Time: The early 90s. The Place: Seattle, Washington. A new
type of music was making itself heard, not just in Puget Sound,
but around the country...and around the world. This music,
this..."grunge" expressed what a new generation was feeling
about the world they'd been handed. Groups like Nirvana,
Mudhoney and C + C Music Factory channeled their anger and
isolation into songs the likes of which America had never
heard. Seattle was once again on the map.
Our story begins after all that exciting stuff. Our story
begins in the late 90s, by which time Kurt Cobain had
blown his brains out and grunge music had been replaced by
Once again, Seattle was lacking a cultural identity. Sure,
everyone knew the town loved coffee, but that was about it. It
was time. Time for a new direction. Time for a new voice.
Time for the Sketch Comedy Boom.
Following the surge in popularity of the storied sketch
collaborative Bald Face Lie, performers around Seattle began to
think, "Hey! We wouldn't have to pay royalties if we just
tossed off a few crappy original sketches!" This widespread
mode of thinking led to the emergence of a host of sketch
groups. Groups like Kazoo!, The Habit, Pork-Filled Players, Lo
Blo, Some Kind of Cult and The BeeGees.
During this Laughquake, a plucky little theater company called
Naugahyde Productions had been struggling to produce fringe
theater. After impressing the world with their productions of
The Immorality Plays and Four Firsts, the good people of
Naugahyde realized they didn't give a thimble full of rat turds
about Grand Artistic Expression and decided to just jump on the
sketch comedy bandwagon.
Beginning with the graham cracker crust of comedians already
within the group (Marcea Pierson! Brent Johnson! Carrie
Houchins-Witt! Also, Deni Mayer), Jose and Joe--the plucky,
frighteningly sexy duo who had forced this idea on the rest of
the group--pulled superstars from around the city to supply the
creamed cheese, eggs and vanilla in this delectable cheesecake
of laughs. Kim Nyhous! Skot Kurruk! Lisa Sanphillipo!
Director Patrick Broemeling! (Also John McKenna and Brandon
Whitehead, who agreed to slum it for a couple sketches.)
And thus was born...Disgruntled Bit-Players! (Just to clarify,
"bit-players" is one hyphenated word, with the emphasis on the
word bit. Sorry, the author gets irked when it's
DBP! Who weren't quite as handsome as The Habit. DBP! Who
never sold a sketch to HBO like Some Kind of Cult. DBP! Who
fell apart after five shows when half of their members left
What does history say of the Disgruntled Bit-Players? Well,
they put together four and a half good sketch shows. They
picked up even more hilarious performers (Marty Mukhalian!
Jeremy Young! Evan Mosher! Val Bush! Suzanne Cohen!) and a
feisty lil' stage manager named Tim Long. They seemed to
genuinely dig hanging out together. And they foiled the evil
machinations of Lex Luthor and his Legion of Doom. (One or more
of these accomplishments may actually have been the work of the
Joe currently writes for
New York Family.