Pre-Fringe Pre-Fringe Profile: Pre-Fringe Appetizers


by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low | 7/15/09 • Okay, so I’m breaking my own rules here a bit — because I’m a rockstar like that — to plug a show that’s not strictly part of the Minnesota Fringe. It certainly is in spirit, though, so for those of you chomping at the bit for some Fringey goodness, these guys have something they’d like to put in your mouth. Er, so to speak.

SHOW TITLE: Pre-Fringe Appetizers: Two Courses of Comedy (first course for this profile)
PRODUCER: Questionable Company Theatre
SHOW DESCRIPTION: Box Wine TC and Questionable Company Theatre join forces to present “Pre-Fringe Appetizers: Two Courses of Comedy,” a theatrical double-header featuring sketch comedy and a short play. Panda Sandwich, a new sketch comedy group, brings together some of the sharpest comedic minds in the Twin Cities to collaboratively create inventive, irreverent scenes chock full of unicorns, carnies, and unexpected bat attacks.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I was a fan of “Orange”, the show these guys did in last year’s Fringe. More than that, I was a fan of their gumption and enthusiasm; the two founders pretty much just moved here, filled out an application, and started a theatre company. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of them soon.

womb with a view is the blog of phillip andrew bennett low, one of six bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival and other theater for the daily planet.

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

Questionable Company Theatre is a company started by us (Rachel Teagle and Ben Egerman) in late 2007 in order to produce our play, Orange: a farce (about terrorism) in Fringe ’08. Since the success of that show, we’ve been working around town with folks like Walking Shadow, Bedlam, Workhaus, and some fly-by-night operation called the Guthrie. While not doing theatre, Ben edits on his audition tape for American Idol: Sweden, and Rachel works toward her long term goal of knitting a gun.

So what’s the big idea?

The big idea is: we’ve started a new comedy troupe, Panda Sandwich, where all the sketches have been written collaboratively by the group, and it’s going to be going up at Bedlam the week before Fringe, July 22-25, at 7:30 PM, as act 1 of “Pre-Fringe Appetizers: Two Courses of Comedy.” The idea behind creating the group was to have a process where we could work as a troupe to develop our individual ideas from basic concepts into sketches; we’ve found this the best way to create scenes that are both well-structured and surprising. We wanted a space where we didn’t shy away from being loud, crass, dirty, vulgar, and ridiculous, but not solely for the sake of being loud, crass, dirty, vulgar, and/or ridiculous. And above all, we founded the group with the ideal that comedy should be fun to make and fun to watch.

Oh, and we wanted a really sweet title that we could use with such taglines as “Panda Sandwich: Thick and Juicy Comedy” or “Panda Sandwich: Put us in your mouth.”

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

Well, there were a few points that led to this—we both have a background in comedy writing, and we had seen a few comedy shows that friends were a part of that gave us a longing to do a sketch show. Ambitious fools that we were, we drew up plans to produce TWO shows in the 2009 Fringe festival, and were promptly drawn 100th and 138th on the waitlist. Along with waitlisted friends Box Wine Theatre, we decided not to give up and to independently produce our shows, partly because we wanted to put something awesome onstage, and partly out of spite. Thus, “Pre-Fringe Appetizers: Two Courses of Comedy” was birthed.

Why should I care?

Because we’ve put together a show that’s fun, funny, well-crafted and full of unicorns, erotic arts and crafts, and more carnies than you can safely shake a stick at. Which, we guess, would probably be only one, but we have more carnies than that.

And if that wasn’t enough, might we mention that our talented cast includes not only us, in all our sexitude, but also that of John McConville, Hudson, Wisconsin’s unofficial Next Top Model, Michael Venske, whose scooter is named Shirley, and Heather Meyer, who is wanted in five states for hilarity, and two states for statutory arson.

Plus if you don’t come, Rachel will find you (As soon as she can crochet bullets. She’s keeping a list.)

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Waitlist? Ha, we say!
Let’s go rogue, out-fringe the Fringe:
Let’s eat some Panda.

Phillip Andrew Bennett Low ( is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theater critic and libertarian activist, who lurks ominously in the desert wilds of St. Louis Park, feasting upon the hygienically-prepared flesh of the once-living. His main claim to fame is probably as co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers, and as founder/producer of Maximum Verbosity, a garage-band-like theater troupe that is in a state of constantly re-defining itself.

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