Joseph Scrimshaw: 100 Creatives


Number 81: Joseph Scrimshaw

City: Minneapolis

Years spent living in MN: 33 out of 36

It would be difficult to talk about the Minnesota theater scene without mentioning Joseph Scrimshaw. His Fringe Festival shows, including the Worst Show in the Fringe, Die, Clowns, Die!, and Macbeth's Awesome Scottish Castle Party, have been mega hits. He is also the screenwriter of Adventures in Mating a choose-your-own-adventure tale involving a train wreck of a first date. The show debuted at the 2005 Fringe, ran as a regular Twin Cities production for four years, and even went on to be performed in faraway places like Seattle, New York, and... Bulgaria. High points for 2010 have included the super hero Christmas reboot Super-Powered Revenge Christmas #1, Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager (Jeri Ryan) deciding to follow him on Twitter, and ringing in the New Year with his annual show at Bryant-Lake Bowl, co-hosted by his also prolific and talented brother, Joshua.      

[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:

1.  The collision between fast-paced energetic comedy and big meaty philosophical ideas.


2.  Social media.

3.  My inability to focus on Number One because of Number Two. Too honest?

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

1.  Comic theory. The philosophy and mechanics of when people laugh and why.

  1. Squirrels.

  2. This quote from Dean Martin: "Hearing a whole audience laugh is like getting drunk."

What was your last big project?

My production company, Joking Envelope, wrapped up a run of a comic book themed holiday show by Bill Corbett called Super-Powered Revenge Christmas #1. I got to play a super-hero. Pretending you have rock hard abs is a really good way to work on your abs.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

Joking Envelope's next show is a rock musical called Sexy Librarian. It's a twisted  take on the Jekyll/Hyde story, a mash-up of Robert Louis Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jerry Lewis, with music by Kurt Weill if he had a three piece rock band. But better.

Creative/career high point (so far)?:

As an actor, playing Dudley Riggs in front of Dudley Riggs.

As a writer, having my choose-your-own-adventure romantic comedy, Adventures in Mating, produced in two different Bulgarian cities, one of them purporting to be the "Comedy Capitol of Eastern Europe."

What has been your biggest challenge as a performer?

I like squirrels. I'm fascinated with how they can be ridiculously focused on something then if they see something shiny, they'll quickly turn and become ridiculously focused on that. I have to fight my urge to constantly change my focus, squirrel-like.

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

I think there is more and better comedy of all kinds out in the world: movies, television, twitter. I think it makes for a challenge to create fresh comedy, but I feel like I'm working in a world that appreciates intelligent comedy.

Who is your favorite superhero? Villain?

My favorite super-hero is Arm Fall Off Boy. He's a real DC character. He can make his arm fall off and then hits people with it.

My favorite villain is one I made up for a sketch. He could only read the minds of stupid, boring people. It was awful for him. I like dark comedy.

If you wrote your autobiography, what would the title be?

 It's Funny Because It's True: A Collection of Lies About Joseph Scrimshaw.

Looking for more? Visit Joking Envelope's website, and check out this clip from Scrimshaw's 2009 Fringe Show, Tragedy of You.


Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis

99. Sean Smuda

98. Chuck U


96. Amy Rice

95. Kara Hendershot