INTERVIEW: Lisa Koch Carved Up the ‘Ham’ with Another Successful Run at ACT Theatre

INTERVIEW: Lisa Koch Carved Up the ‘Ham’ with Another Successful Run at ACT Theatre

- in Top News, Entertainment
2691
0
Ham for the Holidays/Photo Chris Bennion
Ham for the Holidays/Photo Chris Bennion

It’s been 15 years since Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt’s “Ham for the Holidays” show hit Seattle stages, and they’re still going strong and, some might say, getting even better with time. The duo, operating under the moniker Dos Fallopia, have a solid thing going, and this year was no exception.

Whether your favorite skits and characters in “Ham for the Holidays: Fear the Bacon” included Mama Euomi Spudd and Wynotta Spudd, Kenneth Dolman and the Sequim Gay Men’s Chorus, Flight Attendant Donna, What the Heck’s a Puget?, Waiting Womb Full Service Women’s Health Care, Juice Bar, and Cabaret, or the Superhero Reunion starring The Bionic Woman (Koch), Captain America (DJ Gommels), Wonder Woman (Platt) and Robin (Michael Oaks), “Ham” 2014 was a smashing success.

The opening number was epic. Can you tell us how that skit came about?

Years ago, I was asked to perform for a women’s health care symposium, so I put together a little medley of woman-centric “exam” songs for the event. The medley went over very well, so Peg and I wrote a sketch based around the women’s health care idea. We came up with the Nurse Julie character, and a clinic/cabaret environment that was something women actually looked forward to when dealing with their yearly exam time. We wrote the original Waiting Womb sketch in 2000. I’ve included Nurse Julie in my solo shows, and we revamped the sketch again this year. Lots of  new songs and characters.

How do you and the rest of the cast split the writing of the show?

Peg and I are the writers; we come up with the concepts and the script. I write the parody lyrics and supply original songs. When we get into rehearsals, we have a pretty organic process, so DJ, Michael and David often come up with great ideas and lines, and if they’re better than the original, they go right in the show. James Knoll is our newest cast member this year, and he came up with some lovely ideas, too.

The Sequim Men's Chorus in Ham for the Holidays at the Act Theatre 2014. Photo: Chris Bennion
The Sequim Men’s Chorus in Ham for the Holidays at the Act Theatre 2014. Photo: Chris Bennion

The Sequim portion of the show was especially hilarious this year. How do you keep the lines fresh/current from year to year?

Every year I think, “Oh god, how can we top ourselves?” Thankfully, our audience embraces our recurring characters – they’re their own little soap opera. The Sequim Gay Men’s Chorus is a small gene pool; it’s a revolving door of coupling, uncoupling, philandering, and getting back together. This year we added in James as intern Zachary, which provided Kenneth with a beefcake love interest.

Lisa Koch in Ham for the Holidays at the Act Theatre 2014. Photo: Chris Bennion
Lisa Koch in Ham for the Holidays at the Act Theatre 2014. Photo: Chris Bennion

The portion of the show where you sing with your guitar is most heartwarming every year, and this year was no exception. Why is this serious moment included in the otherwise-insane (in a good way!) show?

When Peg and I first started our sketch shows in the 90s at the Cabaret de Paris, we always mixed in a couple of great ballads within the show. When we moved to the “Ham” format, the ballad moments became fewer and further between. We picked it back up a few years ago to provide a little moment in the show to breathe, to reflect, and to connect with the audience. It’s a chance for me to sing from the heart, which I love.

ACT Theatre was your home again for “Ham” this year. Will we see a multi-year engagement downtown at the same venue?

We hope so. We feel very lucky to have been invited to ACT, it’s a beautiful space. Our home for many, many years was Theatre Off Jackson (International District), and we will always love that intimate venue. By moving to ACT, we are able to hit a larger audience in fewer shows, contained in a beautiful downtown location.

The rehearsals. Discuss.

Rehearsals are fun, crazy, maddening. My brother David Koch is our director/choreographer, and he is a wizard at trimming the fat, finding the essence of the sketch, and bringing out the actors’ best. Tim Crist is our production stage manager, and he keeps us mercifully on track. DJ Gommels is our amazing musical director, and he is a genius with arrangements, harmonies and one liners. Michael Oaks is a wonderfully diverse actor, always prepared, terribly punny, and he is the glue that holds the cast together. Peggy is a brilliant comedian and master of the punch line. And I fill in the cracks as producer, writer, actor, and musician. Peg and I have to try and toss off our writer hats when we’re supposed to be actors, which is challenging. Adding James Knoll in this year has been an absolute joy. What a talent, we love him.

Waiting Womb Full Service Women's Health Care, Juice Bar, and Cabaret in Ham for the Holidays at ACT Theatre 2014. Photo: Chris Bennion
Waiting Womb Full Service Women’s Health Care, Juice Bar, and Cabaret in Ham for the Holidays at ACT Theatre 2014. Photo: Chris Bennion

Even the best comedians crack up in the middle of a set. How do you keep from doing so?

Oh, we crack all the time. Our cast ad libs liberally, we never quite know what’s going to happen nightly. We all truly enjoy each other, and we definitely have fun onstage.

The superhero skit was outrageously comical. Whose idea was it, and how did you decide which person would play which part?

The superhero sketch is recycled from an early 2000s sketch. We started kicking around the idea of a high school reunion, and aging people getting together after years. Then we thought about old school superheroes having a reunion, and it morphed from there. The original sketch was Robin (Andrew Tasakos), Wonder Woman (Peg) and me as Xena, Warrior Princess. DJ played a silent Spiderman at the cocktail piano. So we decided this year that it’s 10 years later—who would be attending? We added Captain America and the Bionic Woman this year. And James makes a wonderful Wolverine houseboy.

The Spudds also returned for this year’s “Ham.”

We’ve gotten a great response to our very irreverent Spudds sketch this year. It’s always a challenge to actually work holiday themes into our shows, so when I came up with the idea of a prequel to the nativity, “Saturday Night Jesus” was born. Disco in the desert, and Mama Spudd as a Virgin. What could be better? Special thanks to our good friend Scott Warrender for letting us use a piece of his insane masterpiece, “Disco Nativity.” That song debuted in Alice B. Theatre’s 1989 Holiday Survival Game Show, and it’s our show’s finale.

We want to thank our loyal audience who continue to make our show a tradition every year. Peg and I have been working together since dinosaurs roamed the earth, and this is our 15th “Ham.” We couldn’t do it without you.

See more photos from “Ham for the Holidays: Fear the Bacon” below!

Comments

comments

Also On The Web

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.