Louisville’s independent comedy scene continues to blossom and mutate as comedians, actors and new folks thirsty for laughter co-mingle and create.
The loose-knit group was born out of the fertile comedic stew brewing down at the Oak Street venue Kaiju. It’s the home of innovative and comedic Kaijuesdays, as well as other rotating Sunday offerings like the improv group Lung Farm.
We talked to Sketchy stalwart Charity Bass Murphy to get the lowdown on how the show started, how sketches get made and what the audience can expect on Sunday night.
Murphy got into the scene after she saw her first improv show and decided she wanted to give it a try.
“I was, like, ‘That. I want to do that,’ so I started doing improv about five, six years ago,” she says.
After several years of improv, Murphy starting talking with her friends about writing comedy. This coincided with an idea from Gracie Taylor.
The elusive Taylor, who frequently declines interviews, is an active presence in the Louisville late-night scene. She’s a founding member of Lung Farm, a current holder of the Twosomes Title in Louisville Championship Arm Wrestling, a cast member in the upcoming web series “Hench,” and is currently on stage with Kentucky Shakespeare in “Titus Andronicus.”
Murphy talks about how Taylor got the ball rolling.
“We saw her post this thing, ‘Writers workshop, everyone’s welcome, we’re going to try to start doing a sketch show,’” she recalls.
This genesis points to an interesting trend observers might have noticed. Performance groups are getting together through social media and cross-pollinating in a way that likely would not have happened before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
After gathering interested artists, “Sketchy Stuff” started in February of this year. The cast changes a little from month to month. And people in the group come and go, depending on their availability.
“I’ve done it every month since April,” says Murphy. “We have maybe four people who have been doing it the entire time and have come to every single show, and then we had a lot of people at the beginning who dropped off.”
The performers, both the diehards and the occasional sketchers, come from three main groups.
“There are standup comics, because they are used to joke writing, improv people who are used to doing characters, and thirdly, there’s a lot of theater people,” she says.
The writers alternate, too, to some extent.
“Everyone writes their bit, and Gracie has been vetting and picking the ones we’re going to do in the show,” says Murphy. “We have started to do writers’ workshops, punching up sketches.”
In comedic writing, punching up frequently means “adding jokes.” After scripts are accepted, the next step is a table read, and casting.
“At this point we sort of have in mind who we’re going to cast, but if we don’t, there’s a whole lot of ‘Who wants to be Mean Girl No. 2?,’” Murphy explains.
The offerings for this month’s edition, “Spooky Stuff,” have been brewing in the performers’ and writers’ minds all year. Murphy posits that all comedians love Halloween, a love that keeps the scary season on funny folks’ minds.
So lots of spooky or Halloween-ish sketches got pitched this year. Each time those ideas came up, they got put on the shelf so they could be used for this special night.
Murphy says the Halloween theme caused the show to come together incredibly smoothly. Normally, the group doesn’t have themes, though occasionally one will emerge.
“We had ‘Sex-tember,’ because all the sketches were about sex,” she adds.
“Spooky Stuff” tackles a lot of great Halloween subjects.
“Making fun of childhood horror stories, we’ve got a couple parodies, we have some demons that are involved in a multi-level marketing scheme,” says Murphy.
With a solid following that combines Kaiju regulars and comic enthusiasts, “Sketchy Stuff” will hopefully stick around for a while.
Catch “Sketchy Stuff: Spooky Stuff” on stage at Kaiju on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. The show is a measly $3 at the door. Kaiju is located at 1004 E. Oak St.