SketchFest NYC Preview: Fearsome
The fourth annual SketchFest NYC runs this Thursday through Saturday (June 12-14) at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in NYC. Featuring nearly 30 sketch comedy acts over three nights, SketchFest NYC promises the best sketch comedy from across North America. This week, Blog Stage previews some of the highlights of the 2008 festival.
Fearsome got together as a six-member sketch comedy group in 2002, and has participated in all four years of SketchFest NYC. This year, the current four-member lineup -- Shayna Ferm, Alex Goldberg, Chris O'Connor, and Katherine Bryant -- will perform a brand-new 40-minute show to close out the festival on Saturday night.
"We definitely love being part of it all these years," Ferm says, "because I think we feel more and more like veterans, sort of like the New York SketchFest staple. But as the festival has grown, being able to stand back and watch all the new groups come, and getting to meet people from across the country and not just in our New York community, every year there's just more inspiration. I think that's probably helpful in us being together as long as we have been."
Ferm also says that as sketch comedy has become more video and YouTube-based, Fearsome has adapted its style to match the on-stage sketch world with the video world. The group is renowned for its fast-paced stream of comedy consciousness, seamlessly melting scene into scene to take their audience on an action-packed journey into the ridiculous.
"We try to do our shows almost like YouTube clips, where the sketches are short. The attention span of people that wanna see sketch comedy is getting shorter and shorter, and so are our sketches," Ferm laughs. "What keeps our shows moving is keeping our sketches shorter, bleeding them into each other. We don't do blackouts." So much like HBO's Mr. Show or the Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy, "each sketch bleeds into another sketch, which bleeds into another sketch."
The members of Fearsome also embrace the party atmosphere of the three-day festival. Since all of the performers in SketchFest are responsible for their own accommodations in New York, Ferm says that O'Connor will be hosting some out-of-town performers on his floor. "We try to help out as much as we can," she says, "because New York is so expensive. And we look forward to this experience, to have a national collaborative festival."
Ferm says that all of the members of Fearsome pursue their own individual careers in the performing arts, in addition to their sketch comedy work: Goldberg is a playwright who has had his work produced in the New York International Fringe Festival and the Midtown International Theatre Festival; O'Connor appears regularly on the internet TV show The Burg; Bryant produces videos and does PR; and Ferm is also a musician-comic and released an album earlier this year.
So what can audiences expect from Fearsome at this year's SketchFest NYC?
"I think that this year is going to be the quintessential Fearsome performance, a high-energy, fast-paced rollercoaster. And there will be no humping of dead bodies. But we're gonna really mess things up, so we're excited. Just get your mops ready," Ferm warns.
Fearsome performs June 14 at 11 p.m. For more info, including a full festival schedule and tickets, visit www.sketchfestnyc.com. Or click here to read the Back Stage web exclusive about this year's SketchFest NYC.
Be sure to read Blog Stage every day this week for more SketchFest NYC previews.
Read previous SketchFest NYC Preview: Rue Brutalia.