Comedy Couples: Steve Kaminski and Katie Neff

Hey, it’s another installment of our favorite running segment on this blog: Comedy Couples! Today’s comedy couple is Steve Kaminski and Katie Neff. We first met Steve and Katie back when they lived in Chicago. They were mainstays of the community, performing at the typical places – iO, The Playground, The Annoyance when Katie wasn’t out touring with The Second City. Steve and Katie then moved to Las Vegas, performing there again with The Second City. From Vegas, they hit the high seas performing with The Second City on Norwegian Cruise Lines, just like us! While we never were in a cast with them, we performed on the same ship and even stayed in the same cabin as they did, which meant we got their old shit that they left in the cabin. Finally, in 2010, they moved to LA to continue pursuing the acting dream.

Steve Kaminski

Steve and Katie are both actors, writers, improvisers, and comedians. They have appeared in TV commercials, movies, Funny or Die videos and much more. In addition to the work they do individually, they also have an improvised show they do together called “Neffinski” (see what they did there) which will “take you on an improvisational journey through their marriage”. Their words, not ours. In addition to Neffinski, Katie and Steve invite other improv couples into their relationship in a show called “Hollywood Swingers”. Steve performs with Andy St Clair and other guest improvisors in “Not Funny”. All these shows happen at Second City Hollywood, various dates and times. Katie also regularly plays throughout Los Angeles with her award winning all-bitch group, “Two Beer Queer” (again, their words, not ours). So keep your eyes open, you never know where they’ll appear next!

Katie Neff

When we visited LA back in 2011, Steve and Katie were incredibly generous enough to invite us to sit in with them at the Second City Hollywood, and then were even more generous enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us…and you! Meet Steve and Katie!

What’s the first moment that made you say, “Oh my God this person gets me?”

Katie – When we were laying in bed, post “snuggles”. We had both looked up at a poster and came up with two enduring bits that have lasted us 10 years. It was the first meeting of our comedic minds, and I loved it.

Steve – Katie and I took a trip to Ireland together about a year into our relationship. Although I know I felt it sooner than that, what comes to mind is the two weeks of making each other giggle and spending boat loads of money. I never liked Guinness before that trip. I feel it was the moment I knew this was going to be great a partnership. Then again, sometimes I wonder if she even does get me to this day. And 10 years later, we are still laying in bed giggling… Not at each others bodies. Get your mind out if the gutter.

Do you make each other laugh all the time at home?

Katie – YES! If we didn’t we would most likely be crying. The life of a clown, huh?

Steve – For years people have been asking us that. And I always dismissed it. But about a month ago I realized how lucky we really are. We really do laugh all day around the house. We are the funniest people I know.

Would you say you’re funnier on stage on at home?

Katie – Boy, that’s a tricky one. On stage we try to amp it up for sure, but it’s an interesting dynamic switching from love seat to the boards. (gross) I know what has just happened an hour before with Steve, the audience doesn’t, so I know that a lot of that gets revisited on stage for sure.

Steve – I want to say its pretty even. It’s just we don’t usually have an audience in our livingroom to help us judge how funny our “home bits” are.

Does the comedy come easier because you’re married?

Katie– That kind of comedy, yes. I’ve always fancied myself a comedic type person, but with Steve around encouraging my bits, it’s always nice to have someone around championing your bits. And he has such a great laugh. I try to hear it as much as I can.

Steve – 100% yes. It’s almost like cheating. I feel we know exactly what the other person is going for the second it comes out of their mouths. Even before that, sometimes by just looking at the other person. Also, it helps that I am married to the best improvisor in the world… And I’m a close second. Real close. Like, super close.

 How do you balance your “comedy life” with your “regular married life”

Katie – I tend to drop it. Nobody sees the “taxpaying Katie”, they only see the good time gal. Steve is a little more relaxed when it comes to the day today runnings of the estate. I could take a page out of his book. He’s the greatest ever.

Steve – I guess we just are the best ever at it, because its not something I am ever conscious of.

Describe the pros and cons of being married/in a relationship to a comedy partner.

Katie – Pros – Laugh a lot. Cons – Both being in the same industry, when there’s work it’s good. When there’s not, it’s tough.

Steve – I think one of the greatest things about being married to my comedy partner is having her there to bounce ideas off of. She really helps me find what is good/funny about things I am writing. There is nothing better than when I make her laugh. And I guess a con would be how she judges me constantly and refers to a lot of my material as “dad jokes”.

You guys did boats, like us. How did it affect the relationship, if at all?

Katie – We were engaged, not yet married so we thought if we can make it through this we can make it through anything. We made it… And here we are.

Steve – Man, I think it made our relationship stronger. Throughout our relationship, we have tried to spend almost every minute we can together. We just like each other. It felt like two years together in a room about the size of a bathroom might really put the relationship to the test. It was helpful to have each other to lean on in the tough times. And when things got tough, and we weren’t getting along, you could go take out your frustrations on the buffet. I ate a lot.

Anything else you’d like to add that you think would be fun?

Katie – Even with all the laughter and good times we have at home, we still do several shows together. And it’s some of the best work we do.

Steve – Katie goes poo-poo in the potty.

Perfect, Steve. Couldn’t have summed it up better ourselves.

Steve and Katie

For more about Katie and Steve or to find out about their shows, check out their websites.

Comedy Couples: Craig and Carla Cackowski

The idea behind our Comedy Couples series, is to get to know other comedians who work, perform and live this crazy entertainment lifestyle just like we live. Often we know these comedians well. Sometimes though, we’re getting to learn about them right along with you. Last year, we went to the Dallas Comedy Festival where we met Craig Cackowski. Of course we knew who he was. Craig is a legend of sorts at iO Chicago and as a touring member and Mainstage writer/performer for five years with The Second City. He has since gone on to appear in shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Veep, The Mindy Project, Community, Workaholics and many more. His reputation proved itself more than worthy as his improv skills are inspiring to watch, which we learned while watching his improv show Dasariski perform. Dasariski can be seen in LA and in festivals around the country.

Craig C

 

Unfortunately, we did not get to meet Carla Cackowski (then Snowden), although we were supposed to. She was originally slated to be in the same Second City cruise ship group as we were, but due to schedule conflicts she wasn’t able to join our cast. Carla is a comedy force within her own right having done voice over work on Pretty Little Liars, iCarly, and Cougar Town. She is a staple in the sketch comedy world in LA, performing with the UCB Theater, improvising at iO West and in festivals around the country, as well as with The Second City on the cruise ships… just not the one with us. Plus, she is excited to be a part of a new theater company in LA called The Solo Collective along with some other very talented people.

Carla C

Not only are their names kind of hard to say together, they’re obviously a very talented couple who just happen to also be newlyweds.

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What’s the first moment that made you say, “Oh my God this person gets me?”

Craig: Probably when she came to my shows and laughed at everything I said. Wait…maybe she was just doing that to make out with me.

Carla: I’m not sure if I remember the first time, but the most recent time was yesterday when I started singing a song I made up for our cat Bronco and Craig interrupted me and finished the verse.

Do you make each other laugh all the time at home?

Craig: Oh, yeah. Usually in the voices she adopts to talk to our animals.

Carla: Mostly. Except for when Craig is crying while watching “The Voice”. Then it’s very one sided and he’s only making me laugh.

Are you funnier on stage on at home? What would the other person say?

Craig: I’m definitely funnier on stage, I think of myself as relatively serious in life when I’m not on stage. Carla is hilarious in all situations, but is especially funny at home. I think Carla would agree on both counts.

Carla: I’m probably funnier at home. Or in the car. I’m really funny on road trips. Craig would probably agree.

Does the comedy come easier because you’re in a relationship?

Craig: There’s definitely no guesswork when we’re on stage together in having to figure out what the other person is going for. In fact, my improv usually reflects whatever was going on in my life that week/stuff we were already talking about, much to Carla’s consternation.

Carla: We don’t really perform together very often. Watching Craig improvise is one of the my favorite things in the world, though. I always wonder if people realize how much he uses from his real life. A couple years into dating, I was complaining how much weight I was gaining because all we ever did was go out to eat. The next night he was playing a woman onstage and said the exact thing verbatim. So now you all know the secret to Craig’s success. ME! (Hoping sarcasm reads properly in this.)

How do you balance your “comedy life” with your “regular married life”?

Craig: We’re actually rarely at the theater on the same nights, and we have separate comedy friends and separate comedy lives. I also think it’s important to take breaks from comedy and get out of LA every now and then!

Carla: This is something we’re working on. Right, honey? Oh wait. He’s not here. He’s at an improv festival.

Describe the pros and cons of being married/in a relationship to a comedy partner.

Craig: We can always test bits and ideas out on each other at home, practice auditions, etc. I totally trust her opinion on what is funny and whether I’m funny.

Carla: The only con is when I have a show or am teaching an improv class at the same time he has a show. Cause then I miss out on watching him perform. And that’s a bummer. We lead pretty separate comedy lives in the sense that we don’t do any shows together, but that feels like a pro most of the time. It’s nice to be able to go off and do our own thing and then come back together and talk about our experiences.

Anything else you’d like to add that you think would be fun?

Craig: Carla sings the same songs over and over to our animal, including such hits as “I scratch-a your belly, and I scratch-a your face, and I scratch-a, scratch-a, scratch-a all over the place”. This never fails to crack me up, and me making fun of her for doing it never fails to crack her up.

Carla: Craig and I lived a few blocks apart in Chicago in 2000. I saw Craig do a Second City show when I was 19. Craig was my teacher in LA a few years before we started dating in 2006. It’s weird to think that he was somewhere in my life for so long before we connected. Pretty romantic, eh?

 

Check out Dasariski or The Solo Collective the next time you’re in LA, or keep an eye out on your TV. You never know when either one of these faces might pop up on your screen.

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Side Note: After they both sent me their responses, Carla said, “AHHH – just reading his! He told you about the animal songs too! This is like a group mind exercise all up in your facebook messages.” Adorable! Hang on to her Craig. She’s a keeper!

Comedy Couples: Ever and Caitlin

So far, most of the comedy couples we’ve talked to have been improvisers. Over the last year, we’ve both been focusing more on standup comedy. While it’s certainly a different beast, we’re all  just trying to do what we love, make people laugh. The standup world can be very cliquey and at times intimidating, but two lovely women I met early on were definitely the exception to this. Turns out they also happen to be a couple. Meet Ever Mainard and Caitlin Bergh. Both ladies can be seen all over town making people laugh with their standup, but also improv, writing and storytelling.

Ever is a cast member of the highly respected Chicago Underground Comedy and produces the critically acclaimed standup showcase The Shit Show She has appeared in the Just For Laugh Festival, worked with Maria Bamford and other big names of comedy and Chicago Magazine called her one of the Top Seven Acts to Watch in 2012. Gaper’s Block said she was one of The Most Influential Women in Chicago. Check out Ever’s website HERE. 

Ever

Caitlin Bergh is a force in her own right. She is a cast member at The Lincoln Lodge and her one woman show CHUNKS received fantastic reviews. She also produces and hosts The Funny Story Show at LooseLeaf Lounge and co-produces and hosts Performance Anxiety Chicago at The Pleasure Chest. While she’s at it, she’s also a writer for In Our Words and Gapers Block.  More at caitlinbergh.com

Caitlin

Do you make each other laugh at home?

Ever: Yes, mostly by accident. I think that we are both just silly people and I think that its great that our silliness still makes us laugh,

Caitlin: Yes, Ever does voices and impressions 24/7. I don’t know what it is actually like to date Ever Mainard. I am dating Dick Ditka, Susie Butermilk, etc. It’s more fun than monogamy

How do you balance comedy life versus regular life? 

Ever: Whats regular life? Haha, all we know is comedy life! We are very supportive of each other but we do find times for date night. We recently went to a movie at the Davis and just giggled the whole time and talked about which one of our cats would play who in Les Mis.

Caitlin: They are one and the same. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to go to your own show, then your girlfriend’s show, then your girlfriend’s other show, then your show again….so it can be harder to support your Sig. O. when they are in the same field and not burn out. Sometimes we just have to take a break from going to each other’s shows. But I’m pretty sure we’ve never had a ‘relationship life’ that wasn’t also a comedy one, you know? We met at a show, we fell for each other at an open mic, we used to kiss behind the curtain at a mic when we were first dating. It’s all intertwined.

Does the comedy come easier because you’re in a relationship?
Caitlin: No….but at least there’s someone to cry on
Describe the pros and cons of being in a relationship to a comedy partner.
Ever: Pros- you get the life and the culture, you can lean on each other, you can help each other and challenge each other.
Cons- no sleep and passing schedule.
Caitlin: Pros: she can tell me to stop freaking out if someone said “good job” after my set instead of “GREAT JOB.” Ever has a more logical brain than me. And that is the biggest pro.
The biggest con…..is that we don’t have a car, we are always running, we are always tired and hungry. I wish she had a car and kept healthy dinners in the pockets inside her coat. Like my kangaroo mom.
Anything else you’d like to add that you think would be fun?

Caitlin: So, we have these cats, and they are legitimately not smart. They have tiny, eensy brains. They cannot even figure out basic cat information. One of them cannot back up. It has been a blessing because we have had so much fun making fun of them. I’m so glad we adopted them just to torment them emotionally forever. But for real, we spend a lot of time doing cat voices. Today Ever was singing in one cat’s voice on the sidewalk when we realized there were people following right behind us. It was kind of embarrassing, but, if they met these dumb cats they would get it.

Caitlin and Ever

Looking for a fun night out? Check out their upcoming shows!

The Shit Show

The Shit Show is a FREE comedy showcase is held the LAST Friday of every month at 8pm at The Shambles (2050 W. Division Street, Chicago).
Local comics Rasa Gierstikas and Ever Mainard host a comedy variety show the last Friday of every month that includes emerging local comics to seasoned performers who have appeared on David Letterman, B.E.T., etc.

Prizes are given to audience members, as well as, performers with the night’s “Best Joke!” by The Shit Show’s very own Hotdog Man (Keith Paesel) -as determined by the audience.

It is officially sponsored by Fireball Whisky and Mingle Around. The show has been featured in The Onion’s A/V Club, Metromix’s “Top Theater Picks”, The Redeye’s “Shows You Must See”, Timeout Chicago and The Reader. For more information visit: http://shitshowcase.wordpress.com/

What people are saying about The Shit Show:
Chicago Now – “enamoring with our unique personality of the show.
Red Eye – a “comedy extravaganza”
The Onion – “A lot like a phoenix, except with hip, genre crossing comedy instead of a mythical fire bird”.
The Chicago Reader-”A sidesplitting.. big hearted, monthly comedy bonanza!

Check out a fun promotional video by Eliaz Rodriguez: http://vimeo.com/51544402

Lincoln Lodge and Funny Story Show

Lincoln Lodge (www.thelincolnlodge.com) and The Funny Story Show (www.thefunnystoryshow.tumblr.com)

Comedy Couples: Clay and Anissa

Meet more of our comedian friends!

Last time you met our hilarious, nerdy friends (and new parents), Derek and Natalie. This time we’re traveling from Chicago back to our home town of Kansas City to meet Clay and Anissa Morgan.

Clay and Anissa

Corey has known Clay and Anissa for almost 20 years, before any of us were married to each other, from his days back at the KC ComedySportz. Monique met them about 10 years ago when she joined the theater, which by then was called ComedyCity.

In September of 2011, Clay and Anissa bought the theater and have been breathing new life into it, continuing it’s tradition as a longtime mainstay of the Kansas City comedy scene while striving to create, innovate and cultivate a new generation of fans and participants of improv, sketch, and alternative comedy. They both still perform at ComedyCity, as well as with the groups Loaded Dice and Pretty.Funny.

– Do you make each other laugh all the time at home?

We laugh a lot! Mostly at our kids. Clay tells stupid jokes that are much funnier coming from a 7 and 9 year old.

– Does the comedy come easier because you’re married?

We probably have more experiences to draw from because we are married. Sometimes it’s easier to write sketches because you have someone to bounce ideas off of.

– How do you balance your “comedy life” with your “regular married life”?

This one is tough. Especially since Clay runs ComedyCity. We never get to have a weekend date. We sometimes grab dinner on a Tuesday when the girls are at a church class. But we always try to reserve Sundays for family time. We focus on just being goofy us.

– Describe the pros and cons of being married to a comedy partner.

Pros:
We laugh a lot.
We have smart, witty, friends who keep us young.
Collaborating on comedic ideas and projects.
We are never bored.

Cons
Sometimes we wish we had a “normal” life, but then we would probably be bored.
Sometimes it’s a blow to the ego if your partner is funnier than you are or gets more attention after a show.

– Anything else you’d like to add that you think would be fun?

Two comedians definitely make funny kids. Our youngest daughter’s kindergarten teacher told us that Kenna had the best comedic timing of any kindergartner she has ever had. Screw reading and math! Our kids are funny!!!

Can I add that having a spouse that is in comedy makes for a rough crowd at home… stuff that would kill in front of the public doesn’t fly at all at home.

Live in the KC area? Here are some cool things coming up at Comedy City.

Comedy City

February 2nd – The College Improv Tournament Heartland Regional. Fun fact: They are all growing out their facial hair (I assume the ladies too?) to welcome the Beard and Mustache Club of Kansas City, who are having a meeting and enjoying the 7:30pm show with them.

Feb. 9th – Improv Thunderdome – Round 2

February 23rd – It’s their birthday! Celebrating 26 years.

Check out their website www.comedycity.cc for more details!

Comedy Couples: Derek and Natalie

Last week you met Fuzzy and Erica. This week, meet our friends, comedy couple Derek and Natalie.

They have been part of the Chicago comedy scene for years, performing sketch and improv all over the city. In fact, they fell in love while touring for The Second City. Not only are they both talented and hilarious, they’re totally nerds in love (seriously, they got married by a pirate)… and they have a little comedian on the way.

*Note: Derek is entrenched in his solo show work, so Natalie answered the questions for both of them. “Maybe I should add that as a pro/con… show mode means one of us does the work,” she says.

– Do you make each other laugh all the time at home?

Well, this is kind of the couple’s version of the “be funny!” imperative you get from strangers who find out that you do comedy. I mean…yeah. The answer is yes. But I really hope most married people make each other laugh. If you don’t, you’re probably screwed.

– Does the comedy come easier because you’re in a relationship?

It comes in higher volume. I feel like we’re good sounding boards. If I weren’t with someone in my comedy world, I would be more hesitant to “try things out” on a civilian. The result is a tight five every day in the bathroom.

– How do you balance your “comedy life” with your “regular married life”?

It’s easier than with a regular person, I think. If I was married to a lawyer and I said, “I have to do this show at 10:30 on a Tuesday for an audience of seven. Paid? No, I’m not getting paid! Ha. You’re cute.” I don’t think it would make a lot of sense. Late nights and bad shows and humiliating auditions are a shared experience, so I think it helps our regular married life. And it makes it that much more exciting when we have a night to make dinner and watch TV. So exotic!

– Describe the pros and cons of being married to a comedy partner.

Pro: Bits! Especially in hard times. We can’t resist jokes in times other people might crumble into sadness or conflict.

Con: Competition. Even though we men and women aren’t directly competing for roles, you can’t help but wonder which of you is funnier. Especially when my own (Natalie’s) mother puts in her vote (her vote: Derek’s funnier).

Pro: Time working together. We were lucky enough to tour and understudy together, so for a while, there was very little, “Hey, how was your day? Oh, I don’t know those people.” We’ve only been married for nine months, so being together all the time is still a pro.

Con: Money.

– Anything else you’d like to add that you think would be fun?

We both recently wrote one-person shows. Due to our vastly different comedic sensibilities, these shows could not be more divergent. Mine was a humorous but earnest take on my life choices, and Derek’s has a 3-D poster and puppets. Sometimes we don’t get each other, but we still always laugh. Also, go see Derek’s show at Stage 773, Oct 11 – Nov 1! Click here for details.

Comedy Couples: Fuzzy and Erica

We aren’t the only funny couple out there, so we thought it’d be fun to ask our comedy friends the same questions we get asked all the time.

He is the host of one of the funniest live shows in Chicago, “Impress These Apes”, as well as a writer, graphic designer and video producer. She is a performer, choreographer and producer of “Impress These Apes”, just to name a few things. Meet the über talented Fuzzy and Erica…

– Do you make each other laugh all the time at home?

Fuzzy: Yes, absolutely.

Erica: Fuzzy is the funniest and handsomest person I know.

Fuzzy: No one will ever believe that I didn’t make up that Erica said that. Which is the kind of joke she loves.

– Does the comedy come easier because you’re married/in a relationship?

Erica: I don’t think I’m funnier because I’m married, and we don’t do the kind of comedy that’s based on relationships. Most of our comedy is fairly absurd, even when we do duo routines.

Fuzzy: But it’s helpful to know that there’s always someone at home who gets that absurd humor and doesn’t judge. It gives us a solid base to work from. But we were both plenty funny before we were married.

Erica: We don’t always agree on comedy, but we’re great at working together and those differences of opinion keeps us on our toes.

– How do you balance your “comedy life” with your “regular married life”?

Fuzzy: We both have day jobs, so doing a show together is actually a chance to hang out.

Erica: And when we’re in different shows we do have to schedule nights home together.

– What are the pros and cons of being in a relationship with a comedy partner?

Erica: Pros: I get to watch him perform and succeed. He makes me laugh. He understands me and the way my brain works. He supports my weird ideas and projects. He thinks I’m funny. Deez nuts.
Cons: Sometimes he thinks he’s high-larious. He’s constantly making shit up, so I never know when he’s telling the truth.

Fuzzy: Pros: She’s hilarious. She gets why it’s important to make a video of a cat wearing sunglasses at 11pm. She’s supportive as all get out.
Cons: She once killed a man. With laughter.

– Anything else you’d like to add that you think would be fun?

Fuzzy and Erica: We wouldn’t have met if we weren’t both doing comedy, which is the most important thing: having met the love of our lives.

Fuzzy and Erica are a part of the Blewt! comedy troupe, but they constantly have their own fun projects going on. Check out their stuff!