The DC-based sketch comedy troupe Brick Penguin celebrates their one year anniversary by doing their first full evening show this coming Saturday, March 5th, at the H St Playhouse. DC Theatre Scene tossed a few questions their way earlier this week to warm them up for the big night. Five troupe members tossed their thoughts right back:
DCTS: Why do comedy?
Murph McHugh: Comedy is one of the most challenging and fun things you can do. Challenging in that you search to find what you have in common with folks, to appeal to as universal a perspective as possible. And often it takes a lot of work (and sometimes a lot of failing) to narrow it down to a relatable moment of honesty that you think a bunch of other folks will laugh at. And in the end, they may or may not wind up laughing. On the other hand, it’s fun because making people laugh makes you feel like a rock star, and you usually laugh and have a great time as part of the process of the creativity.
Will Groom: There are varying lengths I can answer this, but I’ll go with short: Selfishness. The gratification I get out of making someone laugh along with me is an indescribable feeling. It’s addictive.
Curtis Raye: Every other act I do that makes me feel good leaves the other person feeling shameful or litigious. With comedy, people who witness it leave in a better mood than when they started, which means I want to do it as much as possible.
Jenny Huftalen: I like to laugh. I think most things in life are pretty funny if you let them be, and doing comedy reminds me of that.
JC Calcerano: Because no one is hiring assassins right now.
DCTS: What’s so special about the show this weekend?
Raye: The H Street Playhouse is a new venue for us. That means this show will have our usual antics, memorable characters, and naughty bits, combined with the fresh excitement of a boat christening.
McHugh: The show next weekend is going to be a new material showcase. We haven’t had a show in about two months so we’ve been writing heavy and we’ve got a bunch of good work that has just bottle-necked. Finally, we get to put it out. There are a couple old favorites mixed in, but pretty much everything is new and that’s really exciting. We think it’ll be a really fun time for us as performers and for everyone who comes to check us out. Additionally, we’ve got two of DC’s top improv groups (Shawn Mikaels and The Lodge) playing in our two shows (one in each) and I’m sure they’ll rock out.
Groom: Sketch in DC! The idea of sketch comedy in DC is in and of itself pretty special.
Huftalen: This is the first time we are actually headlining a show, which feels nice (and a tad scary). It is also a thrill to be performing in The H Street area, where there are a lot of hip people and hip things happening.
Calcerano: It’s our first show that isn’t part of a festival or as an opening act. It’s also our one year anniversary. It’s also a nice way to get your kicks before Lent starts.
DCTS: What the hell is a brick penguin?
Groom: I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I was going through my extensive collection of Jack Hanna / Maury Povich Show appearances, but I couldn’t find the elusive Brick Penguin. I hear it’s a highly durable, low maintenance, flightless bird.
McHugh: A Brick Penguin is the least swimming-est type of penguin. Not only can it not fly, it also can’t swim or float. It just sinks like a… well, like a brick. Actually the name comes from the whole group being in a station wagon getting ready to ride home after a meeting and talking over names. We looked in front of us at the back of Source and there is a painting of a few penguins on the brick wall back there, so we tried it out and it sounded alright.
Huftalen: I think we had booked a show, so we needed a name in a hurry and we just couldn’t say no to those penguins.
Raye: This was interpreted as a sign from above that we should drop our previous name, also inspired by something we saw on a wall, “Sherwin Williams #7036: Accessible Beige.”
DCTS: Why do comedy with Brick Penguin?
McHugh: Brick Penguin is a really fun group to be a part of. As hard as we work at times, we also make each other laugh, and it’s great to work with people who you like, enjoy, and respect. We also get to be one-of-a-kind, or at least stand out in a crowd, as a DC sketch group. As far as I know, we are one of three or four groups in DC doing sketch, and we’ve done more sketch shows than any of the ones I know of other than Capitol Steps.
Groom: Brick Penguin is a challenge. You can’t be afraid of the truth in this group.
Raye: There’s only so many times you can try to make people in your apartment elevator laugh before they all start pretending they live on the second floor just to make the ride end. Brick Penguin is a more acceptable outlet for comedy. Writing and performing with the other seven members of Brick Penguin… It’s unfair that I get to have that much fun in my free time. That joy shows up on stage.
Huftalen: I’ve always loved and appreciated watching sketch comedy. Brick Penguin gives me the opportunity to do it with really fun, smart, and all-around lovely people.
Calcerano: They need an Italian.
Brick Penguin performs Sat, March 5 at 7:30pm and 10pm at H Street Playhouse, 1365 H Street NE, Washington, DC. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance on the troupe’s website.