What's it like to perform at Under The Gun?
By Maya Haughton
Under the Gun Theater is home to an ensemble of more than 50 comedians of varying backgrounds. Because the theater is so new, I wanted to share some information about Under The Gun from the perspective of some of our actors. I interviewed a couple of original members our ensemble, Claire Swanson and Catharine Savage.
1. What made you decide to audition for Under the Gun Theater?
Claire: I had worked with Angie McMahon twice for Writing 6 shows at Second City and had a great time. When I heard she was one of the founders, it was a no-brainer!
Catharine: I had taken a class with Kevin Mullaney earlier that year called “Game of the Scene.” And it took my improv to the next level. I had been improvising for about a year, and Kevin’s class gave me a boost of confidence that I could navigate any scene. Plus, he gave me my first opportunities to improvise in front of an audience. I knew that being part of his ensemble would continue to challenge me as an improviser, would offer me more chances to perform, and would all around, be the kind of place where I could try things and explore.
2. What is it like being a member of a large ensemble?
Claire: I really love it. I get to be a part of as much as I want but I don’t feel a pressure if I can’t step up. We’re all busy so sometimes a small group can be a bit claustrophobic in how much they need you. Plus I’ve met so many amazing and talented people!
Catharine: Being part of this big ensemble is wonderful. Some of my closest friends in the comedy community I met through Under the Gun. The diversity of talent constantly pushes me to get better. And they are all a bunch of lovable goofballs who make me laugh.
3. What are some of the shows you’ve performed in and which was your favorite?
Claire: Have to give a big shout out to Horrible Fun, there’s a great energy for that show. Also, I have loved being a part ofPorn Minus Porn. I’m very grateful to host a weekly open mic at the theater too which has been an amazing experience.
Catharine: I’ve performed in a whole bunch! Horrible Fun, Based on a True Story, Improvised Movie, The Bachelor parody. Hard to pick a favorite. I will say that Based on a True Story is consistently a fun show. I like that anyone in the ensemble can jump in, and because the form is pretty open, I like seeing what the other ensemble members come up with. I always learn something from a move another cast member makes.
4. What sets Under The Gun apart from other theaters/venues where you’ve performed?
Claire: The ensemble! I’ve never been a part of a group that is so talented. Everyone brings something so amazing and unique to the table.
Catharine: Kevin and Angie take such good care of us. Even when it seems impossible to weigh the opinions of 40-something ensemble members, they do. They listen to us, they actively seek our feedback and suggestions, and they give us chances to try things. Under The Gun is comedy home. I love that it offers me the flexibility to be as involved as I want.
5. Under the Gun has shows every Thursday-Sunday night. How is the show content generated? Do you get to pitch ideas for shows?
Claire: I believe if you’re an ensemble member you can pitch a show any time! I really enjoy how included the ensemble is in creating shows and their content.
Catharine: The ensemble pitches the shows! It’s real cool! Because of that, Under The Gun has done improv, sketch, storytelling, cold reads of porn scripts, TV show parodies, etc. The diversity in content comes from the diversity of the ensemble.
Catharine has trained at The Second City, iO, and Black Box Acting Studio. In addition to shows at Under The Gun, she currently performs with ’99 Problemz, an improvised 90s sitcom. Claire has studied at iO, The Annoyance and has completed the conservatory at The Second City.