Meet the faces behind the funny! The Riot is excited to debut our "Meet the Mainstage" interview series. Every week-ish, we'll be publishing conversations with our mainstage cast members. First up is an illuminating (?) chat with one of our newest acquisitions, who you can also see in Riot X's March 8th show: the perpetual-motion machine and literal working stiff:
(pronouns: she/her or they/them)
Born and raised (a triplet!) in Boston, Emily has studied, written, and practiced comedy and poetry locally and in Chicago for the last “oh God, it’s already been eight years, somehow.” They work two to six jobs at any given time, most recently as the Royal Scribe for BoardGame Empire, fundraising for Mass Poetry, and in the box office for Boston Ballet. In their free time, they write and perform with Cambridge’s Boston Poetry Slam. Emily joined Riot Improv in October 2018 and Riot X shortly thereafter. You can follow their life onstage and on-page online.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN IMPROV COMEDY?
After being rejected from my college’s sketch troupe, Boris’ Kitchen, I auditioned on a whim for a short-form improv troupe, Bad Grammer. I almost didn’t go to the improv audition because I wanted to finish a burrito. But I picked comedic nourishment over actual nourishment. Then the sketch troupe took me the following year, so I was doing improv and writing, performing in, and directing sketch, as well as pursuing stand-up, slam poetry, straight theater, and Playback Theatre. After I graduated, I moved to Chicago to study comedy – stopped, moved back to Boston to study theater education – stopped, worked as an actor/tour guide/gallows-humorist with Ghosts & Gravestones Boston – stopped, moved back to Chicago to study writing and poetry – stopped, moved back to Boston and continued being dead for bread/a working stiff – stopped, and now I find myself here, undernourished and full of ennui. Just kidding! It’s mostly existential anxiety. Despite this, I made a pun last night.
YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO RELAX, HUH?
No. Very no.
WHAT WAS THE PUN?
My friend was talking about a show being pitched to his network, featuring intimate footage of mothers on the day they give birth, which still needs a title. I suggested “Mater D Day,” with the tagline: “This show is an INVASION of my privacy.” It's both trilingual and historically accurate.
…I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY TO THAT.
Then I’ll just keep talking. I am excited to be a part of the Riot Theater Company because of the talent, dedication, and élan of the other performers, combined with the fact that I am able to support the theater in marketing and writing capacities. I also recently moved to Jamaica Plain, kinda near the Roslindale border, so I feel more connected to this sector of the city.
IN ADDITION TO PERFORMING WITH RIOT IMPROV AND DOING ADMIN WORK FOR THE THEATER, YOU’RE A PERFORMER AND WRITER WITH RIOT X. HOW’S THAT GOING? ALSO, WHAT IS ITS DEAL??!!?!
Riot X has been fun! It’s a lot of work, and it's really fulfilling. It’s based off a long-running show from Chicago that I’m not sure I should mention by name. I used to see the show in Chicago all the time, so joining Riot X was a dream come true. The show is unpredictable and versatile and varied and no-holds-barred, and I’ve loved writing for and rehearsing it with the ensemble since last November. Definitely come see it in one of its upcoming monthly iterations, even if (especially if!) you’re dubious about experimental theater or theater generally. Showcasing thirty separate two-minute plays, it’s bound to have something for everyone. And the plays you don’t like will be over soon enough! Like life.
THAT’S DARK. ARE ALL THE CAST INTERVIEWS GOING TO BE THIS WEIRD?
I mean… if the shoe fits.
ON THAT NOTE – AND ON THE SUBJECT OF RIOT IMPROV’S UPCOMING SHOW, “YOUR QUIRKY FAMILY,” THIS SATURDAY, MARCH 9th (8 PM) – MY LATE PATERNAL GRANDFATHER WOULD OFTEN TELL THIS JOKE: IN ANCIENT TIMES, THERE WAS A CREATURE CALLED THE FOO BIRD: AN UGLY, EVIL-LOOKING THING THAT LIVED IN A PARTICULAR VILLAGE. ONE DAY THE FOO BIRD EXCRETED ON A MAN’S HEAD. DISGUSTED, THE MAN RAN TO THE NEARBY RIVER, BUT AS SOON AS HE HAD WASHED THE UNHOLY TURD FROM HIS EAR CANAL, HE KEELED OVER AND DIED. THE NEXT DAY, A WOMAN WAS WALKING OUTSIDE, AND SHE WAS ALSO HIT BY A SYRUPY FOO BOMB. SHE TOO TRIED TO WASH IT OFF IN THE RIVER, AND SHE TOO PERISHED IN THE DOING. THE NEXT DAY, A VILLAGE WISE-MAN WAS ALSO SCATOLOGICALLY STRUCK. OF COURSE, HE WANTED TO CLEAN HIMSELF OFF, TOO, BUT, HAVING WITNESSED THE FATES OF THE TWO OTHER VILLAGERS, HE OPTED NOT TO CLEANSE THE POO PILE FROM HIS FOREHEAD – AND HE LIVED. THUS HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN SAID: “IF THE FOO SH*TS, WEAR IT.”
I know. We have the same grandfather.
WHAT?! WAIT… YOU’RE LISTED AS THE RIOT THEATER’S BLOGGER. HAS THIS INTERVIEW JUST BEEN YOU TALKING TO YOURSELF THE WHOLE TIME?
Yes. Very yes.
Portions of this interview have been condensed and edited for clarity, thank God.
Want more* where this came from? Buy your tickets now for Riot Improv’s March 9th show, “Your Quirky Family,” and Riot X’s March 8th performance!
*If you want LESS of it, don't worry - Emily won't appear with Riot Improv again until Saturday, March 16th, for our "Stories to Scenes" show. Put that in your calendar, haters.
Emily Duggan, Riot blogger and performer with Riot Improv and Riot X, is a Boston-raised, Chicago-braised writer and actor. Their recent Google searches include "what is braising," and "why do i insist on making everyhtijng [sic] rhyme."