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J: Do you see any problem with putting forth the most offensive lines you could think of?
HZ: No. I feel like you see a thousand groups that pull their punches. Weíre going to go there. Weíll go there every time. Every single time you see the door open to the world of the weird, we want to be there. We want to live in that room. The thing about our stuff is that because we have so many groups and ranges with the voices that are in there -- we do parody, we shock, weíre also very silly and very surreal. Sometimes we like to be really abstract. Itís all about being completely unpredictable. I love it when an audience sees the sketch and thinks itís going to go in one direction -- like itís set in a doctorís office and they think it will be a doctor sketch, that itís a set relationship and then it gets turned on its ass.

That creates a sense of excitement when you know and the audience has no idea whatís coming next -- that great tension and surprise. When something truly shocking or truly surprising comes out at the end of it. We have a sketch called ďBoardroomĒ -- I wonít tell the end because I donít want to spoil it, but itís crazy. I want to take people by surprise. We performed it recently in our Sketch Fair. We want to write the thing that makes us laugh, and what makes us laugh is Ö I donít want to be pretentious and say itís the things that people are afraid to say or afraid to do, but I donít want to do anything half-assed. I feel like it engenders respect for the audience. I donít want to think that you canít handle what weíre about to do. Weíre all grown-ups.

J: What shows or projects are you working on?
HZ: Weíre in the middle of a lot of things right now. We have more shows this month in Brooklyn. Itís becoming a new scene in Williamsburg. We will probably organize another festival. Weíve been tossing this back and forth with groups like Rue Brutalia [reviewed July 13, 2007], that the new wave of comedy is here, and weíre going to present it with these gigantic shows.

Weíre working on a webisode series right now, called ďThe Apartment,Ē about four different apartments in an apartment building and the storylines will cut between each apartment, but we insinuate that the apartment is built on top of an Indian burial ground, so itís going to be a little bit surreal. Weíre eyeballs-deep in it right now so I have no idea what itís going to look like. I feel like weíve been putting a lot together -- weíve been writing it for the past three months, but weíre basically now figuring out how to put all the pieces together. I think itís going to be great, I hope. Itís really horrifying. Weíre fascinated with the idea of whatís really horrifying and transforming it into whatís really funny, finding that limit of someone in hysteria. Itís a weird, vague concept. Itís about taking that weird road and going way past that point. A lot of our material comes from dreams and nightmares.

J: Are you a big fan of horror movies?
HZ: I just find it fascinating. Thereís something there thatís really human. Especially that feeling of fear. It almost goes back to primal man -- where primal man sits in the dark, they donít know who they are and theyíre afraid of the wilderness. Theyíre sitting with their tribe and begin to tell stories to each other to make each other laugh, feeding off that fear. I guess it goes back to that feeling where itís such a release to really laugh at the things that youíre afraid of. There are so many things to be afraid of right now. I guess itís no different than any other generation. Life is just scary. But itís just fun to blow it up on our own terms, to get to the deepest part of your fear and be aware of it. Itís almost as if itís cathartic to exploit that and know Iím not the only person afraid of getting shot in the head on line at McDonaldís -- just random fear.

Weíre all pretty gigantic fans of horror movies but also a lot of really intense material. My favorite movie is probably a tie between ďGhostbustersĒ and ďThe Deer Hunter.Ē We find intense situations to be really funny. A lot of our sketches are about sociopaths. There are very few normal characters in any one of our sketches, because weíre living in a world where these characters have no morals or scruples. It makes the stakes so much higher. Everyone can be laughing, but you donít know when one guy will just get angry and then change the whole situation -- now this guyís angry and heís unpredictable and for some reason we find it really hilarious.

Weíre three episodes into filming ďThe Apartment.Ē I think weíll get to about five or six before we start figuring out how to put them out there. Weíre trying to get them to be between five and 10 minutes long for Internetís sake, but if we did everything we wanted, they would each be 20 minutes long, but we donít know what to do with them yet. I hope itís good. When you spend enough time with something, where itís just you and the object youíre working on, and you have no idea anymore. We talk about that a lot, how weíre so into it sometimes that weíre really afraid it wonít bridge the gap to people who see it. Weíll all be laughing and a bunch of people will just find it really warped and think, Ďthese guys have issues.í But I feel like our issues are not that different.

J: A lot of comedy comes from that element of surprise.
HZ: Itís one of the basic tenets of what we believe. Basically itís just that Iím bored with reality and the limitations of my universe. We talk about it all the time. In our sketches Ö there have to be intrinsic rules, things that exist within reality but itís just important to know that anything could happen in a scene. It could go anywhere. We try and bridge a gap between writing ďsketchĒ-y sketches, which we feel is just anachronism humor, like ďZombie BarberĒ -- ĎOh, what happened? The zombieís a barber.í We try to see if we can get situations like that and take them to zany.

J: But you might start with a conventional sketch?
HZ: I donít think itís about breaking every rule. I feel there are people who are too much about being revolutionary. I think the rules are incredibly important, like the game, conflict and resolution, in sketches, but sometimes theyíre just really boring. If my mind can go someplace else, why should I deny it?

J: You might need the start of it, so itís not just out of nowhere, but then you donít have to stick to it.
HZ: You donít have to stick to what you set up. I guess I just want to live in a cartoon. I get in so many problems where I create sketches where suddenly we need a panda -- in order to do this sketch, weíre going to need a live panda. We sit down, and itís a good idea, but we throw it out because itís just so ludicrous and we donít live in a cartoon world. Weíd love to do cartoons but thatís really hard to get together and we donít have any money. But I just love the idea of breaking away from reality. Reality is like this all the time. You canít get away from it. I donít want to watch sketches that are caught in reality because I live in it, and itís horrible. Itís also fun, the idea, if these characters in sketches live in a random world -- insinuating that thereís no god in this world and itís just random information, and they just have to deal with it, and itís just a bunch of frightened people. Itís like a combination of the manipulators and the manipulated. Ö But weíre not personally nihilistic. Itís just Ö the faÁade of being nihilistic, but it also makes someone completely unpredictable. Itís just the whole idea of ĎThis guy doesnít believe in anything, he doesnít hold anything sacred and he can do whatever crosses his mind.í

J: In putting together shows, do you choose things because they fit together?
HZ: We sometimes do that. A lot of it comes down to the venue. If the venue is more of a theater, we can do a more epic piece that has actual set pieces or do a bar or do things that are very presentational. We have 300 sketches archived and about 50 sketches that are in the working repertory of sketches of Murderfist. We do about eight shows a month. Weíve been doing between five to eight shows a month for the past six or seven months. We never do the same show because itís hard enough to get people to come out and see us, if you have 20 people who come see your shows all the time, you want those people to be entertained. I donít understand sketch shows that do the same exact sketch show for months. Thatís probably part of our problem though. A lot of our problems are completely of our own creation.

J: The rationale of doing the same show may be to build an audience for themselves, though, and through word of mouth, get different people to come to see the same thing.
HZ: Weíre constantly trying to impress. Itís really strange. We donít have a guaranteed audience. Every single audience we have, we have to impress to show them what we do. So we have to keep it fresh.

  

   

     

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