thurs. @ 8 p.m., Theatre 99
“After years and years of doing what we do in The Have Nots! and doing long-form improv, I started trying to boil down the essence of what attracts me to the art form,” says Timmy Finch, 37. A veteran Charleston performer, a postmodern poetry fiend, and longtime member of the award-winning trio, Finch recently felt inspired to develop a minimal, audience-interactive performance act – a concept that took shape in 2005 as Big Dicktionary.
“I started looking to go as simply as possible and expand as deeply as possible different ideas and concepts, as far as improv theater is concerned,” Finch says. “I wanted to do this with just one other person. It’s a collaborative art form, so you always need somebody else to bounce ideas off of. I figured the minimum I could do it was with two. We could have done this within The Have Nots!’ existing show, but I wanted to try something completely different.”
These days, Big Dicktionary is a long-form improvisational comedy duo featuring Finch and up-and-coming actor and comedian John Brennan, 25. In recent years, Brennan took improv classes from The Have Nots!, formed the group Fishing with Dynamite, and currently performs with The Sofa Kings (who have a Festival berth following Big Dicktionary’s show Thursday) and sketch group The Measled Knights. Brennan’s found his way onto the small screen, with spots in local commercials and appearances on the TV teen drama One Tree Hill. He also made it to the final round of the recent Super Bowl Super Ad contest with his “Everyone’s a Winner” concept.
“John’s a bit younger than me,” says Finch. “I’ve watched him get better and better and get a good handle of things. We had a meeting of the minds, discussed what we each believed, as far as the art form was concerned. We tried out a bunch of formats and came up with Big Dicktionary.”
At the start of their show (normally replete with bagpipes and bombast), the duo randomly select a word in a sizeable Webster’s unabridged dictionary, come up with a couple of characters, and dive in. They usually base a 45-minute or hour-long set on only two or three words.
“Overall, it’s a silly show,” says Brennan. “We use the book, get the word, and start creating on stage. No rules. Sometimes we’ll do two characters for a half-hour. Other times, we’ll go through 15 characters during a show. It’s wild and it’s never the same. We’re comfortable and confident doing it, and we’re having a blast.”
“It allows us to base it on something a little bit more erudite than, say, cock and bathroom stuff,’ says Finch. “It doesn’t mean we don’t go there, but why start there? The audience fuels the show, 100 percent, but we try to put things into the hands of the Webster’s dictionary. Usually, a few minutes before the show, we try and figure out the most convoluted way to start in. We’ll pick a word and read the entire definition. The things that come out of it are ridiculous.” –T. Ballard Lesemann