Entertainment » Culture

Good evening America, meet Drew Droege (aka Chloë Sevigny)

by Joseph Erbentraut
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Wednesday Jun 1, 2011
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Though the name Drew Droege may not immediately jog your memory, the name of the character this accomplished comedian is best known for portraying in a series of wildly popular YouTube videos certainly would.

"Good evening America, I’m Chloë Sevigny," Droege says, dead-pan directly into the camera at the start of each of his videos. "It’s recently come to my attention that I love..."

In one video, lauded actress and fashionista "Sevigny"s interest-du-jour is Htoast (pronounced "toe-IST") made from Hawaiian sweet bread. In another, perhaps Droege’s best-known sketch, it’s birthdays ("birth-deez"), where the Los Angeles-based comic rattles off a list of the gifts received including imitation pants by Cacharel, stand-up comedy classes and "permission to never speak to Jeanne Tripplehorn ever again."

The videos have gone viral, caught the attention of Sevigny herself and caused quite stir for Droege, an alum and current teacher at the same Groundlings program that trained the likes of Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Griffin, Will Ferrell and "Bridesmaids" break-out sensation Kristen Wiig. Droege was also recognized last year with the Outfest Award for Emerging Talent and previously voiced the part of Feathers in the animated "Planet Unicorn" web series.

Taking a break from his busy schedule, which includes some exciting upcoming film work and churning out more perpetually hip Chloë sketches, Droege recently spoke with EDGE.


Working with Chloë?

EDGE: Hello Drew! Tell me how you got into comedy in the first place.

Drew Droege: I studied acting in college and was a theater major so I really got into comedy because I wanted to do drama and be a legitimate, sincere actor so badly but always got a bunch of laughs. I realized I should probably do comedy instead. I never really did stand-up comedy per se until I moved to Los Angeles and worked with the Groundlings and went through their program. I ended up loving it and realized I really wanted to do it and now I teach it too.

EDGE: I have to say I just watched a video interview with Chloë Sevigny herself who mentioned you and the impression you do of her. What was it like for you to watch and hear about that? Will you take her up on her suggestion that you two might do something together?

DD: I would love to work with her because I think she’s awesome. It’s been the craziest thing because it started as something I did for the sketch comedy show with friends. I never thought it would go to the level of videos she was going to see. Since I’ve done her for years, it’s not even really her anymore -- it’s become an original character I’m doing, so it’s strange and insane having her watch it. I only could watch it once because it was uncomfortable.

It must be weird for her to watch some guy play her because it’s such a bizarre choice. If you’re Obama, of course a million people are going to parody you because you’re the President, but for her, an actress on TV, I’m sure she’s just like, "Why is this guy doing this?" I can instantly understand why she may not be able to sit through my videos.

Story continues on following page:

Watch Drew Droege as Chloë Sevigny talk about "Toast":





Watch Drew Droege as Chloë Sevigny talk about "Birthdays":



His own thing

EDGE: So why is this guy doing it? What was it about Chloë that really inspired you to take her on as an ongoing character?

DD: I started doing her because I was doing a sketch comedy show and was trying on blonde wigs for something else. I looked in the mirror and said, "God, I really look like her." Years ago, I had read this interview with her referencing these really bizarre, very literate and, at the same time, ghetto references and wearing really interesting, insane outfits.

My idea was why is no one celebrating her slash calling her out on her behavior, so it came to me. I tried to put it up in front of audiences and it was really hit or miss. I did it on and off for a couple of years then my friend Jim Hansen approached me to make videos of the character. That’s when it really took off and I have to thank him for a lot of it.

EDGE: I have to ask, where do the clothes come from? Or they yours or do you borrow or rent them? What about all of the cultural references? Are you constantly researching or are you that "in the know"?

DD: A little bit! And also Jim is a wardrobe guy and a stylist and works in costumes so he gets a lot of stuff. He has a great eye and holds onto certain pieces for me. Because the videos are so popular, I have people giving me some stuff and it’s been really cool. We sort of up the ante with every videos, finding better backgrounds and clothes and everything has been improving as we’ve figured it out.

EDGE: What is it like to step into Chloë’s ever-ironic shoes compared to other characters you’ve played or simply doing comedy as yourself?

DD: I really look at it as just another character, not as playing a woman or a man. I always start to build a character from what their point of view is. Chloë started out with me throwing on a bad wig in jeans and wearing a glitter top and almost no makeup. Since the videos have taken off, they’ve taken on another aesthetic and when I’m doing shows or a photo shoot they’ll sometimes put me in a lot of makeup, hair, costumes and all that stuff.

It’s been a lot of fun but I’m always nervous playing pretty girls. My goal is never to be pretty. I always kind of play the mess more often and that’s more fun for me.

EDGE: The videos could certainly be read as a kind of cultural commentary -- what do you make of that sort of a reading?

DD: I don’t know, it’s something people can read into it. I came at it from a place where it just made me laugh so it’s always humbling for people to say they represent something or mean something more than that. I think what is funny about that world is the name-dropping and the sense that things are important all of a sudden while some things are five minutes ago and certain people are now relevant.

It’s my own thing and not Chloë herself. I sort of use my character as a way to comment on, I guess, the ridiculousness of society and the fashion and entertainment industry and foodie cultures that hold certain things in regard and dismiss other things. All those worlds have so many snobs, like if you’re not "in the know" then you’re really out of it. I think it’s really funny.


Influences?

EDGE: Who would you say are some comedians or writers that have really influenced you through the years? I understand you’re a big John Waters fan in particular -- what would you say are some of your favorite films of his?

DD: I don’t know if I could name a favorite since I’ve seen them all a million times. John Waters has definitely influenced me, plus I worked with Mink Stole recently which is something that just left me speechless. I’d say my favorite movies are "Female Trouble," "Serial Mom" and "Polyester." There’s a lot of suburban parody in those movies and that’s what I love, making fun of that family structure.

I grew up watching "Married With Children" and I maintain that show was way ahead of its time and brilliant. It wouldn’t even work today because so many shows are borrowing and stealing from that show. I also grew up with Carol Burnett as my number-one idol as a comedian. That’s who everyone is based on. I see pictures of myself doing characters and see her in what I’m doing. I’m channeling her. I also watched "In Living Color" and "Saturday Night Live" and all that stuff really influenced my sensibility too.

EDGE: What were you working with Mink on?

DD: I’m in the new "Eating Out," ["Drama Camp"] and I play the drama camp director. It was really fun and Mink has a recurring role in that series. She is so poised and a real woman. It was sort of refreshing she’s not crazy or out of her mind when so many people from that era didn’t make it out of that time. She’s so talented and I, and a million people out there, could quote every one of her lines from all her movies.

EDGE: You also have a film in the can involving Amy Poehler called "Freak Dance," right?

DD: Yes, I worked with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, the theater she founded probably 15 years ago with three guys and one of those guys, Matt Basser, wrote a breakdancing movie-musical, a parody of "Breakin’," "Purple Rain," "Step Up 2: The Streets" and all those dance movies. We did it on stage off and on for two years and he always said it’s going to be a movie. All of a sudden, I got an e-mail saying he’d gotten financing and everyone from the stage show is in the movie.

My name in the movie is Dazzle and I wear a silver body suit the whole time and I’m advocating private dancing, like sex dancing. Amy was one of the producers and got to play one of the lead girls. She was so awesome. She came in in the middle of shooting "Parks and Rec" and couldn’t have been nicer. The music is almost Gilbert & Sullivan and it goes in the weirdest and most insane nightmarish places but is really fun. Hopefully that’s going to come out soon, they’re trying to do festivals and stuff right now because it just got finished.

EDGE: The world of comedy is not always the friendliest place for gay comics and anyone who isn’t a white straight guy, for the most part. Has that been an issue for you?

DD: I definitely do not think the comedy world is homophobic or sexist or racist but I think that, at the end of the day, most people who do comedy are straight white dudes and most of them are very open-minded and cool but still really think other straight white dudes are funny. We can respect each other but don’t quite get it, which is why I think women and gay people are funny. I’ll go and be so bored I’ll roll my eyes at a big-budget comedy making millions of dollars. If I was running things, a movie like "Grown Ups" would never get made, but it was a huge hit so I realize that what I do is definitely alternative without my even trying to be weird, it’s just going to my sensibility. I couldn’t even try to fit in that world.

But I do have to say I’ve gotten a lot of love from the very straight, very white male community for just doing my thing so I feel like it is changing. My advice to anybody is not to try and be them but to be yourself and the smart people in the business and comedy world will recognize and get that. I feel like "Bridesmaids" was a huge coup not only for women, but for gay people and people of color because it’s a movie doing really well that’s made by and about women. It’s really opened a lot of doors and is going to change the game for a lot of people so that everything isn’t "Grown Ups."

EDGE: What is it like teaching comedy to your students and how does it impact your own performances?

DD: I love the job because it’s so creative. It definitely has helped me in so many different ways, learning how everyone figures things out differently. There are a million ways to skin a cat. There is a real structure to actually learning how to improvise or build a character and so my advise is for people who really want to do comedic character acting is to go and study at the Groundlings and really learn that there is a process to it. It’s not just standing up and saying funny things. There’s a way to go about it, which I had no idea until I studied there.

EDGE: What else is coming up for you? More "Chloë" videos on the way?

DD: There are three or four done that haven’t come out yet. I also host a weekly podcast called "Glitter in the Garbage" on Earwolf that’s keeping me really busy. I love it. It’s an all-improvised show and I bring on my friends to play characters and do all kinds of things every week.

Catch Drew Droege’s "Chloë" videos online at www.youtube.com/user/combine13.

Watch Drew Droege talk about going to an LA audition dressed as Chloë Sevigny:




Watch Drew Droege as Chloë Sevigny talk about "Summer":



Joseph covers news, arts and entertainment and lives in Chicago. He is the assistant Chicago editor for The Huffington Post. Log on to www.joe-erbentraut.com to read more of his work.

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