An interview with Handbomb

Coming to New Orleans for Hell Yes Fest is a bit of a homecoming for the improv collective known as Handbomb, who will be one of the acts closing out Hell Yes Fest on its final day. Handbomb is comprised of three wonderful people from TNM Austin, who all are involved in the theater in a plethora of ways, teaching, coaching, running Halloween shows and everything else. Of course I’m talking about the wonderfully talented Alex Berry, Vanessa Gonzalez and Micheal Foulk. We talk to them about their birth in New Orleans, the movie Selena and who would play each of them in a biopic.

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It seems like Handbomb has come such a long way in a very short time. What has attributed to your success together?
Alex Berry: Well we got to perform frequently together which I think helps, and then we also really enjoy each others company outside the theater. We work really well together and we’re open to new ideas.

Vanessa Gonzalez: I think because we see each other frequently, we work together. You can see it when we perform together, that there’s a lot of trust there and it just makes it easy.

Micheal Foulk: It’s easy when you’re good friends with somebody in the first place and that’s where you’re coming from. You don’t have to try really hard to be funny or think that what everyone’s doing is funny, because you think they’re funny whenever you’re not on stage so it translates really easily.

What’s the story about Handbomb forming from a mini-tour in New Orleans last spring?
Alex: On the way there, the eight hour drive quickly descended into madness. It’s like we were in some sort of event horizon, black hole situation. And then we’re like let’s never, ever be apart.

Micheal: A lot of it actually revolved around this really terrible joke that we still like that was about naming what our favorite part of the movie Selena was. But then just saying “You know what my favorite part of Selena is”, and then just saying something that was not in Selena at all, like part of different movie.

Who would play Handbomb in a movie?
Micheal: Ryan Gosling. Naked.

Vanessa: I would probably play myself like Fantasia did in her movie about her rise from American Idol.

Alex: Vanessa Gonzalez. We would all play each other. Micheal would play Vanessa and I would play Micheal.

You guys tend to do longer scenes, and sometimes there’s dance openings. Is there any type of form or structure you guys are aiming for?
Micheal: It’s really simple. We just like hanging out in a scene for a long time. I think that’s it. I don’t think any of us like to do any really short, clip kind of scenes. We like to let the characters breathe and see a large chunk of people’s lives.

Vanessa: I think we pull off a lot of long scenes very well, because you need a lot of trust there. It’s not like we’re stressing out about what is going on. Like we’re all relaxed and we let it just evolve on its own.

Alex: I also think that the three of us are big on having strong characters on stage. When it’s just going into a situation we’re all working through something and long scenes are discoveries for all of us. That character can build and grow if you give it time.

Any future plans for Handbomb?
Vanessa: We submitted ourselves to host the 2012 Grammys, so who knows. It’s between us and Whoopi.

Describe Handbomb in one word.
Vanessa: Drunk
Micheal: Christian
Alex: Orgy

Interview and intro by Mike Breese, writer and improviser at The New Movement Theater in Austin, TX.