ASF Hot Seat: Why We Broke Up

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In Why We Broke Up, Allie Kokesh and Matthew Brian Cohen go through their relationship, scene by scene, and the results are hilarious and surprisingly touching. Is it a play? A narrative sketch show? I do know that it is easily one of the most anticipated shows of this year’s ASF. Matt and Allie give up the gossip.

Was “Why we broke up” based on your real life break up?

Matt Cohen: It’s not based on our break up, but we did use elements of other real relationships we had in writing the show. The characters of Matt and Allie are composites of all the other people we’ve dated, and the scenes were inspired by real things that have happened to us.

Allie Kokesh: It’s a little bit of both! Matt and I were both going through our own separate breakups at the same time and together we coped and conceptualized the show. Matt and I really wanted to put together a show and the more we talked through our past relationships, the more we wanted to write a show about being in love and what does and doesn’t make a relationship work. Why We Broke Up is based on personal experience (with other exes) but we also tweaked parts to make them funnier and more about us.

Is this your first time writing a longer piece?

Allie: This was my first one act. And honestly, scheduling was the hardest part of the process – making time to meet and write – but Why We Broke Up was such a passion project, writing it was effortless.

Matt: This is the first time Allie and I wrote a show together. The hardest part was making sure the structure was right and making it feel like a complete show, and not just a series of disconnected sketches. We wanted it to have some sort of arc and have some kind of point of view on relationships (as silly as that seems), so we spent a lot of time tweaking the flow of it, making sure each of the sketches complimented each other, and making sure the whole ended up greater than the sum of the parts. I think the hardest part was really holding ourselves up to a high standard and being ruthless about cutting stuff that didn’t hit as hard or didn’t work. There were a bunch of sketches we spent months on that just didn’t end up working the way we wanted them to, and though it was hard to lose them, we made the tough choice to let them go, and the show is better for it.
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Is this the first road show for “Why We Broke Up”?

Allie: It is! And we’re so excited that our first is in Austin.

Turning the microscope on your past relationships, did you learn anything about yourselves?

Matt: I think I weirdly learned a lot about relationships in writing this show – I think in writing it we had to dig deep and figure out what made our past relationships fail, what are worst qualities were, and what we wanted out of other people. I think writing Why We Broke Up made me realize I could be pretty selfish and focused on myself that I totally missed out on the other person’s wants and needs. Sorry if that isn’t funny.

Allie: Oh man. Yes. Chiefly that relationships are cyclical. After really reflecting on past relationships to mine for the show, I was surprised to discover how similar my relationships were.

What are you looking forward to about Austin Sketch Fest?

Matt: Seeing a whole new city and seeing what sketch shows from other parts of the country are like. I’m especially excited to see one of my favorite groups from New York, Everyone’s Favorite Game Show (full disclosure: I directed them for the past 8 months). It’s this really cool, actual game show, but each new game is a separate sketch. The writing is really phenomenal, and those guys are just out of this world funny. Plus, they’re pretty good at writing a fun game show!

Allie: Excited to share an AirBnB with the cast of Everybody’s Favorite Game Show. I’ve also never been to Austin and have always wanted to visit, so this is going to be a great trip!

Why We Broke Up, featuring Matt, Allie, Amanda Ratti and Josh Sharp takes the stage Thursday, May 22nd, 8:30pm at the Spider House Ballroom along with Your Terrific Neighbors and Duncan Carson. TICKETS HERE.