For the love of a laugh The Grape Dutches of York are an award-winning sketch comedy group based in Astoria. This month, we sit down with their founder, Daniel Florio, to get the inside scoop on how they came about, what they’ve done, and what their plans are for the future. FEBRUARY 2014 | BOROMAG.COM | 29 BORO: When did you get started in comedy? Daniel Florio: I started doing stand up in high school, but stopped when I got to college. Once I finished and moved to Astoria I rededicated myself to making comedy, studying at UCB and the PIT, and starting the Dutches. BORO: What inspired you to start Grape Dutches? DF: I love comedy and was always trying to make it myself growing up. My best friend and I were always using his Dad’s camcorder to make sketches. When I moved to Astoria in 2008 I started auditioning like everyone else, but still had a desire to make my own things. So I got a few of my funny friends together and we just started making sketches again with a camcorder. Eventually we started learning and striving to make it look better and more professional, putting in our own money to buy a camera, lights, and sound equipment. BORO: How many members are involved? DF: There are roughly 10 members of the group, but we also have a few regular people we like to work with if schedules align. Basically if you’re creative, funny, and easy to work with we want to do something with you. BORO: How many videos have you produced? DF: We’ve produced 2 seasons of shorts in the last 2 years along with the individual sketches we’re making for our monthly residency at Sketch Block in St. Marks. We really came together in a more professional sense first for the web-series we filmed in 2011. It was called “Recession Whores” and was about two roommates who lose their jobs in the Recession, so they resort to becoming gigolos thru the Internet. Through that experience we first met and cast people who later become part of the group. BORO: Do you always film in Astoria/Queens? DF: We tend to film the majority of our stuff in Queens: Astoria, LIC, Elmhurst. A lot of the Dutches live in Astoria, so we’re constantly using our apartments, rooftops, hallways, etc. Queens has such a beautiful look, whenever we shoot outside our production quality doubles by just being surrounded by it. BORO: What inspires your concepts? DF: The concepts for our sketches usually come from some twisted place in the corner of my brain. I’m curious in trying different styles of genres and tropes too. We’ll parody summer movies with a “Where’s Waldo” trailer, or try to make a silent film as close to the 1900’s as possible, but set in modern times. We constantly want to test our abilities and challenge ourselves. BORO: Who are your favorite comedians? DF: We all grew up watching SNL, The State, Kids in the Hall, and Mr. Show. I personally grew up loving Andy Kaufman, and I think that those influences definitely helped shape what we do as a group. BORO: Where can we see your work? DF: We are currently working on a live sketch show that will include filmed elements as well as a 4-D experience. Hopefully we can get that going in the upcoming months. We’re currently still in the writing stage. We also completed the newest sketch for our show at Sketch Block at the Under St. Marks Theater. We do a new one every month, and the show is the 2nd Wednesday each month. We also have a show in Williamsburg we do that is a tribute to movies and their tropes followed by a movie following that month’s theme at Videology. You can find all of our stuff at our webpage www.grapedutches.com, as well as YouTube and Funny or Die. Also you can ‘LIKE” us on Facebook and follow us on twitter @grapedutches.
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