Let’s hear from G.L.O.C.s MEGAN NEURINGER and LESLIE MEISEL about their show, LOVE CAN SUCK A DICK… AND SO CAN I! which has enjoyed a lengthy UCBT NY run and just returned from playing UCBT LA, how a pop star inspired their work and their obsession with making you laugh so hard you shit your pants. Now!
What inspired LOVE CAN SUCK A DICK…?
LESLIE: I wanted to work on another one-woman show for a while and was taking a one person show class at UCB. That class helped me create a ton of new characters. It turned out all the characters had to do with love in one form of another. So I started to put a script together. At the same time Megan and I were becoming closer friends. We were both at an audition for the Daily Show on Yom Kippur last year. Which means we both were starving and delirious because that’s the fasting holiday (there would be no other reason Megan and I would deprive ourselves of food). As we were leaving I randomly asked her if she liked Pink because I had an extra ticket. Her response “I LOVE PINK!”
MEGAN: Which wasn’t the total truth — I liked Pink but I love free stuff and was looking for a good time with this new friend I was making.
LESLIE: And I’m so glad Megan lied to me because that concert was extremely moving and inspiring for both of us.
MEGAN: Our heads exploded.
LESLIE: Pink’s performance was so giving and generous to the audience in every way.
MEGAN: It felt as if she was making invisible love to us. At least to me.
LESLIE: Same here. She was strong, funny, sexy, vulnerable, and uber talented on top of all that. Is that how you spell uber?
LESLIE: Great. Ok, so then Megan and I walked away from that concert thinking – that’s what I want to do/create– Give an audience Pink!
MEGAN: Yeah — in all seriousness it was a real epiphany for both of us. Watching someone who had worked unbelievably hard to put on the kind of show that would blow people’s minds…She was singing upside down while twirling, with no vocal enhancements. And it felt like she was doing this not for her own ego but for the audience’s enjoyment. All that work and discipline — for a bunch of strangers. That really spoke to us.
LESLIE: 100% – Never give anything less than Pink! From that night on, Megan and I would meet and at first we were supporting each other in working on our separate projects.
MEGAN: I had been writing my own one-woman show but the material, because it was personal and about a not-so-funny subject, was very difficult for me to slog through. So I put it aside for a time. I realized I was having more fun talking about Leslie’s characters.
LESLIE: Through that process we discovered our creative chemistry because we would bounce ideas of each other for the projects we were working on. Then, I got some feedback from a friend on the first draft for a show at UCB, I saw that there was more work to be done and better show I was capable of.
MEGAN: I’d already been helping Leslie with that draft and I was into it so I was like, “how ’bout I write this with you?”
LESLIE: Hence the official beginning of collaborating with Megan!
MEGAN: A crucial part of the show for me was calling Leslie and leaving this crazy voicemail on her phone (that I was very nervous to leave because I thought she’d think I was a nutjob, so she could probably smell my anxiety as she listened to the message), where I pitched the kind of meta show-within-a-show structure, sort of inserting my character in the show. I had this idea of all these love-sick characters being inspired (in terrible ways) by this broken heart. I also kind of wanted to make fun of the cliches of one-woman shows, which Leslie did, too, so she was on board. That wasn’t the only anxious phone-call. I remember pitching Leslie the title of the show, which I had scribbled in a notebook late one night. I was like, “It’s really dirty, but I think it’s really funny…” I was so relieved when Leslie liked it, both for sharing my taste and reinforcing that I wasn’t alone in my degeneracy.
LESLIE: With Megan’s brilliant writing combined with material/characters I created in the one person show class – LOVE CAN SUCK A DICK… AND SO CAN I! was born.
What do you hope people take away from the show?
LESLIE: I hope people walk away feeling like they just laughed for 30 minutes, inspired in some way, and/or feel like they saw something they have never seen before (Like Wendy, the drunk inappropriate deaf character I portray in the show – which was based on actual events in my life. Though in real life she looked more like a female Artie Lange). Oh, and If they laugh so hard they shit their pants – that’ll work too.
MEGAN: I’ve always been obsessed with creating material that was heartbreaking and hilarious. Not that I ever want to anything to be construed as maudlin or sentimental because that shit’s the worst, but I do want to make comedy that at its core reveals the really sad state of being human…in a way that makes people laugh. And what’s sadder than heartbreak and loneliness? That’s one of my main fears in life. And yet I also acknowledge that there’s nothing more ridiculous than feeling tortured over romantic love. Every love affair, no matter how long it lasts, is sort of the ultimate suspension of disbelief. That sounds cynical but really I’m an optimist. I’m so optimistic I hope our audience laughs so hard they shit their pants.
LESLIE: Love that we both want the audience to laugh so hard they shit their pants. What a dream though if you think about it. No really – Think about an entire audience laughing so hard they actually shit their pants. What a dream…right?
Can you talk a little about the creative process overall?
LESLIE: Sure. We used a lot of improvisation. I would perform some characters that I had or ones Megan would want to see me do. then she would give me direction and let me play.
MEGAN: It was literally Leslie in a room, improvising for me, and I’d have her take a character a certain direction..
LESLIE: We would do that over and over and see what works in the realm of the show. Megan would transcribe those rehearsals and write them up.
MEGAN: Some characters had stronger games than others, so I’d weed through the transcripts and cut out what didn’t work and rewrite and add jokes for what did. I also wrote jokes just to hear Leslie say them…She’s great to write for because she’s willing to do almost anything and I knew her delivery would make the writing even funnier.
LESLIE: Then back to the drawing board – ie improvising more scenes or pieces. We kept what we thought worked and putt aside what didn’t. Pretty much whatever made us both laugh was in.
MEGAN: If a joke didn’t work we’d pitch each other until we’d both crack up and go, “that’s the one!”
What are your future goals with the show?
LESLIE: This question brings me back to a moment where Megan and I were handing out flyers of the show at the UCB Theatre and this woman took the flyer, looked at it, then looked up and said energetically “I saw this show! You were great! It is great! When is it coming to Broadway?!?” My response? Ok!
MEGAN: I just want to keep doing it as much as possible for packed audiences…It’d be a real coup if we could perform it in North Korea, but that might be a pipe dream.
LESLIE: That would work too.
What past projects are you most proud of and why?
MEGAN: I hate to give Pam Murphy the satisfaction of agreeing with her, but I’m really proud of my Harold team, Decoster. We’ve gone through a lot of highs and lows in 3.5 years, and there’s something so gratifying about sticking with it and getting better and committing to working together. This team has brought me so much closer to being the kind of improviser I want to be, and I love how this motley crew of weirdos can have so much fun making scenes together.
LESLIE: Besides LOVE CAN SUCK A DICK… AND SO CAN I! which has pushed me creatively in so many ways, I honestly have to say so many come to mind – all for different reasons… So feel free to mention all or one.
One would be a Second City showcase I did at PSNBC. Lennon Parham, Marci Lacenere and I wrote this amazing sketch for that show and remember feeling a sense of pride in what we had worked so hard to create.
Another project that comes to mind was when I was hired as a writer/performer on a sketch pilot for Starz. At first I was the only improviser/actor non-stand-up comedian to be cast in a room of all stand-up comedians who made you earn their respect. It was not just given and that was made clear. They had no problem telling you if they thought your shit was not funny. The first day/audition week we were all in a room and one by one everyone was pitching their idea. I had NO IDEA I was going to be asked to pitch something until another new person was asked to pitch and I could see he was caught off guard. As it got closer and closer to me I thought “What The Fuck-Nuts! Ok Leslie, what is THE FUNNIEST thing you EVER thought of !” So I started to look through my bag for any funny idea I have ever written down. Checking any and all sheets of paper – no matter the size. Then I found one and thought ok – this will do. I pitch this idea of Subway Idol. Like American Idol/Talent show for subway performers. And reference the Michael Jackson dancers, a woman who sing “Midnight Train to Georgia” with her own karaoke machine by the E train, and a homeless guy that sings James Brown. I hear some mumblings and then the head writer says, great write it up for tomorrow. WHAT?!?!? OK!!! SURE!!! I know how to do that! (deep “what the fuck did I just get into” breath taken) So I spent all night writing the funniest draft I could – no sleep of course. Next day, everyone reads it….and Oh My Gosh – they are all laughing. The head writer then gets up. Leaves the room. And comes back with the producer and says Leslie, lets do it again. I’m thinking they are thinking, “Look at this horrible sketch someone actually put time in and wrote. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.” We read it again and they are laughing the second time – because they loved it! Whew!!! And that was it! For the next many many months I got no sleep and loved every moment of it. Working with people like Mike Yard, Greer Barnes, Angelo Lozada, and Tony Woods who taught me how important finding your own voice is, have confidence in that and I should not have doubted for one second that I couldn’t play with the best.
What do you hope to see in the future from women in comedy?
MEGAN: I’m hoping that eventually women will have four boobs instead of two and then tit-jokes will become twice as hilarious. Honestly, I just want women to keep making comedy and I hope they have increasingly more opportunities to make it. I hope that more women are in positions to hire women and that they do.
LESLIE: 2 things. Be in more action films (trust me, that would be amazing) and be the ROMANTIC LEAD more! We don’t just have to be the quirky neighbor/best friend/never get the guy ladies. If I may quote the wonderful and hilarious Julie Klausner in her G.L.O.C moment “….I want to see Jewish chicks fucking blonde guys in their movies, because why should Woody Allen and Judd Apatow have all the fun?” Amen! Let’s make that happen ladies! Happy Hanukkah!
Do you feel a divide between men and women in the comedy world?
MEGAN: This is a tricky question because I’m like, what do you mean “divide”? That’s sort of undefinable to me and whatever it means it’s probably not just specific to comedy — it’s just really evident in comedy? I mean, are men and women different? Duh. Should that matter? No. Duh. Do your chromosomes and sexy-junk have an effect on how funny you are? No way, Jonathan.
LESLIE: A divide? Like in creating material? No. To me its people creating things with other people they like to create with.
What advice would you impart to ladies just starting out in comedy world?
MEGAN: Work really really hard. Be willing to get better, whatever it takes. Take classes that make you better, keep making product and putting it out to audiences so you know what works and what feels true to your point of view, ask for help/feedback from people you admire, don’t be shy. If you have an ego and/or sense of entitlement, get over it — this is a really difficult and competitive business and the majority of us are going to have to work much much harder and wait much much longer than we’d like to for the things that will define our sense of success. But when you’re snorting cocaine off Joan Rivers’ pelvis backstage at Harrah’s, it will all be worth it.
LESLIE: More of a sense of “Going For It!” Work hard and have fun in working hard. Make sure you are working on something you feel passionate about. This quote by my friend Halcyone Hurst reminds me of how I know if I really – REALLY wanna do something: “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, just results.”
Step out of what you think you should be or should play and do what YOU want to play. GIVE THEM PINK! Find your voice and share it with confidence. Take a no apology approach. Be real. Don’t try to be something – BE something. Don’t play the idea of what you think is funny – Just play and it will be funny. Also, support others. They will support you back. I promise.
Who are you inspired by in the comedy world and why?
MEGAN: I love Shannon O’Neill because she is crazy funny and has stayed relentlessly true to her comedic voice (which is insane). I’m also inspired by comedians who are hilarious and also kind — I have a soft spot for people who are intimidatingly good at what they do and who also manage to be chill. Jackie Clarke, Andrea Rosen, and John Gemberling come to mind. Finally, I’m inspired by my friend John Flynn because he’s a comedic genius who spends a lot of time making other people’s careers blast off and I can’t wait for when his own career blasts off because he deserves it and I love saying blast off.
LESLIE: Sarah Jones for her unbelievable ability to transform into other people no matter the race, age or gender with ease, believability and heart. Gilda Radner for her child like innocence and relatability that she had in all her characters. Lily Tomlin for specifically her performance in ‘Search For Intelligent Life in the Atmosphere.” She performed that show embodying multiple characters without costume changes or props. It was her ability to create characters and an entire world for the audience to see with such clarity and specificity using only imagination. Carol Burnett and Adam Sandler for their sense of play and authenticity. Chris Rock (intelligently hysterical), Jim Breuer (naturally funny), and Eddie Murphy (ummm, early years). Also want to give a shout out to a few in our community like Scott Adsit, Christina Gauses, and Shannon O’Neill. All extremely talented and also solid sweet generous people.
Who would you like to hear from next on the blog?
MEGAN: My girl-crushes Jackie Clarke, Andrea Rosen, and Sue Galloway.
LESLIE: Miriam Tolan, Lennon Parham, Molly Prather, Andrea Rosen, Shannon O’Neill, Tami Sagher, Andrea Martin, Jennifer Saunders, and Carol Kane. Throwing the last three out there cause ya never know Glennis!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Megan and I have our last 2010 show December 17th at 7:30pm at the UCB Theatre Stay tuned for 2011! A huge thank you for asking us to be apart of G.L.O.C.!!!!