L.E. Zarling performs monologues, stories, and characters inspired by her travels.
Previous Countdown Improv Festival appearances
Interview (from 2018)
You’ll be performing your solo improv show, Wisconsin Laugh Trip, at this year’s fest. (We were lucky enough to have you perform that show with us at Countdown Theater in NYC earlier this year. Thank you again for doing that!) Tell our Tampa audiences a little about that show, and how it came to be.
Wisconsin Laugh Trip came from Wisconsin being the theme for Countdown Theater’s January shows. I took the show I was previously doing — Rough Draft — and mixed it with some Wisconsin-based one-person sketches. Laugh Trip combines my love of Wisconsin with all the things I’ve seen and done around the country. So lots of characters from around the country, but through my Wisconsin point of view.
The show is so named, we understand, because you’re a Wisconsin native. What do you think makes Wisconsin unique?
Wisconsin is uniquely charming and friendly. The Germans had a word for this: Gemütlichkeit, which means the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness,and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include coziness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance.
You currently perform out of Richmond, Virginia’s Coalition Theater. Tell us a bit about the improv scene in Richmond.
Richmond has a great stand up and improv scene going. I’m super proud of some of the experimental stuff coming out of the scene like Wisconsin Laugh Trip and my friend’s sketch show Trash Bang! Just stuff that is bold, risky, aggressive and funny. Definitely not your standard 20-minute improv sets.
You’re a fantastically talented solo performer. What, in your opinion, are the keys to a successful solo performance? How do you prepare for a show? Any habits or rituals?
I’m sorry….I’m going to need a few days to get over being labeled “fantastically talented”. OK. I hate to break it to everyone but I have no tips on preparing. I like to hang around in the green room, chat to people or whatever. Talk to me before a show, I’d like that. As for doing a successful one person show- my feeling is that if I’m not nervous about doing a show, I probably shouldn’t be doing it. I’m still a little nervous about W.L.T. so I guess I’ll keep going.
PRO TIP: You can do anything you want! It’s great to watch other shows for inspiration but don’t use other’s work to put up boundaries on what you can do on stage.
You’re arriving in Tampa after a few weeks on the road traveling around the country. What’s the coolest thing you saw and the best thing you ate on this trip? (Bonus points if they’re the same thing!)
This trip has been amazing! In the last 18 day I’ve hit 20 states, taught students on both coasts and watched the price of Sausage McMuffins rise and fall as I traveled west and back. The coolest thing I ate was also the coolest thing I saw! The Red Rocks Park in Denver. They have signs telling you you’re not allowed to eat the rocks, but there’s nobody there to enforce that rule.
Finally, why is “Kiss Off” the best Violent Femmes song?
“Kiss Off” is the best Violent Femmes song because it is exactly how I feel 24/7. If I thought enough people knew all the words it would definitely be the song that closes W.L.T.