Darnell, a recently adopted 9-year-old street kid, can't believe his dad never figured out his real name. It's engraved right into his silver grill: D-A-R-N-E-L-L. Thinking he had no name, his dad's been calling him Peter since adopting him and bringing him back to God's country (Southlake). Get it together, Dad.
Of course, Darnell doesn't really have a silver grill. He isn't even real. He's a character made up on the spot Friday night by Kyle Austin, brother of Dallas Comedy House owner Amanda Austin and one half of the improv duo Kyle & Drew.
Kyle Austin and his partner, Drew Hamer, have been playing together on the stage of the Dallas Comedy House for almost two years. They met a couple of years ago at a block party where Austin, an eight-year veteran of improv, told Hamer, a 10-year vet, to get up on stage with him. It worked.
"We just say 'yes' to every little microsecond of what's happening," Hamer says.
Most bits are stellar, but not all -- that's normal, and even expected, in improv. What makes Kyle & Drew work is that their commitment to what's happening on stage never waivers. When the Darnell bit started to fall flat halfway through the show, the duo simply amped it up, riding chairs like Segways and having Darnell turn into a mild mannered, loving boy (conveniently named Peter) every time he removed his signature grill. They stay committed to every scene and, by extension, each other.
It's all out of respect, and love, of improv.
"The endgame is making sure you're doing what you love," says Austin. And having no fear. Fear kills improv. Or as Hamer puts it: "I'll fuck fear in the butt hole." Thanks for the visual, man.
In the end, all they're really trying to do is make each other laugh on stage. "We fuck with each other," Hamer says.
"Because it becomes this complex, mysterious, organic thing, we forget the real magic behind it: playing make believe and having fun," Austin adds.
"You have to let yourself be a kid, and let yourself play," Hamer says. As adults, we learn to tame ourselves." All this training we do is to learn how to be kids again."
Kyle & Drew perform every Friday night at the Dallas Comedy House at 10:30 p.m.