A GoPride Interview

Tamale Sepp

Tamale Sepp on her latest project and living life as a hot Tamale

Thu. August 30, 2012  by Jerry Nunn

It is just cool that we can meet at an intersection, all hang out and make people laugh.
Tamale Sepp
Internationally renowned performance artist Tamale Sepp is launching a new monthly showcase that explores comedy through stand-up, sketch, improv, videos, performance art, live readings of personal narrative work and other creative methods taken directly from the artists' experiences.

After earning her BS in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Technology Management, Sepp took up performance art ranging from fire twirling and belly dancing to drag and stand-up. She later received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College Chicago.

In the new showcase Brass Chuckles: Comedy that Kicks Ass, Sepp keeps things unexpected as a "Femme-ce" and producer for the show launching on Friday Aug. 31.

ChicagoPride.com's Jerry Nunn talked to Sepp about her latest project and life as a hot Tamale!

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hey, Tamale. What's the story about how your name came to be?

TS: (Tamale Sepp) It started from my high school in Arizona that was 85 percent Hispanic. My Spanish teacher called me Tamale one day from my name of Tammy and middle name of Lee. When I went to college I came out and started calling myself that.

JN: It just stuck. I have known you for years but tell our readers about your background.

TS: Originally I am from Phoenix. I went to University of Arizona and I studied agriculture. I did my student teaching for agricultural education. I learned how to build things and took welding. I helped to start an improvisation group in college at U of A. It helped to change the course of life. I came to Chicago for the Chicago Improv Festival in 2000. I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

JN: How did you move into comedy?

TS: I started with improv then I did stand up and sketch. I did gender performance, which was a mixture between drag and burlesque. I created sketches that were character based and exploring things of that nature. Comedy is always in it even when I am fire dancing or belly dancing.

JN: Now you have a showcase called Brass Chuckles.

TS: Yes, I have done variety shows a lot. There is not a great deal of cross over between stand up and improv. It is usually one or the other generally speaking. What I do has roots in gender performance and movement but my heart is always in comedy. I wanted to create a show that I can explore and have fun with. One of the pieces I want to do on Friday is a piece I worked with Brigid Murphy on. I want to incorporate an ankle grinder into the performance. So it is funny but also really bad ass.

What I have seen in all of those different worlds are super unique and different. I want to use comedic moments to influence the performance. It is more comedic performance.

JN: Which is different than a regular comedy show.

TS: I think so like funny fire dancing. It is doing something that is not stand up.

JN: Are there other performers in this showcase?

TS: Yes, I wanted to invite other people to come play. In this show we have Keslie Huff, she does memoir work, Gwen La Roka, who does stand up and Jet Eveleth, who just recently auditioned for SNL.

JN: So a mix with other elements as well?

TS: Another improviser and myself got together and did some video shorts called Suburban Darkness about two teenage girls who are gothic and stuck in the suburbs. My friend Kevin and I did a music video also that will be in the show.

JN: Is everyone gay in the group?

TS: No. Obviously I am queer, Gwen, and Kevin but nobody else is. It is just cool that we can meet at an intersection, all hang out and make people laugh.

JN: Will this be a monthly thing?

TS: Yes, right after this I am running to the Playground Theater to solidify dates for the future.

JN: Do you want to feature other acts?

TS: Absolutely. My goal is to seek out other performers. I want it to be specifically comedic. I know fire dancers for example and want to work with them to create something comedic. That would have to be video based because we can't have that in the theater. If you burn yourself you have to play it off like you are fine because you don't want to worry your audience. There is so much potential for comedic exploration.

JN: Too bad you can't have fire dancing in front of the venue.

TS: We might if we can get away with it!

JN: Do you have a website?

TS: Go to www.brasschucklescomedy.com. I just put some production stills and some teasers on the front page for the next show. We have Redneck Advice with Cody and Jeb where we perform in drag and it is ridiculous and so funny.

Don't miss Tamale and the gang this week. Head over to the Playground Theater, 3209 N Halsted on Friday, August 31 at 10 p.m. with an admission of $10.00.

Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.