Comedy super group combines stand-up, video sketches to form seven-headed monster.
What do the world’s worst erotic novelist, a ranch dressing–obsessed diner, and a wildly inappropriate therapist all have in common? They’re all characters in the bizarre world of The Turkeys.
Comprised of long-time Twin Cities comedy staples Gabe Noah, Isaac Witty, Gus Lynch, Chris Knutson, Chris Maddock, Kjell Bjorgen, and Nate Abshire along with director Matt Olsen, The Turkeys have quickly established themselves as one of the funniest and most unique comedy crews to ever come out of Minnesota. Since coming together back in February of last year, their combination of video sketches and stand-up have made them sort of a seven-headed monster of comedy, and helped them to make a huge impact both locally and nationally while staying true to their Midwest roots.
“The idea for The Turkeys really started when a couple of us came back from a tour out in New York City that, frankly, kind of sucked,” says Gabe Noah, one of the unofficial leaders of the group. “We were frustrated and thinking there was no way we were going to move out to New York and start all over in comedy, so we needed to find a way to make some noise from Minneapolis.”
Isaac Witty, who has made his mark on the comedy scene for the past 15 years with late night talk show appearances and sold out performances, echoed Noah’s thoughts.
“The difference between a lot of sketch comedy groups and us is that we’re all in our thirties,” he says. “If we were in our twenties, I guess we could pack up and start something in a new town, but that’s not something that any of us were interested in doing at this point in our lives.” And so began The Turkeys.
Channeling their collective frustrations, the group began writing sketches and filming together, taking control of their creative futures.
“Once we had this many creative, hilarious people all working towards creating the best videos we possibly could, we just kept gaining momentum,” Noah says of the group’s progress. “Finally we decided it was time to start sharing them with the world and it turns out we aren’t the only ones who found them funny.”
In addition to performing shows around town that would feature a hybrid of their videos, stand-up and even live sketches, the group gained serious notoriety this past spring when they signed a video distribution deal with an online comedy provider, My Damn Channel, which is also home to major players like David Wain from The State and Minnesota’s own Maria Bamford. The group quickly became hugely successful on the site, garnering thousands of hits each week.
“If you watch our videos, you can tell that we’re all doing what we want to do,” says Witty. “We’re having fun and making something that we really believe in, and I think that really comes across when you watch any of our stuff.”
While the crew continues shooting new videos and touring stages across the state, The Turkeys have also found their way into the business of viral advertising.
This summer they officially launched Turkeys Creative, allowing them to expand their reach and use their distinct brand of humor to help businesses get attention.
“Advertising is about getting attention, and being funny is the best way to do that,” says Witty. “It was a natural fit.”
The group just completed shooting their first viral advertising web series for a client, which will debut this September. And although the point of any ad is to drum up business, Noah insists that the corporate world isn’t softening The Turkeys.
“We aren’t going to create something that we don’t find funny,” he says. “You aren’t going to see any talking animals or wacky grandmas in our videos. We want to work with companies that are a little gutsy and who align with our brand of comedy, and we want to establish that no one specializes in funny, viral advertising videos like we do.”
Even though The Turkeys are generating buzz and taking the Internet by storm, the guys aren’t dreaming of mega-stardom just yet.
“If you’re in any type of show business and you’re doing it because you want to make it big, then you’re an idiot,” Witty says without a hint of sarcasm. “The reason we’re all in this is because we love it, and we don’t want to do anything else. That’s it.”