Comedy + Creativity = Katie Pengra

(Credit: Skippy Leland Photography)
(Credit: Skippy Leland Photography)

The title of this article is one of those base level mathematical formulas so simple, you won’t have to Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

Born in Arizona, Pengra wanted to beat feet to California as soon as possible, but her parents insisted on college. Find out how this, Peewee’s Playhouse and Maria Bamford affected her early comedy career in part one of her interview with Valerie Lopez.

Part two of the interview adds another element to Pengra’s story. Dustin Svehlak (sway-lock) pops a squat and chats with Valerie about several projects they have in the works under the Voltaic Video banner. Svehlak can be seen around town, filming Cap City Comedy Club’s FPIA Contest and sets for any comedian who want it done.

Katie Pengra considers herself more of a creative person rather than pigeon holing herself as a “comedian.” Stand-up, acting, writing are just a few of the feathers in her cap. She also owns and operates Skippy Leland Photography and is responsible for many of the head shots used by Austin area comedians.

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Katie Pengra

Dustin Svehlak

Valerie Lopez

Comedy Wham

 

Pretty Awful is Premiering at the Highball

Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra outside
Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra outside
Pretty Awful stars Amber Bixby and Katie Pengra (credit: Erin Holsonback)

What do you get when you mix to friends who happen to be comedians with a video director with an eye for comedy? You get a web series called Pretty Awful, and it’s pretty amazing.

From a Skit to a Show

You may not know Dustin Svehlak, but I can almost promise you that if you’ve been to any comedy showcase, you’ve seen him. He’s the tall dude with a goatee and camera. Svehlak owns and operates Voltaic Video. It started in 2005 when Svehlak began shooting weddings and corporate events. In 2012, it became all about comedy as he began recording local comedy sets, and creating unique short videos and clips featuring local comedians.

The characters have a few vices (credit: Erin Holsonback).
The characters have a few vices (credit: Erin Holsonback).

A while back he was chatting with local comedian Amber Bixby about a small scene between two friends who were fighting. Svehlak and Bixby felt they had something more than just a couple of  minutes of video. After talking things over, they decided to turn it into a web series and Pretty Awful was born. Without thinking twice about it, Bixby brought in her friend and fellow comedian Katie Pengra.

Beavis and Butthead Meets Mean Girls

For Amber Bixby, picking Katie Pengra was a no-brainer. While the two are real life friends, their characters aren’t representative of that relationship. Bixby explains, “Yeah, she’s a very good friend of mine – but the series is very much a work of fiction. It’s a bit absurd. We’ve been comparing it to Mean Girls meets Beavis and Butthead. It’s not based on our real friendship – the friendship in the series is pretty unhealthy.”

From what I’ve seen, the two star characters are going to be a glorious train wreck; and Bixby’s allusion to Beavis and Butthead meeting Mean Girls is a bullseye. Anyone who’s seen either of those shows knows what a perfect storm of misadventure is brewing for Amber Bixby’s and Katie Pengra’s characters.

The collaborative effort between Dustin Svehlak, Amber Bixby, and Katie Pengra is on the ball. As of right now, Season 1 is ready to go with 3 episodes and Season 2 is in the works. While Svehlak handled the direction and camera work, Bixby took the role of head writer while Pengra helped and punched up the writing a bit. But they weren’t alone, Dustin Svehlak recruited his wife, Jen, for set design / producing, Terance McDavid as production assistant, and Chelsea Robinson for audio recording and post mixing.

Highball Premier

Pretty Aweful will premier at the Highball (credit: Erin Holsonback).
Pretty Aweful will premier at the Highball (credit: Erin Holsonback).

Svehlak, Bixby and Pengra are excited about their new project and they want Austin to celebrate it’s premier with them. Sunday, February 15th, they will be throwing a Pretty Awful premier party (get it?) at the Highball. The Highball is located at 1120 South Lamar Blvd, and they will have swag for sale in the form of t-shirts designed by David McQuary who also did the website art.  This will be a good post-Valentine’s Day palate cleanser and I am personally looking forward to it.

If you want more information click the links:

Pretty Awful

Voltaic Video

Amber Bixby

Katie Pengra

 

As usual, follow me on Twitter, @ElDavidThomas