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SketchFest NYC Preview: Rue Brutalia

Sketchfest_nyc_2008_logo_white 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, beginning today with Rue Brutalia:

Jon Pack and Jason Kalter joined forces to become the New York sketch comedy duo Rue Brutalia less than a year ago, and are already performing in their first SketchFest NYC.

"I think it's safe to say that individually, both our dreams were always to do comedy," Kalter says. "But I was doing theatre in Philadelphia, and I finally took the plunge and came to New York -- and where do you start? I knew I wanted to do comedy for a career, but I didn't know how to get that rolling."

Rue_brutalia_1 Kalter says that he thought he would have to pursue a career in Off-Broadway theatre to eventually do comedy, but then found improv and sketch comedy classes at places like UCB and the PIT, where he met Pack.

"I did high school theatre," Pack says, "and I came out to NYU [from San Diego], and I knew I wanted to do comedy.  But you throw people on stage, and acting training or just that comfort on stage  comes right to the foreground, and it helps me a lot. 

"I would say one of the most important things I did was a four-week conservatory training in Shakespeare. I still think about a lot of the lessons that came out of it, specifically on the performance side. But as a sketch writer, I would cut about five scenes out of every Shakespeare play," he laughs.

"He would would thank you for it, I think," Kalter says.

Pack replies, "Hey, do we want this thing to go viral, or what?"

Kalter notes that while acting is especially competitive in New York City, "no one can do it alone." He and Pack found that "we have similar interests and work well together,  so we put together this two-man comedy troupe. We perform weekly, sometimes multiple times a week. And what we're doing as a two-man show is we do sketches together, we do material together, we perform together, and we also do monologues sometimes -- so we're showcasing a lot."


Rue Brutalia was chosen to be a part of this year's festival after they auditioned live for SketchFest NYC producers.

"SketchFest is more than just another show," Pack says. "It's not nervousness; we're very excited. We're just looking forward to a new opportunity to show our stuff.  Something that's very exciting about it is that we get to share a stage with names that were around before we were."

It's gonna be this heavy party atmosphere that we're really looking forward to," Kalter adds. "It's like this fraternity of funny people. We're really stoked to be a part of it."

Rue Brutalia performs June 12 at midnight, sharing an hour-long slot with Pangea 3000. 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.

-- Daniel Lehman

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