Earlier this year, Philadelphia (nay, the world) was formerly introduced to twin musicians, Sherry & Terry of Baby Steps, a musical duo born from the depths of the dark underbelly of the nursery-core scene. Created, written & performed by Megan Thibodeaux & Andalyn Young, Baby Steps is a positively eclectic pastiche of comedy, music and performance art that needs to be seen. With a highly celebrated performance at the inaugural Bechdel Fest and equally revered follow-up at Philly Sketchfest 2016, the duo continues their cosmic journey for musical enlightenment this Sunday, April 24th at 8:00pm at W/N W/N (931 Spring Garden St.). While you count down the moments until Sunday, enjoy this interview from Joshua Higham (My First Sketch) and get to know Megan & Andalyn from Baby Steps…
Joshua Higham : It feels like Baby Steps came out of nowhere, at least within the comedy community. First-and-foremost, a belated welcome and second, what can you tell us about yourselves?
Megan Thibodeaux : I’ve been making and producing performance work in Philly for the past 4 years. I am also Sherry, the lead singer of the band Baby Steps.
Andalyn Young : I landed in Philly two years ago after a nomadic period in Eastern Europe working with mimes, clowns, dance and theatre artists. I am also Terry, the other half of Baby Steps.
Megan Thibodeaux : We did our first Baby Steps show together at the Bechdel Fest in February, so we’re newcomers to the local comedy scene.
Andalyn Young : Baby Steps clawed their way out of Middle Earth. Philly seems cheap enough to stick around for a while.
Joshua Higham : How did the two of you come together to form Baby Steps?
Megan Thibodeaux : We met 2 years ago while training with Pig Iron Theatre Company. It was a program that gave us a shared vocabulary in working collaboratively while learning how to fail miserably but keep trying. Though our first performance together as a duo was last summer at The Barbary for a Kate Bush tribute night.
Andalyn Young : We pretended we misunderstood the theme as George Bush tribute night, showing up as George W. and George H.W. in very convincing wigs and patriotic suits. I actually don’t think it was that funny. I remember the room being eerily quiet.
Megan Thibodeaux : But we had a lot of fun making and performing it! And decided that maybe we should try making something else together.
Andalyn Young : This was at a point when both of us were desperate for more lightness and humor in our lives. I’ve always felt like Baby Steps grew out of a direct need to practice art making as a means of survival. We wanted to dig into our own messy experiences of being human, hoping that maybe it would resonate with other people.
Megan Thibodeaux : Which is why we developed the characters Sherry and Terry as heightened versions of ourselves. We think of them as our alter-egos, theatricalized but very real sides of our personalities. Which are really different!
Andalyn Young : I just remembered we ended that Barbary show by doing a strip tease, transforming from George Bush into warrior princesses. Megan wore underwear made out of duct tape and I did Flashdance choreography on a wheelchair covered in American flags.
Megan Thibodeaux : I think people liked that part.
Megan Thibodeaux : Bechdel Fest was a total experiment for us because we didn’t know how our work fit into the comedy scene.
Andalyn Young : We still don’t know, so if anyone out there has any thoughts…
Megan Thibodeaux : It was this great opportunity to perform in front of a new audience, totally different than the contemporary performance community we’re typically involved with. We received such amazing support and encouragement after that show, including offers for other shows like Philly Sketchfest!
Andalyn Young : Yes, many thanks to Bechdel Fest and to a welcoming, encouraging comedy community in Philadelphia.
Megan Thibodeaux : Well, Baby Steps is a band so there’s definitely a lot of great musical duos throughout history whose influence is present. But I’d say that much of our inspiration comes from other performance styles. I’m really interested in Drag Queen culture and the sexuality attached to that. Also, motivational speakers and people who consider themselves experts.
Andalyn Young : 1970s fashion, asking big questions, watching what happens when people with different rhythms confront one another in the world. Also, greatly influenced by clown. Not in a circus-clown sort of way, but rather as a mode of performance that allows you to embrace sublime stupidity while demanding direct engagement with the audience. This is challenging for me because I have a tendency to get stuck in my head, but it’s actually been a great process discovering ways to bask in Terry’s social awkwardness.
Megan Thibodeaux : We’re also inspired by cabaret and the idea that you can expose yourself through song.
Andalyn Young : Yes, something about performing live music, no matter how elementary that music may be, gives us the freedom to perform with reckless abandon.
Megan Thibodeaux : But our primary source material and biggest influence is our own lived experience. Whatever is happening in our lives, we find metaphors to channel that into the act. Like one time when Andalyn got scabies!
Andalyn Young : Thank you for saying that on record. I contracted it from public transit, FYI. But yes, that was actually a great experience for Baby Steps because we improvised a whole song about how blurred the lines are between comedy and tragedy. I was quarantined for a few days, but actually that wasn’t so bad because I enjoy having a substantial amount of alone-time.
Joshua Higham : For everyone that hasn’t seen your show, what can the audience expect from a Baby Steps performance?
Megan Thibodeaux : Pagan ritual, minor nudity, a little bit of New Wave.
Andalyn Young : And Sunday school.