- The Wishful Writer
It's no secret...lesbians and U-Hauls are nearly synonymous.
In fact, as a group, most of us have warmly embraced the moving company AND the joke: "it's what lesbians bring on a second date."
A couple years ago, a few of my friends brainstormed lesbian tag-lines for U-Haul and the prize went to Jess, who came up with:
"Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt."
Truth be told, I thought Jess's contribution would be the last original twist on a very old stereotype.
I was wrong.
I'd yet to be introduced to U-Haul: The Music Video, five minutes and thirty-three seconds of pure genius, written and performed by Amy Turner and Kathryn Lounsbery, creators of the original music and comedy show, That's What She Said.
You. Must. Watch. This. Video. (and continue reading to catch my article and interview with Amy and Kathryn):
Hysterical, right? Tell me you watched it more than once.
My girlfriend knows the second she hears me sing, "Beep! Beep!" that I'm coming for her boobies. She's like one of Pavlov's dogs. Trained.
So, how do two of the funniest, most talented lesbians on the planet meet and form an original music and comedy show dedicated to making the world smile, one dyke at a time?
The stars aligned for these two in 2006 after Kathryn saw Amy perform at the LA improv comedy club, Second City. The two hit it off (and by hit it off, I mean they've since U-Hauled themselves) and quickly found a niche composing original songs from a variety of genres that poke fun at lesbian stereotypes including: over-processed emotions, the ultimate creature on earth - the beaver, and of course, the U-Haul.
With enough original songs celebrating the quirks and stereotypes of lesbian culture under their fanny packs - I mean, belts - Amy and Kathryn created the That's What She Said Show which premiered in November 2007 to sold out audiences across California.
Word spread quickly about this talented duo and Olivia recently booked That's What She Said to entertain throngs of lesbians in Ixtapa, Mexico, this past January.
So, ya'll are clearly destined to be over-the-top-famous. How exactly did the Olivia booking come about?
Getting booked through Olivia was one of our top goals. As soon as we had a DVD of our show, we sent it to Olivia (in a red pleather fanny pack, no less). This past October, during our run in San Francisco, we were lucky enough to have Olivia's production manager see our show. A few weeks later, we were booked at the Club Med resort in Ixtapa, Mexico. It was a truly beautiful experience being with those women. Performing for them was an honor.
When did it click that you two, as a team, had something special and unique to offer audiences?
I think we realized it when we fully hoisted our freak flags and set out to write completely original material. When we started out, we were going to take pre-existing songs and change the words ever-so-slightly to make them gay. We both have backgrounds in improv and the more we explored original ideas, the more fun we had. Exactly one year after we started writing, we had a short "workshop" performance for about 40 people in a small rehearsal space in Hollywood. Our material hadn't ever seen the light of day. We really didn't know if other people would find our work to be interesting or funny. But the audience reaction was huge. We always tell people that we went in to that performance with an embryo of a show and by the end, a hulking toddler with a backpack emerged. (...because that's not creepy).
Maybe just a leeetle creepy...But that's totally the kind of thing hot, funny lesbians can get away with saying...
What does it look like when you guys begin collaborating on a new song? There's gotta be a trick to taking stereotypes we've all heard before and making them fresh and achingly funny.
This is the moment where we should divulge our secret third member: a small Olympus digital voice recorder. Every rehearsal and writing session that has ever taken place between us has been recorded. Usually we are at the piano with Amy holding the Olympus. We talk, we play, we sing, we laugh, we get frustrated with each other, we go on tangents, and we push ourselves as much as possible. We take our songwriting seriously and hold each sentence, each word, each musical phrase up to a lens and wonder "is this as good as it can be?" As much as we can, we stay away from the easy jokes - which is not to say that we don't use them. We also stay away from foul language. Our show has one swear word in it: bitch. And, in our defense, we had to use it since it's in the U-Haul rap and what else rhymes with hitch? Our backs were up against the wall. Forgive us.
Hey, I live with a bar of soap in my mouth, so forgiveness comes easy from me.
Kathryn, when you were growing up, studying piano, did it ever occur to you that you'd end up composing songs about beavers, fanny packs, mixed tapes and U-Hauls? Frankly, I think I might have stuck with piano lessons if my instructor had told me ALL of the possibilities...
Funny you should ask! At my first piano lesson (age 5) I told my teacher I wanted to write a song about sexual roles in lesbian relationships. Crazy, right? I can't say that this show in particular ever occurred to me, but I always knew that I wanted to do something "different." My training has been entirely classical and very traditional. That world and that life was always very difficult for me. I got as far as a master's degree in piano and finally admitted to myself that a career in classical piano just wasn't what I wanted. Meeting Amy lit a fire under my classical ass and unleashed years of creativity that always wanted to come out.
Have you encountered anyone who has taken offense to your making light of stereotypes? How have you handled it?
As far as we know, no one has taken offense. On occasion, straight people will say we need to provide them with a legend or some kind of key to help them understand. We've discussed this at length but we really feel that if an audience member comes to our show with an open mind, with no "gay filter" over their eyes and their ears, they will understand 75% of what we deal with. A relationship is a relationship. There is something for everyone in this show.
Stereotypes are borne from slivers of honesty. Which stereotype do each of you most closely identify with?
We both identify with all of the stereotypes in the show - I think that's why it's hard to take offense. They come from personal experience.
Kathryn: That said, I think I can most identify with "KatPhone" (the song from our show about the "super-ex"). That song came from my life. There was a time when I had three different exes calling me on a regular basis for advice and input. I think I also identify with over-processed emotions. I'm a talker. Guilty!
Amy: I think the main thing is the over-processey-uber-sensitive things we take jabs at. That is very much me and it is quite a relief to have an outlet to bring levity to such a stereotype. We do sing about beavers but, I'll be honest, I have never even seen a beaver. Guilty.
If ya'll weren't funny, what would you be? I mean, if you had to pick?
Kathryn: Alternate universe careers for me include teacher, journalist and/or film composer.
Amy: Painter, social worker, baker.
What are your plans for touring outside of California? Is there anything your fans can do to help make it happen?
We have a lot of awesome friends and fans in the Midwest, so expect to see us in Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Tennessee. Portland is a new goal as is Tucson. We also want to head East - - to NYC, to Provincetown, to Ashville. The best thing people can do is write and tell us what local venues would work for us (55-99 seat theaters, supper clubs, cabaret spaces).
We can be reached at our Facebook or Myspace pages.
If you are a Dinah Shore girl, there's a very good chance you could see That's What She Said during the lez fest weekend if YOU HELP THEM GET THERE.
Currently their U-Haul masterpiece is one of 25 videos competing online in the "Dinah Idol" contest. The top five finalists get to perform live and the winner opens for the Indigo Girls. Currently they are in 5th place. THEY NEED YOUR VOTE!
You will need to sign up for an account, but it's so worth it. You only have to vote once - and do it sometime between now and March 1.
Click HERE to send That's What She Said to Dinah Shore.
I mean, I voted and fully expect to be credited with bringing them fame and fortune. You too can ride their flannel coat tails - but you gotta VOTE!
I think I'll go rent and park a U-Haul in my driveway. I'm that inspired.
- The Wishful Writer