BY SARAH TEREZ ROSENBLUM
You go to Idaho for potatoes, LA to gain money and lose IQ points and Chicago to succeed in comedy (before going to LA to gain money and lose IQ points).
So how does an up and coming comedy troupe set themselves apart from other comedy hopefuls? If you’re Cell Camp, you get a hot bi chick to be your spokesperson. Oh, and you hone your work, train at second city and cultivate great chemistry, but back to the hot bi chick.
Below, Marla Depew, writer, performer, and two-year runner up for the Windy City Gay Idol crown discusses Cell Camp.
Our Town How did Cell Camp…um Mitosis. I mean, form?
Marla Depew Matt Kelley, Richie Cross, and I went through Second City Training Center's writing program in 2005/06. The culmination of the program is to write and produce your own sketch show with the help of riotous actors, which is when we found Kate Lambert, Tim Heurlin, and Neil Arsenty through an audition. We're all quite twisted and clicked immediately. At the end of that show's run, we saw no other option than to form an official troupe. We've been together for awhile now and play off each others' strengths and let each individual shine, which in turn lights up the whole group.
OT Lots of thought must have gone into your name.
MD When applying for a slot at Second City's Donny's Skybox Theater, one of the guys put the filler name "Cell Camp" in the troupe title category. I'm not sure where he got it, but it's random and so are we, so it suits us just fine.
OT So, comedy is easy, right? I do improv for my dog all the time.
MD I used to think improv looked easy until I tried it myself, then I quickly realized it takes a lot of skill and practice, which is ironic because it's extemporaneous.
OT I hear you also do some stand-up.
MD To me, stand-up feels natural, in a way no other form of comedy does, though I perform it sporadically. Given my writing background, penchant for order, and experience with memorizing lines, I find my biggest challenge is to not treat it like a monologue- to let it breathe, be something living. Unlike sketch, I'm just being me, but like sketch, I'm a still a character, this time of myself, which is one of the most interesting parts of stand-up. It's the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I've ever done.
OT Any interesting onstage experiences with Cell Camp?
MD There's a scene we performed for awhile called "It Will Get Awkward" which highlights two couples unexpectedly running into each other at a mall and feeling forced to exchange pleasantries. The situation is relate-able, and the conversation keeps getting more and more inappropriate and wincingly hilarious until both couples flee the stage. We all played so well together- it was one of my favorite scenes- and it never ceased to make the audience laugh/squirm uncomfortably.
OT Cell Camp performs this Friday at Stage 773. What can we expect?
MD Friday's show is a multi-media explosion of wit and ridiculousness. We put a ton of work into it and really just want people to see it then drink with us afterward and tell us what they thought- as long as they limit themselves to positive feedback. We'll have a script ready for them.
Photo By Amanda B. Miller
A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually.