I hit rock bottom on the fifth day of Chicago Sketch Fest. I was covering the festival for Time Out Chicago and because of my own bad judgement and general unawareness, I ended up subjecting myself to a marathon of some of the weakest sketch shows I'd seen in my life. At the end of the night I was catching up with some friends I'd ran into in the lobby and they were all incredibly enthusiastic about the show they had just saw from the relatively new Chicago-based team Two Bunnies Eating Flowers. My brain nearly imploded, knowing that there was something genuinely unique and cool happening while I sat through another underprepared improv troupe do another scene set in Wrigleyville.
Thankfully, Two Bunnies Eating Flowers are back at Stage 773 to perform their well-loved sketch revue Horses Aren’t People, Fishes Aren’t Dogs, tomorrow night, (Saturday March 23rd), at 10:30pm. In advance of the show, I interviewed all three of Two Bunnies, Alex Hanpeter, Kyle Reinhard, and Jude Tedmori. Tickets to Horses Aren’t People, Fishes Aren’t Dogs are available here.
The Steamroller: How did you all meet and come to form Two Bunnies?
JUDE: We all met each other during Comedy Studies at The Second City. We happened to sit next to each other at the orientation, where I was trying to break the ice by scouting out fans of NBC’s hit show “Whitney” by reciting some of its catchphrases (“50% of all marriages end... in sweatpants!”) and everyone ignored me/started to visibly hate me except for Kyle and Alex, who each chipped in with other phrases from the show’s marketing campaign (“Whoever invented morning sex... forgot about morning breath!”). And that’s when the magic began. A Whitney poster that says “Always a trophy... Never a wife!” still hangs in the Two Bunnies war room to this day.
ALEX: Halfway through the semester, our writing teacher Andy Miara (of My Mans and now The Onion) randomly placed us in a group together and assigned us to create a 20 minute sketch show based on the topic of risk (not the board game, guys). We very enthusiastically jumped into exploring the different aspects of that and found that working together came very easily. Andy invited a group of Comedy Studies alums to watch, many of whom we have worked with since (most notably bad boi Mike Klasek, who helped us out a lot getting started and who directed our last show).
JUDE: Mike and I have sleepovers!
ALEX: That Mike vehemently denies have happened.
KYLE: Always a trophy, never a wife!
JUDE: Mike likes Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy.
KYLE: Luckily we’re all good buddies too (excluding Jude and Mike, who aren’t), and at the stage we’re at right now, I think we all really balance out each other’s ideas and performance styles, and temper some of the ways we might run amok if we were left to our own devices. (I’d leave audiences in sleeps with my 11-minute long conceptual sketches that spend 7 ½-minutes establishing the premise, Jude would just set the American flag on fire FOR REAL over and over again, and the catchall fix for every Alex sketch would be having the ghost of Bruce Vilanch—who is not dead—enter as a day player.) Certain things that are my weaknesses are strengths for Jude and Alex (and vice versa), and we’re all equally invested in the group—it’s everyone’s first comedy priority, and we’re all willing to put in the time it takes to make ourselves watchable.
TS: Where'd the name come from?
JUDE: I wrote a sketch a while back that was a little bit fucked up and titled it “Two Bunnies Eating Flowers” because it was the most peaceful, beautiful-sounding thing I could think of. I thought it was funny to have such a contrast between the title and content of the sketch, and we all sort of adopted that philosophy as a group. Is anyone still reading this?
KYLE: I think our dream is to one day have a confused person stumble into the show expecting an actual cute animal parade or something and then have to watch us finger Jude’s butt for an hour (note: that is an offensively-reductive and maybe only 50% accurate way of describing our material).
JUDE: Hey, we said we weren’t going to spoil the show!
(Jude looks to camera and winks glitter.)
ALEX: I was personally rooting for ‘Dad Burp’ for the group name, but the only response it ever got was a blank, slightly disappointed, and a little grossed-out look from people who only seconds prior had been happy.
TS: What's your favorite show you've done as the team so far?
JUDE: One time we did a show at The Cornservatory. The night before we came up with a sketch that involved us dressing like the Brady Bunch and snorting cocaine, so we thought that to cover our bases we should buy an entire bag of flour.
ALEX: We were originally going to go with a garbage bag but thought we should scale it down.
JUDE: However, the bag of flour unexpectedly broke and got EVERYWHERE. It went into the audience, backstage, and all over the seats.
KYLE: A cloud of flour loomed ominously over the stage for the next forty minutes.
JUDE: They put in an unplanned intermission so that we could mop the stage and clean everything up.
KYLE: Another time: Jude (WHILE PERFORMING THE SAME SKETCH) decided that the flour (now scaled back to a handful) simply wasn’t enough and kinda threw a chair at me during a show in the de Maat Theatre, and afterwards we were told we would not be welcomed back at the Second City under the name Two Bunnies Eating Flowers again. We are considering remounting it as Two Bunnies Hungrily Looking at Flowers and Wishing They Could Eat Them.
JUDE: There was a point to the chair throwing!
KYLE: That Jude wants to break a chair.
TS: What's the dumbest idea you've have had that ended up getting written into a full scene?
JUDE: Ooh, I bet there’s gonna be some good ones! I need to go get something to drink, I’ll be right back.
KYLE: We did a really, really silly bit for Adam Cole’s show at the Playground recently called “The Improvised Birthday Party Company” where we were introduced as a famed improv group who improvises scenes about birthday parties. We took a suggestion, shot down everything the audience shouted out until we guided them to the words “birthday cake,” then brought out an entire actual birthday cake and ate the whole thing onstage with forks and knives, occasionally breaking the reality of the scene to remind everyone that what they were seeing was all 100% improvised (!). Later in the show, we brought out another whole cake and ate that too. Somehow the audience didn’t leave in the middle, though I think we sadly all know deep down that it’d be doomed if we performed it ever again.
ALEX: For me it was probably “horny grandpa ghost.” Kyle and Jude laughed at my fumbled pitch of a ghost pretending to be a girl’s grandpa so he can jerk off to her while she’s not looking, yet were suddenly SINGING A DIFFERENT TUNE when they saw how beautifully the ghost’s sheet billowed back and forth from old Grandpa’s lustful monkeypaw.
JUDE: I’m back! Water is delicious!
TS: What about the dumbest one that didn't make the cut?
KYLE: We’ll idea-generate from time-to-time by writing as many premises as we can in a short period of time. You might remember some of these all-time greats:
1. Man is Very Angry When the ‘Boyz II Men Delivery Sevice’ Delivers Boyz II Men CDs and Not Actual Boyz to Him. (Alex Hanpeter)
2. Kid Writes “Metallica Rules” on a Notebook, Which Forces Lars Ullrich to Reluctantly Become Principal (Alex Hanpeter)
3. A Simple Tortillaman Falls in Love with A Comely Winemaker (Kyle Reinhard)
4. Black Box Theatre That is Just a Black Box/A Bunch of Rabid Fans of Something Are Just Actual Fans/Air Conditioner that Uses Conditioner/Rap Music that is Just Music to Wrap Presents to/“You’re Breaking My Balls,” Said the Ballpoint Pen/An Open Mic is what Performing Surgery on a Guy Named Mike is Called (Jude Tedmori pun medley)
5. The Printing Press Is Invented and People Immediately Start Masturbating to the Letter B Because It Sort of Looks Like a Butt (Kyle Reinhard)
6. Guy Who Puts on More Clothes Because He Is Hot (Jude Tedmori)
7. People Who Were Sunbathing Have New Gravel Poured Over Them and They Can’t Move and Become Staples of the Community and Give Out Sage Advice to the Younger Generation (Alex Hanpeter)
8. Witch Who Feeds Hansel and Grethel to Fatten Them Up Not Because She Wants to Eat Them But Because It’s Her Fetish to Watch Them Eat and Get Fat (Kyle Reinhard)
TS: What can folks expect from this show at 773?
KYLE: To have a strong reaction to it. It’s okay if some people think it it was a miserable, awful failure as long as some other people REALLY liked it.
JUDE: Well, we aren’t accepting anything, so I don’t understand the question!
KYLE: It’s expect, Jude!
ALEX: I’m expecting... a baby! (Because I’m the girl.)
CHRIS: I just think it’s great being a member of this group and having people talk to me.
JUDE: Who are you?
CHRIS: Guys, it’s me, Kyle!
ALEX: Oh right! That’s your name.
TS: When you announced the show, you said something like "tickets are going to be as cheap as Stage 773 allows us to make them!", why do you feel it's important to have a low price point on the show?
ALEX: We just want as many people as possible to come to the show.
JUDE: Get out of here, Chris.
(Chris commits honorable suicide like a samurai and Jude winks more glitter.)