Jenn Dodd is an entire sketch comedy troupe in one smart, riotous little package. She writes and acts for I’ve Got Munchies, a cooking sketch comedy program that airs biweekly on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. She performed live sketch in a 4-person group called Lolabrigada. Jenn’s must see blog and YouTube channel are her Jenneral Assembly of characters and their stories.
So where do all these people come from? Your characters exhibit all these lovely facets, and then even more detail can be found in your blog entries about them. Are those additional notes that did not make it to the sketches?
I am fascinated by people. I think my characters come from the part of my brain that is (annoyingly) observant of other peoples mannerisms. I’ll find myself watching someone tell a story rather than listening to it; how their lips move, how they use their hands, unique affectations. Countless times, I’m so caught up in observing, it’s an awkward moment when I’m supposed to respond.
My characters are usually based on people I know, people who I’ve observed from my costumer service jobs or a medley of several of them. More often than not, they’re even inspired by an interesting wig that I’ve found. I think I may have a wig addiction. Really. The stories which accompany the videos on my blog are usually done after the fact. It’s essentially me trying to expel any additional information about the character I can think of. Kind of like a character dry heave. Yep, I said it. Character dry heave.
You not only write characters, but you also change your face, physically, and have mastered several accents. Even invented some accents! Did you have formal training to learn how to do this?
Since I was very young, I’ve “played dress up” and enjoyed being other people. I never really grew out of that. I’ve been involved in theatre and plays for most of my life. When I was 20, I moved to New York to attend Circle in the Square Theatre School. Circle is an acting conservatory where I was provided a buffet of acting tools; speech classes, physical acting, improvisation, mask class for character work, and script analysis. For me, it was a little slice of heaven in the basement of a broadway theatre. I owe my parents a lot of gratitude for letting me take that path because I stink at math and science or anything practical.
Saw your Shrink vid, do you like to perform live? What shows are you in around town (NYC)?
I do! For me, performing live is exhilarating, fun, and some times scary. I never know how an audience is going to react to which ever character I’ve chosen to perform as that evening. It’s an interesting study to see what character works best and what venue. I’ve just recently started taking my characters on the road, and I’m having a ball.
The Shrink Show is one of my favorite places to perform because Sharon “Mama” Spell creates a truly fun environment in which to play. Before every show she makes an announcement that “no bummers” are allowed. I love that.
I’m currently working on getting my own monthly show running. Details as they come, but keep your eyes peeled!
What is the real Jenn Dodd like? Which of your characters come closest to the real you?
My friend James recently described me as “quixotic” and I think that’s closest to the truth. There are parts of all my characters which I can relate to, or at least understand what motivates them to behave the way they do. None of them are much like me, though. I think that’s part of the appeal for me as an actor. Although, Bella Lipschitz is based on the relationship I had with my father as a teen. Oh! And there’s a particularly bitchy waitress character that may or may not have been based on my time working in restaurants…
How do you decide who to emulate when you perform as a real person, as opposed to fictional character? Is there anyone want to impersonate but haven’t?
I recently filmed a Victoria Jackson impression that came to be because of what was happening in the media at that moment. It was an easy choice to make because it was timely and we both play the ukulele.
Otherwise, I enjoy playing people who have interesting or distinct facial characteristics. Like Dianne Wiest and Sandra Bernhard are 2 of my favorites to impersonate. In the future I’d like to work on a Bette Midler impression, or maybe even Seth Rogen.