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The Frogmen of the Gowanus Go for Another Swim

Eric Richmond is resurrecting an old improv and sketch comedy troupe for a new Saturday night show at the Brooklyn Lyceum .

The Frogmen of the Gowanus had been under water for nearly a decade when Eric Richmond, owner of the , decided to revive the old improv and sketch comedy troupe.

The Frogmen, which performed only from early 2001 to late 2002, suffered from what Richmond calls the “Tracy Champman Syndrome.”

As he explains it: The Frogmen (himself included) put on one “ridiculously good show, but after that you could tell we were reaching.”

Now, 10 years later, Richmond and Regan Jaye Fishman are “wrangling personalities” for a new take on the old show.

The Frogmen of the Gowanus have already held two casting calls this month at the former Public Bath No. 7 on Fourth Avenue at President Street, and will have one more on July 25. The show is expected to start in September as an improv group, eventually developing into a full-fledged sketch and variety show for the theater.

“He is bringing back to life the improv/sketch comedy army,” said Fishman, who is both the convention director at the Brooklyn Lyceum and the show’s co-producer.

Richmond and Fishman are assembling a team of 32 people. The group will rotate responsibilities: each show will have eight writers, eight technicians, eight highlighted performers and eight featured actors, and the members will revolve through the roles for the next show.

“Eric is a big fan of the band Chicago, they never let anybody play a song they wrote. His vision is to have everyone perform a show that someone else wrote,” Fishman said.

The troupe’s purpose is to be an outlet for up-and-coming stand-up comics, performers, writers and actors. According to Richmond, the show is not meant to rely on one superstar, but rather 32 “non-superstars.”

So far, the producers have wrangled Stephen McCarthy, a writer and comedic storyteller, Andy Kleiman, who trained with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Peter D. Michael, a 2009 New York Emmy Award winning actor and comedian and a couple more.

“Some people only like a good idea when it is their good idea,” Peter D. Michael said while standing in the performance space on the Lyceum’s top floor. “But good writers, good comics and actors know when something is good. This troupe will be the definition of the phrase ‘six heads is better than one.’”

The Frogmen will hit the stage either before or after , the popular Saturday night improv show at the Lyceum. Until the ball gets rolling, the show will be on the stage two or three times a month.

Fishman says the material aims to be sharp and biting, ranging from Brooklyn-centric to “if Obama got caught smoking weed.”

“We are going to reach out to Manhattan and further into Brooklyn to bring specific audiences all together," he said. "This community will produce a show that doesn’t alienate anyone in the audience.”

Richmond has the highest hopes for his revitalized troupe.

“It will be like SNL, but better,” he said.


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