Fratwurst is an all-beef (meaning, all-male) comedy troupe, piled high with Evan Arppe, Eric Miinch and Josh Murray, who create raucous laughs that are something to relish. The trio regularly make the rounds on the local comedy circuit and will be featured in next month’s Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. We chatted with cast member Miinch about their creative process, Cripple Claus and condiments.
How did you guys come together?
Eric Miinch and Jim Robinson’s Conservatory class at The Second City didn’t want to stop working over the summer break, so they started a troupe called Sketch Your Freak On. Josh Murray was in the next conservatory class and was invited in. Evan Arppe was Jim’s friend from Queen’s University. He did only standup but we invited him in because he was weird and incredibly hilarious. After an underwhelming second show, the extra-curricular troupe dissolved but the four of us persevered. Jim Robinson has since left Fratwurst.
So how did the name come about?
We spent several hours proposing names over a game of pool and a couple of pitchers upstairs at the Rivoli. It came down to either Uncle Dad, Moon Farmers or Fratwurst. Uncle Dad was already a sketch troupe in England so we couldn’t take an already-used name. We realized that there aren’t any farms on the moon, so that name didn’t make sense. By process of elimination we chose Fratwurst.
Describe a typical Fratwurst show.
We start with an established sketch that we know will do well. Then we put in a bunch of new sketches that have never seen the light of day, or that are being workshopped. We’ll end on a sketch that we know will do well, just in case the audience hates everything else. That’s an old sales trick — end on a good sketch so the audience doesn’t hate you. We usually have at least one clown-inspired sketch, one which features wordplay, one pop-culture sketch, one musical sketch and one where Josh mugs the audience.
What’s your creative process like?
We’re very independent when it comes to writing premises and first drafts. Josh will have an idea and he’ll mull it over for years. Evan is a traditional formulaic writer, following the rule of three. Eric likes clowns and genres, so he’ll put a well-known set of characters in a strange universe (e.g. our Oompa Loompa sketch features an Oompa Loompa and his wife in a Chekhov play). Then we’ll pitch them, edit and do some rewrites together and put them up onstage. Afterwards, we’ll take stock, rewrite and remount. Some make it through. Most don’t.
What’s the most outrageous sketch you’ve ever done?
“Cripple Claus.” In this sketch, a disabled uncle in a wheelchair, who’s dressed as Santa Claus, tries to convince his two naïve nephews that he is the real Santa Claus. He communicates with a tape-recorder that has pre-recorded responses to their questions. It ends on a very sweet note, despite the offensive setup. It is extremely tasteless, but Eric will never give up on it.
Who’s your dream guest performer?
Bill Murray, Eric Idol, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney or Super Dave Osborne.
If each member were a hot dog condiment, what would they be?
Evan is corn relish. A lot of people forget about corn relish, just like Evan. But when they see and taste him, they go, “Oh yeah! Evan is delicious! How could I forget about him?!” Eric is onions. Vidalia onions. He adds a powerful presence, but too much will completely obliterate any taste of hot dog. Weird people eat just onions. Josh is the bun. You don’t realize how much you enjoy it until it’s not there and then suddenly you’re just holding a bare hot dog with corn relish and onions all over you hand and you’re like, “Shit! That bun really held everything together.”
What’s next on the horizon?
A bunch of fundraisers, Sketch Fest and we’re also writing a play.
Year Started: 2009 Cast Members: Evan Arppe, Josh Murray, Eric Miinch Influences:Mr. Show, Mr. Bean, SNL, The Kids in the Hall, Christopher Guest Next Gig: Rivoli, 334 Queen St. W., 416-596-1908. Mar. 5