Spike Friedman is as versatile a theatre artist as you’re likely to find. He’s a playwright and founding member of the Satori Group. He covers sports and culture for Grantland and writes the hilarious Seahawks game recaps for the Stranger. He’s also an Upright Citizens Brigade-trained sketch and improv player. (Full disclosure: Friedman also starred in this video I made with Encore contributor Travis Vogt that was a finalist in this year’s SketchFest Seattle Comedy Film Challenge.)
Friedman’s got a worldly sense of humor and an active curiosity that makes no distinction between high and low culture. He’s always working on something weird and wondrous. I caught up with him for this week’s installment of Five Friday Questions.
What’s the best performance you’ve seen lately?
A tie between New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s circus catch against the Dallas Cowboys from two Sundays ago and the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki in Birdman. I think my own lack of physical abilities draw me to admire the truly virtuosic and acrobatic, and both Beckham and Lubezki blew me away with their virtuosity and acrobatics. It’s also worth noting that Lubezki, who is by far the best cinematographer working right now, also has an Instagram account that’s playing on another level.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen/heard in the last month?
Moving from the peak of cinema to the dregs, The Worst Idea of All Time podcast is two comedians from New Zealand who watch Grown Ups 2 every week and then immediately record a podcast about the experience. I just discovered it a couple weeks ago and have already burned through the first 20 or so episodes. It’s so funny.
They’re on week 40 and are targeting a full 52 episode run, which means they’ll have watched Grown Ups 2 52 times, which is goddamn insane. Their camaraderie, which seems to run in direct contrast to Grown Ups 2’s apparent misanthropy, makes the whole project deeply satisfying and makes me want to watch Grown Ups 2 (despite their weekly sign-off, “DON’T WATCH THE FILM”).
Unfortunately that garbage movie is not available on any streaming service, nor is it rentable on iTunes. I’d have to pay 10 bucks to watch Grown Ups 2 just so I can more deeply in on a joke. Nice try, Sandler, but that’s not gonna happen (yet anyway… I’ve decided that when I’ve caught up with the guys on the podcast, I’m watching the film).
What music gets you pumped up? What do you listen to when you’re sad?
I’m in a sketch show called Buddies with Ubiquitous They running at the Pocket Theater this month and one of my co-stars, Jason Miller, is supposed to make me a “night running” mix to get me pumped up before the shows. He hasn’t done this yet, so I’m shaming him online (while also shamelessly plugging our show). Sans this as of yet non-existent mix, I’ll go with the song “Just” by Radiohead to get me pumped and every other song by Radiohead for when I’m sad.
What’s the ideal setting for writing a play?
Depends on the point in the process. Early on I like to be as far from everyone as possible so I can spew out whatever I’ve got in my brain onto the page. Then when I have to do the grittier work of defining a story arc or composing a treatment, I like to work closely with a couple collaborators by day, and then recede to my own space at night for scripting. My best time for pumping out text usually comes after 10 pm, because I’m a crazy person for whom the rules don’t apply (or because I’m lazy and deadlines don’t count until whomever you owe a draft to is awake in the morning).
What’s the most indispensable thing you own?
I hate that the answer is my MacBook Air, but man, I would not be able to survive without it. It’s light and powerful and small, and I do all my work on it. I’m writing these words on it right now! Say hi, MacBook Air.
Nothing. It’s shy. Shy but great. You’ll have to trust me on this.
I’ve got a pretty great dog too whom I would not be comfortable dispensing of. Let’s put my dog Edgar Martinez Friedman in a tie with my MacBook Air for the top spot.