You Can’t Shy the Lizard with the Clock of Winter: An Interview with Samantha Hilger By Michael Carten
On Tuesday, September 30, I sat down with a good friend of mine, Samantha Hilger, to talk about the process of writing a sketch and performing it. Hilger – at the age of 21 – is an actress, writer, comedian, and co-founder of the comedy troupe Discount Lunch Line. With a degree from the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Hilger works as a freelance video editor and camera operator. Hilger resides in Olympia Fields, and has most recently been seen (along with myself) in “Reefer Madness” at the Drama Group Theatre.
Michael .: So what is your writing process?
Samantha Hilger: My personal writing process relies very much on me pacing my apartment alone and improvising with myself. As far as my group, Discount Lunch Line’s process goes, the ideas for sketches will come to us in everyday life and conversation. Then at meetings, we pitch our ideas and suggest things back and forth with bullet points.
.: So who is involved in your sketches?
Hilger: Mostly, my sketches involve my troupe, DLL. It’s a nice group of six dudes and me, though, when we film sketches as opposed to staging them, we lack proper diversity. So when we do film something, I ask friends, old teachers, classmates at Second City, etc.
.: Speaking of Discount Lunch Line, how was your comedy troupe founded?
Hilger: DLL was founded my senior year of high school. Three of my friends and I had been doing improv together since freshmen year and decided we loved comedy too much to stop. Plus we were all so comfortable with each other, so we started the group. Since then, we have gained additional members that we approached expressing our want to found a sketch/improv troupe, and they were all down as f***! Can I say that? Is that too forward of me?
.: No you’re fine. Why did you start writing sketches?
Hilger: I started writing sketches in junior high. Usually for talent shows and class projects. Granted, they were terrible and very awkward, but sketches nonetheless! My first sketch show wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school with my first comedy troupe, G.I.C. (Geographically Invalid Cartographers). As you can tell by the name, we tried way too hard to be funny, but I still loved it.
.: What is your long-term goal?
Hilger: My long-term goal is to be able to do this whole sketch comedy/improv thing for the rest of my life. If my troupe got more shows, that would be it. I would be living my dreams. I’m not aiming to be famous (though that’d be sick). I just want to always be able to do this and never have to take a break from it. It’s truly my biggest passion.
.: Have you ever written a sketch that you could not put on YouTube or perform on stage?
Hilger: So far, every sketch that I have written has been okay for the stage and YouTube. Though our latest sketch doesn’t have the rights to the song we used, so that one might be removed. We’ll see.
.: What’s the editing process for your sketches?
Hilger: After finishing a draft, we revise it a few times, and re-improvise parts to keep it fresh. For filming, there is a video editing process. There is a lot of gauging for comedic timing in film editing, so often times I spend all night editing what we just filmed. After that, I have a screening, get feedback, revise, then do that again and again for about a week or so. That way, we know the editing serves justice to the content.
.: So, after a sketch is finished, what’s the filming process?
Hilger: Once a sketch is written, if we are using people outside of DLL, we will message the actor we want to see if they are interested in taking on the role. If they are, we send them the script so they can read through it and confirm a date they can film. Then we get props, costumes, equipment, film it edit the sucker and upload it.
.: Last question. What’s your favorite sketch you’ve written and what was it about?
Hilger: My favorite sketch I have ever written would have to be “Figure of Speech”. It’s a dinner scene between a couple and the guy’s boss. The guy is hoping this dinner will lead to a promotion, but there is one problem. His girlfriend has a unique trait. She speaks almost only in figures of speech that don’t really exist. She sounds so insane! For example, “You can’t shy the lizard with the clock of winter.” It’s stupid and I think it’s so fun. I haven’t done that one on film yet, but I have performed it on stage a few times. I’m a huge fan of stupid things that make little to no sense. A DLL member, Michael Cronin, wrote this one where a pile of bodies is seen on a lawn, and then a man comes up, picks glasses up off the ground, and then a different man just comes out of nowhere and punches him in the mouth. I really love that one.
You can also watch some of Samantha’s work on Discount Lunch Line’s YouTube channel, “Discount Lunch Line,” or on her personal YouTube channel, “Samantha Hilger.”