Beirdo is an improv trio consisting of Daniel Jaquette, Kevin Pettit and Dennis Trafny. Although the three performers now live in different cities they reassemble whenever possible. On Thursday October 6th, the group will be doing a show at Headlong Studios (formerly The Arts Parlor) with Triple Double and stand-up from Jim Grammond.
You’ve done several reunion shows around Philly since Dan and Dennis have moved away. Would you say there’s a difference in your shows now that they don’t happen as frequently?
KP: Our shows have always had high energy and a lot of playfulness. Now when we get together it’s like that energy has been bottled up and shaken like a can of Canada Dry Lemon Lime seltzer, then opened.
DJ: I don’t actually think there’s a substantive difference between shows before Dennis and I moved away. We’ve all evolved as performers, and there’s always a moment for me of “will this still work?” but the same core of playfulness remains and I think that keeps the show pretty consistent.
DT: They are more precious now.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed in the Philly comedy scene since Beirdo’s hayday?
KP: There’s a lot more comedy happening! It’s really awesome to see new performers, new shows, and new theaters thriving in Philly. We have no shortage of talented and funny people here.
DJ: For sure the size. When I left, PHIT had shows every other week at The Shubin, Figment wasn’t around (which I guess is sadly true again), and I felt like I knew pretty much every improvisor. Now there’s a bajillion new faces, PHIT’s got two stages, Good Good is about to start, and there’s prolly lots of other stuff I don’t know about.
DT: There are more nice comedy people.
What’s your favorite moment from a Beirdo show?
KP: My favorite show moments are any time I can make Dan or Dennis crack on stage. They usually have me dying inside and it’s cool to know I can do the same.
DJ: My memory is so poor for show moments, and describing improv is worse than watching it on tape, so I’ll just say our Christmas special in which Dennis and I played trumpet as well as we could while Kevin sprinkled torn up paper on us and conducted. People came up to us and said how funny it was we were so terrible. We were both trying our best though. I guess that’s not a improv moment, so, I dunno, we did a courtroom scene with a bear or something at CIF, that was cool.
DT: All of them genuinely. I remember them all.
What’s your favorite moment from rehearsal you wish was in a show?
KP: Long story alert:
We had a rehearsal with Marby early on and we had a scene that just wasn’t working. Mike encouraged us not to “solve the problem” of the scene but to dig around in it and explore.
The scene that followed was so absurd. We were three monkeys in a cage who had run out of groceries and we solved ALL of our problems immediately. We had no where to go in the scene. Mike just made us keep going (to our dismay). It ended with us all chanting “Jungle Butter, Jungle Butter, Jungle Butter…”
We laughed for like ten minutes after that. Not sure if it would play well for an audience but, that’s now become our litmus test for quality of a scene/show.
DJ: Jungle Butter. I don’t even remember what Marby was having us work on but we just kept re-doing the same scene with three monkeys trapped in a zoo, and like we’d immediately bend the bars open and get out, removing any sort of obstacles and then we just started chanting jungle butter over and over. It’s sort of just become short hand for “bad” scenes, but it was still so stupid and fun.
DT: Jungle butter is an inside joke that’s only for us
The show you’re doing this week is at Headlong, what made you want to do your show there?
KP: Headlong was where we got our start hosting The Sideshow before it moved to PHIT. We spent a couple of years there between practice and performing so, it feels like coming home to me.
DJ: In part, my trip out here was last minute so I think Kevin had to book on short notice, but Headlong is the old Arts Parlor, right? I’m looking forward to performing there again. We used to perform regularly for an ongoing indie show there and it always drew fun groups and crowds. I have very fond memories of that place, even if I lost my galoshes there like an idiot.
DT: No institution would host us so we (Kevin) made it happen. We have hosted a lot of shows ourselves here.
I know it’s improv but if there was one thing that could happen during your set, what would it be?
KP: I’d be real happy to all be dinosaurs in a scene.
DJ: People will come and have a good time and also maybe there will be free snacks.
DT: Kevin: I’m an Irish potato farmer
Dan: I’m a grumpy grandpa
Dennis: you guys wanna get married?! (Im both but also a priest)
What’s next for Beirdo?
KP: We live in different cities and have various levels of parenthood going on. Philly reunions are very fulfilling for me but I always want more Beirdo. I think we’re all interested in doing festivals if we can get the timing right.
DJ: Prolly go out for a drink, maybe get some fries. Maybe onion rings if I’m feeling adventurous.
DT: The sky’s (our schedule’s) the limit. Maybe a festival. Maybe a life-changing event enhances our everlasting friendship.
BEIRDO AND TRIPLE DOUBLE FEATURING JIM GRAMMOND
Thursday, October 6th, 2016
9:30pm / BYOB
Headlong Studios (Formerly the Arts Parlor)
1170 S. Broad Street