Interview: Strongmen's Adam Cole, Jordan Haynes, Nate Varrone, & Charles Pettitt

Strongmen, a new highly physical sketch revue from Nate Varrone, Jordan Haynes, & Charles Pettit, premieres tonight at the Public House Theatre. The show's producers promise "hammerrs, guns, and spaghetti" on top of dumb, fast-paced sketch. I spoke with the three stars of Strongmen, as well as director Adam Cole, about the new show, which runs Fridays in March at 10pm at the Public House Theatre.

The Steamroller: What was the inspiration behind this show? How'd you all come to work together?

Adam Cole: Our initial concept was very circus-centric. We were interested in what a sketch show might look like if it were put on by a circus. The original cast was Jordan, Charles, and Amy Thompson. A couple weeks into the process Amy got offered a Second City boat, so we had to reevaluate things.

When we were considering replacements for Amy we wanted to bring in someone who would compliment Jordan’s and Charles’ dynamic, and Nate was a unanimous decision. Stylistically he’s very different from the other guys, but his sensibilities are the same. Once we had the three guys together and took into account their largish statures we refocused our concept from “the circus” to “strongmen,” and spent the first 2/3 of the rehearsal process generating material through that lens.

Once we had our material we went back and fleshed it out, so these smaller, strongman oriented ideas turned into fully realized sketches. In some scenes the original inspiration is pretty recognizable, and in others it has been extrapolated upon so it becomes more tangental.

The final product is an energetic and sweaty fifty minutes of comedy.

TS: Has there been a lot of physical training in preparation for the show?

Jordan Haynes: Physical training is a must! I'm a big health junkie (or at least think I would be if I ever started working out and eating right). I take the stairs every once in a while at work, and my cubicle is on the THIRD floor at the VERY END OF THE HALL....so yeah. It adds up.

Charles Pettitt: The audition process was nutzzz for this show! We each had to complete a Lariat into a Bronco buster, and then do comedy? Like, whoa.

As a silver medal award recipient at the 2006 Louisiana Governor's Games for weightlifting held at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, I can tell you that this show will pack-a-punch (TM COD).

I actually purchased a Jim Membership to prepare. A Jim Membership is entry into the According To Jim fan club. Prepare to have your eyes opened to the one true male physique.

Nate Varrone: I switched over to an eCigarette during the process of this show. Shout out to my boys Ronnie and Scatch over at Vape312 on Sheffield.

TS: Are there any strong men or comedians from throughout history you'd cite as influences on the show?

Charles: A big inspiration for me has to be The Great Gama (born Ghulam Muhammad Butt). In fact, I actually followed his diet plan for a few days. All of this is completely true.

Nate: Bruce Vilanch.

Jordan: Stone Cold Steve Austin.

TS: What's the best part about wearing the lycra onesies? Are there any downsides?

Nate: Best part: showcasing our butts and pee pees. I can't think of a downside. But the best part is definitely our pees pees and our butts.

Jordan: Best part(s)- Increased speed. Decreased drag. Increased sex appeal.

The only coincidental downside has been how much they delayed the release of our poster. In the original photo you could see every detail of my horribly squished-up junk. I had to beg everyone to photo shop it and at least make it a little bit blurry before we made the
poster official.

That took some time and coercion on my part. But in the end it was worth it. That first photo was....explicit. I blame the onesies. Not my weird, smashed-together downstairs parts.

Charles:  I think the best and worst part about the singlets are the amount of trouser tenderloin they show off. I personally feel that since everyone pretty much knows what our peens look like now, we have nothing to fear....even if mine looks like a big toe that got closed in a car door.

For the amount of movement and sweating we (mainly me) will be doing on stage, we needed something that wouldn't constrain us. Of the 3 Strongmen, Jordan is the most self-conscious about his Vienna Beef, so please mention it to him the next time you see him.

TS: What do you hope audience members take away from the show?

Adam:  Athlete's foot.