Out of Bounds Comedy Festival
Out of Bounds Preview: A conversation with The Asides
It’s the first day of the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and every Austin comedian is a’tingle.
The first batch of improvisation appetizers are set to go at the Hideout Theatre tonight, including newly formed troupe, The Asides. Composed of veteran improv actors Justin Davis, Erica Lies and Marc Majcher, the troupe puts their collective years of experience to good use in their exciting narrative form performances.
Before the Festival kicked into full gear, I sat down with The Asides at the Hideout Theatre to discuss their origins, their style and their picks for OoB.
“This group spawned from an idea I had that my other troupe didn’t want to do,” says Davis. “The name came from the theatrical convention of the aside, stepping out of a scene and addressing the audience as the actor.”
The name came from the theatrical convention of the aside, stepping out of a scene and addressing the audience as the actor.
With a smile, Majcher adds: “Yeah, we scrapped that idea halfway through the first show. We each tried it in that first show and then decided, yeah, we don’t need that.”
As a monoscene improv troupe, the group commits to a single setting and narrative for each show, preferring the development of a single scene and three believable characters throughout a show.
“I like working together stylistically, we blend very nicely” says Lies. “I always tend to play absurd characters in other groups, so I like the challenge of sustaining a more grounded character through a full narrative.”
While The Asides are not practitioners of regular rehearsals or pre-show warmups, Majcher attributes their years of training as their insurance to confidently approach a scene. “We’re all very good at committing to the moment and seeing exactly what we need to do to advance it. ”
This synchronicity of thought is what brought the three comedians together. Each claims membership in at least one other troupe, but all agree on the magic that happens with their common approach to the art form.
“The first time we performed together, I told my boyfriend, ‘Ahhhh, don’t worry about coming, it’s just another show I’m subbing in for,” remembers Lies. “But then I came home and he asked how the show was. And I said, ‘It was magical.’ Because it really was. Something just clicked that night.”
None of us are trying to be funny on command. Because trying too hard to be funny is the easiest way to ruin comedy.
Says Davis, “It’s the attitude we approach improv with, I think. There’s no stress about anything. We’re here to have a good time, just like the audience.”
“There’s also an agreement to just play slow,” adds Lies. “None of us are trying to be funny on command. Because trying too hard to be funny is the easiest way to ruin comedy. As soon as that pressure is removed, it’s amazing how it just arrives.”
As far as what they’re excited about the most for their Out of Bounds debut as The Asides, they all agree that getting to see the out of town performers will be the highlight.
“It’s so great seeing people from Canada and New York who we never get to see otherwise,” says Davis, who knows the value of a good conversation. “You can meet great people here at shows, at parties and in the workshops and stay in contact with them for years.”
“I’m socially awkward, so I don’t talk to anyone,” laughs Lies. But as a former New York resident and improv, she’s looking forward to catching up with some of her former New York colleagues like sketch group, Audience of Two.
“I don’t really plan anything,” adds Majcher. “I’m primarily concerned about making it to the parties. I’m just trying to see as much stuff from out of town because I see all the people who are here all the time.
“Don’t say that,” says Davis. “The night we perform is a night of all local performers.”
“Oh, right. Except Tuesday night. That’s the best night to see a show.”