BWW Interview: Funnyman Gianmarco Soresi on His New Sketch Comedy Series, 'Matza Pizza,' Creative Freedom, and Why Our World Needs A Laugh Every Now and Then
NYC-based actor, stand-up comedian, and writer, Gianmarco Soresi, is leaving audiences in stitches once again with a new comedy sketch series, "Matza Pizza" - his own creation with actor/producer Lindsay-Elizabeth Hand. With new videos each Monday, this highly entertaining series explores experiences and customs relative to Soresi's Jewish Italian heritage while asking the bigger questions related to the meaning of life and one's own existence.
Soresi has been most recently featured in the General Electric commercials, starring as recent college grad, Owen, who has just landed a job as a software developer, and on the CBS smash Blue Bloods. Additionally, Soresi has written and starred in his own play Less Than 50% that sold out the 2014 NYC International Fringe Festival and went on to be a part of the Fringe Encores series.
BroadwayWorld had the exciting opportunity to catch up with Soresi about his work on "Matza Pizza," his new found creative freedom, and what he hopes audiences will take away each week.
Let's start at the beginning. How was "Matza Pizza" born?
It really came in two parts. I was sort of new to the sketch comedy world - I waited a little while to dip my toes into improv and UCB -- but two things happened. I began writing sketches with a woman named MEGAN SASS and it just kind of exploded. It also just happened that we were talking about these MTA announcements right when the MTA was coming out with some new programs where they talked more about the ethics of riding the subway - so it just got swept up in the news cycle.
"Matza Pizza" is named for my Jewish Italian roots. I've done sketches with MEGAN SASS and worked with her company, Spoiled NYC, and then I'm also on a sketch team called Uncle Function that still performs at the PIT. I felt like I finally embraced comedy in a way that I hadn't before - it had been in my veins growing up watching SNL and doing stand-up comedy. I met the talented Lindsay-Elizabeth Hand who has her own Production Company called Edge in Motion and I had seen her work and she is one of those rare producers who believed in my work and my skills and was super supportive. We filmed 16 sketches over the summer and have been in the process of releasing them each week.
How has your experience in acting and theater prepared you for the sketch comedy world?
What was so exciting to me was that I had done a web series called "An Actor Unprepared" about three years ago and it was my baby and an amazing opportunity, but it was so hard to get people to watch. There's a trillion web series out there about actors and acting - it's such a niche group. It felt like attempting another web series would be difficult unless you have a big name out there or have something unique and new, you are almost screaming into the void. For someone like me, where there are so many different topics I want to explore and talk about. Sketch comedy became the one place where I felt free and it could be my laboratory and I could let my imagination run wild.
What's the most fun part about creating your own work?
I kind of fought against thinking of a particular theme or brand and thought for most of my life that I will be told what to do and this was my opportunity to cultivate my own little corner in my creative life. If I want to play some insane character that I'll never get cast as, I can do that here. It's just so much fun to have that kind of creative freedom!
It's been so cool casting friends and creative folks in the city and it's such an exciting time to bring in what my peers are working on. We had seven different directors and I learned so much about filming and the shots you need to get and how to edit and choose locations as well as packaging it all together.
Have there been any filming challenges that stand out?
The shoots on the MTA are so unpredictable - - For "Compliment to Completion" there's a chunk of it that we filmed and I guess we filmed in the wrong part of the building, but you can't tell when you watch it that there's two different locations in front of the building that we used. Filming on the subway is also always a challenge because it is supposed to take place on a closed subway train and we would go back and forth and film the side where the doors closed and when you put it together, it gives the appearance of one full car. There are so many cool elements and each sketch can have completely different people.
Can you spill any secrets about upcoming sketches?
We do have some theater sketches coming up - one of my favorites is called "Hasidic Fiddler on the Roof" that's about a community theater putting on the production but no one is donating to the Kickstarter except for a Hasidic rabbi but he's changed some of the lyrics to better reflect Hasidic culture and traditions and it gets really scary pretty fast - but I've used all real things about the Hasidic community! I have some more MTA sketches - - there's one about the MTA having an existential crisis. I also have a parody of the popular YouTube series "My Drunk Kitchen" called "Our Drunk Kitchen" about George and Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? making a drunk kitchen for themselves.
What do you hope viewers will take away from the sketches?
For me, I hope to have added a little more humor to the world - - some sketches are just for fun and some of them aim to look at life in a new way and not take every moment too seriously. When you are able to step back and make fun of something - even for a moment - it lets you witness your own inconsistencies. It's important to let yourself laugh and be a little absurd sometimes.