comedy boom of 2006 to 2009. I was doing standup with People’s Republic of Komedy, performing at Laff Hole at the now defunct CHAC Theater and at the Sunset Tavern, where eventually we would show “The Adventure Buddies” and “Steel Fire Warriors”, which have become local cult classics.

SStar: Any plans to do another film series?

KC: We are working on a full length movie, stay tuned on that. [A plethora of short films by the Entertainment Show could be found online on The Entertainment Show’s MySpace page.-ed]

SStar: Lastly, what quote best describes what comedy means to you?

TV: “Comedy is history written in lightning.” – Woodrow Wilson

KD: Well, alright then.

Charles will be performing in the Sketchfest Local Showcase at 7:00pm on Friday the September 28 at Annex theater and Thursday October 4 at the 7:00pm show at Theatre Off Jackson.

The Entertainment Show is performing at the 7:00pm Friday September 28 at Annex Theatre and Friday October 5 at 9:00pm at Theatre Off Jackson.

Seattle Sketchfest’s Local Showcase: Friday September 28 at 7:00p.m. // Annex Theatre, 1100 East Pike Street // go to Sketchfest’s website for further ticket information

Seattle Sketchfest’s Comedy Film Festival: Saturtay, September 29 at 7:00p.m. // Central Cinema, 1411 21st Avenue // go to Sketchfest’s website for further ticket information

Seattle Sketchfest Showcase: Thursday through Saturday, October 4 through October 6, at 7:00p.m. and 9:00p.m. // Theatre Off Jackson, 409 7th Avenue South // $15, available at Sketchfest’s website and at the door