BWW Interview: Iris Bahr On Tackling a Tough Subject With Humor & Guest Starring Again on CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
"Tragedy, tomorrow. Comedy Tonight." Except in Iris Bahr's one-woman show, I Lost You There A Humorous Exploration of a Most Unfunny Subject, it's both in one night. "I like to tackle everything with humor and pathos -- one minute people are laughing, crying the next," the actress explains.
Bahr brings to life six characters whose lives intertwine in surprising and hilarious ways, exploring how death is viewed and experienced through different eyes in the hour long performance. The show just completed a two-week engagement at the Cherry Lane Theatre.
But Bahr's got plenty to look forward to this fall. She's set to reprise her role on the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm as Rachel Heinemann. BroadwayWorld's Leigh Scheps spoke with Bahr about her solo act and all her guest starring TV roles.
The play touches on the tough subject of death. But you approached it with humor. How?
It's dark humor but also sensitive. I tried to tackle how different cultures approach death. There was the woman working in the suicide hotline, the doorman who is auditioning to be a suicide bomber and the estate lawyer who uses death as a business. I like to tackle everything with humor and pathos -- one minute people are laughing, crying the next. That's how I like all my work to be because who wants to sit for an hour and watch a depressing show?
Each of the six characters has a different dialect. How do juggle all those accents?
I work very hard on them. It's very important they appear authentic. I worked with a lot of people on the Indian accent. I worked with a bunch of women on the Filipino accent. I listen a lot and once I am in character, I don't think about it anymore. I have been doing it so long it becomes a natural cadence of the character.
Are the characters based on anyone from real life?
I wanted the main character closest to me. Not her story or BIOGRAPHY but something that would be an entry point to the show. The mom was inspired by many moms. I think the characters come to me from people I've encountered in life but they're not based on anyone specific.
What did you think of the audience's perception of the show?
People have a very powerful response to it - a lot of people can relate. I think people were intrigued how the stories connect as the plot unfolds. Some audiences are more serious than others, which is always interesting. Only one night in this run the audience was very engaged but very quiet. Even if there was a joke they were just listening, but that's the thrill of live theater.
How excited are you to reprise your role as Rachel Heinemann on Curb Your Enthusiasm?
I was thrilled -- how could I not be? It was amazing getting back there and I love Larry [David]. I shot it four or five months ago. It made me miss the character. I can't reveal anything about the story [line].
What is it like being in an iconic episode of Friends (The One With Ross's Tan)?
It was huge! It was one of my first roles. I shot it so long ago and people [now] will say I saw you on Friends. When you are a part of an iconic show or episode, it's amazing. If you do something that stays with people for years -- that's a gift.
On being on King of Queens:
I got cast and they said I was supposed to be unattractive. But I was too cute, so they were going to hide my face. Anytime when you do a multi-camera sitcom in front of a studio audience, it's so much fun. It's like theater because you have that live audience response.
On being on The Drew Carrey Show:
I also was hidden by a veil. I was like this crazy bride and you couldn't see my face. I was like, 'is this going to be my new career path?' Every role I do --where's the potato sack? Luckily that didn't happen.
On being Leonard's girlfriend on the unaired pilot of The Big Bang Theory:
They recast me. I was bummed. I think I have a healthy attitude about it. I am not a hippy dippy but I do believe things have a way of evolving. It would have been nice to be on a hit sitcom and be a gazillionaire, sure. It was interesting because that same week because I was told they were adding two guys instead of me, I got my one woman show off-Broadway. That had a big impact on me and a lot of people. It was important piece for me. I was okay.
I am developing a screen play, but I really want to direct. That is my next goal is making that happen. I am focused on my standup. I am starting this comedy series that I will be hosting twice a month in midtown and I have amazing comics [including] Marc Normand, doing my first show.