A conversation with improv comedienne and sketch actor Anna Vocino 95C is like a romp in a pop culture playground. It bounds from politics to Hollywood to television shows to motherhood, with plenty of one-liners thrown in.
But beneath the clever veneer is the clear message that comedy is hard work.
Four years of performing with Emory’s improv troupe, Rathskeller—one of the oldest collegiate improvisation groups in the country—fine-tuned Vocino’s topic selection and timing.
“I definitely learned to marry high-brow and raunchy,” she says.
During her junior year, Vocino co-founded Midtown’s Whole World Theatre, which specialized in offbeat original plays and improv. The small-but-dedicated band of local comedians put on shows up to five nights a week.
“Back then it was just us and Dad’s Garage and Laughing Matters,” she says. “One of the unique things we tried was to film ‘man on the street’ pranks to play back during our live shows.”
At Whole World, she met Lance Krall, a Georgia State theater/film major, and even more fortuitously, Loren Tarquinio, her future husband.
After Krall moved to Los Angeles to give television a shot, Vocino and Tarquinio—and their young daughter, Lucy—soon followed. Since they were all hanging out together anyway, trying to find work, they decided to do what they do best: improvise. Krall filmed their sessions with a small digital recorder, editing on his iMac.
“We spent about four weeks meeting every day, coming up with characters and developing about a hundred and fifty sketch outlines,” Vocino says. “Of that, we chose to film about forty, and those got whittled down even more. Some of the funniest stuff didn’t even make it in!”
From the best bits, they put together a thirty-minute sketch comedy show called The Lance Krall Show (www.thelancekrallshow.com), starring Krall, Vocino, Tarquinio, and many other Whole World alums who had joined them in L.A. Spike TV, part of MTV networks, bought the first eight episodes, which were broadcast from April to August of last year. They are now pitching variations of the show to other networks.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned in L.A. is that everybody is always looking for a job,” Vocino says. “It adds to the drama of your bank account.”
Vocino is now doing independent films, commercials, and voice-overs.
“Voiceovers are great,” she says. “I can record an MP3 from here and send it out. I’ve been in commercials, animation, videogames—the latest was “Splinter Cell 4”—phone on-hold messages, and corporate narration. Whatever gig comes down the pipe.”
Vocino also just finished a political “mockumentary,” A New Tomorrow, in which she plays an extreme left-wing liberal high school art teacher/goth chick who volunteers on a mayoral campaign.
“Everything goes awry, she loses her job and goes berserk and becomes an uptight businesswoman,” she says.
Which, frankly, Vocino doesn’t see as ever happening to her.
With dual degrees in French cultural studies and history, she has a back-up plan of sorts: “I can become a French cultural studies historian!”—M.J.L.
To hear a sample of Vocino’s voiceovers, go to www.annavocino.com.