Sketchfest NYC Preview: The Money Kids
According to press materials, female sketch comedy group The Money Kids "formed in 2006 when Candy Lawrence and Lauren Lapkus realized they were in love with each other." To put it in a (slightly bigger) nutshell, they met in 2006 while performing in an improv troupe in Chicago, moved in together, realized they were in love with each other, and started performing sketch comedy as a duo.
The girls moved from Chicago to New York in September, and immediately started making their mark on the NYC sketch comedy scene. They have previously performed at the Chicago Sketchfest and will be making their first appearance at Sketchfest NYC this week. (SketchFest NYC is an annual three-day festival dedicated to promoting the art of sketch comedy, featuring groups from NYC and across the country.)
Although most of the sketch groups participating in this year's festival put their submission tapes in the mail, Back Stage also published a casting notice for live auditions for the fifth annual sketch comedy festival in February. The Money Kids was added to the 2009 Sketchfest NYC line-up after attending those live auditions. Blog Stage spoke with The Money Kids before their performance at the fifth annual Sketchfest NYC. Read the full Q&A below:
Can you describe your sketch comedy style?
Lauren Lapkus: Definitely high energy, with a lot of characters.
Candy Lawrence: I’ll say "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-esque." We’re a bit absurd at times. Sometimes we don’t make sense, but we laugh anyway.
LL: We like to push it to a certain limit. We’re definitely pretty silly together.
CL: It’s musical. We use a lot of music and dance throughout the show.
So you perform your own music, too?
LL: No, we don’t perform the music. (laughs) It would be so miserable if we did.
CL: Everyone would want their money back!
How did you come up with the name "The Money Kids?"
CL: "The Money Kids" was actually a club I had when I was eight years old. My sister and I would meet in the closet and save money in the "honor jar." About a week later, she spent it all at the convenience store for Easter presents. So that club didn't last, but my sister is still angry I took the name. I was like “Yeah, we called ourselves 'The Money Kids'. That’s our club now."
What made you decide to attend the live SketchFest NYC auditions in February, rather than send a submission tape?
LL: We always feel that our live performance trumps any DVD that we would create, so we would rather perform in front of people than send in a DVD.
CL: We got a good response [at the audition]. They laughed a lot, and it was super fun. We just had a show. It was great.
LL: It wasn’t a stiff situation, where we felt like they weren't laughing just to make it hard.
Did you feel like you were in competition with the other sketch groups at the audition?
CL: Actually, the group before us was like, “Oh my God, hey guys! How are you? Good luck! How was it?” It was more like a jam session more than anything.
LL: Yeah, we just wanted to do our best, and because the environment was supportive, it was pretty easy to do that.
What are you most looking forward to at this year's Sketchfest NYC?
LL: I’m really excited to see the other shows. To see what else is out there is exciting for me.
CL: I’m most excited to perform.
LL: That too. (laughs) We just want to have a good time, but we’re always open to meeting people and setting up more shows. It is definitely a good way to network.
How does the comedy scene in Chicago compare to New York?
CL: Chicago has a really great comedy scene, but comedy agents from New York and L.A. would have to come to Chicago to see us. So your chance of getting seen is better by just living in the city.
Lauren, you also joined the children's theater company Striking Viking Story Pirates (also performing at Sketchfest NYC this year) when you moved to NYC. How do you balance the extra workload when performing outside of The Money Kids?
LL: I thrive on being very busy. I really like to have a lot going on. Usually, Story Pirates doesn’t conflict with a lot of things because we perform during the day. And it’s such a great organization. Working with kids is valuable, and it’s a different approach to sketch comedy. It takes a different muscle, in a way.
CL: I went to school for theater and then I kind of found my niche in sketch comedy, which was just really exciting. I did a lot of improv in Chicago, and I was not happy. It was great to find out that I can write my own material, and that I’m being pushed towards creating my own stuff.
LL: I definitely agree with that. We both found that The Money Kids is a great way for us to feel proud of the show, and feel that we could show it to anyone and that it represented us and our style.
So before focusing on sketch comedy, what kind of theater were you doing?
CL: Musicals. I was in Anything Goes. It was all fun. Straight plays, musicals – I was in an opera once. Listen, I didn’t sing. I forget what they call it. I just stood on stage and got paid a lot of money.
LL: It was amazing. I cried.
Is performing as The Money Kids enough for both of you to make a living as full-time performers yet?
LL: Our honor jar is not full, no. (laughs) We do occasional odd jobs.
CL: I've had some really good ones. I was a nanny – which is not funny. We flyered when we first got here; we’d just hand out flyers all of the time. And I recently held a freelance job: I was a microphone handler. So I went to conferences and literally handed a microphone to different people on stage.
Do you have any advice or tips for other performers trying to break into sketch comedy?
LL: Keep that a priority in your life, and don't take a job that takes up all of your time just to make money. If you can avoid it, that is.
CL: It’s good if it makes you happy. Once it becomes work, there’s really no point in doing it.
Have either of you run into that problem of having a day job take away your focus from The Money Kids?
CL: Personally, I think we always keep it a priority. Like microphone handling -- I really could care less. There’s nothing else in the world that I would want to do.
LL: As much as I love the children I baby sit for, I would put my acting goals above any of those day jobs, because they come and go. We have so much fun. It’s undeniable that that’s the main reason that we enjoy performing together. I speak for myself when I say that I’m interested in pursuing other things as well. So it’s a great way to move towards that by doing work that I feel really represents the stuff that I enjoy.
Can you offer our readers a hint of what to expect at your Sketchfest NYC show?
CL: A ghost dad. But don’t be frightened!
The Money Kids performs Fri., June 12 at 8 p.m. with Pangea 3000 at the UCB Theater in NYC, part of Sketchfest NYC. Sketchfest NYC runs June 11-13. Individual tickets are $10, day passes are $40, and full festival passes are $100.
-- Daniel Lehman