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SIMPLY JESSICA: Comedy duo use cell phones, internet for stage material

Jen Jamula and Allison Goldberg act out community forums, missed connections, Yelp reviews, Cupid profiles, fan fiction, tweets, comment sections and anything else they can find on the internet.

Goldberg and Jamula perform the internet word-for-word on stage.

The two created “How to Break Up by Text” and “Blogologues” (combining blogs and monologues) in 2011. The former Yale theater majors wanted to make their audience laugh by showing an audience how to make the internet interactive with them as they perform as a vengeful lover in a romance novel, or a kindergarten book report or different musical numbers. The two enjoy catfishing their audiences.

Goldberg and Jamula went on a long story as they slowly began to realize how fast the world has changed.

“In 2011 the internet existed, but it didn’t become mainstream with blogging,” Goldberg said. “At first, it was weird if you had a blog. Then it become normal to have a blog to share all your thoughts and feelings with anyone in the world. We were really fascinated with this and how storytelling was fundamentally changing.”

Goldberg noticed that writers and reporters were no longer telling stories, but stories were now being told by anyone. This led the two to perform online material.

“As theater people, … we were disullioned by the roles that were available to us at the time as 20-something New Yorkers so we thought performing internet content would really allow us to play endless types of roles and that turned out to be true,” Jamula said. “The material does resonate with audiences.”

Goldberg and Jamula do not want texting to replace talking.

The show is called “How to Break Up by Text,” but the title was created to get people interested and excited to come see the show.

The show talks about how people are not treating people like people, but instead treating them like screens.

“It’s easier to break up by text because you don’t have to look them in the eyes,” Goldberg said. “You can just look at your phone. We look at different types of break ups and we look at the time stamp. We talk about maybe you should have done that before 8 p.m.”

Jamula tries to use her acting background to teach on stage.

“We’re always told to think about where is the person coming from in the text,” Jamula said. “In blogologues, we get to play characters, so we are always thinking where is this person coming from and why are they saying what they are saying. We want them to think before they send the text about what the other person might be going through.”

Blogologues is improvisational comedy that is performed and analyzed. The two receive emails and texts in advance. Phone numbers and names have been blurred. The audience can interrupt the show at any moment and submit their own text break up.

“We take texts and treat it like a script,” Goldberg said. ”We look at how can we make a scene. The two shows are very different. Each looks at how technology and new media are changing the way we communicate with each other.”

Jen Jamula and Allison Goldberg work on their routines out of a tech space in New York from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week. It has become a business endeavor for them. (Photo by Lindsay May Cook)

“How to Break Up by Text” has some bits that are written, but mainly the two accept audience text messages that are read then performed and analyzed. Blogologues is done verbatim from the internet.

“We don’t change any words,” Jamula said. “ We create a character and scenario for it by looking at the text and filling in the blanks.”

The two have performed over 30 versions of the show in New York.

It was time for Goldberg and Jamula to try the show in California.

On June 10 and 24 at 8 p.m. at iO West Theater, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., the two will perform real breakup screenshots that will be analyzed with the audience for one hour of comedy therapy. It will deal with Craigslist posts, Yelp reviews, Tinder messages and other material brought to life onstage.

“We take our favorite sketches and then add in new stuff,” Jamula said. “We’re always on the internet looking for new material.”

Each show has about 10 to 12 sketches. The two perform some tried and true sketches and they always put in new material.

The show is geared for anyone who surfs the internet.

“In New York, we tend to attract a lot of young professionals,” Jamula said. “We perform to people in the tech and media industry, but we have found that people of all ages are interested and it means something to them.

“We have people in their 40s and 50s coming to ‘How to Break Up by Text’ and married couples who have been together for a long time who are in their 50s are fascinated by texting and dating. It does resonate with anyone in every way.”

Goldberg and Jamula often perform celebrity twitter feeds.

The two work out of a tech space in New York from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It has become a business endeavor for them.

They have started a start-up theater company and are planning a web series and a podcast. They also two teach workshops around the country.

Jamula and Goldberg were disappointed by the traditional roles that were available for women in the acting world so they looked to create an outlet for themselves that turned into a start-up theater company.

The tech community got behind them and they started teaching public speaking workshops because the two believe that you have to have multiple projects and multiple sources of revenue.

It all began with the two exploring technology and new media.

The two teach companies how to re-imagine.

“It’s diversity in terms of thoughts, people, ideas and getting to know people in different industries,” Goldberg said. “It’s getting away from the typical theater mode opening up all these opportunities.”

Their podcast will be done in a partnership with dailydot.com.

“We interview people from different internet communities that we find interesting,” Jamula said. “We are hoping to launch by the fall.”

The two also have created a festival called No Text Weekend in September.

“We encourage people to talk instead of text,” Jamula said. “Allie and I realized that we were texting a lot more than we liked and it was downgrading the quality of our lives and how we related to each other when we had issues. We decided to stop texting and pick up the phone. We want people to talk instead of text for two days.”

Goldberg hopes No Text Weekend will encourage people to think about how they are using technology and their phone.

“There is a time to text but people are having conversations via text,” Goldberg said. “It makes me sad because you can learn so much about someone via a five minute phone call then you can doing 30 minutes of texting. You are exchanging eight words at a time.”

It was this type of thinking that led them to co-create How to Break Up by Text. It was created accidentally from No Text Weekend.

Goldberg and Jamula describe their comedy as inappropriate.

“Our comedy is out there,” Jamula said. “Our source material is from your phone or browser. We love to analyze in front of an audience.”

Jamula tells how the two shows are interactive.

“‘How to Break Up by Text’ allows you to submit your text break up before the show or during the show,” Jamula said. “You can submit it on the spot by raising your hand at anytime and say ‘Jen and Allie, I have a text break up to share with you.’

Jen Jamula and Allison Goldberg rely on the audience for part of their material. (Photo by John Callejas)

“We also encourage people to talk to us during the entire show. We are constantly asking the audience questions to get a conversation going. We perform to 100 people.”

Jamula tells how Blogologues is interactive because she knows the internet can be isolating as you sit alone on a device.

“Blogologues is interactive because we have sketches that we do and we pull audience members on the stage,” Jamula said. “We make them a part of the sketch.”

Goldberg hopes people will start to think about how they are communicating with each other and how they treat each other.

The two wanted to see how the show would do in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “How to Break Up by Text” will be in San Francisco in early August and in mid-August the two will perform Blogologues at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto.

Jamula was born in Pennsylvania. She has an older brother who is a photographer. Her parents are both educators.

“I love teaching, performing and creating projects,” Jamula added.

Goldberg was born in Baltimore. She loves musical theatre.

“I was always cast as the quirky sidekick,” Goldberg said.” We became interested in technology and new media after the traditional acting past was so discouraging.”

You can learn more about “How To Break Up by Text” at https://www.howtobreakupbytext.com.

You can learn more about “Blogologues” at https://www.blogologues.org/tickets-things-to-do-in-nyc.

Be yourself! I’m Simply Jessica JcAden. You can reach me at jess.gosnell@gmail.com.

 

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