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At the Frigid: Killer Killy Dwyer Likes to Light Stuff on Fire

Kelly1 As part of the Frigid New York Festival, Hysteri-KILLY! A One Freak Show is a magical, multimedia march through the mad mind of a manic-depressive, cockeyed optimist. This one-of-a-kind show was created by "Killer" Killy Dwyer (aka Kelly B. Dwyer), a self-described "rockstar comedic performance artist."  Hysteri-Killy! is the first full-length solo show that Killy has written, produced, directed and starred in.

A resident of Brooklyn by way of Toledo, Ohio, Killy has been a part of NYC's off-Broadway theater scene for over 10 years.  She's been been featured on both Comedy Central and David Letterman. Killy hosted the popular national webcast talent show BamBamSlam.com, and has starred in eight national commercials.

Killy was a resident member of 8 Is Never Enough improv off-Broadway show, and founded the sketch comedy group "The Sarcastics," with whom she has produced and written many short comedy films. She works as a radio actress for stations all over the USA and was recently honored as a special guest artist at the re-dedication of St. John the Divine.

We recently caught up with her and asked about her need to break things and light stuff on fire. (She told us her therapist has encouraged her to try to use her energy in a more productive way, so she lit her therapist on fire and then wrote this show.) 

What inspired you to create "Hysteri-Killy!" ?

Finally finding my voice, knowing what I wanted to say, and exploring ways to say it through all of the art forms and skills I have honed over my years in the biz. My show incorporates original, toe tapping, unique songs, dancing, physical comedy, improvisation, film, acting, comedy and audience interaction.

What can I say? I'm an octuple threat!

You developed "Hysteri-Killy!" at Penny's Open Mic. How did that experience help shape it?

Penny's Open Mic is hands down the VERY best open mic in the city. The variety of art there, the truly supportive experience and the lovely, talented and guiding energy of Penny herself inspire great art and performance from everyone who participate.

You get 7 minutes to do ANYTHING you want on stage. Everybody gets their 7 minutes and they are all encouraged to experiment, take risks and grow as an artist and performer. We all learn from and feed off of each other. It's more of a community than an open mic. I used my 7 minutes each week to create and tweak various individual pieces and then I wove them together into Hysteri-KILLY!

All of the artists that helped me with my show; in film cameos, building my set, my lighting/sound designer/technician (luckydave) and even Penny herself, my stage technician came from the connections I made with artists at Penny's.

My show has no script -- the people working on my show just "know" it and love it because they were there through the journey of its creation.

What one thing makes your show unique?

Hysteri-KILLY! is comedy meets rock-and-roll meets performance art imitating life, imitating art, imitating you.

What attracted you to perform in the Frigid Festival?

I've worked with Horse Trade Theater Group doing two to three shows a week at Under St. Mark's Theater for quite some time, so of course working with them on my solo project, in the festival setting seemed the fitting and logical next step.

The festival is un-juried and uncensored and therefore they do not try to tell artists or the public what is or is not art. It is real and complete freedom for artists, within a festival budget but without creative limitations. That is the constant narrative of their company though, not just for the Frigid Festival: artistic freedom!

Kelly2 How do you make money to support your theatre habit?

First of all, I don't want to sound like a theater snob here, but theater should not be considered a "habit." It is a job. It is a job worth getting paid for.

I want to stress that only because so many actors settle way too long into their professional lives not expecting to be paid. Demand what you are worth. This is, of course, a sliding scale, but still: Professionals get paid for their profession.

Of course, I have side jobs still, though. I do commercial work hocking Wendy's and Scotch Tape and the like, I do some radio acting gigs and I have a dog walking business.

Do you have any unique performance skills on your resume that you've never used?

I honestly had to look at my resume to remember what my special skills are. It was a nice reminder... One skill that needs to be updated though is "adept at the Dewey Decimal System":

(A) They no longer use it;

(B) In the age of computers, who goes to the library?

(C) It was a lie.

Do you think actors have to make their own opportunities?

I definitely feel that actors have to create their own opportunities. Nobody's going to beat down your door to hand you the role of a lifetime and a heap of cash while you're sitting on your couch smoking pot and calling yourself an actor.

I don't care how much talent you have, if you aren't constantly reminding the world that you exist by any means you deem artistically ethical, without completely selling your soul then you might as well be a garden gnome or a beach towel! Nobody cares about you unless you constantly put yourself in their face and make them care.

Create your own art. Live your art. Be your art. Perform anywhere and everywhere in the beginning for free drinks or even just for free (ONLY in the beginning while you are still learning the ropes), then as time goes by and you develop your voice and experience, demand money for your art.

This isn't a hobby. It's a living. I don't expect my hair dresser to cut my hair for free. Nobody should expect me to perform for free.

Between shows, what do you most like to do?

Cuddle rape my dog, Monkey, drink good whiskey and laugh with my boyfriend, Craig. Life is good.

Frigid New York Festival runs from Feb. 25 to March 8, 2009 in three theatres in Manhattan's East Village. 

For more information, visit FrigidNewYork.info. Tickets are $8-$15. Shows are Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. – Midnight, and Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. – 1 a.m.  Tickets are available by calling 868-4444 or visiting the Smarttix website.  Click here to see a schedule of shows.

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