A small audience watches intently as seven people gather around microphones inside a closed studio. The clock strikes 7 p.m. and the show begins. It's live radio and staged performances like this one are increasingly rare. But for Darrell Brogdon and the cast of local comedy troupe Right Between the Ears, it's a common occurrence.
Right Between The Ears: Mournful
Since 1985, the comedy troupe has performed sketch comedy both live and pre-recorded for radio originally on Kansas Public Radio and now on Sirius/XM's Laugh USA channel. The show itself, a mixture of regular bits, one-offs, and recurring characters has won the Gold Medal four times at the New York Festivals for Best Comedy Show.
This Saturday's performance will consist of seasonal material gleaned from the show's 25-year history, though Brogdon, who writes the majority of the sketches, and the other writers plan to tweak and update the material to make it more topical.
Right Between The Ears: Snuggie
Rick Tamblyn writes and performs with the troupe and while he's done his fair share of characters over the years, there are a few personal favorites he'd like to see make an appearance during the holiday show.
"There's one [character] I do who's just named Terry. Terry is like the biggest, dumbest guy you've ever met. I mean, he's really dumb," Tamblyn says of the character he based off of a real-life acquaintance.
Right Between The Ears: Tee ball
Because of the familiarity of the material and because the cast read from scripts during the performance, Tamblyn estimates that roughly eight hours of rehearsal time will go into Saturday's performance, though he's quick to add that the performance itself never becomes routine.
"It's still a total thrill to get up in front of people and try to make them laugh. That never gets old. Ever," Tamblyn says.
Brogdon agrees, saying that the shortened rehearsal time actually keeps the material fresh and gives the actors the opportunity to improvise while having a script in front of them that they can default back to, just in case. That coupled with the sound effects team, which has to trigger all of the audio cues in real-time gives the live performance the feel of an old-fashioned radio play.
Saturday's show takes place at the Kansas Public Radio Performance Studio, 1120 W. 11th St. Tickets are $25 and are on sale at the Liberty Hall box office. The show starts at 7 p.m.