New York comedian Tyler Richardson has a brand new sketch comedy mixtape out today, and he grabbed a whole list of New York’s funniest up and coming comedians to record the tracks with him. Each track includes a short sketch, introduced by Tyler, “pot talking” with his friend Jose Sanchez. The intros tie the tracks together, with Jose and Tyler’s pot talk conversations leading into full blown sketches that bring their pot talk to life. The title of the album, Strawberry Cough, comes from a lesser known strain of cannabis. “Most people haven’t heard of it. We don’t mention it, other than the title, because the project is more than just a weed mixtape,” Tyler told us in an interview. Tyler’s been performing stand up for seven years, first in Washington D.C., and now in New York City, and he performs every night all over NYC.
The talent Richardson brought in for the album is a real who’s who in up and coming New York talent. In addition to Tyler, the album features performances from Evan Williams, Anthony DeVito, Mike Brown, Nick Turner, Peggy O’Leary, James L. Mattern, and so many other comedians you’ve seen us feature on The Interrobang. The mixtape, Tyler pointed out, is a great way to get introduced some new comics. “Everyone on the mixtape is hilarious, most have been on television already, and I wanted people who listen to walk away with new names to follow for comedy.”
There’s some real silliness here to enjoy, some genuinely original thinking, and strong material throughout. One highlight is a track about what animals would say if they could talk starring Sarah Armour and Lindsay Boling. Tyler’s intro to the sketch where he talks about why he doesn’t want animals to start talking, is as funny as the sketch itself. Another track about Police Line Ups features Anthony DeVito– perfect casting for the interior monologue weirdness. Check out Google’s House of Tomorrow and Silent Letter for some solid social commentary,and don’t miss our pick for the album highlight, Goldilocks and the Three Bears Fans, which gave us another reason to fall in love with Christi Chiello. Christi blew us away at the Montreal Just for Laughs Roast Battle taping when she took on Jimmy Carr and we just love her. Goldilocks also stars Petey DeAbreu, Courtney Fearrington, and Ayanna Dookie doing excellent voice work.
The idea of doing a sketch album isn’t new, but it’s a genre that has been somewhat forgotten, at least until SNL writer Mike O’Brien revived the idea a few months ago. Like O’Brien, Tyler was inspired by Adam Sandler‘s old albums which included a lot of sketches. It’s been an idea he’s had in the back of his head for five years, but only recently did he feel like he had the right group of comedy friends to turn the idea into an album. Tyler and friends recorded at The Creek and the Cave in Long Island City “Special thanks go to Rebecca Trent for having us. And, Mary Kelly did all of our editing and made this mixtape exactly what I’d imagined it would be,” Tyler said.
For most of the tracks, he approached friends who he thought would be a good fit for the sketch, but in some cases he wrote new sketches in order to squeeze some personalities onto the album. And not everyone he asked agreed to be on the album; at least one comic was concerned about the nature of the material which can not only get blue in some parts, but also lacks a political correctness. Richardson said one friend told him “I can’t be on record saying that kind of stuff. I thought it was funny, but I can’t have that out there in the world.”
All of the sketches are written by Richardson with some improv and riffing during recording sessions. Tyler had a formula that helped keep the balance between his scripts and the improv skills of the performers. “On the second sketch we recorded (Google’s House of Tomorrow) we were having a lot of fun riffing, and after four or five readings I asked everyone to put the scripts down. They knew the beats I wanted to hit, and I wanted them to make it their own. We had so much fun, and it came out so well, I decided we’d try that method going forward. I included everyone because I wanted them to make the character theirs, showcasing their style of humor.”
Tyler’s favorite track, Principal’s Office, includes a lot of layering, and he suggests multiple listens to really appreciate it. “There’s a lot going on,” he said. At first listen, you get the point. But, go back and really pay attention to what Amber Nelson is saying as the mother. She is dropping some hilarious lines that get spoken over intentionally, and if you’re really paying attention you might laugh yourself silly. My one regret is not having some kind of outtakes track because we chopped a lot from her, and there was a ton cut from every other sketch.”
You can enjoy two of the tracks right now for free, because Tyler’s team animated them: Google’s House of Tomorrow, and Goldilocks. “I really love the idea of animating more sketches because you can do anything with animation,” Tyler said. “Not to say there won’t be another mixtape, but when is the last time stand up comedians did animated sketch comedy? Shorties Watching Shorties was a long time ago. I think we’re ready to dive back in.”
You can see Tyler performing all over New York City, at Carolines, Gotham, Broadway, New York Comedy Club, Stand Up NY, Dangerfield’s, Eastville, UCB & UCB East, The Standing Room, The Creek, QED as well as a lot of independent shows. Follow him on Twitter @tylerrichardson and get a copy of his mixtape, Strawberry Cough, on sale today.