Tonight at 10:00pm, Philadelphia-based sketch comedy duo The Prince will debut their brand new show, “Whole Man, Whole Horse” directed by Maggy Keegan. Hosted by comedian Joe Bell and featuring guest performances from Julia Hudson (Barbara Bush/Sweetish), Sue Nelson (Barbara Bush) and Hunter Steffes (Big Baby Improv), this full length show serves as the duo’s largest and most ambitious production to date. Philly Sketchfest sat down with Frank Farrell & Jamie Glasheen of The Prince to discuss their origins, how they approach writing & performing sketch comedy, their influences and a little taste of what’s to come in tonight’s show
Philly Sketchfest : Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions before your show tonight.You are both accomplished improvisers performing in two of the most celebrated groups in Philadelphia, Jamie in The N-Crowd and Frank in Triple Double. Tell us how The Prince came together as a sketch duo?
Frank Farrell : I’ve spent so much time on Jamie’s couches over the years that he threatened to charge me rent. ‘The Prince’ was born out of years and years of me being a mooch.
Jamie Glasheen : More than performers, improvisers or writers, Frank and I have been friends first & foremost. Before ‘The Prince’ we would create so many characters and bits and we would do them for each other. As we invented new bits the old ones would be lost to time and that was sad. At a certain point we just sort of said. “So are we going to do something with these or what?”
Philly Sketchfest : Considering your improv background, do you write sketches from improvised scenes together or do you work from a premise you come up with and write it up? Something entirely different? Tell us how the machine works!!!!
Jamie Glasheen : A lot of our writing starts as a little game or phrase that becomes a character or bit one of us will do and sometimes it takes both of us writing together and improvising a little bit to figure the rest of that world out.
Frank Farrell : We are constantly riffing with each other. I guess we speak in “bits” – we really get on a roll with characters and improvising-out absurd premises, but just casually sitting around talking to each other. We both kind of speak the same language that way, I think we are both more comfortable going on riffs and down weird rabbit holes that make us laugh. It actually makes it a bear to talk to regular folk sometimes and forget that everybody doesn’t just start talking from the point of view of a sociopath in the middle of a conversation.
Jamie Glasheen : Other times one of our brains gets hand delivered a wholly baked sketch from the comedy gods and we’ll write those alone.
Frank Farrell : Yeah, we’re also pretty consistently sending each other premises and half-ideas. If something sticks or really catches the other’s eye, we’ll try and write it up.
Philly Sketchfest : The Prince have put together some of the best sketch we’ve seen in the past year and in our opinion, half of the fun is the unique ways you present and execute your comedy; you used a single location for every sketch and character in, you’ve swapped the roles you play between the first and second night of a show run, you’ve broken the fourth wall during a sketch without playing meta for comedy… What comes first when you’re writing a show – Do you write first and then determine how it will be integrated together or do you use these breaks from convention as prompts that dictate what and how you will write?
Jamie Glasheen : Aw, shoot thanks!
Frank Farrell : I would say we write first and then try and see how the show should look feel from the outside of it. Mostly I think it just suits how our brains work. I think it is how we have fun.
Jamie Glasheen : We know each other so well that a lot of the fun is mimicking the other’s characters and mannerisms in writing and practicing to try to get one of us to break. Coming from improv, challenging myself by changing things each night or pushing the audience to interact keeps the same material funny to me after spending so much time with it.
Frank Farrell : What I love about working with Jamie is that he is always as interested as I am in trying something out. Like what you noted, switching roles from night to night, which was really born out of both of us wanting to do the “fun” things the other was doing. It is neat to see how the outside presentation stuff can fit the different shows so well.
Jamie Glasheen : Plus the tension of an audience unsure of how to react to or feel about a thing they’ve never seen before is better than any laugh for me. In developing a show, we usually group a couple sketches we’re excited about and then we try and think of a way to frame them thematically or in space or whatever. I think the big picture work of discovering what the show is actually about is one of the most exciting things for me.
Frank Farrell : Like with “Whole Man, Whole Horse” the show ended up having the feel of how we interact when the two of us are watching crappy TV together, because that is how we wrote this show, sitting around watching crappy TV together. But it wasn’t until the final re-write that we realized that that is what ties the show together, and were able to connect the end with the beginning in hopefully a fun way. I don’t know, we were excited about it, and hi-fived and hugged and danced around the room. I hope that doesn’t raise expectations.
Philly Sketchfest : Who are your comedy influences? What brought you to the realization that you wanted to write it and perform it yourself?
Frank Farrell : Lately, I would say the Prince was really influenced by the Birthday Boys and Rick and Morty. I am a huge Kids in the Hall and Perry Bible Fellowship guy. I think I just loved comedy, and was finding friends who loved comedy, and then fell in love with improv in college. The first time something I thought was funny and then an audience agreed with me was like a jolt through my body and I knew my ego would never let me not keep trying to do this.
Jamie Glasheen : I was raised on BriTANick, Derrick Comedy, Strangers with Candy and Whitest Kids U Know so there was a healthy mix of styles of comedy from grounded/absurd “slice of life” like sketches to really high concept stuff like workers in a baby factory. Tonally this show is probably more Birthday Boys than anything else.
Frank Farrell : I think great sketch just needs commitment. I love all sorts of stuff, as long as the person buys into the absurdity of the moment 100%, I’m usually in.
Jamie Glasheen : I think it’s found in the performance, the chemistry, the rhythm… Or at least the difference between a good sketch and a great sketches is there. But then again so is the difference between bad sketch and ok sketch, I guess. Oh God, everything I like is bad.
Philly Sketchfest : Maggy Keegan is the director of your this show, ‘Whole Man, Whole Horse’ and in our opinion, the pairing is such a perfect blend of like-comedy minds. Tell us about working with her and what she’s done with the material in your show.
Frank Farrell : Maggy is seriously the best.
Jamie Glasheen : Maggy Keegan is the Cadillac of directors.
Frank Farrell : When we wanted someone to look at this show and then direct it, she was the no-brainer/first choice. Nobody has helped me unlock more of who I want to be as a performer over the years, and gets how my brain works. She has helped so much in getting to the root of what this show was, and we have a tendency to just write without thought of performance or pacing or feasibility, and Maggy really helped refine this into a tight show.
Jamie Glasheen : Yeah, Maggy was able to help us get perspective on material we were too close to in effort to tweak in the right ways to bring it all home.
Philly Sketchfest : Is there anyone locally or out-of-town you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Frank Farrell : So many people. Everybody work with us. Seriously. We have such ridiculous FOMO. Oh, and Bill Murray, just to put that out into the Universe.
Jamie Glasheen : I want to work with Kanye West.
Jamie Glasheen : Excited about doing more stuff but we’re also getting interested in making videos and we need all the help we can get!
You can see Frank & Jamie as The Prince in their brand new show, ‘Whole Man, Whole Horse’ tonight at 10:00pm at The Adrienne Theater Playground with stand-up from Joe Bell. Tickets are $10 and available online via TicketFly, Keyword – ‘The Prince Sketch’.