If you know me, you know I love local comedy and would do about anything to support my friends who poured their blood, sweat and tears into a sketch show. You also know that I love football. If you’re like me, and you probably are since you’re reading GBH, you’ll love Texas. High School. Football. Which is enjoying a month-long run at Dallas Comedy House every Saturday through June 2.
A very talented group of Dallas comics wrote and directed this fantastically funny show, and they’ve done a magical job of weaving even more absurdity into an already semi-absurd tradition that we all love far too much. This show revolves around Coach Dale Carl, Jr. and his group of Wildcocks from Cranberry HIgh (yes, there are cock jokes, no there aren’t too many). Other characters include a jock who wants to be a thespian, a thespian who longs to throw touchdown passes, a couple of A/V kids doing their best SportsCenter, a well-intentioned principal, and a werewolf. Yeah, there’s a fucking werewolf in the show.
This show has been selling out Dallas Comedy House the past few weeks, and I was lucky enough to get to sit down with the cast and ask some hard-hitting questions. Enjoy, and go see Texas. High School. Football while you still can!
What is your relationship to Texas HS Football as a culture? Did you play? Were you in the band? Did you hate football altogether?
Chad Richards: I was in the band and liked football, but I was always more interested in Aggie football than high school football. I’ll try to include as many Aggie Football references as possible to make this relatable to GBH readers.
Madison Frihart: I grew up in Nashville, and to me football was a huge deal up there, then I moved to Texas when I was a junior and I was like oh… this stadium behind school is just the practice field? Oh.. so the FC Dallas stadium is the where they play? Yeah.. football may be a bigger deal in Texas.
Jonda Robinson: I grew up in Oklahoma, and my high school didn’t have a football team because it was too small. The first year I started teaching in Denison, TX, the high school had a great football team and I got to attend games throughout the season and go with my friends to watch them in the playoffs. It was my first experience with high school football, and I got to see just how passionate Texans are about it.
Jay Jacoby: Our high school football team was typically only good once every four years or so, but I was fine with that because I love rooting for the underdog. I tend to turn football fandom into its own extreme sport with signs and full body paint. My hard work eventually paid off by being voted Most Spirited by my High School graduating class. Life’s been downhill since then.
Brent Crable: I played tackle football from 3rd grade through 12th grade. I used to throw a football to myself in the front yard trying as if I were Michael Irvin or Jerry Rice. In High School I was a starting varsity receiver, kick returner & punt returner Junior Senior year for Arlington Martin. I had the potential to play college ball but I was a hot head partier who didn’t want to put in the work and constantly butted heads with the coaching staff. I lived and breathed football and till this day it is very hard for me to go to or watch High School football because of my love & regret with it.
Emily Gee: I grew up in South Austin and I LOVED going to football games growing up! Honestly, not for the game. I was all about the Nachos and the dance team. We had a pretty bad team, (Go Bulldawgs, Roar) but MAAANNN the Nachos were delicious and our dance team was SIKKKKK.
The show follows the lives of many a Wildcock, but it seems to especially revolve around Coach Dale Carl, Jr. Can you tell me a little about this legendary football coach?
Chad: You know how Liucci doesn’t always feel like he’s tapped into the same reality as we are? But, he’s so earnest that people find a little charisma in it? That’s Coach. Anyone else would have shaved that silly goatee by now, but Looch hasn’t, and I kind of respect that. No one should care about football as much as Coach. It’s over the top, but it’s genuine. He earns your respect that way.
Jay: Dale Jr. initially avoided the coaching life because he did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Wanted to trail blaze his own path, but some things are just meant to be.
Brent: Coach Dale Carl Jr is a man who wears his heart and passion on his sleeve, which is football. He lives it, he breathes it and doesn’t care who knows it. He’s a man of moral, ethics and driven to win State every year to show his daddy Dale Carl Sr. he’s the better coach.
Emily: Coach can Speech ’n Preach, man. That’s what he does, that’s what he is. It’s always a metaphor for his daughter but it always has some kind of brilliant message in there. One time I caught him drinking a Bloody Mary before a game and I thought he had murdered his daughter (Mary) but she had just started her womanhood. He was upset. Again, BRILLIANT METAPHOR. Gotta read between his sidelines and his sideburns. He’s a good man….that’s obsessed with tiny footballs.
Y’all really nail some of the tropes of High School life. You hit on the AV Club, the Theater community, passionate parents, and over-enthusiastic administrators. Were a lot of these skits pulled from personal life?
Chad: The Principal definitely has some Bowen Loftin to him. He feels like he has to be everything to everyone. The principal is really loved by the students.
Jay: The great thing about this show is that so much of it centers around things that happened to all of us, at least to an extent. Personally, I’ve never actually had my throat ripped out in real life, but we made it happen in this show.
Brent: I was an athlete/jock in High School so I didn’t really fall into any of this. At our school the theater kids were so freakin weird… however I came from an acting family so I was always secretly curious about acting and performing, however I would have never crossed that line in HS.
Jonda: I didn’t necessarily pull directly from my high school experience, but indirectly I feel like I was able to tap into those friendship and teammate relationships you have in high school to help inspire my writing. I played basketball in high school and we took it super seriously so that help me get into the spirit of how Cranberry feels about their football, and I used that to help brainstorm ideas.
Madison: My favorite parents to watch at games were the overly passionate parents. It was like they never let go of their high school days, not my parents though, because Matt and Peggy are the perfect parents.
Do y’all have a pre show ritual akin to a pregame pump-up talk?
Jay: For most shows, we just say a quick prayer to the comedy gods, but since this show is about Texas High School Football, we loop the football gods in on our prayers too.
Chad: I watch Johnny Manziel highlights to remind myself to be in the moment because time is fleeting.
Brent: I listen to my favorite tunes in marching band form… or holding out for a hero by Bonnie Tyler.
Jonda: Before the show I’m just constantly going over the playbook to make sure I’ll be in the right place at the right time so I can be there for my team.
Madison: Emily and I do this weird thing where we stare at each other and say “I haven’t seen you since middle school.” I don’t know how it started, but I hope it never ends.
Emily: I haven’t seen Madison since Middle School and I will continue not seeing her since Middle School before every show.
Do you make halftime adjustments at intermission?
Jay: No major adjustments at halftime. This team practices hard and has gotten a ton of reps in, so it’s more about just making sure we are properly executing our gameplan.
Chad: We’d better start fast because there’s no stopping or adjusting a show halfway through. It’s a real Sumlin approach.
Brent: Always depends on what the defense is giving us out there… It’s an offensive game and if we need to run the ball more to open up the play action then we will, if there are gaps then we fill those with the spread offense.
Emily: I like to go find the Water Boy, Bart McBlankey, and tell him he’s doing a good job.
If you were submitting a college recruiting profile about any of your characters, how many stars would you have and what are your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete?
Chad: Jimmy McWilliams ***. DT, 6’2, 380 pounds. Raw strength. Overcame gruesome injury. With his new interest in the arts is he more Myles Garrett or Ta Ta Thompson?
Jay: Dale Carl Jr *. CB 5’9” 160 pounds. Undersized, but plays with a fire. Not much future at the next level, but he’s a natural born leader that could have a bright coaching career ahead of him.
Jefferson Jeffcoat *****. QB 6’3” 225 pounds. Overall athlete with a cannon for an arm and a good head on his shoulders. Unfortunately, Jefferson elected to retire instead of rehabbing a minor plantar fasciitis injury.
Madison: Scott Man Felt * Known for striking out, has sent in his warm up tapes to colleges every year because he has never actually been in the game.
What does it mean to be a true Wildcock?
Jay: Having pride in your town and putting football before anything else.
Chad: You’re a fighter.
Brent: You have 1 mission, 1 goal in life…. WIN STATE EVERY YEAR!
Madison: You’re bursting with energy.
Emily: POWER. THROUGH.