Twelve years ago, I had just moved to New York City. I came here with a friend from my college sketch group. Her name was Alana and we had big dreams. She got a job walking dogs for a member of the SNL cast, which of course meant that within six months, we’d both be cast members too. Obviously, we quickly realized that it was going to take way longer than six months. It was going to take seven months. We got to work immediately: we took Improv Level 1 at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, went to all kinds of comedy and weird performance art open mics, and observed the scene a bit. Having done that for a month or two, we pretty much figured we knew the deal. You write some material, perform it a few times, get noticed, and bam, you’re discovered. So, we started writing sketches together - stuff we could perform as a duo at open mics. Having had so much success in our college sketch group, we knew that our material was going to blow people’s minds.
The first thing we wrote was a sketch about a robot. I honestly can’t tell you what the hell the sketch was about, but I do remember that I played some kind of crazy German woman who owned a robot, played by Alana. It included lots of references to various robots in pop culture - Johnny 5, Small Wonder, and the like. Really edgy stuff. Now, we knew that if we were gonna impress the industry, we needed to fully commit to the premise. And that meant we needed a top-of-the-line robot costume. For weeks, we made trips to Home Depot, and constructed a robot costume from scratch. This thing looked amazing, but its construction was such that Alana could barely move while in it. No matter; we were fucking serious about comedy.
Finally, we were ready to debut the sketch. We chose an open mic located on Varick Street. It was in some weird venue with a multi-colored stage that lit up. There were lots of colors on the walls too. Thinking back, it may have been a gay night club. Alana insisted on wearing half the costume on the way to the venue, because it was so difficult to put on, and she didn’t want to mess with it too much once we arrived. After spending most of our money on the costume, we opted to ride the subway. She looked like a robot centaur. Human up top, robot down below. I didn’t look much better; I had slicked back my pixie hair cut with greasy gel, and was wearing a black turtleneck and tight black pants. The look was definitely inspired by (and let’s be honest, fully plagiarizing) the SNL “Sprocket” costume. Because that is what German women with robot-money look like. (Duh.) Meanwhile, I was responsible for transporting the robot body and head, also very heavy, in two giant trash bags. I wasn’t strong enough to lift them, so I dragged them. What I’m trying to say is that we looked cool as fuck.
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