Travis Vogt and Kevin Clarke: The Audience Stays In The Picture

Travis Vogt and Kevin Clarke are a Seattle comedy duo (seen previously on City Arts here) who recently made filmmaking history by enlisting an entire theater audience to play a character in one of their video sketches.

They did it at Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery where they are the sketch-duo-in-residence on Montgomery‘s popular monthly variety show at the Annex Theatre. They filmed the audience’s part during the August 5 show and screened the final product at the September 2 show.

If this sounds like a ludicrous concept, it is, and Clarke and Vogt pulled it off with their typically endearing insistence on dumb, inspired fun. I asked them a few questions about the project.

In this video, you broke the fourth wall, as well as a purely theoretical fifth and possibly even sixth wall. Explain how this sketch came about and how you put it all together.

Travis: It’s a pretty great story, actually. I was riding the bus over to Kevin’s house and we had to come up with an idea for a live sketch, and my brain was all like, “Hey, how about we make the audience a cast member in one of our movies?” Then I got to Kevin’s house and said exactly that, and he was like, “Okay, that sounds easy.”

Wait, that’s not a great story at all. Sorry.

As a director, how were you able to get the performance you wanted out of an entire audience? Were they easy to work with, or were they a total primadonna?

Kevin: It was a bit of a nightmare, wrangling all of those people together. They all had different ideas of what their character’s motivations were, and we had to constantly keep them on task. They were really intense and “method,” too, like 35 Daniel Day-Lewises. It took us literally EIGHT MINUTES to shoot the thing. Travis was driven to the bottle. Well, further into the bottle.

Travis: You can watch part of the directing process in a video we made. The basic idea was to keep it funny during the shooting process as well, making the audience shout increasingly crazy things. In the end, nobody (NOBODY) actually believed that we were making a real video out of it. They just thought it was a freestanding sketch wherein we took a (possibly fake) camera onstage and made the audience shout the F-word over and over again. Which, admittedly, would’ve been a great bit.

Conceptually, this is probably one of the strangest things ClarketheVogt Productions has done. Any other exciting projects in the works?

Kevin: We’re finishing up Derek Sheen‘s stand-up special “Holy Drivel: The Movie,” we’re making our first TV ad for Scarecrow Video, we’re making three or four short films for our first stab at artistic legitimacy (really), and we’ll continue to make movies for Weird and Awesome. Oh yeah, and we directed the next season of Downton Abbey (now it takes place on an apocalypse-ravaged Mars.)


“A Wrenching Drama” starring the August 5 audience of Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery:

See the filming of the audience’s performance in “A Wrenching Drama” here.

Travis Vogt and Kevin Clarke appear at Weird and Awesome with Emmett Montgomery the first Sunday of every month. See more of their videos here.