INTERVIEW with Shaun Loeser SANTASIA – A Holiday Comedy
[SANTASIA – A HOLIDAY COMEDY is now playing at the Whitefire Theatre through December 25. This Loser Kids Productions has been Critics Pick for 14 Years, is an Ovation Award-nominated production and audience favorite. It’s A laugh out loud, hilarious annual holiday romp and cult hit – the perfect blend of Yuletide snark and sentiment.]
When and how did you first get involved with theatre?
I was in 2nd grade at St. Anne’s Catholic School when I played ‘First Elf’ in our Christmas Play – – an elf who didn’t believe in the commercialization of Christmas.
While in Culinary School in Chicago, I started training and performing at the original Improv Olympic Conservatory. I studied improvisation with Del Close, who was formerly the director of Second City before starting ImprovOlympic who also taught the likes of Bill Murray, John Candy, John Belushi and Jim Belushi. My improv team coach was Amy Pohler who would later star on “Saturday Night Live” and on “Parks and Recreation.” Under the direction of Del Close, we developed a popular main stage show “My Life in Improv”. Over the years, I continued to perform on various House Teams and other main stage shows at IO.
Del’s direction and story-telling technique is the foundation of how Santasia was created. The story-telling we did was always grounded in truth. “Truth in Comedy” is what Del taught me, and there’s nothing’s funnier than real life.
What was the genesis for what is now SANTASIA?
Well, on July 1, 2000, our dad lost a hard- fought battle with cancer. He actually had the disease 3 different times. Dad always made Christmas the best time of year for my brother Brandon and me.
So when the holidays started approaching my brother, Brandon, and I agreed instead of grieving Christmas time…let’s make fun of it. That’s what our dad would have wanted anyway. Our dad was a joker and the funniest guy we ever knew. Plus, I thought it was going to be cheaper than seeing a shrink…15 years later, it turns out I was wrong.
The show has been going strong for 14 holiday seasons – – to what do you attribute the success of the show?
It’s the connection the audience makes with the material and the characters – – because all of the sketches are true stories. Everyone can relate to so many of the scenes. It takes the audience back to those special, innocent moments in our lives…when Christmas time was just simple. We also have something for everyone in this crazy show. We do full-out Broadway musical parodies that are hilarious, choreographed by my wife Tania Pearson-Loeser and brilliantly arranged by Omar D. Brancato. There are original animated shorts that are done in the same Rankin and Bass style as the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer cartoons, in addition to a film parody of recent and current movies. My brother Brandon is the technical wizard behind Santasia. He and our crew write, produce, and film the parody, and Brandon edits and puts it all together.
Is it the same show each year, or do you add new skits to the piece?
Many of the skits have become cult classics that our audiences DEMAND to see again and again, but we still do change about 40 percent of the show. Santasia is about tradition, and like “It’s A Charlie Brown Christmas” it’s refreshing to see just the way we remembered seeing it the last time we watched it.
Is there anything else you might want us to know or you want to share about SANTASIA?
Santasia is a gift we received from our dad, and every year it is an honor and a privilege to be a part of someone’s holiday tradition. It is truly very humbling. It really is remarkable that out of our pain we can create so much happiness…and that’s a great gift and lesson that our dad, Bill Loeser, taught his silly sons!
Warning: Santasia is based upon true life stories we just make sure we keep the fun in dysfunction!
SANTASIA – A HOLIDAY COMEDY December 6 – December 25, 2014
Loser Kids Productions presents SANTASIA – A HOLIDAY COMEDY, Critics Pick for 14 Years!, Ovation nominated production, and audience favorite. A laugh out loud, hilarious annual holiday romp and cult hit, is the perfect blend of Yuletide snark and sentiment; compared to the Kids in the Hall, the Carol Burnett Show and the likes of Vaudeville. Dec. 6 – Dec. 25. Please check the website for show times and tickets. Advance Tix online $24. At the door $35. www.santasia.com or (818) 990-2324. Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks 91423. Ages 18+
About Shaun Loeser (SANTASIA Producer/Director/Actor/ Co-Writer) Shaun has been kicked in the face by Will Ferrell, shoved down 50 stairs by David Koechner, and thrown over a buffet table by Brandon Roth all for no reason. Originally from Chicago, Shaun trained with legendary improv guru Del Close at The ImprovOlympic Conservatory in Chicago. Both a professional actor and stuntman, most recently Shaun worked on Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers”. Shaun has also appeared in “The Amazing Spider-man”, “Good Christian Belles”, “Conan”, “True Blood”, and “Kambakkht Ishq”. TV credits include “The Tonight Show”, “NCIS LA”, “Pair of Kings”, “GCB”, “Step Brothers”, “iCarly, My Name is Earl”, “The Sarah Silverman Program”, “The Comebacks”, “Numbers”, and “General Hospital,” among others – but Shaun is most proud of being a loving father and husband. For more about Shaun Loeser check out IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2227970/
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