Au contraire, mon frères, these comedians aren’t on the big screen… yet

by Lenise Willis

Local comedians of the Mon Frere comedy troupe pose in the costumes of several of their sketches, which they performed at the Idiot Box Nov. 18. Standing from left are Al-don Schraeder, Mathew Schantz, Bob Beshere, John McIntosh, Tom McCoy, and AJ Schraeder, crouching. (courtesy photo)

Despite their obsession with the movie, you won’t spot any of these guys in Van Wilder, but you can catch them onstage at the Idiot Box in downtown Greensboro. The new sketch comedy troupe Mon Frère is comprised of six local guys who love to laugh and have fun. “We wanted [a name] that sounded classy… just so we could disappoint the audience,” joked the group, who took their name from a movie quote.

The new troupe includes Greensboro residents and longtime friends AJ and Al-don Schraeder, Mathew Schantz, Bob Beshere, John McIntosh and newest member Tom McCoy. The group, formed in 2009 by AJ, describes their comedy as “nerdy with a twist of absurd.” “I had tried to do stand-up comedy on my own but then realized I’m not the biggest fan of solo comedy,” AJ said. That’s when he decided to form a sketch comedy group and wanted to include people he knew he would enjoy working with. Both AJ and Beshere had been performing comedy at the Idiot Box since 2004. Other than professionally goofing off onstage, each member still oper- ates in a full-time reality. McCoy works more than 40 hours a week as the master carpenter at Triad Stage. “I’m so used to being behind the scenes, to be actually on- stage is terrifying for me,” McCoy said. “But as a carpenter who’s always fixing things, it’s nice to finally be an actor that breaks things,” McCoy laughed. Between his full-time job, practicing twice a week with the comedy group and organizing his upcoming March wedding, McCoy is quite the busy man. “It’s a lot of running up and down the block,” McCoy said. “It can get crazy.” Beshere, or more correctly Dr. Beshere, is an English professor at Elon University. AJ has a full-time job in data entry, Al-don is a part-time librarian at Greensboro College, Schantz is a lawyer and McIntosh is a life model, sometimes posing nude for art classes, and also volunteers at the Natural Science Center. Needless to say, the group’s background and dynamic is as diverse and absurd as their sketches.

Their comedy bits are often pulled from currents events, pop culture and their own lives, and sometimes out of the thin air of their imagination. Whether acting as a fake dinosaur fighting off delusional children or illustrating the drama between caterpillars and butterflies, the group’s sketches are certainly entertaining and inventive. “[My skit ideas] mainly come from things that go wrong in my life,” Al-don said. “Writing a sketch about it makes it seem like I didn’t actually do it.” “Or he gets to make someone else relive it while he watches,” McIntosh laughed. “He gets to relive it differ- ently.”

“All of us kind of write from different places too,” AJ said. “I start with a premise of something that bothers me, where as I think Bob starts with a big character a lot of times.” Although all of the members have their own ideas, much of the brains behind the scripts come from AJ and Al-don. With more than 150 performed sketches under their belts and nearly another 100 in the making, the troupe’s lineup includes a wide variety, including a Twilight sketch, a Phantom of Coldstone sketch, an Occupy Wall Street sketch and a “busy, busy man” working in today’s techno- logical world. The group most recently performed their show Something to Say Nov. 18 at the Idiot Box, and are currently devising a television pilot for a Comedy Central contest.

The show will include some of their onstage sketches adapted for the screen. They also perform in their own full-length Harry Potter parody show, Huffle Puffed, of which the audio CD has just been released late this month.