The Feral Chihuahuas take the business of being funny very seriously. From their modest beginnings performing at “The Shed,” a small garage transformed into a tiny black-box theater, to the launch of their second summer season at Asheville Community Theatre, the sketch-comedy group is on the prowl, ready to conquer the city of Asheville one laugh at a time.
Founded in 2003, the troupe writes, produces and performs original material that makes fun of everything, including themselves.
The group takes its name—and members insist they aren’t making this up for a laugh—from a story about a pack of abandoned house pets which turned wild and were seen roaming through farmland and terrorizing young goats in the Waynesville area. Although they could hardly be described as terrorizing anyone, the group has, like its namesake, roamed around the area, performing at bars and theaters across the region, and lending a helping hand to the final few performances by the now-defunct Rebelles Burlesque troupe.
This summer, the Chihuahuas present a new, nine-show series at 35below (Asheville Community Theatre’s basement-based black-box stage), which will feature both live sketch comedy and original short films. As you might suspect, they’ve come prepared. For instance, in honor of the upcoming presidential election, the troupe has prepared a series of political ads in which the “Lapublicrates” go head-to-head with the “Plebritarians.”
As founding member Tommy Calloway describes, “These are very ridiculous ads where one candidate claims to be ‘changier’ and the other responds as being the ‘changiest.’ One claims to be a superhero, while the other claims to fly.”
“We’re not just making a joke,” adds Chihuahua member Andrew McCammon, “we’re also making a social comment on what’s going on in the media, where the same [issues] are repeated over and over again.”
Also making an appearance in the Chihuahuas’ summer series are characters like “The King of Kings,” a “TV-watching, Budweiser-drinking Savior of the Suburbs, dealing with everyday suburban issues like his son smoking pot and his daughter who dresses like a slut,” describes member Wyman Tannehill. And then there’s “Insulto the Magician,” who will make “children disappear like nobody else, and he’s very good at twisting poodles into balloons,” adds George the Bastard” (as the actor/writer identifies himself).
To bring these eccentric characters to life, cast members will be dressed in outrageous costumes and will use simple props—like “weapons and signs”—throughout their shows. In the middle of each performance, a short film will be screened.
“People are much more comfortable in front of the television than a theater, and we offer the best of both worlds,” says George the Bastard with a laugh.
Everything from the scripts, songs, direction and lighting (for both live and filmed work) are produced by the Chihuahuas, and each member of the 10-person team has multiple parts to play, both on-stage and off.
Be warned: These shows are filled with adult humor. But, as the Chihuahuas say: It’s adult humor with a point. “We try not to be crude for crude’s sake, but crude for art’s sake,” says George the Bastard. “We also like to enforce our religious beliefs on people. Expect to be converted to ‘The Church of the Chihuahua’ after seeing our performance.”
who: The Feral Chihuahuas
what: A local sketch-comedy troupe
where: 35below (underneath Asheville Community Theatre)
when: Saturdays, June 14 through 28; July 5 and 12; and August 2 through 23 (8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ($10. www.feralchihuahuas.com or 254-1320)