bill bodkin interviews the Brooklyn-based musical comedy duo …
If Tenacious D and June Carter (nee Cash) got together after a night of drinking and had a baby it would be Reformed Whores. The musical comedy duo of Katy Frame and Marie Cecile Anderson have been together for only a year, but like the D, they have carved out a niche for themselves in the hyper-competitive New York comedy scene.
With an upcoming show tomorrow night at the famed club Pianos in New York City, Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin spoke with Frame and Anderson for a high-energy, laughter filled interview about how the group came together, the leap of faith they took with the band’s concept and what lies ahead.
Pop-Break: Let’s start with the basics. How did Reformed Whores come together?
Marie Cecile Anderson: Our friend Meryl was having a birthday party in her studio apartment in Brooklyn. We both attended, but we didn’t know each. Meryl introduced us because she knew Katy was an actress, too. We ended up talking all night over hors d’oeuvres with live music coming from the bedroom in the background. I had just bought a ukelele and had done some stuff with it at People’s Improv [in NYC] and Katy had an accordion and I thought we should form a band.
Katy Frame: Yeah. and then one week later. I’m walking to Marie’s apartment. and I’m like. “Where am I? What I am doing here?” But then we had our first rehearsal, and the rest is comedy history.
PB: Where did the name and concept of Reformed Whores come from?
KF: Marie had a clear idea of what she wanted to do: a show about love, relationships. As for the name, my roomie Britt had a Rhapsody playlist called “Reformed Whores.” I just threw the name out there to Marie, and from there a vague notion of the band developed.
MA: The name Reformed Whores had our parents going, “OH MY GOD, CHANGE THE NAME!” But I guess we had it a deep meaning to us — not that we’re actual whores, but we both felt like love whores. We were going out all the time, whoring ourselves out almost, to find the right guy. It’s hard to find love in this town. In the early days of living here, we’d date a lot, go from person to person hoping they’d be “that special person.”
KF: The word “whore” is one of those words that’s just so overused and misused. I’d like to think that we’re sort of doing that taking back of the word thing, doing the whole reclaiming of it. Clearly, Marie and I are not actual whores, but in a way, we’re sort of making fun of the people who would flippantly use that word to describe women. But it’s all very fun and tongue-in-cheek. Is that philosophical enough for you?
PB: Your comedy is music-based, and like Tenacious D, who choose acoustic metal, and The Flight Of The Conchords, who use hip-hop, you choose a very specific music genre to perform: country. Why chose this specific genre?
MA: When I grew up in Nashville, my best friend’s parents were country music performers, so that music is very near and dear. It’s so ingrained in my mind that it makes it very easy to write
KF: Me too. As a small child, I was attracted to that Americana-folk style of music.
MA: We have a deep respect, an awe of the music. We love Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn … we’re like to pay tribute to the strong women of country. Their lyrics kind of shock you. Here they come in beautiful dresses and pettycoats, and they’re singing about leaving their husbands.
PB: Talk about the first show you performed. How nerve-racking was it going out there not just as a comedian or a band, but both?
MA: The first show was in August of 2010, and it was a benefit for the non-profit, Asmi International, at The Eye Level Gallery in Brooklyn.
KF: It was the first time we were putting our material out there, and we weren’t totally sure if it was going to land or not. It didn’t help that it was like 100 degrees that day. But we were pleased to see that even in the unbearable heat, people were laughing and really enjoying themselves. That’s when we knew we had something.
MA: We’d played in front of a few friends before, but I was definitely nervous, and it was really hot. We had a lot on the line. I kept thinking we had certain songs that I thought were really funny, but how were people going to react. I was really excited and my adrenaline was pumping. I talked to a lot of people that night, but I couldn’t focus on anything they were saying.
PB: After that show, you seemed to really pick up a lot momentum, booking shows at a crazy pace, and you seemed to have gathered quite a loyal fanbase as a result.
KF: It was shocking. One gig would lead to like three more. We couldn’t stop booking, and it is really fortunate. We fill a niche in a bizzare way. And we’ve really moved up in the comedy world. We recently performed with Wyatt Cenac of The Daily Show. My mom doesn’t know who Will Smith is, but apparently she’s a big fan of Wyatt, so I won some points with her on that one!
MA: We are lucky to straddle the line between music and comedy. We’re performing this Thursday at Pianos and going on before us, one of our favorite bands, Racing Heart. It’s great because people at music venues really love the comedy. And at the same time, we’re booking comedy venues like The Peoples Improv on May 23.
PB: What do you think is the reason that you guys have done so well in such a short period of time?
KF: I think being women has really helped us. There’s definitely a lot of shock value in seeing two innocent looking girls on stage who sing about the kinds of things that we do. Right now, there is this whole flood of amazing female comics who don’t fit the traditional expectations of what a female comic is supposed to be and do. We’ve been lucky to be a part of that wave. That being said, our material isn’t at all limited to women’s issues. It really struck me that at one of our last shows when we were hanging out after the show, this guy came up to us and said, “You guys are just universally funny.”
MA: What we sing about isn’t a woman thing, it’s not a man thing, it’s for everyone. It’s about relationships, it’s universal. And we’re not bashing them either — we’re just singing about them in a ridiculous way. We come out in our silly little dresses, that Katy made by the way, and there’s a sense of shock and awe from our audience, but people love it.
KF: Yea! at our second show at The Living Room [in NYC], a girl (very drunkenly) came up to me in the bathroom and said, “It’s like you guys have been reading my diary!” And we hope to keep that up. Attracting drunk fans, I mean.
PB: Going off that, what’s a typical Reformed Whores show like?
MA: We like to think that every show is different. We have new ideas every gig and we’re always like, “Let’s do it.” We have a puppet we made … of Jake Gylenhaal, that was at one show. Our shows really have no boundaries … and that makes life more exciting.
PB: What does the immediate and distant future hold for Reformed Whores?
MA: We’re based in New York and we’ve never done anything outside of it, and we’ve gotten a lot of offers to do so, so we’re going for it. We’re going for festivals, maybe a tour.
KF: And thanks to Google Analytics, and my excellent stalking abilities, we know we have fans from all over.
MA: In March, we were asked to audition for the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, which is one of the largest comedy festivals in the world. To be asked to showcase was a huge honor. We’d only be at this for less than a year, and all of a sudden we’re sharing the stage with some of NYC’s top comedians, folks who’d been at this a lot longer that us.
And hey, I can see in my head Reformed Whores the feature film, the HBO specials, the musical on Broadway. That’s what we’re shooting for.
KF: How does the saying go — aim for the moon and you’ll end up in the stars, daaahhhling. Or is it aim for McDonalds and end up eating on the sidewalk?
Upcoming Reformed Whores shows …
Thursday, April 28 at 9:00 p.m.
Pianos Upstairs Lounge
Monday, May 23 at 9:30 p.m.
Peoples Improv Theater