Arts & Entertainment

‘Another weird direction’

A local comedy duo turns southern drama on its head with a new production.

Recently, Caitlin Weigel had a realization when she was wrapping someone’s leg in brown paper to make a fake cast.

“I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’” Weigel said. “I like it.”

Weigel, a 2012 communications alumna, makes up half of the sketch comedy duo House of Solitude. Weigel and her partner, Dan Corkery, premiered a new show, “A Galaxy Uncherished,” on March 10. Directed by Maggy Keegan, the show blurs the lines between traditional sketch comedy and a one-act play.

Weigel described the show as “a faux drama set in space disguised as a Tennessee Williams play.”

Williams was an American playwright and author of many stage classics—almost all featuring Southern settings. Weigel said she loves Williams’ plays, so she and Corkery included some of Williams’ classic tropes in their show.

“Everyone has secrets,” Weigel said. “People reference events with epic backstories, but don’t tell you what happened. It’s super Southern and dramatic.”

Traditional sketch shows include six to eight sketches that are each four to five minutes long, but “A Galaxy Uncherished” is just one 25-page long sketch, Weigel said.

“It has different games and premises throughout, but it’s just one big piece,” she added.

Over a few years of doing improv work together, Corkery and Weigel discovered they both liked character work—“big, weird characters,” Weigel said.

Corkery finds “something relatable in every character,” so the two enjoy playing absurd, crazy people and putting them in different situations.

The pair started writing with that mindset, and “A Galaxy Uncherished” just “popped up pretty naturally,” Weigel said.

The duo had to research Williams’ plays and even read “nerdy-a– academic papers on Williams,” Weigel said.

But the show isn’t just a Southern drama—it also takes place in outer space.

“Space movies are usually epic journeys that are serious,” Weigel said. “We put two things that are very serious together to make it absurd.”

Weigel said she loves when “people talk about things they don’t know,” so writing about space, spaceships and commands—things she knows little about—was funny for her.

Corkery, who attended to the University of Delaware, realized he always liked making people laugh, but was shy and didn’t perform in plays. Though now involved in improv, Corkery still finds that “writing can be a very solitary thing” and likes that “if you have an idea, you can just run with it.”

And that’s exactly what the duo did with their latest show.

“I also really like space uniforms, so it was an excuse to buy them and make people wear them,” Weigel added.

Some of the characters include a frail, young “man-child” named Cleon, who has a collection of his own hair that he’s very protective of. There’s Laverne, a dramatic and fancy southern belle who takes anything as a sign from her dead husband and Pappy Daddy, the old town mayor who’s “vaguely racist against Martians,” Weigel said.

One of Weigel’s favorites is Archie, a character obsessed with buttons.

“It sounds dumb on paper,” Weigel said. “But it’s so funny and makes me laugh every single time.”

Weigel contributes a lot of her comedy career to Temple Smash, a comedy group on campus, where she served as a head writer. She also got involved with Temple’s improv club, and later, Philly Improv Theater, where she now teaches and directs.

Weigel credited Sherri Hope Culver, an assistant professor in media studies and production, as an inspiration to pursue what she wanted to do.

“Even when she was at Temple, Caitlin was a performer,” Culver said. “When she finds something she cares about, she’ll put her muscle and heart behind it.”

Weigel also took Diane Bones’ comedy class at Temple, “Writing Humor,” and said she still uses techniques that she learned.

“She taught us to go through your writing and highlight all the funny parts,” Weigel said. “You’d look and see that there’s half a page with no jokes on it, or a huge gap. It’s critical.”

“Caitlin was a reserved and quiet person,” Bones said. “That is indicative of the fact that she was watching and learning what was going on around her. That can make you a funny person.”

The comedy duo has been around for a year now, and aims to push the boundaries for a sketch and make it unlike other sketch projects in the city.

“It’s just insane characters who are just off the wall weird, stuck in a spaceship together,” Corkery said. “It’ll be different—another step in another weird direction.”

Tsipora Hacker can be reached at tsipora.hacker@temple.edu.

Video by Aaron Windhorst.

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