Ladies Are Funny Festival
30 Rock's Sue Galloway graces LAFF with her one-woman show, advice on writing
Sue Galloway is most widely identified as "Sue LaRoche-Van der Hout," the French-Dutch former psychic detective from the comedy writers' room on NBC's 30 Rock. While she is neither foreign nor psychic (that we know of), her name is in fact also Sue and she is also making a living as a comedy writer.
When she began her performance career in New York, however, Galloway says she fully intended on sticking solely with comedic acting. "When I started with improv back in 2002 at [Upright Citizens Brigade], I thought I only wanted to be an actress," she recalls. "I never thought I'd ever be a writer or do sketch comedy, but I quickly got over my own rules for myself. I realized that improv prepares you to be a writer whether you realize it or not."
Since embracing her dual role as a writer and performer, she has made quite a name for herself across the comedy board, as a part of the Friars Club Competition-winning UCB sketch team Onassis as well as in a number of web series and shorts with her writing partner, Pam Murphy. Oh, and that semi-regular acting gig on that 30 Rock show.
Tuesday, Galloway makes the trek out to Austin to headline this week's Ladies Are Funny Festival (LAFF) with her popular one-person, character-heavy comedy show, POSE: A Women's Magazine, which she has performed regularly at UCB and at comedy festivals across the country.
Comprised of quick-moving character sketches of women of all ages and backgrounds who enjoy women's magazines like Vogue and Shape and Glamour, Galloway says she got the idea for the show from a "Beautiful at Any Age!" article from one of those self-same magazines. Soon, she was fleshing out the rest of the "live magazine" with a multitude of new characters and a fully-formed production sprung to life on stage.
"I've seen a lot of solo shows, and I'm always more into the quick, fast-moving ones so that's what I tend to do," she reveals. "I avoid the storytelling vein, and prefer to let the audience put the pieces together on their own. It's also not dirty in any way, which I hope doesn't prevent anyone from coming to see it."
While POSE is a women's magazine geared toward women, Galloway is sure to emphasize in the description of the play that men are also welcome. "I don't think I have a particularly feminine sense of humor, whatever that means. I think we're all people first, so I begin with the premise that we are all human beings and work from there. My husband [fellow 30 Rock star John Lutz] has seen it a bunch of times, and he is a man. So there's that," she laughs.
Having worked and played in large teams, duos and solo productions, Galloway says that she thrives in all three settings. Her increasingly busy schedule makes cooperative work more difficult, so fortunately she is enjoying the challenge of the new solo show because of the creativity it requires her to find within herself.
"However the things inside of you want to come out, you have to listen to that instinct," she explains. "When I first started, I felt safer working with others, when I didn't have as much of my own voice. I soon learned that writing your own material makes you a better writer, actor and comedian. It's never bad to explore character — whether it's through a solo show or monologues — which makes you more available for career opportunities in comedy."
To burgeoning comedians, Galloway offers the advice that the key is always working to improve your craft and giving yourself the permission to be proud of your work. "Training in improv prepares you to be a writer whether you realize it or not. You're learning to work with a group and by yourself, and that's what you need. Just put it down on the page and give yourself that kind of confidence you need to show it to others."
Straight from the French-Dutch psychic detective's mouth, so you'd best believe it.
Sue Galloway performs POSE: A Women's Magazine at the 29th Street Ballroom at Spider House Cafe at 8 p.m. on May 9. Tickets are available through the Ladies Are Funny Festival website. LAFF runs through May 12 with shows also at Salvage Vanguard Theater and The Hideout Theater.