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Ever have one of those really great first dates where you think, He or she could be the one? What if that one person was actually three? On a recent, brisk Monday evening, I met Alex Hanpeter, Kyle Reinhard and Jude Tedmori, a.k.a. sketch trio Two Bunnies Eating Flowers, at the Salt & Pepper Diner in Lakeview to discuss Horses Aren’t People, Fishes Aren’t Dogs, their debut show and surprise breakout hit at this year’s Sketchfest. The waitress greeted us with a giant, Oreo-cookie milkshake piled high with whipped cream and adorned with four straws—one for each of us (sly move, Two Bunnies).
I was excited. I finally had the chance to discuss the show I described in January as a “glitterbomb…a fearless, bloody, full-frontal assault on all senses that makes you want to leap out of your seat and start a revolution.” Horses Aren’t People, Fishes Aren’t Dogs plays one more time Saturday 23 at Stage 773.
Hanpeter, Reinhard and Tedmori met last year at Columbia College’s semester-long comedy-studies program taught in conjunction with the Second City. (Starting this fall, Columbia will offer a theater B.A. with a specialization in comedy writing and performance.) In class, their instructor, Andy Miara, asked them to present a show about risk. “I got naked, we shaved [Hanpeter’s] head, and there was a suicide onstage,” says Tedmori, who, like Reinhard, was a visiting student. “It went well. They encouraged us to keep doing our thing.”
Out of school and in search of a director, they found a kindred spirit in Mike Klasek, one half of sketch duo Sovereign, whose show at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy in February included simultaneously staging scenes with multiple performers throughout the venue, with Klasek and his partner often undressed. “We say he’s our dad,” Reinhard says.
In Horses Aren’t People, Fishes Aren’t Dogs (named after two of the show’s sketches), Klasek has the trio pushing the boundaries of sketch comedy in unpredictable and shocking ways. “The original thing was, we’re going to have a knife fight at the end where we’re all naked,” Reinhard says. That doesn’t happen, but the show is plenty bizarre. It would be a shame to give too much away, so let’s just say the group is still working on a scene for a future production in which Tedmori gets scalded by boiling coffee. “I always like to jump as far as I can possibly jump,” he says.
Theirs aren’t the only comfort levels being tested. Ten minutes into the show, a couple walked out. “We knew there was going to be a reaction,” Hanpeter says. “I like to make every single thing a surprise.” Yet despite the barrage of verbal and visual shockers (the trio loves props and sight gags), Two Bunnies take care of their audience. “We like creating tension and then breaking it,” Hanpeter says. “We’re not going to leave you high and dry.” They also make a point. Horses explores issues of identity, living outside the box and how, in the end, we’re all one. “The show is about who you are,” Tedmori says.
As a trio, they provide a nice counterbalance to one another. Tedmori is the boundary pusher, Hanpeter takes care of the audience, and Reinhard—who cautions, “If you’re just trying to amuse yourself, it becomes masturbation”—makes sure the laughs are there.
The morning after our interview, I received an e-mail from Tedmori that read, “I hope you enjoyed our date! We hope to get to 2nd base next time.” Anytime, Two Bunnies. Anytime.
Horses Aren’t People, Fishes Aren’t Dogs blows your mind Saturday 23 at Stage 773.