Happy Hour on the Fringe: Megan Stalter
On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, hosts Raina Searles and Zach Blackwood chat with twitter-famous, New York based comedian, Megan Stalter. The three of them dive deep into the Chicago comedy world, high school thespian society, and how to follow your weird little heart when others tell you not to. Megan will be featured in our upcoming Blue Heaven Comedy Festival, so grab some friends, get some tickets, and come see an incredible lineup of comedy acts, featuring Megan Stalter!
Blue Heaven Comedy Festival runs February 7 & 8, 2020 at FringeArts with acts starting at 7pm.
Listen to the episode and read the transcript below.
Z: Hello and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe! FringeArts is Philadelphia’s premiere presenter of contemporary performing arts. I’m Zach Blackwood, Artistic Producer here at FringeArts.
R: And I’m Raina Searles, Marketing Manager here, and we invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversations with some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence. Today, we are very excited to be on the phone with a talented actress, comedian, and writer who will be gracing the FringeArts Stage for Blue Heaven: Megan Stalter! Welcome Megan!
M: [laughter] Hi, you guys have really amazing voices! You both sound really good.
R & Z: [laughter]
R: Thank you!
M: [laughter] You both sound really good.
Z: So, how are you?
M: I’m good, yeah, it took me a second to figure out, I kinda like forgot how to call with my phone. I never like dial numbers. [Laughter] I’m so like, texting all the time, I was like “Wait, how do I call them?” But I figured it, yeah. I’m good, how are you?
Z: Fired up the rotary.
Z: So, as it is happy hour here at 1pm?
R: At 1pm.
Z: Are you drinking anything on the phone with us, Megan? I’m having a chamomile tea.
M: [laughter] I’m drinking a little can of ginger ale.
Z: Oh, I love that for you.
M: It’s a Canada Dry. [Laughter]
Z: Oh, okay – not sponsored. Yet!
M: I guess now, I’m acting like I’m getting paid to say it but, that’s like the only kind of ginger ale I like.
Z: No Schweppes, ever. No Reed’s.
Z: So, Megan, last I saw you, actually, I was at New York Comedy Fest, and you were performing with Brett Davis, for Podcast for Laundry!
M: Oh my gosh –
Z: I don’t know if you remember me, I was wearing a pink polka-dotted T-shirt, and you adopted me!
M: Wait, yes! I do remember, I didn’t know that that was you! I didn’t know that the person calling today was that person but of course I remember you! I talked to you the whole time–
M: and I was really, I was loving you and you were my only person I trusted in there. [Laughter]
Z: Because Brett was so mean to you because you knew the laundry service.
M: [Laughter] It was really early.
Z: So my first question, where was Brett Davis buried?
M: I can’t – I’m not allowed to tell you it, but it is in – really close to my backyard.
Z: Oh, okay.
R: Oh, really close!
M: Yeah, it’s not in the yard, but it’s close. Yeah. and he’s really the – he’s – Well, If anybody wants to listen, he’s really really horrifying to me in there. I couldn;t believe it, I thought it was going to be something like, that was like this podcast, nice, normal —
Z: Yeah, and then he was a bit of a task master –
M: Oh, yeah. Totally misleading.
Z: Let’s switch to nicer topics –
Z: Vulture recently named you “a comedian we need to know,” and we wanted to learn a little bit about your start so that the audience who needs to know about this can know about it. So, you’re from Ohio –
Z: Tell us a bit about your earliest introduction to comedy. Like when were you like, “this is my…”
M: Yeah, I was always, always like, wanting to do theater, we did a lot of home videos when I was little, and in high school I was in theater but I wasn’t like, I never got the parts. And then, I had a theater teacher who didn’t love me, but like everybody in the drama club did, cuz then I was like —
Z & R: [laughter]
M: I like never got the part but I was somehow the president of thespians or something? Like, they voted me in past her, like it was really, I was really clowning around. And then –
Z: Wait, Meg –
M: You what?
Z: I was president of thespians.
M: You were?
M: Oh my god, are you kidding me.
M: Oh my god. I didn’t know anybody even else had, like knew about the thespians. Like I didn’t know that every school – does every school have that?
Z: Um, no –
M: Or like, just our schools? Wow.
Z: I was in, I grew up in central Florida, and the Florida State Thespian festival is the biggest student theater festival in the United States –
M: Oh my god!!
Z: Or it was, for a period of time, and it was deeply competitive, it’s really really horrific, Joey Fatone’s sister was our solo musical judge,
M: Oh my god! [Laughter]
R: Is the thespian society like a fancier version of the drama club?
M: Yeah, kind of, I feel like – I don’t remember having any special things that I got to do, I just remember there being a ceremony [laughter] and wearing the sash for them. Right?
Z: The ancient Greek version of the drama club, right?
M: Yes, yeah. I think it’s like a little bit more formal, but it’s pretty much — I feel like we also had a president of drama club too, but I feel like the thespian was like better? I don’t know, I just, I couldn’t believe that I was it, because I barely got any of the parts.
Z: A black tie toga party drama club.
R: Capital A Actors.
M: It’s sort of scary, now that we’re talking about it. Right? It kinda sounds scary.
Z: It does, but and there’s, in your first year, you’re called a neophytes.
R: Oh so you were full-out, like thespians.
Z: It was stupid. I mean, I don’t know what your experience was.
M: Mine was, yeah. I — mine, we didn’t really do much. I just – it was kind of more of a title that like, my drama teacher definitely didn’t want me to have. Like, I was the one that would be talking during rehearsals, and I didn’t have any lines, and like [laughter] I wasn’t a good student of drama club I don’t think. But yeah, I did that, and then I kinda took a break because I didn’t realize it could be a career, and I did some improv, I started doing improv and stand-up a little bit in Ohio, but – right before I moved to Chicago, but – I was sort of famously kicked out of an improv theater. I was basically added to one of their shows, and it was like a Shakespeare improv show, and I don’t know any Shakespeare, and the owner of the theater kept getting super mad at me because I was really joke-y. And I guess I like killed everybody in the play, or the show, he was kind of like “You need to take more classes or like, get off my stage.” And he was like, “And you’re doing a lot of standup, you need to pick one,” he was like “you’ll never have a career in stand up.” He was like, really sort of — I’m not gonna drag him too much, but he was sort of horrible to me. And then I moved to Chicago, yeah. That’s kind of the background.
Z: I love that. You ruin this person’s life,
Z: Your drama teacher, as well,
Z: And you embodied your rage into Chicago [laughter]
R: Well I actually want to walk back, I feel like we glossed over these home videos, what happened in these home videos that you were making when you were a kid?
M: Oh my god, we made so – it was kind of all I wanted to do, like – we would have full war movies, or we would do fake talk shows, or like – there’s one online where it’s, basically I did this entire Christmas special for my family, but like nobody wanted to watch it, and it was like – it’s so embarrassing going back and watching it. It’s like, me sexily singing Santa Baby in one part, and then I’m doing a house tour in another part, like leading up to Christmas, and I’m interviewing family members. I mean, it was – all these videos — it was everything. We’ve done everything. We did a lot of like, you know those movies where someone switches bodies? Like Freaky Friday?
Z: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
M: We would definitely do that, we’ve definitely done a couple versions of that. [Laughter]
Z: I love that. Like sexily singing Santa Baby and giving a house tour, it reminded me a little bit of the Mariah Carey Cribs, where she’s wearing a full ball gown and got in the bathtub, and I’m just imagining that now.
M: Oh my god! It was very that vibe. Very that vibe.
Z: Someone should do a frame-for-frame remake of that MTV Cribs.
M: That show was so crazy, I can’t believe it was a full show.
R: Is it still a show?
M: I still watch that stuff. No, but you can watch YouTube stuff of it, or I love watching those Vogue interviews where they’re these famous people now showing their houses, like there’s one really funny one online of Liz Taylor and she’s doing the craziest house tour and saying the craziest stuff.
Z: So, and then you ended up in Chicago —
Z: And, kind of — what drew you there? Was it just the comedy scene, or was it for other opportunities out there? What was your impetus for hopping on the train or the bus or getting in your car?
M: It was all – it was definitely for comedy. I was doing those improv classes in Ohio just to get ready to move, it’s just like I tried so many different things in school and I was like, “all I really want to do is perform, so let’s just try it.” And I remember two of my friends were moving there for comedy, I didn’t even know people moved there for comedy, and I just couldn’t afford to go to New York or LA, yet, so I was like “oh, I should just go – if people go to Chicago for it, I’ll just go.” [Laughter] I like even thought of going and someone told me that there’s a really big comedy scene in Austin, Texas, and I thought about going there. Like I just needed to go somewhere with —
Z: It’s too hot.
M: Yeah, I just – yes exactly. I don’t do well in the heat, honestly. I truly am a mid-western and I would like, I needed to just go with more comedy, so that’s what drew me to Chicago. And it was like the best decision ever.
Z: Aw, that’s great.
Z: Well at least you got there. When did you start Freak Fest?
M: Oh gosh, when did I start it? You know, probably… I started it like a couple years ago, maybe — I was probably in Chicago two or three years before starting it. But that show really did change a lot of stuff, I feel like I learned how to curate a better show from doing that. They still do it in chicago which is really cool. Yeah I just like, I don’t know, pretty cool to do to meet so many different alt performers and have a show that I always wanted to do. It was sort of a variety show, I do it with Richie Owens and Steve Girard, we’re actually going to do a Chris Gethardpresents next week. Yeah I’m really excited, cuz we haven’t done it in a while. There’s a really amazing cew now that does it in Chicago, Lily Reed, Dairy Queen, and there’s just a million wonderful people that do it now, so yeah we’re gonna do it next week, and that’ll be fun. We’ve never done it like a filmed – like I guess we’ve filmed shows before, but like, we’ve never done it like this.
R: Oh I’m curious if working to curate the festival has informed your own practices in different ways or made you think about your own work differently than you were before?
M: With FreakFest?
M: Oh yeah, yeah I feel like, so basically it’s a variety show that was monthly, and it was at the Hideout which is my favorite place to perform in the whole world, and it helped me with my own work because we pretty much did whatever we wanted. We kind of wrote, it was almost like a short play, and we had variety acts around it. But it really changed the way I performed because it was just like, “oh we can just do whatever, we can just think of the weirdest thing we want to do, the thing that makes us laugh and like, find out how to make it work on stage, whether that’s a five minute set or a whole show. I feel like — I have a solo show now that I do a lot that I feel like, that show really helped write this show. Just being like “oh, you can just do whatever you want on stage, there’s not really any rules.” You know?
Z: Well that makes me deeply happy, because I want to talk a little about kind of your web presence. Like the world wide web, like snail trail of like Megan Stalter experience.
M: [Laughter] Okay.
Z: So you’re all over Twitter, and you also have a really fantastic YouTube show which is how I first learned about your work, was through the Megan Stalter Show –
M: Oh thank you!
Z: What is it like to operate in that kind of YouTube sphere that comes with all of the, you know, a different set of celebrities, a very different audience. How do you think of yourself as Megan Statler as a YouTuber?
M: I like, I mean that show is truly one of my favorite things to do in the whole world. It was Nick Moore, makes it with me. He lives in Chicago, and he just, just – we work together so well and we just really wanted to a show where, “oh I just want to get myself out on the internet.” i feel like in chicago it’s the best place to start but there’s not a lot of people, a lot of industry there, there’s a little bit more now, but i just was like, “oh I’m not ready to move yet, I want to get my stuff seen by more people, I really want to do a talk show,” and Nick wanted to do it, and I’m like, “but everyone does a talk show,” and we created this together, and then it’s … I don’t know, I feel like that and being on Twitter has really changed everything for me, because like it was such a cool way to, I don’t know, meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, or like get your stuff out there, and it’s like, I don’t know, showing me that people really do want to see weirder stuff, or there is an audience for this alt comedy sort of thing. Where like a lot of times you meet people or clubs where they’re like, “yeah, they don’t want to see your stuff,” or “you’re too weird,” or whatever, and online’s showing me that oh, people really want to see it. Or like, there’s a specific audience and I would rather a specific group like me than more people that are liking everything, I guess. Yeah, I love doing that show. I feel like everybody that always, that wants to do it, and the cast and crew, are just so amazing, like, the best – they make me laugh so hard. But yeah, I think the online videos have helped me connect with people that I wouldn’t normally.
Z: I love that. Well this is a question we ask to all of our, you know, superstar internet celebrity friends — when and why will you be cancelled?
M: When and why will I be — I was like “oh!” [laughter] I was like, “Did you see something that I didn’t see, because?” [laughter] Like I didn’t, I didn’t know I was… Okay, I think I’ll be cancelled, I was actually telling my roommates this the other night, I feel like I could see myself being… I could see myself sleeping with somebody that is married. And I – it’s not – I’m – everybody is – and I know that’s not a reason to be cancelled, but I’ll accidentally sleep with the wrong person that, like, I don’t know, the president of Netflix or something, and then like, his wife finds out, and then it’s not cause I want to sleep with someone that’s married, I could just see myself getting into a situation where it’s like, “God, why do we do that?” Or whatever, and me being like, “No, you have to stop calling me!” I can’t see cheating on someone, but I could see accidentally going out with somebody that’s married.
Z: So, just dipping in a little bit to your show here, coming up as part of Blue Heaven, what can you tell us, what little breadcrumbs can you share with us about your performance at Blue Heaven?
M: Oh, I guess I could say that you’ll, it’ll be not really traditional stand up, I’d say, a little bit of my, kind of a, a little bit, a small version of my solo show that I do now, which is so much fun, so kind of, I’d say, off the wall. Expect something off the wall! And a little bit different. But it all makes sense. And I’m doing that show with Sarah Sherman, who is — well, people know her as Sarah Squirm, she’s one of my best friends, and she’s absolutely amazing, and you guys are gonna be obsessed with her. And you probably already are.
Z: Sarah Squirm?
Z: Sarah performed in the first Blue Heaven last year, and is the only return act coming. We could not say no to her.
N: Really? She’s so good, I love her. She’s, she, I’m so happy to get to hang out cuz um, she’s such a close friend and she lives in LA. But I am really happy for her. Yeah. I’m really excited that she’s coming back.
Z: We wanted to engineer this reunion between the two of you. Really my entire curatorial strategy.
R: So, can you tell us about anything that’s coming up for you in the future, anything that you wanna plug, that’s coming out soon, or stuff that you have in the works?
M: I’m gonna be doing in the next couple months, my solo show in different places, if anybody’s around. But it’s An Evening of Mayhem With Megan Stalter, which the title was a joke but now I have to use it, cuz I kept doing the show. And then, we’re definitely – we definitely have a Valentine’s Day special of the Megan Stalter show, which is like eight minutes and it’ll be online, and it’s really fun. Uh, yeah – that, more Megan Statler show stuff, definitely listen to The National Lampoon Radio Hour which is a podcast that I wrote with a wonderful group of people that’s already out, and performed in. And yeah, that’s there, and yeah, just see some more online stuff coming [laughter].
Z: So, that all sounds deeply exciting, I’m so excited for National Lampoon Radio Hour, which will also feature Cola Escola, who was on last year’s Blue Heaven —
Z: So a lot of fun stuff going around, Joe Firestone, Lorelei Ramirez, who’s gonna be gonna be in Blue Heaven as well
M: Ugh, I love them.
Z: Yeah. So much good stuff happening. Thank you so much, Megan, do you have anything else that you want to say to the audience, like where they can catch you online?
M: Oh my god! Well, thanks for having me. I guess I’d just say to, yeah, I don’t know, follow all of our Twitters, and, yeah, this was so much fun. I can’t wait for the festival, I’m so excited.
Z: You’ve been to Philadelphia before, is there anything you love about Philly?
M: Yes. Yes, I have been there before at the Good Good Theater, which was so much fun. But I’ve only been like once, maybe? But yeah I’m really excited.
Z: What do you know about Philly, what’s your favorite thing about the city?
M: Oh god, you guys have really really good — ugh, that probably is classic, what everyone says, but you guys do have really good food [laughter], I feel like — yeah, really amazing food, really amazing comedy, I feel like I could see, yeah, I could see raising a family there. Yeah, I could see us moving there. Yeah, I’d start moving there. I’m moving right now. But it’s such a fun, I don’t know, everybody, everybody’s so nice there, the food is amazing, I’m so excited to go back.
Z: Amazing, well thank you so much Megan for joining us, and we’re so so excited to see you, coming up at Blue Heaven February 7th and 8th at 2020.
R: You can find Megan and 10 other comedians in that lineup online at fringearts.com, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and download the FringeArts App! You can also visit us at http://www.fringearts.com.
Z: Thank you again, Megan, and bye to all of our listeners!
M: Thank you!
And a special thank you to our sponsor, Haddon Planning Group. Tickets are on sale now, you can visit www.fringearts.com to buy tickets [crosstalk 00:32:12], or call our box office at (215) 413-1318. You can also find out more information about the lineup and the festival on by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or go to the FringeArts app.