As someone who has been performing and watching Seattle sketch comedy since the Taft administration, I can be judgmental when watching new groups. Sketch can be an inspired medium, but it can also be formulaic. There is a lot of conventional wisdom involved in the culture—often resulting in tired cliches, predictable beats and stubbornly immutable plot designs. It gets good when a group develops a recognizable voice of it’s own—and the familiarity of the form creates a stable launching pad for brilliant and ridiculous ideas.
Three year-old Seattle sketch trio Day Job packs unhinged pathos and razor sharp intelligence into a deceptively familiar package. Goofy novelty songs double as unapologetic feminist anthems; well-choreographed dance numbers come out of nowhere. Bits are breathlessly packed with solid jokes, many dark and incisive. Halfway through their act I realized I had no clue what would happen next—not something I say very often about sketch comedy.
Day Job is Caitie Auld, Kara O’Connor and Molly Tellers. They’re a product of Seattle’s new Pocket Theater/Clayton Weller-based, artist-centric sketch scene, which I’ve covered before. They’ll be doing a three-month run of their new variety show That Time of the Month at the Ballard Underground starting Feb. 24. We got together over cider and cupcakes, and when we weren’t discussing pizza, Parks and Rec and Rihanna’s habit of stealing restaurant wine glasses, we actually talked about comedy for a little while.
Talk a little bit about how you came together as a group.
Caitie Auld: Clayton Weller and Sophie Lowenstein did a “Sketch Summit” for us. That’s where they pull people together who they thought, “These people are funny and should learn how to write together.” They workshopped with us and we met once a week for a month or so, and then we bumped it up to two rehearsals a week and they just taught us how to write together, how to write a good game, how to build a cohesive show. Then we debuted at Sketch Month.
Did you know each other at all before Sketch Month?
Molly Tellers: Caitie and I met when we interned together at Seattle Children’s Theater. We did not know Kara—and thank god we do now. We met Kara through the summit and our souls clicked in a comedy cacophony of craziness.
How long had each of you been doing comedy before then?
Kara O’Connor: I was doing comedy for a long time. I had done a little bit of stand-up, and then I was in a sketch group in Seattle that broke up. But they were already breaking up as I entered so it had nothing to do with me. [Laughs] And I did some sketch comedy in New York when I was still living there, so I dabbled in comedy and writing.
Caitie: I majored in theatre in college and I just did some fringe plays around Seattle for a bit. And then I wrote a few one-act plays in college, NBD. [Laughs] But nothing as organized as this.
Molly: Similar to Caitie, I majored in theatre, and I was like “I’m gonna be an actor in Seattle.” I did fringe shows here and there and dabbled in different styles. And then I met these assholes.
Do you feel like coming together as a group was about finding the direction you wanted to go?
Kara: Yeah. For me, I was always grasping at things, because I always wanted to do sketch comedy but I couldn’t find people that I could rely on or who felt as passionately about it as I did or had the same sense of humor. When Clayton put us together, I thought, “This is gonna be a really great one-off,” but it turned out I not only got a sketch comedy group out of it, but my best friends.
Caitie: Oh my god, she’s not even drinking! [Laughs] It’s really nice coming to rehearsal. I always can count on you guys to show up with sketches done and lately we’ve been playing with a lot of dance and musical stuff in our sketches, and that is the most fun.
Molly: Our rehearsals are really fun. We drink a ton of wine. But we do hold ourselves to a certain standard. We set goals for each rehearsal and try to be as professional within our weird wine nights as possible, and we get shit done. We work pretty hard at it.
That’s one of the things that I’ve noticed watching you guys. I enjoy a sketch group where the players are obviously having fun with it and it’s light and loose but it’s also clear they worked hard on this.
Molly: [Burps loudly]
Caitie: [To the recorder] That was Molly, for the record.
Kara: I feel like we really benefit from our backgrounds. The fact that Molly and Caitie come from theatre backgrounds—rehearsal is very important.
Molly: We treat it like a job. We come to work. We work hard. Our name is Day Job after all.
What’s the writing process like?
Molly: It varies, but typically someone will come up with an idea, usually one of these two, write a first draft for rehearsal and we’ll all read it. We’ll do a group edit and talk about ideas and brainstorm and someone else will take that sketch home and work on it and then we’ll all read it again. One of our favorite sketches—that we did at Sketchfest this year—was a sketch that we all wrote while we were drinking wine, of course. We were tossing around ideas about a junior high talent show and it ended up turning into this really awesome spoken word resistance piece against P.E. performed by fourth graders. Normally it’s very structured, but sometimes things happen like that and it’s awesome.
Caitie: I really like that we pass around sketches. That way my brain can take a step back from it and I don’t get too attached to a bit.
Molly: We’re pretty good about not getting attached. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when someone’s felt like they couldn’t kill the baby. [Laughs] Actual babies!
Kara: Yeah, we sacrifice babies. And then use the blood to write the sketches.
That was a standard sketch comedy thing back in the ‘60s. I’m glad you guys are bringing it back.
Kara: I don’t know if we should talk about this, but right now we’re mulling over this idea we have. We wanna do this song about kvetching—bitching together—at a brunch. Because right now in our political climate it’s been tough for us to find the funny nuggets without sounding like complaining white ladies. Because we really want to say something but we also want it to be funny and light. How do you do that?
Molly: We had one of our toughest rehearsals last week trying to write that sketch. And we still haven’t found the answer. At the end of the night we were all pretty frustrated—we couldn’t figure out what we wanted to say or how we wanted to say it—but we did leave by saying we love each other and we had a group hug. [Laughs] So, feelings.
So you guys generally get along pretty well, right?
Kara: We said we weren’t gonna talk about that.
Caitie: If we have a break between shows we try to find time to hang out together as people. Working professionally together a lot is creatively cathartic, but I think it’s important to find times to be just normal people together.
Do you have any rituals that you like to do?
Kara: Drink wine. [Laughs]
Caitie: Five Things!
Molly: It’s an exercise that we do to get ready for a show, but it’s fun to do any time. You don’t know it? Whoa!
[Day Job proceeds to do a high-energy vocal exercise that I couldn’t begin to describe here. It involves shouting the word “penis” a lot.]
That was pretty fun! I don’t know how the hell I’ll work that into the article.
Caitie: Non-rehearsal things we do together when we’re hanging out—we’ll go see shows together. We’ll go get brunch.
Molly: We were in Chicago last spring for the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival and the greatest thing we did was go on an “architectural tour” on a boat around the city. But it was really just a booze cruise. And we had the best time. But we do other things than drink, too.
Kara: When we went to the festival in Chicago it was the first time we’d all stayed in a room together. Those are moments when you’re like “OK, I get along with these people because I can stay in a house with them for a weekend and not get annoyed.”
Tell me about the new show.
Kara: It’s called That Time of the Month. It’s not female exclusive, but the theme is female focused. It’s a way of celebrating femininity. We have Emmett Montgomery and other male performers who identify as feminists so it’s not limited to just women. It’s a variety show, we have musical guests, comedians, other sketch groups and then we’ll be performing some sketches as well. We’re doing three nights as of now, but we’d like it to be a continuing monthly show.
Molly: For the February show a portion of the proceeds is going to the ACLU. For the following month we’re probably going to pick another organization like Planned Parenthood or Black Lives Matter—something that Trump would hate.
What kind of trajectory do you see yourselves having in the future? Any big projects?
Caitie: Kara’s applied to some festivals for us. It’s always super exiting for us to travel together. Hanging out, seeing more places, getting to know more people, having more experiences with how different festivals are run.
Molly: We’re trying to have more of a web presence. Kara is amazing and is building a website for us now. We would not be us without Kara—Caitie and I are fucking luddites. We have a sketch that we filmed two summers ago that we’re really excited about but we haven’t decided whether we want to do it as a web series or a longer cut yet. It’s about kind of like a Phoenix Jones character, but she goes around the city picking wedgies for people. So we went down to Pike Place and did guerrilla filming where it’s just shots of me chasing Caitie trying to get her wedgie.
Caitie: Someone thought she was trying to swipe my purse and they were like “Hey! HEY!” And they started chasing after Molly and Kara.
Molly: It’s very real.
See That Time of the Month on Feb 24, March 24 and April 28 at the Ballard Underground at 11 p.m.