Anything Goes At The Goldapps’ #NOSHOW (Except Saying Where It’s Happening).
Welcome to Humor Us, our column in which Dallas comedian Alex Gaskin interviews other area comedians about the ol’ funny business in order to help introduce DFW at large to the burgeoning comedy scene blooming right under its nose.
I can tell you what makes #NOSHOW, a comedy free-for-all that Cameron and Lindsay Goldapp helped put together, so special. These shows motivate local creative talents to dream up the most fantastic possible conceits, and share something remarkable and innovative with audiences.
What I can’t tell you is where the next show will be.
One of the few rules of #NOSHOW is that an individual show’s details are kept under wraps until the last possible moment. I’ve been told that I can tell you that there’s a show happening on Friday, September 23. But, if you want more information, you’ll have to text 469-751-7469 for it.
The Goldapps are onto something cool with this concept, for sure. And they’ve been working up toward this throughout their entire careers, having assembled remarkable respective backgrounds in sketch comedy and improv performance alike. They each started improv in college, and spent six years together in Chicago learning from some of the most respected institutions in comedy.
While they’ve put most of their energy into group-based comedy, Lindsay has also expanded into stand-up recently. It’s been a fruitful move — her sharp, gleefully unsentimental humor has helped her find opportunities quickly, including a spot in this year’s East Texas Comedy Festival. Cameron has also dipped his toe in the world of solo performance, but his efforts have been more… esoteric.
Their shared love of inventive, original comedy is apparent in their own works, and in the lineups they’ve helped cultivate for #NOSHOW. In advance of this next #NOSHOW, I talked to the Goldapps about these shows, the value of DIY spaces, their formidable backgrounds in comedy, and Lindsay’s recent move into the world of stand-up.
My first question is about #NOSHOW. In a lot of ways, it deviates from your expectations for a comedy show, starting with how it’s advertised and the refusal to give away details. Can you talk about what your interpretation of #NOSHOW is?
Cameron: I can go first. I think the first thing about #NOSHOW is, without a doubt, that it was inspired by another show that exists in Chicago that’s called Shithole. That’s been going on for a number of years. And they do it a lot more frequently, but we stole a lot of ideas from that.
Lindsay: Stole? I wouldn’t use the word “stole.” I think that when you’re an artist, you say, “inspired by.” [Laughs.]
Cameron: The spirit of that show, and the way they built a following for that show, that was the idea we took. And that idea is to have something that exists on its own as a show that exists independent of a space. And that way, everyone can feel at home at the show itself, as opposed to creating a sense of home around that specific space. And it creates a sense of the show doesn’t have a home, in a sense that wherever the show is, it’s kind of home for the performers and the people seeing the show. And it also gives an opportunity for people who live in different parts of town to see something kind of closer to them. We’ve done one in South Dallas, we’ve done one in Denton, we’ve done one in North Dallas, we’ve done them in different spots in downtown.
Lindsay: And the next one is gonna be in East Dallas…
Cameron: Are we allowed to say that?
Lindsay: It’s a teaser, guys! Teaser. Yeah, I agree. It’s like, something that belongs to the community and to the artists, versus belonging to a space, belonging to a person. We don’t even feel like this thing is ours, it’s the community’s, and maybe someday we won’t be one of the-
Lindsay: We won’t be two of the caretakers, or the facilitators, of it. But it’s — sorry, you touched on the marketing, and it made me think of when we were… I sound super eloquent. But when we were talking about the marketing of it, and of course, everybody’s like, “This is so stupid, just tell people where the show is!” When you’re a performer, you see so many show posters. You’re just inundated with show posters. The idea of it was to be something that caught people’s attention, and was just different than your normal show poster that you see 10 of a day. And you may think it’s dumb to not put the details on the poster — but you noticed it, so it’s just a different way to grab attention, a different way to market it. That was also inspired by Shithole, and the guys who do that, who we — who I know — and they’re just so inspiring, and their artistry is incredible. They’re very inspiring, comedically.
Whenever you put together a #NOSHOW, there’s a big emphasis on booking different comedy styles- sketch, improv, stand-up. What’s the logic behind that?
Cameron: I think a big part of #NOSHOW is trying to showcase not just individual comedy ideas that a person might have, but also the idea of what comedy is, or can be. And I think the best way to do that is to give people a taste of variety. Part of it just has to do with… when you have a show that sometimes runs two hours, or an hour and a half, or however long it occasionally runs, you want to have something that breaks things up a little bit. I think when you have a musical act, that does a great job of changing the energy.
Lindsay: It’s a nice palate cleanser.
Cameron: Yeah. And I think the energy of a one-person performance, whether it’s stand-up, or solo sketch, or monologue, or something like that, is a very different energy as opposed to maybe a high-energy improv act. So it definitely gives you variety in terms of the pacing of the show, but it also gives the opportunity for audiences to see, hey, these are all the things the comedians in North Texas can do.
Lindsay: There’s so much talent here that is just sort of untapped, or we just haven’t heard of it and we’re still discovering it. And we’ve really seen people come out and do some incredible things. And I think you — [to Cameron] see, when you go first, you say it so perfectly that I just want to go, like, “Yeah, what he said!” — but yeah, I think that once you show people what all the different types of comedy are, you can push that envelope of what it can be beyond the parameters that we’ve set. We’re getting into some weird stuff.
In my interview with Byron Stamps, who’s also involved with #NOSHOW, we got into the subject of DIY shows, and what they can offer a scene. What are your thoughts on that?
Lindsay: The underground scene can really push things, it can really push comedy. Underground in every art form, I think, can push the more established, more legit, and more commercial places. And I think it’s that DIY spirit that pushes everybody to be better.
Cameron: You mentioned Byron. I think Byron in particular is such a perfect example of that. Because some of the performances he’s done at #NOSHOW have been so singular, kind of in their essence.
Lindsay: When I describe what Byron does to people, when I describe his acts, I just — I can never do it justice. You have to be in that moment with him. Byron is incredible, we just love Byron so much.
Cameron: He embodies a character, and then interacts with the crowd as that character, and creates an experience for the audience. It’s something you have to kind of see to understand.
Lindsay: I think my favorite #NOSHOW moment was when he taught algebra — legitimately taught algebra — to a confused crowd that was then like, “Yeah, OK, I will learn algebra now.” And then gave them a quiz, and then graded the quiz, and then gave it back to them. They did not — I did not — know what he was going to do, and I was blown away by how great it was and how well it worked. Byron really does embody exactly what we’re doing. He will go out there and he will push the comedic limits. He inspires me.
A lot of people I talk to are stand-ups, you’ve both taken different routes. Can you break down your comedy background for me?
Cameron: I started doing comedy in the year 2000, the summer of 2000. At the time, and I guess still does, Texas A&M had an improv comedy troupe that I had seen perform when I was a freshman, and I had seen dozens of their shows. I had to audition for the improv team every semester all the way through college. And it wasn’t until the summer after my sophomore year that I got into the troupe. The improv troupe was called Freudian Slip. They really had an incredible heyday in the late ’90s, leading up to right around the time I was in the group.
Lindsay: Y’know what? We all had an incredible heyday in the late ’90s. The dot-com boom! Oh, guys… [Laughs.]
Cameron: That’s true! [Laughs.]
Lindsay: Y2K was coming! [Laughs.]
Cameron: But before the Internet had become a really common, usable thing, there was no smartphones yet, and people on campus didn’t have as much to do in terms of entertaining themselves, like with social media, and they would come out and see these improv shows. We would sell out the theater, which had 750 seats, and had these amazing shows in front of these huge crowds, even though the improv we were doing was improv that, y’know, people who were doing improv for a year or two, or six months, knew how to do. There were some great moments, and there were a lot of talented people who came from that group — people who’ve had real careers, not like myself. [Laughs.] But it was an amazing time, and I fell in love with improv during that time. After college, I moved to Dallas and started performing with Pavlov’s Dogs right away. We performed at Pocket Sandwich Theatre, and we performed at a place called the West End Comedy Theatre, which was open for like two years.
Lindsay: That was 2003-2005?
Cameron: It may have been longer than that. We had shows Fridays and Saturdays every weekend for a long time. That was a great way to get a lot of shows under my belt.
Lindsay: When I met Cam, he was doing like four or five shows a weekend, and I was like, “This guy is a star.”
You met through improv, correct?
Cameron: We did, yeah. We had a mutual friend…
Lindsay: …who we both performed with.
Cameron: Lindsay came to one of my Pavlov’s Dog shows at the West End Theatre.
Lindsay: And I was like, “He’s so funny, I have to marry him.”
Cameron: We hung out that night and started dating after that. And then we moved to Chicago together in 2007. We kind of took a little bit separate paths as far as our comedy focuses in Chicago, but we intersected a fair amount. But I did improv at Annoyance, and I did improv at iO, and I was on a couple different teams at iO. I was on the team Berserker for about a year and a half, which was a really good run with the team. Then I got on a second team, and had probably half a dozen rehearsals, and one or two shows, right before we moved right back to Dallas. So I had a short time. And that team ended up staying together for four years, and had their final show — it’s a team called Juneboy, and I’m so proud to have been a part of [them] for a short time — they just had their final show at iO a few months ago.
Lindsay, you went through Second City and iO?
Lindsay: Yeah. So, I started doing… I grew up performing, and doing all of this. My parents were musicians, and I sang. I have this sort of performing background. When I went to college I was a vocal music major, which is funny now, just to look at. I went to community college before I went to university, and there was an improv troupe. What was really crazy about my community college was they also offered improv classes, for class credit. There was a couple there who were improvisers — Mark and Bethany Frank, who I just adore — and, really, they got me into all of this. They were big improvisers, and they had courses you could take. So I took two full years of improv class in college, which is so strange. At the time I was like, “Oh yeah, college has improv. It’s cool that college does that.” I got put on the short-form improv troupe, and kind of like Cameron, it was a fun heyday of performing for 200 people. It was really fun. I went to university at Texas A&M Commerce and did more improv there. Then moved to Dallas in 2005 and was an ensemble member at a theatre. So I did improv, but went more the theatre route. I don’t know, I feel like when I met Cameron I was like, “Oh yeah, improv! I remember how fun it is!” But I was also doing these improvised dinner theaters where I got to play a character all night and interact with audiences.
Cameron: Then we moved to Chicago.
Lindsay: We had a funny experience where we met Charna Halpern in Houston, and she told us, “Oh, you guys have to move to Chicago!” And we were like, “You’re right, we do!” When Charna Halpern tells you to move to Chicago, you move to Chicago. And so we did it. We wanted to learn from the best — we wanted to go to the Mecca. We’re young, we love improv, we don’t want to turn 50 and think, “What if we’d moved to Chicago and learned from some awesome people?” We only planned on staying a couple of years, and we stayed six. So that was an accident. We sort of went two different paths because I knew I wanted to go more the sketch route. I knew that I liked playing characters, I have this theatre background. I knew Second City was more sketch-oriented, because even in their improv program they teach you to turn your improv into sketch. And they teach you songwriting, and it’s really different, it’s a really different program. I graduated from [Second City’s] conservatory and did a few shows there. And did a show that was an ongoing show every month, and it was really intense and gave me a lot of good sketch reps. And then we had our son. And it’s hard to have a baby in the dead of winter with no family and no support system. We figured it’s probably time to go back to Dallas. So we came back.
So you’ve had a bit of experience here and outside. What is your experience with comedy in Dallas?
Lindsay: I think all good things on the horizon. We have a lot of friends who, once you’re in Chicago, you usually either go back from whence you came, and you take that knowledge back, and you do whatever with that, or you move to New York or L.A. And we had a lot of friends who went back to where they were from, and they started incredible programs, or started training centers. What we gathered from a lot of them is that Dallas is kind of in a place where a lot of these cities this size are. Well, any city that isn’t New York, L.A. or Chicago.
Cameron: Improv in the kind of Chicago model, or I guess what you can call the UCB Model? In terms of the effect it’s had on New York and Los Angeles? That kind of model is blowing up all over the country.
Lindsay: Dallas is going through kind of what every city — other than the Big Three — are going through, where people are falling in love with improv, people are falling in love with comedy and more people are getting into it, which is all good. More equals everybody stepping up their game and being better.
Cameron: There’s a huge difference in terms of the comedy scene when we left versus when we came back. Just the number of people involved, and the number of shows that were happening, all of those things.
Lindsay: We left and there was just West End Comedy Theatre, and they were doing a few shows. Pocket Sandwich Theatre, too.
Cameron: And some others. Four Day Weekend was here. Section Eight. A lot of great teams performed here.
Lindsay: But it was small and spread out.
Cameron: And everybody kind of knew each other.
Lindsay: Yeah. It was a small community. And we came back and it was like, “Whoa, everybody does this now!” Which is great. We’re thrilled about it. It’s fun to watch it grow.
So, Cameron, you have about 16 years under your belt. Lindsay, you have almost that much in sketch, improv and other things. But Lindsay, you recently broke out into something new with stand-up. What motivated you to make that move?
Lindsay: I don’t know. I think that I had always wanted to try it, and I’ve always been somebody that wanted to push myself and never rest on my laurels. Even when I’m finishing up a thing I’m like, “I’m ready for the next thing.” I was doing improv and I wasn’t busy — it ebbs and flows — I wasn’t doing as many shows and I was like, “I just need to do it.” Get up there once, and just push way out of my comfort zone.
Cameron: I should say, you’ve had a notebook where you’ve written down stand-up jokes to use in your eventual, “When I eventually get around to doing stand-up.” Almost as long as I’ve known you, you’ve had that notebook.
Lindsay: What’s funny is, I used some of them, but…
Cameron: Most of your act isn’t those jokes.
Lindsay: No. I think it felt really good to… I’ve done hundreds of improv shows. I don’t have that nervous feeling anymore. I think it felt good to just feel really terrified. Because I am. Stand-up is really terrifying — you’re just by yourself. And there’s nobody there to save you. [Laughs.] It’s such a different thing. Improv is all about the group, and supporting each other, “Hey, if you’re out there, I’m gonna rescue you, I’m gonna save you, we’re all in this together.” In stand-up, you are by yourself. And I have such a respect for stand-ups. Especially people who started in this, and said, “Yes, I’ll go out there by myself. Sure, that sounds great.” It’s so personal. And you’re just putting yourself out there, and it’s so terrifying. But I think cathartic. Talking through your stuff in front of people. It’s been fun, it’s been a new adventure. And maybe next year I’ll try something even crazier.
Cameron, are we going to see you get into stand-up any time soon?
Cameron: Y’know, I did foray into…
Cameron: …ventriloquism. At the last #NOSHOW. Which is the closest I’ve gotten to stand-up, and the closest I probably ever will get to stand-up.
Lindsay: That was very nerve-racking for him. And Cameron has done thousands of improv shows, but I’ve never seen him nervous like he was before that.
Cameron: I’ve done sketch shows, and I do definitely get nervous for sketch shows, especially the ones Lindsay and I do together where we sing songs, because I’m not as talented of a singer as she is.
Lindsay: No, you’re great!
Cameron: But ventriloquism was… I’ve had this ventriloquist dummy since I was in seventh grade, and I’d never learned the art of ventriloquism past this very low, passable level, and decided I would see if I could take the spirit of #NOSHOW in terms of trying out new things, and try to create a ventriloquist act that was a little bit fresh, and didn’t feel like the old standard ventriloquist act. So I kind of went the route of pretending the dummy had been locked in away for 20 years, and letting him have that real reaction of like, what would it have been like to have been alive and locked in a box for 20 years, and just coming out and seeing the light for the first time, and letting him have that reaction.
Lindsay: Cameron gets very inspired by, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” When you think about ventriloquism, it’s not an art form that… what’s the right way to put this?
Cameron: One step above clowning.
Lindsay: [Laughs.] Right! It’s not the hippest, and he was like, “I want to explore a way to use this dummy, and not make it your normal…” Who’s it, Jeff Dunham? Not make it like that, but “Can I make this interesting?” I personally think you did.
Cameron: It was fun. I’ll probably never do it again.
So what is the craziest thing you’d like to get away with through #NOSHOW?
Cameron: I’d like to see — and maybe I haven’t given this enough thought, I’m just throwing this out there — but I’d like to see the scope of #NOSHOW get bigger, and I’d like to have an opportunity for more and more people to see it. That’d be my goal for #NOSHOW. But if there’s something crazy I’d like to get away with, something where the audience moves from one place to another, I would love the idea of something where it was fully interactive or immersive, in the sense that the audience was fully participating in the comedy, and not just as an audience member.
Lindsay: Algebra was that.
Cameron: Algebra was certainly that. And, y’know, Steve Martin did a lot of stuff along those lines, so it wouldn’t be brand new, but it’s something I’d like to try out.
Lindsay: I’m gonna try some stuff in #NOSHOW. I don’t know how far I’m gonna push myself. But what I have really enjoyed, and what I’d like to see more of is people I just literally never heard of or seen. When we see those people, and they just blow us away, that is my absolute favorite thing. Just, “Where did you come from? You angel!” That’s what I want to see. I want to see more people I didn’t know existed, and I want them to blow us away.