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Tempe Sketch Comedy Troupe Bully Mammoth Finds a Flavor All Their Own

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012

Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012 16:05

Bully Mammoth

Michael Markowski

Bully Mammoth comedy troupe

Having to describe why something is funny strips most of the humor from a joke and usually ends with, “you had to be there.”

Ask Phoenix sketch comedy troupe Bully Mammoth to explain their humor, and you get the same response: to get it, you just have to be there.

“It’s our own; it’s not for everyone,” member Jason Chacon said. “You either connect to it or you don’t. And if you connect to it, you find it really funny.”

Bully Mammoth’s only female writer, Jessie Johnson, said the beauty of sketch comedy is the variety.

“If one scene, you don’t really relate to, chances are, out of all of them, there’s going to be at least one that you people connect to,” she said.  

Bully Mammoth was created in 2007 by friends Ryan Gaumont, Christopher Akins, Adam Rini, Mike Markowski and Ricky Brindley. After paying their dues playing small theaters in downtown Phoenix, the group grew and found a home at Tempe Center for the Arts, where they will perform monthly shows until August.

Bully Mammoth’s show is made of short sketches, written and performed by members of group, whose roster is Gaumont, Akins, Rini, Markowski, Chacon, Johnson, Shawn Putnam and Tim Tagtmeyer.

The group has two weeks to write and a week to rehearse for their two-hour shows, which are comprised of nine to 12 sketches, Gaumont said.

“Jessie, Shawn, Ricky and I do a lot of the initial actual typing of scripts, but a lot is added when we’re all together,” he said. “It’s like an open forum.”

Akins added, “A lot of it is conceptualized like during rehearsals, and ideas will pop up for future shows. We can just start spouting off ideas.”

Johnson said her favorite part of writing something is when the other members of the troupe finally read it.

“They’ll bring it to life in a way that I’d never imagined,” she said. “So it’s like I can put down funny lines or jokes, but then the character development starts and then you start to see the paper turn into something real.”

Chacon mentioned, “It’s really pretty phenomenal when you think about it. That’s a lot of sketches: nine sketches per show, and it’s about a two-hour show, and it’s all original, every time.”

Putnam said performing is “a two-hour adrenaline high,” and he gets fidgety before a show.

“It doesn’t help that I slam a Red Bull before,” he said. “It feels like it goes by in two minutes.”

Added Adkins, “I would imagine it’s like what an athlete goes through in a big, big game.”

Still, Tagtmeyer said the show is hard to sell to friends.

“‘It’s a funny thing and you should come see it’ is the biggest pitch I have for my friends, and someday, some of them will come.” he said. “If you have to explain it, it’s not funny.”

Akins agreed and said, “That’s the element I’ll always been attracted to with Bully Mammoth. The only way you can find out what that is, is to go see a show. When you do see a show, you instantly think, ‘Yeah, that’s Bully Mammoth.’”


Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.350.2822, Saturday, May 19, 8 p.m., $9-$14

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