Ladybrain made waves this past summer with its first show, “Ladybrain: A Sketch Comedy Revue,” which explored the male gaze and the "Free the Nipple" movement, among other things.
Their new show, “Hysteria,” opens this Friday. It promises to be weirder and funnier than ever.
A&E caught up with Ladybrain founders and University of Minnesota alumnae Gabby VandenAvond and Amie Durenberger, as well as fellow cast-member Meredith Jacobs, to chat creative processes, women in comedy and eccentric props.
Why was it so important that Ladybrain have an all-female-identifying cast?
Gabby VandenAvond: Well, with every writing room that you have, I feel like you inevitably come across — especially if it’s mixed genders — the situation where there are certain topics and certain ideas that just land better with women than men. It’s not a fault of either group. It can just sometimes be easier to work with a group of people that have had similar experiences to you. Then you don’t have to explain yourself.
It’s not like we only talk about tampons. It’s just easier. I’m also just sick of other people writing my stuff for me … like men writing women’s roles is getting really boring. I don’t want to watch that, I don’t want to act in that and I don’t want to be that.
Amie Durenberger: I also think it’s rare right now to have a group this large that is all women. It feels like a really unique experience, because there’s nine of us total, with our tech. It’s a really cool, collaborative connection between funny women.
What is Ladybrain’s process for creating sketches?
GV: It’s really what the [University’s] theater program hammered into me … [to be] very collaborative. I don’t believe in one-person art at all, and I don’t think it’s really worth much to create something alone. I think it’s cool to see the moments where it’s somebody else’s sketch, but you can see yourself in that sketch or see your friends in your sketch.
Meredith Jacobs: When we get further along in the process, and we start thinking about who specifically will play certain roles — I know I’m thinking about one of the cast members that I know will be really good … like delivering this line or capturing this character. There’s a level of trust that you put in the people that you cast. I have trust that all these women are incredibly funny and they’ll think of things that are funnier than what I intended to write. That’s a lovely thing to discover.
Give us a hint … what props are featured in “Hysteria?”
MJ: We tend to be prop-heavy; we’re trying not to be as prop-heavy this time around.
AD: Oh, we failed! We failed. We made even heavier crafts!
MJ: Well, we love to craft. We want to take advantage of the medium we have, which is the dialogue but also the visual comedy.
GV: I have to make a bunch of sunshines. What else do we have?
AD: A giant crib.
GV: Oh, and space helmets!
What: Ladybrain Presents: "Hysteria"
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Strike Theater, 824 18th Ave. N.E., Minneapolis
Cost: $10 ($11.34 with service fee)
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.