Get to Know the Damsels of Dorkington

Everyone loves to laugh and in geekdom there are plenty of ways to involve fandom with comedy. One of our favorite groups that has brought us hours of fun through various forms is the Damsels of Dorkington. We were excited that they agreed to take some time to answer some questions to give us all a look at what goes on behind the scenes. Without any ado whatsoever we present the interview with Rissy and Blythe of the Damsels of Dorkington.

GeekPost: Can you tell us about the origin of the Damsels of Dorkington and how the group came together?

Rissy: Um, does this have to be safe for work? Um…

Blythe: Let’s go PG-13.

Rissy: Okay. Well, it all started during a period of time known as the early modern era, or as many people call it, the Renaissance. And because of the Renaissance, a lot of weirdos in the 20th century started throwing renaissance festivals beginning in California and then spreading across the rest of the United States. Blythe and I met each other as part of a group that performed Shakespeare parody acts at Renaissance festivals. The group that we were in was controlled by a fucking psychopath, so we revolted and created our own group, the Damsels.

Blythe: That is roughly true, although we said we’d keep this PG-13. So that was your one F bomb. You can’t do another one now.

Rissy: So we have one F word, one boob, and an ass cheek.

Blythe: Exactly. We’ll reserve the boob and the ass cheek for later in the interview.

Yeah, that, that is roughly it. Rissy and I met at a Renaissance festival. They conned me into joining their troupe. We performed at Renaissance Festivals as a different group for about two and a half years, and then we made our escape. You can basically picture Rissy and I holding hands, giggling, and fleeing from a massive explosion. And that was the beginning of the Damsels of Dorkington.

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GeekPost:  How would you describe the group’s comedic style, and what sets it apart from other performance troupes?

Rissy: I would say that we’re very firmly committed to what could be called the 2010s millennial absurdist style of humor. In which, jokes don’t actually have to be jokes. I mean, sometimes we do have standard jokes, but a lot of times, it’s simply creating ridiculous situations. We started off as a Shakespeare parody act, which is absolutely crazy to think about. There was a lot more word play and standard jokes back then. But over time, we moved away from that because it was a bit too much of a niche thing. We began to simply take a very nerdy, pop culture commentary style with extremely lowbrow humor juxtaposed against highbrow literary concepts.

Blythe: I think you’ve really summed it up. I don’t know that I have a lot to add, except that what sets us apart from other performance troops is I don’t think anyone is doing what we are doing. So, it’s pretty easy to set ourselves apart, because I just don’t know that you can compare us to literally anything or anyone.

Rissy: Yeah, one of our shows, Hamilthrones is an idea of “what if Lin-Manuel Miranda were hired by HBO to force George R. R. Martin to finish his books, the Song of Ice and Fire series, as part of the Game of Thrones TV show?” It was a musical take on both Hamilton and Game of Thrones. I don’t really think you’re gonna find that with anybody else out there.

GeekPost: What are some notable performances or appearances the Damsels of Dorkington have had?

Rissy: Can we talk about Deep Dickens?

Blythe: I mean, that’s the one, right?

Rissy: We were talking about show ideas, and we thought, what if we did an almost entirely improvised show where we have certain plot beats that we’re gonna hit, but everything in between, like how we get there is just completely up to the audience? What if it were about Charles Dickens, or rather the works of Charles Dickens, if you just pasted all of them together, but it was also a porno. And that’s how Deep Dickens was born, and also how someone at Gen Con tried to get us thrown in jail.

Blythe: Yeah. So that year at Gen Con we, we did, in fact, perform Deep Dickens. And of course, in any Dickensian-based anything, you have to have orphans, right? We tried to clarify that you don’t have to be a minor to be an orphan, and that our orphans were in fact adults, but these people were not having it. They went to the management of Gen Con and told them that we should be in jail for the things that we were portraying on stage. We are always very upfront with people that, um, our group is not for everyone, and we try to give people a heads up from the very beginning that we’re very out there. We make a lot of inappropriate jokes, and if you’re not okay with that, that’s okay. Clearly, we were not for these people, and they did not heed that warning. We were not thrown in jail, however, so…

Rissy: No, and Gen Con even let us come back the next year!

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GeekPost: How do you approach writing and developing material for your live performances?

Blythe: This is one that I will definitely let Rissy take point on, because she does the majority of the writing for the group.

Rissy: Well, usually we’ll workshop an idea for a show together as the group. Although sometimes I will come up with an idea and just write all of it out and then spring it on them, and they’re remarkably tolerant of it. But usually what happens is we bounce around concepts with each other, we hit on something, and then I lock myself inside a room for several weeks and out comes a show.

Blythe: It sounds like she’s exaggerating, but she’s not. We have unveiled scripts on stage before. As in, the only person who had seen the script before we read it on stage was Rissy, so the rest of the group and the audience got to learn about it together. Those are always fun shows to do actually.

We also have a lot of parody music. For instance, our Hamilthrones show. Obviously, it has Hamilton music, but George R. R. Martin content inside of it. It’s the same thing for that too, right? Rissy will just come up with the parodies and write them all, and then I’m basically the producer.

Rissy: Yeah, Blythe makes things possible, because a lot of times my ideas are very stupid and bad. Blythe finds a way to make them work.

Blythe: Listen, they’re not bad ideas, they’re just not always achievable. I do my best.

Rissy: One day I’m gonna get that wire fighting team. I’m gonna get it, I know.

Blythe: it’s been over a decade and I haven’t been able to work it out yet, but I’m still trying.

GeekPost: How has the group’s dynamic and chemistry evolved over time?

Blythe: We have had a sort of revolving door, as far as the other Damsels go, throughout the years. Amanda has been with us, as our third partner, for the longest, but even right now, she’s swamped at work. She has her PhD, and she currently has to devote her time to science. Rissy and I told her, to do what she needs to do, and we’ll still be here when she’s got more time and energy for us. We’ll still be doing this together, like idiots. I think that the chemistry has always been the same and will always be the same.

Rissy: I agree, and it’s probably best we don’t bring up other Damsels from the past. We prefer not to discuss some of them until they’re dead. But, for the record, we will have had nothing to do with their deaths.

GeekPost: Can you discuss any challenges or obstacles the group has faced and how you have overcome them?

Rissy: Well, we live on opposite sides of the earth.

Blythe: That is 100% the thing that I thought of as well. When we started this group we were one state away. It was a four- or five-hour drive. Now I am located in LA, Rissy is located in the far reaches of the frozen tundra of Canada, and Amanda is in Kansas City, Missouri. So we are all over the United States and Canada, which makes it difficult to be doing live shows. I think the biggest catalyst for why and how our shows have changed and evolved over time has been to overcome the distance.

Rissy: Yeah, just having to figure out how can we do a show that we can rehearse online, and how do we do these songs when we cannot rehearse in person? That is 100% the biggest challenge we face as a group, and I think we’ve done a pretty spectacular job in overcoming it.

Blythe: I mean, we’ve been together at this point for 13 years, and we’ve changed and we’ve grown. We are not the group now that we started out as, and I’m proud of how we’ve evolved.

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GeekPost: How do you engage and interact with your audience during performances?

Blythe: So many beautiful ways!

Rissy: Coming out of the Renaissance Festival is like a comedy school of hard knocks, and you really learn how to do audience participation. That’s a huge part of any Renaissance festival performance, and we still incorporate that. I guess it’s a thing that sets us apart from other comedy acts performing in the sphere we are in now and it’s a lot of fun!

Blythe: Yeah, absolutely. I think audience participation is a core of our performances and who we are as a group. I don’t know if we’ve ever done a show that doesn’t include some audience participation. It’s really important to us that the audience is getting to engage with us and that we are getting people to enjoy themselves, both in the audience and on the stage.

GeekPost:  Do you view yourselves as geeks? Why?

Rissy: I’m gonna provide one example. The day I got engaged to my now husband, we were just hanging out and chatting after breakfast. We started talking about Star Wars, and then at one point we were like, “we should go get some lunch” and realized it was 7:00 PM. We basically started talking about Star Wars at 9 in the morning and didn’t notice that 10 hours had passed. So I would say I’d consider myself a geek.

Blythe: Rissy is the classic geek, in my opinion, where she gets hyper fixated on something and will learn so much about it. For instance, she knows so much about Warhammer 40k, but I don’t think she’s ever played any form of 40k.

Rissy: No, I have never, never played, although apparently that’s fairly common in terms of the gender divide in the game. It’s much more common for men to play and much more common for women to really get into the lore.

Blythe: But I love that about you!

Rissy: Thank you! I would say you are way good at doing things when you’re interested in fandom. Like the fact that you were setting up your own websites for Sailor Moon stuff. I would get into things, but I would never show that kind of initiative. I was always really impressed by your ability to combine technical mastery with your geeky interests.

Blythe: Yeah, when I was a teenager, I taught myself HTML so I could make Sailor Moon fan sites with some friends. I also started creating my own kind of audio Sailor Moon fan fiction. Short round snippets parodying Sailor Moon material. I guess I’ve always just been a producer. I have to make things for the stuff I love the most.

GeekPost: What advice would you give to aspiring comedians or comedy groups looking to make a name for themselves?

Rissy: Don’t have sex with everyone at the Renaissance Festival. It never ends Well.

Blythe: She’s not wrong. And it’s good advice. I just don’t know how many people need that piece of advice. So another piece of advice would be to make things that you love. Make what you want to see and just like do it. Don’t worry about it being perfect. Don’t worry about it being amazing, just make it.

Rissy: Yeah, really do not worry about how niche your audience could be. That is not a thing that anyone should ever worry about anymore, in this day of the internet. I guarantee you, whatever you think is funny, there are other people out there who think it is funny and want you to make something for them.

The Geek Post would like to thank Rissy & Blythe for taking the time to answer questions about the Damsels of Dorkington. If you are going to a convention like Gen Con make sure you look to see if they are on the schedule somewhere, and if so, get those tickets you will not be sorry. Meanwhile, check out all they have online for hours of laughs. We will end this interview with an embed of “I Kissed a Nerd”.

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