We can't imagine a more sensible Charleston Comedy Fest pairing than Two-Man Movie and POSE Magazine — both have Hollywood connections. POSE is performed by Sue Galloway, who was once adopted by Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock. And Two-Man Movie's concept is pretty self-explanatory. With this show, it's a battle of the big screen versus the small screen.
Neil Casey's all-time favorite film is Network. He also loves the work of Alfred Hitchcock and the Coen Bros. "Hell, I even liked The Ladykillers," he laughs, pointing out that, regardless of what the majority of the world thought, Tom Hanks was ultimately pretty funny in it. "It wasn't great, but it was something." And while he isn't a former film major like his performance partner, Anthony Atamanuik, he doesn't consider himself a slouch when it comes to film trivia either. Otherwise their improv show Two-Man Movie might not work out so well.
Casey and Atamanuik met at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2004 in a movie-style improv class. That turned into a year-long show, and the two stayed friends, even living together at one point. When reminiscing about their experience, they decided to tackle the medium again, only this time mano-a-mano. Audiences liked it, and UCB eventually gave them a weekly slot.
Movie-style improv is usually done with about eight participants, so slimming that down to two creates much more of a hustle for the performers. "There's not much time to step back and reflect. We're playing every character and doing every shot and doing everything," Casey says. "It's a real thrill and it's a lot of fun to do, but it's certainly more exhausting than any of the other improvised shows that I do."
Two-Man Movie starts with a song lyric, provided by the audience. From there, they'll improvise the set-ups for a couple of different scenes, and they'll start to figure out what kind of movie they're going to make. "The form itself is really about genre, so if we've improvised our way into putting some themes together where there's a newscaster and then there's some people at NASA and then there's some people landing on an asteroid, then we would get the feeling that we were in one of those '90s asteroid disaster movies."
A two-man movie can be a black-and-white noir, a Technicolor biblical epic, or a crappy Zach Braff drama. "It's fun to stumble onto something you like that you have a take on. That can be as much fan as insulting things that you hate," Casey says. "They're enjoyable in different ways." The only genre they deliberately steer clear of is comedy. How they interpret — and lampoon — miscellaneous film styles is what makes their show funny, but "doing our take on somebody else's comedy sort of makes the universe collapse."
"We're everything you love about going to the movies but in half an hour," Casey adds. "And better."
Though Sue Galloway may play the heavily accented French-Dutch Sue LaRoche Van Der Hoot on TV, she is not French-Dutch. She's not even French, or Dutch. She wouldn't mind being Dutch — it's why she finds so much pleasure riding her Dutch-style bicycle around New Amsterdam in a sweatshirt emblazoned with "Holland" in bright orange letters — but she can't change who she is.
"The only thing I really have in common with my character is my first name," Galloway says of the role she plays as a TGS staff writer on Tina Fey's 30 Rock. "Beyond that, it's pretty much the coolest thing in the world to play a character that the 30 Rock writers are writing for. I get to say some weird things — 'Vondruke!' — and do some weird things and be a part of an awesome show." Another thing she doesn't have in common with TV-Sue: Real-Sue is really married to John Lutz, the guy who portrays the sexually ambiguous, universally reviled "John Lutz" on the same show ("My husband, on the other hand, is exactly like his character," she confirms. "Someone help me. Even when he's quiet, Lutz won't shut up.") Real-Sue is also a veteran member of the Upright Citizens Brigade's New York theater, where she currently performs her show POSE Magazine.
"POSE Magazine is how my brain would put a magazine live on stage," Galloway says. "You'll see a magazine cover, some pages turning, some article headings onscreen, and then you'll see me live onstage acting as a character who either lives their life like an article, or who justifies their behavior or the actions of others with an inadequate thought construct that they could have gotten from a magazine."
Galloway shamefully admits that her own current magazine subscriptions are limited to Yoga Journal, Best Friends Magazine (yes, it's a real publication), and the New York Times. She used to subscribe to The New Yorker, but her desire to read every word before getting rid of a copy was giving her hoarder tendencies. Occasionally, Galloway picks up a copy of Teen Vogue or Marie Claire, but she has been a life-long avoider of Cosmopolitan.
"There is something about magazines that purports to solve your problems simply and easily," Galloway says. "In my experience, most problems are a little more stubborn than that. But I think it's the structure of magazines and the nature of that industry to tell you that you are flawed and offer to help, if only you buy more stuff ... And because a magazine is visual and has lots of pictures, it's easy to start thinking that there's something wrong with how you look when you look at the perfect people in them."
Compared to her 30 Rock role, live performances like POSE allow Galloway to interact with the audience as the show is happening, which she can't do through a sheet of glass on Thursday nights. But she couldn't ask for better cohorts at either venue. "I have been in many awesome shows at UCB, and the biggest difference between performing there and being on TV is there's no free food at UCB."