American Candy is a "bombastic sketch comedy show straight outta Brooklyn," says the flyer handed out at the group's most recent show, "A Very '90s Christmas." We spoke to founder Hollie Harper to learn a little more — starting with why there's so much Brooklyn pride built into the backbone of the troupe and its material.
First of all, she tells us, most of the 10 writer-directors and more than 30 actors live there.
“Comedy is specificity. Comedy has to be right on the nose, and you have to have a certain point of view. So I figured, why are we trying to pretend we are something we're not? We are from Brooklyn, and we love Brooklyn,” the director says, adding that she thinks it’s important that the people of every neighborhood are represented.
“I think the fun part about Brooklyn is that it has got so much international flavor,” she explains. “It’s not like you are watching 'Friends.' I love 'Friends,' but it’s not 'Friends.' And it’s not even the show 'Girls.' You are in Clinton Hill, Fort Green, BedStuy, Prospect Heights.”
Second of all, the Brooklyn theme inspires sketches like "Home Alone in BedStuy," which mocks the stereotypes of the area, and "Now That’s What I Call Reggae Christmas Music" about Caribbean radio stations that can be heard playing through windows this time of year in certain BK nabes.
The troupe tackles some touchy themes, like racism, that have upset a few people, Harper admits, but she thinks the subject matter can be handled in a way that a mixed audience will ultimately find humorous.
“I don’t think it can be too much," she explains. "As long as you are funny and people are laughing, you can say the most trifling things. We have offended people, we definitely have. But ... usually when they're offended I just don’t think they have much of a sense of humor, or they're not used to poking fun at people in a certain way.”
American Candy was founded in 2009 and performs a new show every third month. Harper describes the tone as everything from Tyler Perry to Woody Allen: “We have a great writing team, and they have such a different frame of mind in terms of comedy, but it all comes together because I give them a theme.”
At their next show — "Monster Hits!!!" on Valentine’s Day weekend — the group will do a best-of medley, which includes a sketch called "Slave Workout."