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Comedy troupe Broken Lizard performs in Iowa City

BY TOMMY MORGAN JR. | NOVEMBER 05, 2009 7:20 AM

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They have attended Beerfest and hit the road with Super Troopers. On Saturday, the members of Broken Lizard bring their fun, and humor, to Iowa City.

The comedy troupe will hit the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., on Saturday. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $30 for adults and seniors, $25 for students and children.

Group member Erik Stolhanske said the show combines sketch and standup comedy, a return to the troupe’s roots after voyaging into film. A song may be thrown in the mix, too.

Broken Lizard began in 1990, when the members were students at Colgate University, in Hamilton, N.Y.

“For me, [joining the group] was inadvertent,” Stolhanske said. He had intended to major in pre-med when he entered college, but he ended up in English.

Fom there, he got into theater, where he auditioned for what eventually became Broken Lizard. The group started out performing sketch comedy but then became more and more interested in film, and its shows started to incorporate short videos.

“You can do much more with film than you could on the stage,” said Broken Lizard member Steve Lemme.

The troupe’s first feature-length movie, Puddle Cruiser, made the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. More films followed, including the hits Super Troopers and Beerfest.

Included in the stage act are characters from both films, Stolhanske said.

Since Broken Lizard’s founding, the group’s goal has always been the same: Make each other laugh.
“As far back as our stage sketches, people always liked what a motley crew we were,” Lemme said, noting that the group’s five members each have different comedic sensibilities. “If something is getting us all to laugh, we have a winner on our hands.”

The group’s upcoming movie, Slammin’ Salmon, marks a return to form for the group. For the first time since 2001’s Super Troopers, the troupe funded the movie independently, without major studio backing.

“It was nice to go back to the drawing board and not have to answer to anybody and make a movie we wanted to make,” Lemme said. “Just being able to improvise and mess around and do whatever we want was fun.”

For Slammin’ Salmon — which Lemme referred to as “Glengarry Glen Ross in a restaurant” — the Broken Lizard guys went back to another, less-discussed part of their early career: waiting tables.

The movie focuses on people working at a Miami seafood restaurant over the course of one night.

“Steve, Jay [Chandrasekhar], and I were all waiters in Manhattan [after college],” Stolhanske said, noting that a few elements of their earlier films also came from their table-waiting experiences — including “Das Boot,” the legendary giant German drinking glass in Beerfest.

“There the three of us were, often working a shift at the same time, stealing silverware and cramming food down our throats,” Lemme said. “That’s the nice thing about waiting tables. You don’t have care in the world.”

Although waiting tables was fun at the time, Lemme has no desire to go back to it. He said he likes being an actor better — his job consists of “making out with girls and pretending to drink beer all day.”


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