Sketch comedy is sparse in St. Louis, and if all sketch troupes are as rude and arrogant as The Wasted Bananas perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing. I first heard about The Wasted Bananas at a local concert. I was preparing interview questions for the band when a stranger wearing a smug smile placed his hand on my neck and breathed into my face, “you’re a journalist, right? For local shit?”
Privacy invaded and senses startled I blurted out an affirmative answer, to which he swirled his glass like a James Bond villain and proceeded to tell me he was a founding member of the most prestigious comedy troupe in the world. He listed outrageous accolades such as Cannes Film Festival awards and producer credits for Scorsese movies, all the while his eyes meandering to the ceiling as if there was something up there more interesting than our conversation.
“If you want to see the people that will shape the foundation of comedy for the rest of the world then you need to see The Wasted Bananas at our show next Saturday and you need to write about it in your blog.”
He then pointed at three men standing at the far end of the bar singing a doo-wop version of Biggie Smalls’ Ten Crack Commandments to some girls with their backs turned.
“That’s my troupe,” he said pridefully. He then tried to finish his whiskey, realized there was nothing left in the glass, put the glass in his pocket, handed me a lighter, and walked away. It took me a minute to realize that the lighter dual functioned as a business card; printed on the yellow backdrop was a drunken banana with a facebook link beneath its feet.
I contacted them via social media the next day. Their profile picture was the entire troupe urinating on DVD copies of Monty Python, The Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live and others. After seeing their disrespect for such beloved sketch comedy shows I contacted them and got information about their next performance.
The venue had 100 seats, about 70 of which were full. I’m no comedy critic but the show was good. It was funny, original, and the performers had great chemistry. Indeed, this article would be about nothing more than praising the ambition of local talent if it weren’t for the behavior of the entire troupe afterward.
After curtain call the audience retreated to the bar intent on closing their tabs, but before they could The Wasted Bananas emerged from backstage demanding their patrons buy them drinks. “That show was worth a lot more than a $5 door charge,” and “everyone who sat in front needs to buy us doubles cuz those seats were priceless” are just a couple things they were yelling at their friends and family who were nice enough to see them perform on a Wednesday night. And their audience members, who now seemed more like hostages, reluctantly obliged them.
One of the Bananas stole a stapler from behind the bar and started posting flyers and head shots all over the venue while the others signed people’s t-shirts without consent.
“So you gonna interview us?” One asked as I tried to hail the bartender. “We’ll pay you.” He extended a hand that held two joints and a cellophane bag of roaches. I declined the payment but accepted the interview, thinking if I can’t get an honest, well-informed perspective on St. Louis comedy from these guys I’ll at least be a be able to write an article on the psychology of narcissistic sociopaths. Unfortunately I fear that I may have achieved both.
Who are the wasted bananas?
Well shit, man. I don’t know. Um, we are the single most talented human beings that you would ever meet.
You’re saying that The Wasted Bananas is the most talented sketch troupe that there is?
Oh it goes much further than sketch. It goes talents in anything. LIfe, living.
I was under the impression that you mostly perform sketches.
Well yeah the wasted bananas are a sketch troupe but if you’re gonna break us down and confine us as just a troupe then yeah, I would say we’re pretty talented at what we do. Yeah.
What exactly is sketch comedy?
Sketch comedy is a timeless old art. It dates back prehistoric you know, like back in prehistoric times, like dinosaurs… oh shit… dinosaurs.
Do you find it difficult being funny?
Oh, the burden. Yeah, I’d say it’s a heavy burden to bear. Ya know, it’s just the constant struggle. The constant demand. It’s actually a borderline mental disorder.
Being funny is a mental disorder?
Borderline. It’s like the border between mental disorder and regular order.
Explain your writing process. What exactly goes into writing a sketch?
Oh… Oh the process. That’s what we like to call it… the process… back in the writer’s room of The Wasted Bananas… oh gosh…Oh, just laughter. All things that you would expect and then some. Does that make it clear enough for you?
Do you ever have creative differences?
We have never had an argument ever that I can think of. I’m thinking back and I can’t remember- I don’t even recall one disagreement.
Sounds like you have a pretty streamlined process.
Oh yeah, some of the big companies can take a page out of our book. GM, Apple, if any of those companies want to know how to streamline they should come sit in our writers room. That’s the thing with companies like Apple, there’s just that one figurehead that runs it and they don’t work as a team. And that’s hard! That’s taxing on the leader. We’re one whole unit. I wouldn’t say anyone leads more than anyone else I would say it’s kind of like those old Nazi war marches you see with the feet in line all marching in unison. That’s what I would say. I’d say it’s very much like the Nazi regime’s very, very well orchestrated marches. Not that we agree with the Nazis.
The Wasted Bananas don’t have anything in common with the Nazi’s other than how uniformly they march?
Yeah, we march to the beat of a different drum than the Nazi’s, but we certainly do march to a drum like the Nazi’s.
Do you guys use substances such as alcohol or drugs?
Not in our writers room. We keep a clean writers room. Clean show, clean writers room. But sometimes if one has to get dirty we usually let the show get dirty. But the writers room itself is very very clean. We clean it up before and after. Yeah, not much dust. We do a lot of dusting on the weekends. It’s clean both metaphorically and physically. Oh yeah, yeah. There’s just a lot of… cleanliness I guess you would call it. Cleanliness is the best way to describe The Wasted Bananas.
How do you feel about artists that do use substances?
Well if you call that art, what they do, yeah I would say that it’s disgusting.
So you don’t like Ernest Hemingway?
I picked up one of his books at a yard sale and I put it down. Too dusty. I assume dirty book cover, dirty book.
What does your writer’s room look like?
Four walls and a roof. You would be looking at maximum efficiency.
How many members are there?
I don’t know if you could really put a number on it. But if you wanted me to I guess I would say four. Four people in the writers room is what you would be looking at. This is where we kind of differ from most writer’s rooms: nothing in the room asides the people, indian style, on the floor, lights on low, not necessarily off, but a dim lighting and a half hour of meditation to begin and end. And 45 minutes of solid eye contact.
Are you guys speaking to each other during this?
Sometimes. If it feels right. But that is what maximum efficiency looks like.
So no pen, no papers, nothing in the room?
Are you guys clothed?
Most of the time.
So at what point do you guys actually write? Your show last night seemed very rehearsed and well-written.
Oh, that! That all figures itself out along the way. It just kinda happens.
So you don’t spend a lot of time writing?
I mean what is writing? Is writing sitting down with a pen and paper and making scribbles on that paper. I mean I guess some people would call that writing. Probably the vast majority of people would call THAT writing but what people don’t understand is there’s a whole nother aspect to writing, which is just kind of procrastinating. Ya know, just keep pushing it off… I mean it’ll figure itself out. It always does. And if it doesn’t, then it shouldn’t.
And you guys do, so you should.
See, you’re getting it. Fire off some more at me.
So for someone who’s never seen live sketch comedy what can they expect from a Wasted Bananas show?
Laughter. Love. Respect. Immortality, on our part not on your part. Godliness, admiration, and just anticipation.
Sounds almost like church.
I think it is a very safe thing to do to put The Wasted Bananas on the same level as any major church, if not even on a bit of a higher plane.
So you consider your audience members your followers?
Well if Facebook has anything to say we have about 281 followers.
Were you a class clown as a kid?
I actually never stepped foot inside a school as a child.
You were homeschooled?
No, that’s not what I said. I said I never set foot inside a school. I was paraplegic and wheeled around in a very, very small wheelchair. So yeah, I was kind of a class clown just on sight. People would laugh at me. So I’d say I’ve been funny since I was born.
I notice you have legs now and you perform on stage with them.
I cannot comment on my legs that I have now. All I’m allowed to say is I have been parapalegic in the past.
When did you meet The Wasted Bananas?
I feel like we never actually met. I still feel like a bunch of strangers in a room staring at each other. And I think the audience feels that. They feel the excitement and anxiety of the cast members because they don’t really know each other and I think it makes for a good show.
Do you hang out outside of work?
Absolutely not. We go our separate ways. Oh god no. I couldn’t imagine seeing these guys in a personal setting. Frankly, I’m uncomfortable with the question.
It seems like you’re uncomfortable talking about your sketch troupe at all.
Look, you get all four of us in a room with dim lights, nothing in that room, and we get good solid eye-contact going, sure we can get some magic, but you put us in a bar or in a Joker movie… it just wouldn’t happen. Let’s put it that way.
When did you first start doing sketch comedy?
That would probably have been years ago.
Do you remember your first show.
Actually I do remember the first show.
And how old were you?
I don’t know, man. What are you grilling me on the year for?
I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.
It was some years ago. Let’s leave it at that. What’s so funny?
What’s next for the wasted bananas?
What’s coming to us. Fame. Fortune. I guess if you wanted to put something on it or whatever, I would say the whole world… well maybe not the whole world, I don’t know if we would really want it. But definitely on the tvs of every home in the world
Where can the people see your next show?
We don’t know if there’s ever gonna be a next show.
Where can we find your videos?
On Facebook. Audiences are stupid and need to be told what to do.