Dudley Riggs Theatre Home of the Brave New Workshop

Behind the Sketches

The Brave New Workshop cast writes and performs all original content, each sketch handcrafted with care to ensure the perfect laughter-inducing to thought-provoking content ratio. As with any artistic project, there are often backstories that drive the final product but that few get to see.

We asked the cast of Cheaper than Hamilton to fill us in on the stories behind their sketches, and oh boy, did they deliver.

Billboard Battle by John Pumper

Anyone who has driven anywhere in Minnesota knows the strange feeling of déjà vu Kris Lindahl and his army of billboards inspire. Long stretches of flat freeway feature nothing but trees and a grinning real estate mogul, who, by the looks of it, is definitely a hugger.

But Kris wasn’t always the most ubiquitous billboarder in town. Since my own childhood, I can remember a different face haunting our family trips into Minneapolis, the face of a man who wouldn’t be all that upset if you ended up in a car crash on your way to your destination. You don’t need a wristwatch when you enter Hennepin County, because here, it’s always TSR Time.

Two titans of billboard marketing. Two omnipresent, looming faces. As I drove down a stretch of 494 where one of each of their billboards was featured on either side of the road, it became clear to me that at the end of the day, there could only be one, true champion of Minnesota marketing. Kris Lindahl and Steve Terry would have to duke it out.

And what better way for two middle-aged white guys to settle the score than a rap battle?

The Same Pen by Lauren Anderson 

I distinctly remember having a crush on a guy at the time. Some of the jokes in the piece are actual Easter Eggs from our time “hanging out” together (And no, I’ll never say who). I was inspired because I liked this guy so much, but we had nothing in common other than we both liked movies . It made me want to satirize how Rom Coms make having similar interests the absolute defining factor of whether or not a couple falls in love. And I thought it would be funny if you made the stuff really mundane; like a common pen, or liking coffee or football… or movies. Stuff that’s not unique to like because it’s so popular.

Tyranny of Happiness by Lauren Anderson

I don’t know when the home decor trend started, but before long, it felt like I couldn’t walk into a store without every inanimate object telling me what to do! I don’t know about you, but I hate being told what to do. It’s bad enough to have a fork tell you to “EAT” but the ones that really got me were the things telling me how I should feel. “BE HAPPY” was and is the biggest culprit. I started joking about it with my friends and coined it “The Tyranny of Happiness”.

One of the best things about working at Brave New Workshop is being able to write what you’re actually thinking about and how you actually feel. The characters are heightened of course, but the sentiment is as true to what I think as it gets. I love this sketch because it’s so gratifying to have an audience laugh along with me, reminding me I’m not alone in my contempt for this style of decor.

Uterus by Lauren Anderson

I was so distraught by the reversal of Roe V. Wade that I knew I wanted to write about it. I knew my anger about my rights being taken away by my own government was white hot, but it was almost too close–I couldn’t think of a way to talk about it without turning it into a white woman rant about the patriarchy, which causes a lot of people to tune out—and I of course want people to tune in! This was about more than that. I have a long history of personifying animals and objects in sketches to highlight a point of view. So, I thought, what if we traveled inside and talked directly to the Uterus, and the rest of the reproductive organs? What would they say? And how would they feel?

The Game of Life by Denzel Belin

The current show contains a sketch that was the first one that I wrote for Brave New Workshop. I remember really diving into learning what satire meant, and as an avid lover of board games and also being black, I decided to look at the funky optimism that was the Game of Life. To take the game and reflect on what an actualized version of its content meant back in 2016 and now in 2023. The funny thing is, the sketch is more relevant than ever now, and we changed very little about its content. Well, maybe funny and sad. Writing the sketch in 2016 was one of the first moments that made me realize that I belong at the Brave New Workshop and was a spark to why I’ve stayed.