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« Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part V | Main | Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part III »

Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part IV

We sat down with the improv group Convoy and sketch group The Birthday Boys and had them talk about influences, origins, and sketch vs. improv. We broke that massive interview down into weekly chunks. The following is chunk four of that series.

TODD/CONVOY: You guys all went to college together?

Matt They all went to Ithaca (college) I went to UT.

TODD/CONVOY: So then did all you guys, except you, do sketch together there? Or just start doing it here?

MH No, we all knew each other in one capacity or another. Like Tim and Dave were working on a college show together, and I just knew Mitch, I knew those other guys through film class. And then we all decided to move out here together.

So whose idea was it to actually start a group?

MIKE M/BDB: It was me.


DAVE/BDB: No I mean 4 of the guys were already living together and messing around with short videos and stuff,

MIKE M/BDB: And we took Improv 101 together.

DAVE/BDB: The UCB class, that’s where we met Matt.

MIKE M/BDB: And that’s kind of where it started. I think all of us were interested in comedy, and through the class we started going to shows, I started going to Comedy Death Ray. It’s funny that you brought that up, that was the first show I started going to a lot, and then we took improv together, and that’s how it happened.

Matt/BDB: That’s how I met all of them. I didn’t know them before that.

Todd/CONVOY: Lucky you!

Matt It was like all of them and me and only a few other people in that improv class, and we just really clicked.

TIM/BDB Those other people didn’t cut it.

DAVE/BDB: You guys all met at Vassar, right? Where you in the same living situation?

ALEX B/CONVOY: We were all in the same improv group.

TODD/CONVOY: Me and Berg got into the group my sophomore year, his freshman year. Fernie got in the year after.

TIM/BDB: Is that an ongoing college group?

ALEX F/CONVOY: Yeah. It’s been going, like, for a WHILE. It was called “Improv” and no one ever bothered to name it.

TODD/CONVOY: I think the rumor was that Noah Baumbach started it, wasn’t that it?

ALEX B/CONVOY: I heard Lisa Kudrow started it, so…

TODD/CONVOY: Some celebrity alum at Vassar started our improv group.

CHRIS/BDB: That’s two more celebrities than ever went to Ithaca.

MH Ricky Lake went to Ithaca!

CHRIS/BDB: Oh yeah yeah.

JEFF/BDB: How was your improv at school different from UCB here or iO (West), process-wise?

ALEX F/CONVOY: It was a short form group and there were 8 of us and I think a lot of what we do now in long form came from there because we tried to take away what made short form intolerable. We’d make it so that even if you took away the fact that we were doing it FILM NOIR!! It would still be interesting or funny, that was the goal. And I think that informed what we do now a lot. And doing it there, in Poughkeepsie, New York – once you leave the campus there’s nothing for miles- so people would come to the shows, and it was easy, and they’d be drunk. It was awesome.

ALEX B/CONVOY: Yeah we’d have a captive audience of like 200 for each show.

DAVE/BDB: Wow, really?

ALEX F/CONVOY: Yeah, there’s nothing to do in Poughkeepsie New York. Maybe in 1908 it was awesome, but now it’s a fucking shit hole.

ALEX B/CONVOY: My freshman year when I joined the group, the year before that all the comedy groups had gotten together to perform and had horrendously offended the campus to such a point that they’d all lost their funding. Every single comedy group.

TODD/CONVOY: One of the groups was actually derecognized by the Vassar student groups association, and the other two groups, including Vassar Improv - cause all three comedy groups do a show together called “Menage a Ha”…

ALEX B/CONVOY: I don’t know if you guys have heard of “puns” before, that’s a good one.

TODD/CONVOY: So Vassar Improv had their funding frozen, which, as an improv group you know we REALLY needed that funding.

ALEX B/CONVOY: But the weird thing was that there was this climate of: if we say something too offensive, we will get shut down by one of the 10 thousand special interest groups on campus. Like the Phillipino students’ association will take offense to our Imelda Marcos joke, and we’ll lose all our funding. But that sort of forced us to, and this has sort of lasted through the Convoy days. There’s a lot of tendency in the theatre to go blue, but we tend not to-

ALEX F/CONVOY: We’re huge prudes. If we go dirty or blue one of us will bitch at the other one.

Convoy has a weekly show Thursdays at 11p, The Birthday Boys do a show the first Wednesday of every month at 8p. For more info on these groups check out and

-Joanna Calo

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