Center City Fringe: Dangerous Fools & Nardo Are Making It up as They Go
Improvisational comedy may be pretty Dangerous, potentially Foolish, and possibly Nardo-y? for those of us clutching onto our ego and self-image. But, we’re glad to say that the members of the improv groups, Dangerous Fools and Nardo, just don’t operate under the same sort of anxieties that the rest of us do. Nope, the company of Thomas Fowler and Mary Carpenter (Dangerous Fools) and Steve Roney, Eoin O’Shea, and Joe Sabatino (Nardo), veer headlong into their wild brand of long-form improv as often as they can. All members of Dangerous Fools and Nardo have performed for years with the Philadelphia improv-centerpoint, ComedySportz in Center City. For this year’s Fringe Festival, they bring their comedy chops to the PlayGround stage at the Adrienne on Sansom Street. We posed a few questions for one half of the Dangerous Fools duo, Mary Carpenter.
FringeArts: What can audiences expect from Dangerous Fools & Nardo when you take the stage this summer?
Mary Carpenter: First and foremost, they can expect to laugh. I know I laugh every time I work with or watch any of these improvisers. Both groups do long-form improv, meaning they usually just take one suggestion and weave together a series of scenes and characters. With this group though, people should expect the unexpected.
FringeArts: What is your relationship with Thomas Fowler and the members of Nardo and how does that feed the show?
Mary Carpenter: I’ve known Thomas for about 21 years. We met in ComedySportz and when he moved to LA we kept talking about wanting to do something together and that’s how Dangerous Fools came about. I have always thought he is the finest improviser I have ever seen or worked with; and when I’m on stage with him, I love the way he challenges and supports me at the same time.
As for Nardo, I also know them through ComedySportz. I work with Steve [Roney] in another duo called ‘Til Death Do Us Part, I worked with Eoin [O’Shea] in the Second City show City of Nutterly Love, and I’ve worked with Joe [Sabatino] in Stage Fright and Choopy & Me. These guys individually are fantastic; together they are remarkable. They kind of take improv to a different level.
FringeArts: What was your path to becoming an improvisational comedian? What was your introduction? What was the training process?
Mary Carpenter: I started in college, in acting class. My acting teacher took me aside one day after class and told me I had a knack for this and should look into classes at Second City. I went to Northwestern, so I took two terms at the then Players Workshop of Second City in Chicago. I joined some improv groups in college including getting cast in the Meow Show where I met and worked with Ana Gasteyer. When I moved back to Philly I joined ComedySportz and improv has pretty much changed my life. I’ve had the great fortune to train over the years with Keith Johnstone, Mick Napier, Joe Bill, Jill Bernard and Todd Stashwick.
FringeArts: With the show coming in September, what are you and the crew doing to prepare? What does a rehearsal period look like?
Mary Carpenter: Well, right now I’m in heavy producer mode. When Thomas flies in, we’ll meet once or twice to catch up, and that’s about it. It is hard to describe, but Thomas and I mostly rediscover our chemistry and allow that to inform our work on stage. As for Nardo, I’m sure there is beer involved.
FringeArts: Where else can audiences go to see you and your collaborators?
Mary Carpenter: The steadiest gig is ComedySportz Philly every Saturday at 7:30 & 10:00. But they better save room for the Fringe. We’ll be at the Playground at the Adrienne at various times from September 9-17.
FringeArts: And last but not least: what makes you laugh?
Mary Carpenter: Honesty; Human Flaws; Simon Pegg; Amy Poehler; Carol Burnett; Almost every time I fall down; Too many to list.
2015 Fringe Festival
Dangerous Fools & Nardo
September 8, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17
The Playground Stage at the Adrienne
2030 Sansom Street
Click for tickets and info
All photos courtesy of the artists