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« Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part X | Main | Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part VIII »

Birthday Boys/Convoy Interview: Part IX

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 nine of that series.

What other local comedy groups do you like?

TIM/BDB: Kiss From Daddy, Neil Campbell and Paul Rust.

TODD/CONVOY: Brett Gelman and Jon Daly are pretty fucking hysterical

ALEX F/CONVOY: Being around there, be it friendship commitment, or you legitimately want to, you see a lot of stuff. And I’d say half of it is interesting, or good. I haven’t seen their new show but I liked the Apple sisters when they came through before.

ALEX B/CONVOY: Donna and Danielle (Let’s Get Awkward)

JEFF/BDB: Jennie Pierson and Amanda Sitko were great in our monthly shows, their show Best Friends was awesome and we've become great pals with them. We love Heather Campbell and Charlyne Yi. We fell hard for The Apple Sisters when we did Sketchfest NYC and they just moved to LA, lucky for us!

DAVE/BDB: Good Neighbors are good.

ALEX B/CONVOY: What’s that?

DAVE/BDB: They’re a really funny group of USC guys with a big web video presence.

ALEX B/CONVOY: Oh they hosted Harold night a few weeks ago.

ALEX B/CONVOY: Tom McMillan and those guys, right?

DAVE/BDB: Yeah. Actually, can you stop the video real quick? (Aside) Not sure if they’re from USC, probably.

TODD/CONVOY: Tom McMillan is just a guy that went to USC. I don’t think he’s in Good Neighbor. Oh, George Lucas must be in Good Neighbor, cause he goes to USC.

ALEX B/CONVOY: If George Lucas is in it, their videos should be great. Actually, their old videos are great, their new videos are terrible


What about-

MIKE M/BDB: They Re-, oh.

Oh, sorry. Were you going to say something?

MIKE M/BDB: No, go on. I was going to make a bad joke.


ALEX B/CONVOY: Hang on hang on I want to hear the bad joke.

MIKE M/BDB: I was going to say “they re-release their old videos with new footage.”

All: Ahhhhh

ALEX B/CONVOY: I’d say that was a mediocre joke.

Mike H/BDB: I’d say it was bad.

ALEX B/CONVOY: It was an apt observation of how crappy the re-release of star wars was.

ALEX F/CONVOY: This is kind of a generic question, but I think it’s interesting…if you had to say who your influences are, and especially if we remove Monty Python, kids in the hall, the state…what would you say?

(Birthday Boys react, oh shit)


DAVE/BDB: My mom.


(They high-five)

ALEX F/CONVOY: It doesn’t even have to be comedic, but who would you say has influenced you?

CHRIS/BDB: Did we remove Mr. Show?


(Birthday Boys react, YES!!!)

TODD/CONVOY: Without repeating!

MH I’m a Simpsons fan, through and through. That’s my biggest influence I think. It shaped how I look at comedy and how I even talk.

Matt My formative years were Simpsons …

DAVE/BDB: You guys have common interests, one of the things we come back to is like Americana, or the feeling of the 50 s or 40s or doo wop music, stuff like that. Not that that’s a comedic influence, but it’s such a great genuine place to come from, I consider that informative on our comedy.

ALEX B/CONVOY: Like The Saturday Evening Post?


TODD/CONVOY: Like the “white after labor day” sketch that you guys do.

DAVE/BDB: Norman Rockwell.

ALEX F/CONVOY: The only thing I ever quote, and I do this when I coach or teach…did you guys read Born Standing Up (Steve Martin’s autobiography)?


ALEX F/CONVOY: If you haven’t, it’s so great, one of the best books I’ve read in a while, it’s so interesting to see how he came up and he has this little anecdote where he's on the tonight show they do this weird little esoteric bit and Carson turns to him at the commercial and says “you’ll use everything you ever knew”. And I read that and I was like YES. Everything. Like every little piece of every comment anyone’s ever made like using that, how everything influences…and like watching that white after labor day sketch, there are several different specific things I could point to as touchstones in that sketch that I knew as…it’s platoon, it’s back to the future, it’s this and it’s that, and it’s this and it’s that. And it felt like one whole sketch, not just like “oh, you guys like references?”

DAVE/BDB: It’s the emotion and the sentimentality…

CHRIS/BDB: Thank you for saying “use” and not steal.

TODD/CONVOY: Because it informs (the) sketch rather than it being about those references.

Matt/BDB: I also heard a writer quote which was “everything you know should be in everything you write”.

Everyone is impressed.

ALEX F/CONVOY: Did you hear it from yourself?

Matt/BDB: I read it in my diary.

TODD/CONVOY: Also his screenplay is like a thousand pages…

Matt No, it’s 20 pages and I’m worried about my education!

ALEX B/CONVOY: Have you ever seen the pop culture and philosophy book series? There’s one that’s The Simpsons and philosophy, it’s like philosophy lessons using examples from The Simpsons, like isn’t Flanders MORE moral than Reverend Lovejoy?

TIM/BDB The Doh of The Simpsons?

ALEX B/CONVOY: It’s The Doh of Homer. There’s an article in there about Lisa and American anti-intellectualism and they get into the fact that The Simpsons was, at one point, a very intellectual show…

MIKE M/BDB: HEY. I work there.

ALEX B/CONVOY: Shhhh shhhh. But now it’s just utter, utter garbage. But the book made the point that The Simpsons was able to, in a way a lot of shows aren’t, make references where the joke wasn’t dependent on the reference but if you got the reference it enhanced the joke. And I think that things like the labor day sketch, since we were just talking about that, if you’ve seen Platoon it makes the end funnier. But if you haven’t seen platoon, that sketch is still funny.

ALEX F/CONVOY: Same as Hot Fuzz or Shawn of the Dead. If you take out the comedy from either they function as a lethal weapon movie and a zombie movie. And there just happens to be these amazing jokes as well. That appeals so much, there are multiple things you can find funny, but all you need is one level…

ALEX B/CONVOY: You can laugh at the joke, and feel superior to the guy sitting next to you for getting the reference. But at the very bottom you just get to laugh at the joke, no matter what.

MIKE M/BDB: I think our idols are the smart guys who can balance those things…Robert Smigel , Bob Odenkirk, Conan O’Brien, I think all those guys do such a good job of making things silly and fun but also putting in smart references that you don’t necessarily have to know.

Matt And then later when you come to learn who was behind it, like George Meyer at The Simpsons, people who were very influential to this group of writers. I also credit sitcoms, cause I used to watch so many sitcoms, you learn formula from that. Like from Home Improvement…there’s a formula to that.

TIM/BDB Well you learn transitions from that! You pull a hammer across the screen, and that’s how you do a transition!

Matt/BDB: And you learn that Norm MacDonald was a staff writer at Roseanne, he probably shaped a lot of that. Learning like who was actually involved…

DAVE/BDB: And in a completely superficial sense I also love just like great entertainers… like the Marx Brothers, things like that. Guys that just occupied an entire screen…

TODD/CONVOY: Like Charlie Chaplin…

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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