G.L.O.C.s KIMMY GATEWOOD, SARAH LOWE and REBEKKA JOHNSON, the hardworking trio that make up THE APPLE SISTERS, talk to G.L.O.C. about what it takes to keep it copacetic with three strong, driven and opinionated ladies at the the helm. They not only make it work, they make it look easy! Ahoy, ladies!
When did you ladies start working together and how did that come about?
KIMMY: We met in 2006 at the People’s Improv Theatre. Rebekka and I were teaching there – we started to talking about doing a show together. Rebekka was also talking to Sarah about doing a show together. In the interest of time (Rebekka was getting married at the time), she said we should all do a show together. Thank goodness she’s a busy lady! Our first show was Feb. 14th 2007.
SARAH: Picture it- 2006, the People’s Improv Theatre. I was just a mere student looking up to these Glorious Ladies of Comedy. Rebekka and I had started talking about doing a show together and Kimmy and Rebekka were going to too… so naturally Rebekka, smart one, said “why don’t we all do a show together?” And that’s when the magic started.
REBEKKA: When we had our first discussions about working together, I suggested that we host a variety show, Kimmy suggested the 40’s and Sarah brought up the name, “The Apple Sisters”.
What are you currently working on?
K: We are currently doing The Apple Sisters live once a month at Largo in Los Angeles. We are also developing a film with The Mark Gordon Company and pitching our television show.
S: We work really well together, so even though we do have outside projects, the bulk of our work is together. Writing new shows, working on a movie script, and developing both a stage and tv version of the apple sisters. So basically, total world apple domination.
To each individually – was this your first collaboration with another woman? If not, who had you worked with previously?
K: I’ve worked with some amazing women over the years. I was in an all girl improv group Cardboard Follies with Erin Rose Foley, Julie Klausner, Brandy Barber (we also produced the Break Up Show together), Rebecca Goacher, Shannon O’Neil, Mary Regan, Amy Rhodes, Jane Borden. I wrote a pilot and webseries with Canedy Knowles. Made a documentary film with Negin Farsad. Alicia Levy and I ran our solo shows together for almost a year. Rebekka Johnson and I currently have a feather hair accessories company together. I’ve worked with Jen Nails, Megan Grano, Eliza Skinner, Livia Scott, Ann Carr, Becky Donahue, Rachel Feinstein Jessica St. Clair, Michelle Buteau, Adira Amram, the list goes on and on. I’m obsessed with them all. Each one of them had an impact on my life whether the project was big or small. I can’t even believe that I was among such great ladies who are moving on to such amazing success. I’m riding the coattails baby!
S: This IS my first collaboration!! However, its also my first venture in comedy. I was HEAVILY (and still am) into musical theater. It was only in 2005 that I started taking improv classes. It was something I always wanted to do. I still cant believe how lucky I am that I get to share the stage with these amazingly talented women.
R: I started doing improv in college with the group Possible Side Effects (aka Threat) and met my bestie Rhea Ramey. We wrote a sketch show called, So We Take Baths Together. I also performed in Neutrino with the lovely and talented gals Jessica Allen, Rachel Biello and Jen Nails. Until the Apple Sisters, most of my projects were collaborations with men.
What was it that drew you to each other initially? Shared comedic sensibility? Similar schedules? Work ethic?
K: Since Rebekka and I were the only gals on the Faculty at the time, we really bonded on shared frustrations and philosophies about improv (and being women in the comedy world). I was told that if I were a man, I wouldn’t be improvising, but since I’m a woman “and we need diversity” you can stay. And someone gave us both a horribly backhanded compliment “I don’t normally think women are funny, but you two are” Anyway, I think that really motivated us to do something. On the flip side, the reason we all bonded was because we all loved singing and dancing and wanted to do it unapologetically!
S: Rebekka was improvising with my boyfriend at the time and she was pretty much the first female improviser I had seen, and I was totally inspired. Then I went to a faculty show and saw Kimmy and Rebekka together and after first wanting so bad to be their friends, I wanted to work with them.
R: I had known Kimmy for a while but we didn’t become close until performing in the faculty show at the PIT. I was always a fan but when I saw her comedy pin-up calendar I knew I wanted to work with her. That shit was hilarious! Sarah and I bonded as friends right away and we always made each other laugh. I was dancing my whole life and had been into comedy for a while, Kimmy was a musician and comedy song writer and Sarah was a Professional musical theater actress. We just clicked. (I capitalized the “P” in “Professional” for effect)
Do you hang out outside your creative endeavors? What do you typically do together?
K: Hiking (Love LA for that!). Apple Sisters ‘Wine Time.’ Last year we rented a boat on Lake Mead and went sailing all day.
S: Since I am currently in living in Las Vegas (only because I am in Jersey Boys… I wouldn’t be here “just for fun”) when ever we are together its mostly for Apple Sisters related biz. However whenever we can we hang out, outside of our apple world. I love these gals- I am getting married in May and they are both in my wedding party.
R: Some of my favorite times with these girls are when we are in Vegas wearing matching pajamas and dancing in the mirror in Sarah’s bedroom at 1am. Its like we are 12 having a sleepover.
Can you describe your creative process?
K: We make very concise schedules and lists. Because we have so limited time together (with Sarah in Vegas), we have to pack in a lot in a very little amount of time. Knowing what’s coming also makes it a lot more fun to play within that time. For our live shows, we outline the show and then split it up. We’ll also make sure to have several brainstorming sessions beforehand and think of the craziest and most impossible bits. It’s really important to have that time because though most things get thrown out, a lot of ideas find homes in later shows.
S: Not really.. I mean… its tricky.. It usually involves us riffing for a couple hours about what we want to do, making each other laugh and then rolling with that. Its really hard to describe!
R: When we started we wrote a new show every month for 14 months. That was like comedy boot camp and taught us how to write fast. Now we take a combination of old and new songs, bits and story lines and write them into a 1 hour show. We have made good use of Google Docs and Skype. When we get to do the same show more than once we fold in the best improvised bits and rewrite up until the time we walk on stage for the next performance. If a joke gets cut, we cut and paste it into a document called “The Joke Pile” which we use when we are working on the next show.
What is the hardest part about balancing your friendship and your creation? What advice can you impart to handle that aspect?
K: It’s really important to draw lines and constantly communicate. Especially since we are balancing our families and other careers. Writing everything down, especially goals, is really important because then you know you’re all on the same page with priorities. Also finding time to blow off steam together is important – just like any other relationship, you have to make time for it. Communication really is the key though – it’s important to have meetings and reiterate goals and project deadlines – just like any business or relationship.
S: I just read what Kimmy said and I totally agree. COMMUNICATION. Rebekka has taught me a lot. She can never let anything go, and always has to talk about it right away. It’s a good thing!! That has helped us get through a lot of rough patches. it pays to communicate.
R: It is important to separate friend issues with business issues. Sometimes in comedy groups people hold grudges that have nothing to do with the work. I like to air things out right away and move on. Nobody wants to be Uncle Fester. Speaking of, Sarah, I need to talk to you about the above statement. Give me a call. Right away.
They say you’re not truly friends until you’ve had a fight so – have you had one? How did you resolve it?
K: Of course. Humor has resolved all of our fights – or talking about it. It’s impossible to be in the Apple Sisters without your faults getting made fun of constantly, which I think has given us perspective on the process. Our favorite fight was the infamous “fixing chair” fight. We were arguing about a joke and Sarah got so mad she started fixing a chair. After a second of intensity, we just started dying laughing. So if you see us fixing a chair, you know what it means.
S: I’m fixing a chair right now.
R: One time we were debating a joke and the girls were saying that I was angry and I yelled, “I’m not angry, I’m passionate.” Both were true. I was angry and passionate. We are like sisters and we always make up.
How would you define healthy competition?
K: Healthy competition is seeing others and being motivated by your peers to reach their level of success. It pushes us to constantly elevate each others work.
S: These girls have taught me healthy competition. If ever I have felt like “Hey! We are better than that!! We should be doing that!!” They will tell me, “We’re just different, we’ll make it our own way”. And they’re right. Its about seeing others, being happy for them, and finding ways to make it on our own, under our own terms.
R: I think it is good to be inspired by others and assess if you are doing everything in your power to reach your goals.
Do you think it’s important for women to work together and, if so, why?
K: Yes. From personal experience, it helped me root for other ladies as opposed to looking at them as competition.
S: Yes!! Women have started collaborating more and more and and its always great! It also gives you someone to bounce things off of, and be there for to support.
R: Absolutely. I think we need to team up and smash the perception that women aren’t as funny as men while having a blast and looking fabulous.
What are your future goals for your collaboration together?
K: The Apple Sisters would love to continue to do live shows and eventually a tour. We’d like to have our television show and movie sold next year!
S: Didn’t I already say this? If I say it more will it make it true? Total Apple World Domination : )
R: One day I hope we can build a time machine that enables us to travel back to 1943 to meet the real Apple Sisters.
How do you think the dynamic changes with an all-female collaboration?
K: Sometimes (not all the time), if I’m in the only woman in the group, I’ll become the “defender of women,” meaning, I will chime in with “women don’t talk like that, etc.” And if you’re a lady in a sketch group, you’re often placed in the wife, girlfriend, nun or whore category. With all women, I feel like we create a range for our female characters (and YES, we are tremendously guilty of writing our men characters as ‘Hot guy’ or ‘Douchey guy’)
S: I can’t honestly answer that. I have only really worked with these gals aside from my improv troupe!
R: I love being able to work with some of my best girlfriends. Plus, I don’t have to fight to not have 2 blow job sketches in one sketch show. (Unless I write the sketches myself and in that case they would be tasteful and classy.)
What do you hope to see from the future of women in comedy?
K: I would like to see more women behind the camera, writing and directing. I’d like to make sure that if a shitty article like the one in Vanity Fair is put out in the future, it isn’t as polarizing because there will be so many great articles about women in comedy. Growing up, all the comedians I looked up to were guys (and they all are amazing) I would like for a little girl to look up to me and say “Wow she’s smart and funny. I want to do that when I grow up.”
S: I sub in a high school and the girls are already talking about how Tina Fey is a writer and an actress and “not even that pretty”. I kinda love it. It’s showing that young women are paying more attention to ALL that goes into tv, movies, shows, etc. Just like Rosie the Riveter said… “We can do it!”
R: I hope that in the future there will be more females in power in the comedy world. I would love if there were more funny leading roles for women that were outside of the romantic comedy genre.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for making this website! We love it!
Now watch Pink Wine, the hilarious and gorgeously shot music video by the trio here:
And if you live in LA you’d be remiss to miss one of their shows at the Largo on February 9th, March 16th and April 20th!