|Photo Credit||Kate Mulligan|
Despite what you may have heard, an illustrious member of Clone Squad, the improv assembly of reanimated past civil rights heroes, isn’t in fact dead. Well, Robyn Reynolds’s pseudo-fictional Squad character has indeed shuffled the coil, but (spoiler) the real Reynolds is still very much alive.
Reynolds is a stranger to neither improv or stand-up; you’ve probably seen them in PUNCH, Low and Inside, or on the Sure Thing showcase. It may have been said once or twice that the on-stage Reynolds can be a bit…let’s say acerbic; when they sit down with Valerie Lopez and tells tales of their late father’s pull-no-punches humor, it’s easy to see where they gets some of their inspiration.
Growing up outside performing mecca Los Angeles, Reynolds knew they wanted to get into “something”; it was a bit of a non-specific creative itch. Comedy seemed like something attainable to the then-16 year old, gratifying their urges and “the most immediate thing [I] could do”. Shortly after, their family made the momentous move to (checks notes)…Cleveland? (It was a family decision to move back to their home state after their father passed away.) “It’s hard to move from probably the best climate in the country, to the place where blizzards happen,” they allow, while simultaneously sharing gratitude for having spent the time in LA when they had it.
Citing a love of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Reynolds also had a budding fondness for improv, but the Cleveland scene wasn’t ripe enough to support it yet. So it was nights of traveling long round trips into the city proper to grab mic time when they could. As mentioned, their on-stage persona is known to push some people’s ideas of the limits, but they swear it’s not intentionally designed that way. “I’m not trying to push boundaries,” Reynolds insists: “Things are funny to me that aren’t funny to other people…I’m kind of an insane person.”
“Things are funny to me that aren’t funny to other people…I’m kind of an insane person.”
It’s a tough line to walk, but Reynolds carries on stage a combination of confidence and quiet charm that allows them to smoothly spout on a subject like abortion, but leaks just enough self-awareness through the façade that the audience know they are in on the joke, and it’s OK to laugh about it. It’s hard for me not to draw a comparison to Jeselnik, and Reynolds does bring him up in the interview, noting almost a love-hate relationship with his comedy over time. It’s the nature of doing the kind of material that people love to call “too soon” or “never the right time”; you have to be able to look past the topic and know the place and mindset it comes from. Not many can pull it off, though it doesn’t stop far too many from trying.
It’s a deftness that belies Reynolds’s age: they are just 25, and actually still in school. That’s 7 years from starting standup to being a finalist in this year’s Funniest Person in Austin contest; it may sound at first like quite some time, but many people have put in far more full-time work and not landed there. This pattern usually highlights a solid indicator of a unique and engaging style, one that cements a singular performer in the minds of the judges who see dozens of comics each night.
So what’s next for Reynolds? They’ve got to finish up school, as we mentioned, and have moved on from a few of their regular shows at Fallout. They’re dabbling in building up their abilities for crowd work, and that could be a really powerful combination with their odd-yet-captivating world view. Like many of their pursuits, they feel they need to let their “Type A” work-self get out of the way, saying “If I keep doing it…I’ll fall into things that let me better at it.”
“If I keep doing it…I’ll fall into things that let me better at it.”
Clearly change is in the air for Reynolds, and for someone who seems to revel in things that are a little “different”, we expect to be continually (pleasantly) surprised.
Catch Robyn Reynolds at some of their upcoming shows:
- Every Monday: Basement Brawl – Fallout Theater
- Oct 17, 31: Dead of Night (a talk show hosted by the Grim Reaper, played by Devon Coleman)
- Oct 24: Chesterfield at Coldtowne Theater
- December (Saturdays): Golf Cart’s Celebrity Christmas at Fallout Theater