By: Meghan O'Keefe
Friends are people who see the best in us and like us for it. Best friends are people who see the best and the worst in us and still love us for it. Mamrie Hart and Steve Soroka are best friends who combine their friendship and their foibles to create the sketch group, BoF. In their latest show, “BoF: It’s Pronounced Boaf!” the duo combines upbeat dancing, dreams of pop stardom, the trials of unemployment, and the importance of Lifetime movies in a delightful and hilarious show. We spoke to Mamrie and Steve about BoF's origins and which one of them is most like Blanche Devereux.
How did each of you get started in comedy?
Steve: I moved to New York right after college and kind of sheepishly putzed around for long time. I would lie to friends about doing stand up. Then one night a friend took me to an improv show -- against my will, because I hated improv -- and I really liked it. So I started taking classes and hanging around and it was a lot of fun. Improv led to sketch, which led to videos. It's a slippery slope!
Mamrie: Well, like a lot of folks, I moved up here to pursue serious acting. I found myself working really hard to find auditions and then showing up and thinking, "Oh no no no no. Even f I got cast in this, I would be too embarrassed to even invite anyone to it" -- Joey Tribbiani (of Friends) stuff. So I decided to take a writing class to develop my own stuff, and I can contort my face to such levels of ugliness that I thought it a shame to not try comedy!
In the show you guys say you first met in 2007 and have been inseparable best friends ever since. When you first met did you instantly know you would also be comedy partners?
Mamrie: Tell em Stevie!
Steve: I’m not sure we still know if we'll be comedy partners! We met in a writing class, and I remember it was the first day and another student had just presented their sketch and the class was giving notes on it. As I was about to say something, Mamrie chirped in with her opinion and it was the same exact thing I was going to say. In that moment I thought, "Do I like her or do I hate her?" And then after class she was the first one to agree to get drinks so it was kind of fated.
What is your writing process like? Do you guys base sketches on improv or shared stories or original ideas?
Mamrie: We play heightened versions of ourselves. So, from there, the sketches start with one of us pitching a simple scenario that would be fun to see these two characters play out. Something as normal as running into an ex or being unemployed can lend itself to a lot of silliness. You will never see Steve being kidnapped by aliens and Mamrie going undercover to save him. Unless.....
Steve: While we never get on our feet and improvise a scene, there really is a strong improv vibe to the writing in that we'll have a simple idea and then heighten and heighten and find what we find funny about it. We always try to make ourselves laugh and that usually involves some aspect of a true story. And of course, drinks!
Audience participation is something that is essential to improv, but rarely seen in sketch comedy, yet you guys incorporate it fully into your show. How did you decide to do that?
Steve: We wanted to break up the rhythm of the show with something so it wasn't just six or seven scenes back to back. And so much of BoF is us being ourselves that it seemed natural to interact with the people at the show, talk to them, and have them be a part of the show. My favorite part might be when an audience member realizes they are about to play a character in the next scene. Although we are very careful to not embarrass them! And you never know what people are going to do, so it's nice to have a bit of controlled chaos to keep us on our toes.
Mamrie: We love adding the element of improv into the show, but in a controlled way. So it's fun to interact with audience members, but with a pretty tight plan as to not make them feel uncomfortable. I know that when I go to a show and they pull people up, I get automatic douche chills. But in our show, we never embarrass anyone. Except ourselves.
If you could compare your chemistry to any duo in history, which one would it be?
Steve: Is it too lowbrow to say two of The Golden Girls? Because I'd say I'm a mix between Dorothy and Sophia and Mamrie is a mash up of Rose and Blanche, right down to her southern lilt! We emulate the sense of warm familiarity with and underlying jovial disdain.
Mamrie: Blanche Hollingsworth Devereux and Sophia Spirelli Petrillo Weinstock. Obviously, Steve is Blanche.
Mamrie Hart and Steve Soroka answered the last question without consulting each other, which would explain why they disagreed on who was most like Blanche.