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Q&A: ‘Multiple Talking Women’ hosts discuss origins of podcast, importance of improv

Ariane Price, Lisa Schurga and Lauren Burns (left to right) stand together for a red carpet photo. The trio hosts the improvised satirical podcast
“Multiple Talking Women.” (Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

By Talia Sajor

April 16, 2024 4:28 p.m.

Returning to their old stomping ground, the “Multiple Talking Women” are honoring their comedic roots.

The improvised satirical podcast performed a live recorded episode, featuring special guests Bob Odenkirk, Michaela Watkins and Maggie Baird in celebration of The Groundlings Theatre’s 50th anniversary Friday. Alumni of the famous comedy troupe, hosts Ariane Price, Lisa Schurga and Lauren Burns each take on three distinct characters with different political leanings while interviewing a variety of celebrity guests.

Ahead of the live recording, Price, Schurga and Burns spoke to the Daily Bruin’s Talia Sajor about transforming “Multiple Talking Women” into its current state and the importance of improv as an art form.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

[Related: Q&A: Unpacking the Nebraska nostalgia of ‘Snack Shack’ with Mika Abdalla, Conor Sherry]

Daily Bruin: “Multiple Talking Women” began as a live improv show, “Happy Hour.” What was the process like of bringing it into the podcast setting?

Lauren Burns: First, it was a television show, and we took that around. We had different producers at different times, and we pitched it and pitched it and pitched it. And then eventually Cara Fano from Stampede (Podcast Network) approached us and took it.

Lisa Schurga: She basically was like, “I’m not willing to let go of these characters – we need to figure out another place for them, and let’s try a podcast.” So we’ve been playing these characters for so long, it was super easy to jump into the podcast space with them.

Ariane Price: It’s always brought joy, not only to us but to everyone we’ve ever pitched it to, to get to be these characters together. So the podcast was just the right place for right now. We love that we’re getting a following, and there’s still lots of stuff that we’re filming.

(Myka Fromm/Photo editor)
The poster for the “Multiple Talking Women” live show is pictured. On Friday, the satirical podcast performed a live recorded episode in celebration of The Groundlings Theatre’s 50th anniversary. (Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

DB: What was the process of constructing each of your respective characters?

LB: We’re all Groundlings alums, and we performed these variations of these characters for years on stage and improvs and sketches, so they all existed there before.

LS: We wanted to bring three women with three distinct points of view together in one place and see how they can work together. And I think part of the fun is that even with that, we still support each other, even though we’re sometimes arguing with each other.

AP: As Groundlings, we have done many characters over our time here. But these particular characters have had many different iterations, and they’ve really become part of our hearts. They are in some ways our alter egos, so we didn’t want to let these guys go. And we’re so happy that they’re getting to be enjoyed by a bigger audience.

[Related: Alumni-created sketch comedy group Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels rises in popularity]

DB: Why do you think it’s important to allow space for improv and comedy to thrive, such as Groundlings?

LB: Here (Groundlings Theatre), specifically, so many original characters come out of this theater. It’s a place where those people are free to find those characters here and in improvs, and that’s sort of the creative process.

I think it inspires people to work with others in a way that they might not have if they were just to be sent a script or something. But if you’re up on stage, and you’re improvising with someone, you’ll just make new discoveries – discover something about them or yourself that you wouldn’t have.

LS: It’s the “yes, and,” which is the basic improv philosophy, and we learned it here. And then we get to bring it into our podcast and into everything – into deciding to do the show, how are we going to do the show. … We just build, build, build on everything we say.

AP: I also think that in the corporate world, and in the entire world, there is a lack of play. Scientists have said that playing and improvising, making things up on the spot, being able to move with whatever happens to you, being resilient, are very important skills for everyday life, not just on the stage.

So we love bringing that to people and showing them that, look, we’re three women of a certain age, and we are having a blast, and people need to have more fun generally. It helps in every area of your life.

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Talia Sajor | Arts editor
Sajor is the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a third-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
Sajor is the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a third-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
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