Skin and Lungs is far from zany. It’s funny, of course — being made up of General Fools’ Jayden Pfeifer and the Sunday Service’s Ryan Beil, it has to be. But if getting a laugh from the crowd meant making fart noises for half an hour, that’s not what they would do. (Unless it was in character, but even then.)
Given that, Pfeifer and Beil brought the show in front of an Atlanta audience one that he didn’t think would be open to it.
“The show tends to be a little more introspective and focused than a lot of improv shows,” says Pfeifer. “We did it Friday night late show after some big event at the university down the street had just ended. So all these very intoxicated university students poured into the theatre and we went on at midnight.
“They wanted a night of jokes and screaming, and we were like, ‘Let’s talk,’” he says very calmly, putting his hand out in front of him like he’s pushing the energy in the room down a notch. “We could feel them getting on the edge of their seats, like, ‘C’mon, we’re here for the craziest night of improv.’
“And we were able to corral them. We amped the speed of things up at the beginning and then we took it right now and they stayed with us.”
Skin and Lungs came out of a 2006 conversation Beil and Pfeifer had, where they were trying to figure out a way that they could perform more together. It finally came to be in 2009, when the format debuted as part of the Globe Theatre’s Shumiatcher Sandbox Series.
The show happens in real time. Each of them takes on a single character and together they create a one-act improvised play. When the General Fools were putting together the festival going on this weekend, it made sense to give Skin and Lungs a showcase slot, since Beil would already be in town with the Sunday Service.
“It’s great because that show’s simple, it doesn’t require a lot,” says Pfeifer. “It’s a very simple duo show. It’s partially about putting on a show and it’s partially about Ryan and I just having an opportunity to reconnect but we do it onstage and through character.”
Another show that began in the Globe Sandbox was Dot and Mae, a format concocted by Lucy Hill and Judy Wensel. The pair are both local actors and improvisers, known for performances at Combat Improv, the Globe Theatre and a bunch of other things too.
If you want the full skinny on Dot and Mae, you can read my preview of their show that we ran back in day. In short, they play a pair of nurses in addition to the patients in a mental asylum. From there, they populate the world with funny and fantastical creations.
Pfeifer got a sneak peek at Dot and Mae before anyone else.
“When they created that idea for a show and started working on it, I attended a bunch of their rehearsals and helped them workshop the format. So I got to see it before they even performed it.
“Obviously, I know those two so well and I just remember being so excited that they had found a thing they wanted to grab onto and had so much energy behind it. Even in rehearsals, that was obvious.”
For the General Fools, it made perfect sense to bring Hill and Wensel onto the show.
“Those two girls have created a really great show. And conveniently, they live a five-minute walk from the theatre, so it was great to just roll them into the show.”
Skin and Lungs and Dot and Mae both have showcase sets at tonight’s General Fools Festival. For more information on them and the rest of the improvised going-ons, go to the General Fools website and check back on the Dog Blog.