Lucky for us, Frank Caeti is not an asshole. Indeed, lucky for us, he's one of Susan Messing's favorite people. Which means we'll get to see two seriously good improvisers play on stage together this weekend.
You see, if Caeti was anything like Jolly, Messing's kabuki punching puppet, she wouldn't be traveling all the way to Charleston to take the stage with him.
"It is very rare that I work with Jolly, as he is an asshole," jokes Messing, even though the puppet garnered her some serious attention.
"I made up a stand-up act with him that I thought was so stupid and disturbing, and it surprisingly ended up being selected for the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and then reprised for Comedy Central's Premium Blend and NBC's Late Fridays."
Messing, a heavy-hitter in the Chicago improv scene for more than two decades, works with Caeti as often as she can, but that can be a challenge because she's in Chicago and he's in L.A.
"It's rough being in separate cities," says Messing, "but we always find a way to sneak in a show together. I think that Frank suggested we find a way to meet on the road, and who is going to argue with a great suggestion? I am counting down the days until we get to play together in Charleston."
This is the first time Messing and Caeti will perform together as Alice and Edward (which is their middle names).
"Anytime I get to perform with Susan is pretty great," says Caeti.
The show will be a long-form improvisation. "Short form includes those improv games that you might recognize from Whose Line is it Anyway?" says Messing. "Long-form is the complete opposite of that. The audience gives us a suggestion of a word and then we run with it. Nothing is rehearsed. You have never seen anything like it nor will you ever again. It's about as organic as it gets."
Or, as Caeti explains, "It's a collection of scenes that may or may not be informed by themselves. The commonality I suppose is that they are all improvised and are of a length that deems it longer than shorter. Hard to explain, much more fun to watch."
Together, Caeti and Messing are not only an improv team but a mutual admiration society — they aren't afraid to gush about each other's talents.
She says: "It's actually impossible not to love him. He's ridiculous, extremely playful and funny, and he impressed me right away."
He says: "Susan is a gigantic force in the improv community. Everyone knows her, she's one of the most respected and gifted performers and teachers of improvisation in the world."
Alice and Edward starts with an audience suggestion of a word or phrase, but if you want to heckle, go elsewhere. Says Messing, "For those people who like to go to shows and heckle, I would invite them to attend stand-up shows instead. Don't get me wrong — we can certainly deal with it easily, but it's not part of the makeup of improvisational comedy, just like you probably wouldn't consider pooping on your friend's dining room floor."
So the rules for Alice and Edward at Theatre 99 seem clear: go, have fun, and whatever you do, don't poop on the dining room floor.