The New York Times says, “The married comedy duo of Nick Afka Thomas and Sarah Ann Masse combine his droll British wit and her joke-packed American energy in this clever, cross-cultural sketch show.” And with over 3.5 million views for their online videos, and features on Funny or Die and Whohaha (among many others), We Are Thomasse’s unique brand of super fast-paced, high-concept, British-American comedy sketches is quickly catching on all over the world. We Are Thomasse has performed regularly over the past two years in New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Paris, making for a highly polished live performance. Their clean yet twisted comedy invites laughs suitable for the whole family.
What can the audience expect to see during your DCF show?
Nick: A LOT of sketches. We’re fast and burn through jokes. There are 30 or more sketches in 55 minutes, dozens of characters, and the whole thing goes at breakneck speed.
Sarah: You’ll also see really grounded and committed performances. We are both actors by trade and think it’s really important to treat sketch with the same respect we’d treat any other performance medium. Plus, the more committed we are, the funnier things are.
Who are some of your sketch comedy idols and why?
Nick: When I was six, I walked into a room and on the TV was a sketch that I thought was genius. I remember thinking, “That’s my humour” (humour with a ‘u’ because I’m British). It was 10 years later that I was watching Monty Python for the first time and recognized the sketch. It’s weird, though: I never consciously emulated them… I just always felt we shared the same sense of humour.
Sarah: I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t idolizing Carol Burnett. She does everything! I have been singing and dancing longer than I have been acting, and I always brought humor (humor without a ‘u’ because I’m American) into every role I tackled. I think watching The Carol Burnett Show is a big part of that for me. She is this strong, funny, beautiful woman who never apologized for being a woman. She uses her femininity to her advantage, either playing it up or totally subverting it. I also grew up thinking Dana Carvey was the funniest person I had ever seen. His characters are so big but his commitment means that what he is doing always feels real and vulnerable.
How do you come up with new material?
Nick: Most of the time ideas just pop up, and you either recognize a good one or you don’t, and perhaps, more importantly, you either make a note of it at the time or you don’t and then you forget it forever! I reckon I note down about one-in-four ideas, which means that a lot of good material is lost in the mists of time. Sometimes we’ll get ideas from brainstorming (especially when we’re writing for something specific, like when we write tailor-made sketches for businesses), but most of the time ideas pop up when chatting with friends, or each other, and ideas sometimes more or less walk into my head… but you have to be prepared to let your mind wander, which is easy to do when you’re doing the washing up, for example, and you have to let your brain know that you’re open to ideas. For a long time, I stopped having new ideas, but it’s because I wasn’t thinking about comedy or doing comedy and had my mind consumed with other stuff. Conversely, when I am relaxed, messing around and have been doing comedy stuff recently, my mind latches onto odd ideas. All you need is an unusual twist on a familiar situation and you have the basis for a sketch.
Sarah: My favorite way of coming up with new material is knowing that there is a certain thing to create around, whether that be an upcoming holiday, a line of dialogue I heard someone say that I thought was odd, or a social construct I want to explore or dismantle. I love having a box to work within. It makes me even more creative than if I have endless space, time, and avenues to wander down. A lot of stuff also comes out of silly conversations between me and Nick. Sometimes I’ll just scour through lists of ideas we’ve made, pick something that sparks my interest, and write around that.
What are you looking forward to in Dallas and in performing at the festival?
Nick: I’ve never been to Dallas before, so I’m excited to visit the city itself. All I know about it really is that it was a glamorous soap opera on British TV when I was growing up! Sarah and I are married, so we more or less literally do everything together. It’s our wedding anniversary the day after our show, so we are looking for fun things to do… (hint, hint… any suggestions?)! One thing I love about this festival is that we’re getting to do a full 55-minute show. We have so much material (check out a chunk of it on our YouTube page) and it’s a pleasure to perform so many of our best sketches. There’s a lot of variation in our material, lots of different characters and scenes, so it’s much more satisfying to do a 55-minute show rather than a 25-minute show. Audiences tell us that our 55 minutes feels more like 35 minutes because it flies by so fast
Sarah: As Nick says, it is going to be our anniversary and it is so special that we get to celebrate by doing this awesome festival and exploring a new city. Nick and I have been to Texas once before and we loved it! The people were so friendly and the state is gorgeous. Since we’ve never been to Dallas, I am looking forward to seeing what this city is all about. Also, one of my favorite things about what we do is getting to perform for new audiences. Each audience, each city, each show is so different and I can’t wait to see what Dallas makes of our rapid-fire, quirky comedy. I also hope to make lots of new friends and new connections to comedians from all around the country.
Cake or pie?
Nick: Pie. Cake. No, pie. Well, it depends, doesn’t it? If I’m back in England, I want shepherd’s pie, not shepherd’s cake; but I don’t want a strawberry cheesepie, do I? And I don’t want a birthday pie really. What I’m finding out from this is that when it comes to cakes and pies, I seem to be a traditionalist, and I want both. I really, really want both. Can we make that happen, please?
Sarah: Pie. I am a sucker for cherry pie or blueberry pie. Unfortunately I have a *ton* of food allergies so both of those items have been off the menu for a while now. But I did figure out how to make a raw, gluten free, sugar free, vegan apple pie that is DELICIOUS (I swear)! And I make a chocolate cake for Nick that tastes exactly like a traditional rich homemade chocolate cake…the secret, though, is that… the main ingredient is black beans!
Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program. He manages the DCH blog and performs with .f.a.c.e., the ’95 Bulls, and Bound Together.