What do Saturday Night Live, a drunken maid of honor, and an hour in the dark have in common? They're all pieces that make up the Piccolo Fringe show Ted and Melanie. Ted is played by Paul Brittain. You may recognize him as a new SNL cast member who's made a name for himself doing impressions of Harry Reid, Johnny Depp, and James Franco. Meanwhile, Melanie is played by Jet Eveleth, a Chicago iO Theater alum that Spoletians might recognize from I Live Next Door to Horses, which appeared at 2008's Fringe festival and went on to win the 2008 Del Award for Best Scripted Show.
Brittain and Eveleth met at Chicago's iO Theater in 2003 and soon started performing together. It was Eveleth's genius idea to take notes during each night's performance, and from those piles of scribblings, the duo was able to pull together the best bits to build a full sketch show.
While Brittain was hesitant to give away any of the fun Charleston audiences will enjoy at Piccolo, he did share a taste of some of the bizarre scenes that have sprung from their work together.
"Let's see, there was a scene we improvised where we were ex-lovers who were struggling to rehearse a scene from a sci-fi movie we were filming together," says Brittain. "Another one I liked had us as a couple of crappy slam poets performing at an open-mic night."
Scenes range from the vulnerable to the surreal, yet Eveleth and Brittain are so simpatico, even their more audacious sketches seem to make sense. The duo built their relationship over years of performing together and touring around the country in a van. It's this camaraderie that Brittain says the show capitalizes on — the humor that can spring from flawed characters unafraid to reveal their vulnerability for laughs.
"I really like developing new characters, finding unexpected points of view and all the fun ways they manifest physically on stage," Eveleth says. "I feel fortunate to be able to improvise so much. It gives me an opportunity to discover new characters that I wouldn't find sitting behind a computer screen."
With a pixie cut and doe-ish eyes, Eveleth has a sweet sincerity about her, but don't let it fool you. The woman is wickedly funny. She plays a variety of wacky individuals, but one signature character who all women can relate to is Eveleth's rendition of a drunk maid of honor. Meanwhile, Brittain, a thin, sweet-faced man, is using his knack for impersonations and quick wit to make a name for himself on SNL. "It's really amazing having this job where I could be writing something brand new one day, and a few days later it could potentially be on live TV."
That said, the trip to Charleston will be a welcome reprieve from his busy life within 30 Rock.
"Since Jet and I have a show already written that we've performed a lot, it's not too difficult to jump back into it," Brittain says. For now it's not about the limelight. It's about working with other savvy comedians and having fun.