Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic of Ferrari McSpeedy have worked together for years, sharing the stage at the Brave New Workshop and forging a popular presence at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
They're deep on the waiting list for 2014's Fringe, but that doesn't mean you can't take in their distinct comic stylings. The pair will present a new sketch comedy show, Merry Spider Cafe, starting this weekend. Along with their show will be sketch work created by the BNW Student Union, where Fotis and Bozic are the co-directors.
City Pages: How did this show come about? Did you have a potential Fringe show in mind, and this is the end result?
Joe Bozic: This show happened for a few reasons. First of all, Mike and I wanted to do another sketch show, as it has been over 10 years since we have done just a two-person sketch show. Also, we're trying to spur growth in the Minneapolis sketch scene, and we thought that this might help encourage that growth. The BNW Student Union is the only place around where someone can learn the art of sketch writing and have a place to perform sketch comedy, so we're using this show and our Sketch Lab series as a catalyst for that growth.
As for Fringe, we were hoping to also write and produce a show [separate from this] for the Fringe, but it doesn't look like that will happen. At this point, if you want to get a Ferrari McSpeedy fix, Merry Spider Cafe is the only way to do that.
CP: How do the two of you work together to build up the sketches? Do you build ideas together? Or do you each write on your own until it is ready? And what kind of voting system do you use when picking the work?
JB: For this show, we talked about ideas we wanted to write about, and then we each went our separate ways to write the first drafts. From there, we had a lot of back and forth about what worked, what didn't work, and what we needed more of, and we workshopped those sketches into the final product. There are also a few parts of the show that were built completely collaboratively, which means that we each tossed out ideas until we found one that we were both excited about, then we went from there. That's pretty much how we always work when writing: keep throwing ideas out until we stumble upon something that we both love, then we make that happen.
CP: The BNW Student Union students are also scheduled to appear. How is that part of your job going? Will we be seeing more of these graduates in the near future?
JB: The improv scene has really grown in the last 10 years, but the sketch writing scene has stayed fairly stagnant. Mike and I love sketch comedy, and Minneapolis is home to the nation's oldest sketch comedy/improvisational comedy theater, so we've made it our mission to boost up the talent and the audience for sketch comedy.
We've been teaching sketch writing 101 classes for years now, but in the past, there really haven't been opportunities for students to write and perform after the class ended. Last year we had Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall in to lead a weekend workshop in sketch writing, and that spurred a lot of interest in building a sketch writing community.
Now, the BNW SU has the Sketch Lab program, which gives students the chance to practice writing and performing sketch comedy. Our hope is that we'll be able to build a strong base of performers -- and audience members -- through the program. We've already started the writing process for the May Sketch Lab series.
CP: What will audiences get out of the whole experience of attending the show?
JB: Audiences for Merry Spider Cafe will get to see a sketch revue from two guys that have years of experience on the BNW main stage, and a history of creating successful Fringe shows. The show itself will tackle some big issues (religion, small business ownership) and some not-so-big issues (poop, soup), and all will presented in the absurd Ferrari McSpeedy style that Mike and I have honed over the years. In addition, they'll also be treated to a second show from some up-and-coming sketch comedians who will bring a wide variety of influences and styles together for their revue.
IF YOU GO:
Merry Spider Cafe
7:30 p.m.Fridays and Saturdays, April 11-26
BNW Student Union
2605 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.332.6620 or visit online.