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Entries in Peter Grosz (2)


Inside With: John Lutz and Peter Grosz

By: Paul Gale

In honor of the the last performance of  "2 Square" at The UCBT-NY, before Peter Grosz moves to the Sunset Strip--or somewhere near there--I spoke with former Colbert Report writer Grosz and his "2 Square," partner in crime, 30 Rock's John Lutz, about their beginnings, their motivations, and, for a brief moment, pizza. The interview was conducted individually through email, so keep in mind that John didn't have the opportunity to retort. Enjoy!

When and where did you each start performing comedy?

John Lutz: I did a few plays in high school. The first big part I had was in "The Foreigner."  For my audition, I had to tell the story of "The Three Little Pigs," in gibberish.  It was really fun and I didn't have to memorize any lines.

Peter Grosz: I started in college. Took classes at iO starting in April of 1995, then that fall I was cast in the Mee-Ow show, Northwestern’s sketch and improv show. From that point on, no other career option had a chance. Also, I had stopped paying attention in class.

What were you looking for when you began studying improvisation?

Lutz: I saw an improv set at Second City and it looked like the most fun you could ever have.  I wanted to learn how to be that funny right off the top of my head. Once I started, I thought I would be great at it right away. I was wrong. I found it very hard at first. I had to learn to do good improv and let the funny come, rather than trying for a quick laugh. Charna stopped me five or six times in my first scene because it was going so poorly.

Grosz: Attention. I really just wanted to be funny in front of an audience and had no idea what it took. I liked making jokes with my friends, and figured there wasn’t much of a difference. But I failed three times at my Mee-Ow auditions, so I asked someone how I could learn how to improvise. He told me to go to iO, and I realized there was way more to it than I thought.

When did you two first meet?

Lutz: I'm not 100% sure, but I think it was when I had to miss one of my level 3 classes and I sat in on the class Pete was in. I think Seth Meyers was also in that class.

Grosz: John (as he so rarely is) is right about that. It was in that class. Wow. I still can’t believe he got that right. I need to take a minute.

Did it take a while for you to hit it off creatively?

Lutz: We really didn't work together until "JTS Brown," which I joined after the group was already formed.  What was that… 1998? 1999? I was also Pete's replacement in Greenco., a Second City Touring Company, and his understudy for his Second City ETC shows.  The universe just kept throwing us together. Pete weighs less than me, so I think the universe kept throwing him a little farther ahead.

Grosz: I remember liking him a lot in that class, and liking what he did onstage with Valhalla, but JTS was the first place that we really got a chance to work together. And the reason John can’t remember when the show ran is because we started rehearsing in the fall of 1998, and didn’t put up shows until the spring of 2000 for only 6 months. Yeah. 18 months for a 6 month run. It was a little ridiculous, but I think the results were worth it.

I know you were both in "JTS Brown." Do you think that "2 Square" was more successful than "4 Square" and "JTS Brown" because of numbers, or experience? Does the intimacy of two players make it easier to stay on the same wavelength?

Lutz: Personally, "4 Square" was more successful than any of them.  "JTS Brown" had twelve or thirteen people in it, which was too many, in my opinion (all great performers, but just too many!).  "2 Square," keeps you on your toes because it's just the two of you.  But when all four of the squares are together, there is nothing like it.  We all bring something a little different. It really balances out the shows.  All four of us got together in LA a few months back and put a show up at the Second City space out there.  It was like we never stopped performing together.  The only thing that was different was that we all got a little winded doing our warm up.  We are old.  

Grosz: "4 Square" is the most successful. "2 Square" is the most difficult and JTS was the most unpredictable. It was madness and genius, sometimes within the same show. But "4 Square" has the best chance of being really great and often was. A really tight, focused version of JTS – which was the reason for creating "4 Square" in the first place.

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The Honey Shot

Peter Grosz at "Tell Your Friends" (April 2008) | Photo: Sharilyn Johnson

  • THE PLUG: Don't miss Peter Grosz, Kumail Nanjiani, Brooke Van Poppelen, John Szeluga and host James Harris at "Grab Ass," happening TONIGHT @ 9:30PM at Cargo Cafe (120 Bay Street, Staten Island) | Free

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