Talking 'Made to Order' comedy with Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting

Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting is the most unique name to have. There's no telling what could come from a group with it. Can you imagine a young, deep voiced child or small but powerful country with that name? I wouldn't want to mess with them. Funny ladies Leah Rudick and Katie Hartman own the name they've created for their comedy duo. After years of performing on and off the stage, it seems the group is funnier than ever. Both know how to write; but one knows how to cook. Which one? You'll find out.

The finale to their web series Made to Order airs Tuesday on their YouTube channel. Last week, the girls of SBJM and I spoke over the phone about sketch comedy and all things food:

Do you think old people would respond to Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting?

Katie: You know what, surprisingly -- if there are old people in the audience of our live sketch shows -- they love it. Right, Leah? What do you think?

Leah: Yeah. I feel like if they come into a show knowing that it’s called Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, I think that they’re probably not going to hate it as much as the old people who don’t come in a t all.

Katie: The ones that we trick into coming?

Leah: Yeah the ones that we trick. Although, the few times that we’ve had really older people in the audience and they’re delighted, [there’s] nothing as fulfilling as that.

Katie: Yeah like the one time at [a show] we had such an old audience and there was this old woman with her, like, 13 year old grandson in the front row. It was really funny. We did the grossest sketches.

They enjoyed themselves at this type of new alternative humor?

Katie: I guess so.

Leah: Or they just don’t know what’s happening.

Katie: And they just start smiling.

They’re getting really senile. They’re like “Oh, this is good! I’m enjoying these. They’re talking about black people and gays!”

Katie: [Laughing] Yeah they just put words in our mouths! They picture us in blackface on stage.

How often do you guys do live shows?

Leah: Right now, it’s whenever we’re in the same city.

Katie: But that’s how we started. We started [in New York] doing sketch comedy so we would do live shows each month. We had a monthly show at The Pit where we would do new material. We wrote a full sketch play with a narrative that we took to a couple of festivals. We’ve been doing it for a while.

How many years exactly? You’ve been doing it since college right?

Leah: Well we were in a different group right out of college. That was a bigger group. It kind of whittled down to the two of us eventually. We’ve been performing as a duo for seven years? Is that right? Eight years?

Katie: I think like maybe eight now. Yeah because 2008 was our first live show as Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting. I think that sounds right.

Do you guys ever write together over Skype or anything? Or when you’re in person do you ever write together?

Leah: Yeah that’s how we write for the most part.

Are you on the same wavelength most of the time or do you fight for personal jokes like Katie is like “This is funny!” and Leah is like “It’s not funny at all!”

[Both laugh]

Katie: Both. We’re usually on the same page and then one of us will fight for it. “Brevity is the soul of tit”-- I absolutely fought for the pilot episode of Made to Order. [Laughs]

Leah: Wait what?!

Katie: Remember when I kept saying “brevity is the soul of shit” and you were like “can we just do one take without it?” And I was like “yeah but it’s funny!” And you’re like “well, let’s just do one take without it.”

Leah: Yeah but then I was fighting against it. But then it’s like people love it. It’s really funny.

What’s with the food theme? I was watching episodes and then I realized -- I didn’t read any description to the series. I realized that each episode has to deal with food. I felt so stupid. What’s up with the food idea?

Katie: I think we started with food and now it’s like we’re going off into nutso land. The idea of it was that these sisters start an underground food delivery service. That was the nugget idea to start the whole series. And that’s why it revolves around food and treating food like basically meth or coke or something like that.

Would you consider Made to Order a sketch series or is there a weird, narrative underlining? You’re basically playing the same people every time. Is it story arc based?

Leah: Yeah I think it is story arc based. You can watch each one on their own. But the idea is that there’s an arc. I think we’ll be playing more with that idea in later seasons.

Katie: Especially when we put up the finale. It calls back to a few other things that happened earlier in the season. So if you watch it in order from one to eight, you will get a few other little jokes you wouldn’t get from a one off. Or little character traits or whatever. It’s all narrative based. Consequences happen and characters change. We play the same characters but they change.

Going off of that same idea, I just realized that the cop with the beard and the long red hair appears in a few other scenes.

Leah: He’s the health inspector who is basically a cop. He’s our version of the cop. The through line is that he’s trying to hunt us down and shut us down because we are operating without a permit.

[Both laugh]

Katie: What we’re doing is essentially illegal. He’s trying to take us down.

There’s one reveal in the newest episode “Laverne and Shirley” with him behind a bush watching you guys skip. I like the way it’s shot. Whoever shoots the episodes is doing a really good job. There’s an episode (“Gettin’ Cocky”) where [Katie] is running down the street selling lobster to these drug people. It’s so good.

Katie: Thanks!

Leah: Adam Wirtz.

Katie: Adam Wirtz. He’s a genius. He edits it too so he shoots how he’s going to edit.

Leah: He’s brilliant.

And I noticed, in the same episode, since it’s dark it contrasts to something like the “Cous Cous” episode where everything can be sad and in “Gettin’ Cocky” it’s darker. And then there’s an episode with you guys wanting to get a baby or talking about babies.

Leah: Oh yeah! “Baby Food.”

It’s good framing and set up and everything.

Katie: Thanks! It definitely flies into darker territory as we go along in the episodes. I think the last one will be darker…with a cliffhanger ending.

Leah: Get ready for a twist!

Katie: [Laughing] Get ready for a cliff!

With these dark turns and getting into darker territory, it’s kind of along the lines of I would say Girls and Louie have done. They started off kind of sweet and innocent and then things got a little bit more raw and realistic. Are you guys going to avoid the realistic parts and get into wacky territory or are you just going to go at your own pace?

Katie: We sort of like the more realistic using the absurd framework of this underground service being completely illegal…we’re sort of basing it off of Breaking Bad a little bit. Like in terms of having the depth and – I say depth but it’s a comedy series – going that far and treating the stakes as high as you would in Breaking Bad. Then that to us is completely funny while playing it completely straight.

Leah: I think that we both really tend to go to the darker side. I think that’s where our brains naturally go. And that just can’t be helped.

Katie: I think with Louie and Girls it’s a little different. They did start out very clearly comedy series and sort of like can get sad. You know what I mean? And because some it’s very funny and some of it’s very sad it makes both of those sides even deeper. I think for us it’s still a comedy series but tonally we’re trying to treat it as realistically as possible even when absurd things happen.

Leah: Yeah. Having these super high stakes in a really dumb circumstance.

Katie: [Laughing] Yeah a dumb situation.

Are you going to try to get bigger and more ambitious in later seasons?

Both: Yes!

You have been described as Garfunkel and Oates but dirtier and [songless] by me of course. Do you have any female or male -- it doesn’t matter, I don’t care -- comedy influences that you’re trying to emulate, that you look up to, that you love?

Leah: We have a lot.

Katie: What I’ve been realizing is that Tenacious D has been an influence in terms of dirtiness but also from [the idea] you can treat something super seriously and they rock hard and their music is really good. Jack Black is an incredible singer and Kyle Gass is an incredible guitar player but they use it to be very funny. And also weird shit like the weirder sketches on Mr. Show or characters in any Christopher Guest film.

Leah: I think we’ve both been very inspired and influenced by basically every actress to be on a Christopher Guest film.

Katie: Absolutely.

Leah: I think those are a lot of our favorites.

Christopher Guest is British so you like the British comedy?

Katie: No Christopher Guest isn’t British! He’s American!

Isn’t he part of Monty Python?

Leah: No! He’s in Best in Show, Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman.

Spinal Tap with Harry Shearer?

Leah: Yeah. [Guest] played Nigel.

I’m an idiot!

Leah: It’s okay. It sounds like a British name.

Katie: [Laughing] And he’s also played a bunch of British people.

Leah: It makes sense that you would think that.

Do you guys cook at all?

Leah: Like at home?

And I’m not talking about toast and cereal and eggs. I’m talking about real food.

Leah: Hey cereal is a real food. Things that nourish you.

Katie: I love to cook.

Leah: You make all sorts of things. I don’t really cook but I started cooking in the past couple of years I guess. My boyfriend cooks a lot so I like to cook with him. I like to chop vegetables.

[Both laugh]

Leah: Katie is a great cook! She makes a really amazing meatloaf.

Katie: My mom’s recipe!

Leah: And a really good…what’s it called…borscht!

Katie: What?

Leah: Borscht?

Katie: Oh borscht! [Laughs] I was just thinking about borscht today. You’re reading my mind.

Leah: I love it.

Katie: You never ate the borscht!

Leah: I don’t really like borscht. I don’t like beets.

Katie: No they’re delicious. A cold summer borscht.

That sounds disgusting.

Leah: Right?

Katie: It’s so good! Add a little sour cream on there, a little dill. Oh my gosh, It’s the best.

Wait is it beet soup essentially?

Katie: Yeah it’s beet soup. [Laughs].

Why don’t they just call it that?

Leah: Good question.

Katie: Because it’s Ukranian! Borscht! There’s also hot borscht but I like the cold borscht.

[Laughing] Oh so there’s either hot soup or cold soup.

Katie: I just like soup! I don’t know.

Leah: That’s the thing. I don’t really like soup that much.

Katie: I realized that nobody likes soups except for me. I feel like I’m the weird one that’s always like “let’s go get some Vietnamese chicken soup!” and everyone’s like “I’m good.”

That’s because you keep suggesting it on a hot summer day!

Katie: I would eat it all the time. I would eat it in the desert.

Leah: You would eat it on the sun.

Katie: I would eat it if I were melting on the sun. In fact, if I were eating it on the sun, it would cool my insides down. Because it wouldn’t be as hot as the sun. So suck it!

Leah: Good point.

All of this sounds like a really bad Dr. Seuss book. “I would eat it on the sun! It would warm my insides out!”

Leah: Yeah, right?

Follow Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.