Have you heard about “Pretty Awful”?
“Pretty Awful” is the product of a power trio formed by Austin comedians Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra, who joined with Dustin Svehlak of Voltaic Video to produce, write, direct, and star in a new web-based comedy series. What they’ve created had audiences rolling at The Highball last Sunday, and it’s easy to see why.
More or less, “Pretty Awful” follows the treacherous paths of it’s main characters, Natashly and Gwennifer, as they make the worst possible choices in every situation they encounter. It’s rude, raunchy, totally Austin, and very, very funny.
Check out the preview below:
Anyway, I met up with Bixby, Pengra, and Svehlak over chips and salsa recently to find out what makes their ‘Awful’ formula work so well. Here’s how it went down…
How long have you been in Austin?
Amber Bixby: In 2009 I started comedy when i lived in San Marcos, so I would drive to Austin and do mics here. There weren’t as many shows then like there are now. So since 2009.
Dustin Svehlak: I’ve been in Central Texas my entire life, really. I grew up in Lago Vista, but there was nothing to do there, so whenever we had to go see a movie or anything we had to drive into Austin
Katie Pengra: I’ll have been here five years in May.
That’s it? I feel like I’ve know you longer –
Katie: I know. I came in like a wrecking ball baby!
What are your favorite things about performing in Austin?
Katie: I like that it’s primarily an alt-scene, so it’s kind of anything goes, but also it is enough of a main hub that it draws a lot of really big talent and industry. So we’re not just performing for ourselves, we’re performing because there’s a chance we could go somewhere else.
How do you feel about the Austin comedy scene?
Amber: I love it! It’s grown so much. There used to only be a couple open mics and now there’s a bazillion. And there are people doing film, doing animation, there’s people doing web series.
Dustin: I think the one thing that’s really cool about the scene is there’s not a lot of comics that are not the same here, there’s a lot of unique talent –
Lot’s of different style.
What is ‘Pretty Awful’?
Dustin: Our web series. Nailed it!
Katie: Nailed it. (laughs) ‘Pretty Awful’ is the web series created by Amber Bixby, about two terrible girls who make the worst possible decisions in the simplest possible scenarios.
Amber: I feel like it’s about two girls who have no life skills, so they’re faced with normal everyday problems and it goes as wrong as it possibly can.
I think as an Austin-based comedy ‘Pretty Awful’ is the first of it’s kind.
Dustin: Well for me, I hate using this word but, it’s a blessing.
Katie: Bless satan!
Dustin: Yes hail satan. But I’d given up on being able to do anything like this. I started going to Cap City Comedy Club to see shows and one person asked me to tape for them and that just kind of snowballed. Then Amber approached me with a script for the first project we worked on and that was it.
Amber: Austin is such a breeding ground. It’s just fertile here with tons of people who have creative babies. I don’t know, that metaphor went terribly wrong.
Katie: Austin is pregnant with art.
Your show is based on two characters, Gwennifer and Natashly. Katie, who is Gwennifer?
Katie: I am Gwennifer
I mean, who is Gwennifer. Thinking a little deeper, if you had to put Gwennifer on a dating website, how would you describe her?
Katie: She is very inspired by the world around her but always for the wrong reason. She kind of sucks at everything but she thinks she’s great at it all.
Amber, who is Natashly?
Amber: Natashly is kind of lost, but she feels like she knows who she is because she has her alpha best frenemy, Gwennifer, in her life. She just wants to find love, but in her own way. She wants to date bands. Whole bands.
They seem supportive of each other or are they just enablers? Describe their relationship.
Amber: They bicker all the time. They’re definitely frenemies and (comedian Pat Dean walks by) f*ck you Pat Dean!
Do either one of them have a job?
Katie: Um…that is not disclosed. You will never know where their money comes from.
Who is the bigger Ryan Gosling fan, Gwennifer or Natashly?
Are these characters any part of you?
Katie: I think for me it’s just an archetype of every part of being feminine and female that people rail against. When there’s the construct of stupid girls, I mean ‘Pretty Awful’ is written by chicks, so let us create that character, let us take control of that. Let us create whatever kind of characters we want to create, we’re the ones doing it so we can reclaim stupid bitches for bitches everywhere.
That was a violently anti-Meryl Streep rant you just went on.
Amber: Throwing shade.
Katie: Haters gonna hate!
What can fans expect from Gwennifer and Natashly?
Amber: They’ll definitely have a little redemption.
Dustin: I want to speak to that. I mean, yes we want these characters to be awful, but we also want them to be badasses. In the end you’re rooting for these two girls.
For more, visit prettyawfulseries.com.