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Interview: Jessica Pohly's Always Dancin' & Improv-vin' In & Out of A COZY WINTER CABIN

The Groundlings brand new Friday/Saturday holiday show Groundlings Cozy Winter Cabin opens December 2nd

Interview: Jessica Pohly's Always Dancin' & Improv-vin' In & Out of A COZY WINTER CABIN

The Groundlings brand new Friday/Saturday holiday show Groundlings Cozy Winter Cabin opens December 2, 2022. Chris Eckert directs Main Company members Sam Desurra, Chris Kleckner, Laird Macintosh, Karen Maruyama, Jessica Pohly, Jay Renshaw and Annie Sertich. Jessica very pleasantly surprised me with her quick responses to my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Jessica! I have interviewed a number of your Groundlings cohorts and glad to finally get the chance to do you.

You're going to be in Groundlings Cozy Winter Cabin. Have you lost count of how many main shows you've been in?

Not yet! I've been in the company a few years but a lot of it was during quarantine! This is my 6th Main show.

Will you regale us with your beginnings with The Groundlings? How were you first introduced to this hysterical comedy troupe?

I came to L.A. on a whim to escape a N.Y. winter. I wanted to see theater, and it was the only ticket I could afford that night. I didn't know anything about improv. I saw Edi Patterson do a Gas show and that's all I remember. I was just immediately like 'Shit! I have to know how to do that.' I auditioned the next week.

How long did it take you to be promoted to main company member?

43 years.

When did you start teaching at The Groundlings School?

I started teaching as soon as I got into Main which I think was around 2018.

What is the principal lesson you were taught there that you pass on to your students?

Be kind. Jordan Black was my Intermediate teacher and on the first day he told us unequivocally, "There's no room for assholes in improv." He's right. Creating something out of nothing is exciting and terrifying... and hard enough as it is. Being a selfish or mean-spirited performer drags it down. A scene starts to fly if there is an unwavering spirit of generosity, support and kindness. Even when you are playing terrible characters.

Your acting training has span the globe - in Paris with Thomas Leabhart, Theatre de L'Ange Fou in London and Atlantic Theater Company in the States. Would you list the most vital lesson you learned at each group?

Corporeal Mime (what I studied with Tom Leabhart and L'Ange Fou) is an incredibly specific art form. It's like physical cubism and its creator, Etienne Decroux, was rather militant about the form. Becauase of that attention to detail, it is some of the most profound art I've ever seen on stage. So the lesson there is on the importance of specificity in the creative process. It was echoed at Atlantic Theater Company when one of my teachers said, about acting choices: "'In general' is the enemy of art."

You started out taking dance lessons before switching to acting. Do you today still take dance classes or do dance stretches?

I've always danced so it wasn't really a switch. Dance class has been my church. I stopped going to in-person classes during quarantine, but you can actually clear your living room and take entire classes virtually. I did that a lot. I hope dance will always be a part of my life.

What is your favorite Groundlings sketch that you wrote?

Each of my sketches that has made it onto Main Stage has a special place in my heart and mind. Some Sunday Company sketches are especially important to me because that was a time in my development when I became more fearless in writing from myself, for myself.

Interview: Jessica Pohly's Always Dancin' & Improv-vin' In & Out of A COZY WINTER CABIN What is your favorite Groundlings sketch that someone else wrote?

I couldn't possibly choose just one! It's been the height of privilege to be surrounded by Groundlings peers in the Sunday Company and Main Company. I get a front row seat to some of the most brilliant and fearless performances. It has been, and continues to be, a soul-expanding joy to watch the work of my fellows on The Groundlings stage.

What's your secret to not breaking character when a fellow actor really makes you want to laugh?

I don't have one. If you know of one DM me. The people I work with are too funny to resist.

I was told, each performer takes care of their own costumes. How often do you need to replenish your outfits and wigs?

I have a pretty large closet of costumes and wigs at this point. I only really add to it if a character requires something I don't have wig or costume-wise.

How many wigs do you own now?

9,734.

What's the most unexpected, craziest audience reaction that you've experienced that totally threw you or your sketch partners?

It's our job to keep the show going so we try to roll with even the craziest of audience reactions. Usually, it's just someone who cannot stop laughing really hard and really loud and, well, that's pure joy, so it's all good!

What's in the near future for Jessica Pohly? A stint of FX's Fargo, maybe?

I'm currently in post-production on my short film The Arrangment which grew out of a Groundlings sketch. It's my first film and I'm very excited! And yes, I have the incredible honor this year of working on season 5 of Fargo. You can also catch me on season 2 of Grand Crew!

Thank you again, Jessica! I look forward to experiencing your hilarious characters.

Thanks for hangin' with me, Broadway World!

For tickets to the live performances of Groundlings Cozy Winter Cabin the first three Fridays and Saturdays in December, click on the button below:



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      Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in... (read more about this author)


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