What Color is Your Period
By Gili Malinsky
On a recent Thursday eve in a diner in the West Village, Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari and Alyssa Stonoha sit in a booth before their respective rehearsal and shows, picking out meals for the night (there are many options with eggs). Together they make up comedy troupe Three Busy Debras. Their eponymous show (literally about three women named Debra and silly, sharp and sometimes disgusting) having enjoyed a popular, four-month long run at The Annoyance Theatre last summer, it is time for the next move. And they have it. A performance at none other than Carnegie Hall (coming this September). In fact, they’re just days away from completing a Kickstarter campaign raising money for it. Just before ordering, talk turns to the shock tone we’re so used to on stage.
“What color is your period?” asks Stonoha. “Mine’s black!” She says.
“Mine’s brown,” says Honig. Jouhari’s is chunky. Below is a conversation with the Three Busy Debras (brilliant, articulate and weird), as they gear up for their Carnegie Hall spectacle.
Gili Malinsky: So tell me about your original one hour play, Three Busy Debras.
Mitra Jouhari: There’s no narrative. One thing we talked about a lot is each Debra has a controversial view of her own.
Alyssa Stonoha: The glue is that nothing matters and everything is possible and they’re all named Debra.
Sandy Honig: I would say I think my Debra is a little racist and also real sexual. Crazy sexual. I would say toddler-like. If you asked a toddler to be sexy…
MJ: My Debra hates women. And her whole thing is her husband is dead and she’s not allowed to cum anymore. So also pretty sexual but, like, repressed. Very repressed. Her controversial view is that rape is a myth.
AS: My Debra has a sweet, autistic son. She rapes her son a lot to try to cure him. And her dad’s Larry King.
SH: The thing is it’s so hard to say when we’re not doing it.
AS: Because this sounds BAD. And it is bad…
SH: Saying it right now it sounds like the show is entirely shock humor. But I would say that it's 90% stupid fuckin’ jokes and gags.
MJ: I think we go to really great lengths to make sure that we’re not making a shock joke. We’re making a comment about something. If we’re talking about an ugly or sensitive thing, there has to be a joke about the people who actually hold that world view. You know, there’s that “legitimate rape” guy? So what is the heightened version of that?
SH: My favorite thing that anyone has said about our stuff comes from my mom. She watched one of our videos, Three Fuckable Men. These three disgusting men in giant business suits run around - once again, no plot. They generally want to get business cards. And my mom said, “What I loved about it was how you guys didn’t say anything but I understood everything that was happening.”
GM: So how do you conceive of your ideas?
AS: The two biggest ways our shit gets written - typos: someone is talking, Mitra is furiously typing, and then we read it over and are like, that’s the way the sentence is gonna be structured.
SH: One of the things Alyssa says in the play is, “My husband does not let me drive car.”
AS: Or it’s verbal typos by Sandy.
SH: I can’t talk good…
AS: It’s like throwing fistfuls of spaghetti at the wall, all three of us at the same time.
MJ: And then I type it really fast.
SH: [Another] catalyst for things is Alyssa will start saying something then say, this is stupid, never mind… Carnegie Hall is how that happened. Alyssa was like, what if we do a show at Carnegie Hall? Then we went online and found out you can just rent it… Then we all put on heels and strutted our stuff over [for a tour].
GM: Why do another live show as opposed to more videos, say?
AS: It’s fun! I mean, it’s dumb to say but I don’t think there’s anything else like it. And Debra stuff, we make it and if we put it online people can go, like, look at these girls. They said this and that’s not OK… So we do it live and it’s not easily accessible and sharable and clickable. We can do whatever we want.
MJ: People fuckin’ love to get mad on the Internet. That’s all it is. It’s really just people who don’t know us and will be happy to assume that we also have the beliefs of the people we’re making fun of.
GM: So what are you excited about for this show?
SH: EVERYTHING… There’s a grand piano on the stage that we’re not moving. Because of the limitations of union regulations, if we wanted the lights to go down and come back up, it would be an extra $4,000. We can’t do audio - that would be another $4,000. So all we have is that grand piano. And we’re going to make everything revolve around it.
AS: It’s so cool. It’s so funny. It’s so stupid. There are cleaner people who deserve to be in Carnegie Hall. Like, we are three shitty little idiots.
SH: Three dirty babies. Actually that’s our next video.
Check out the Three Busy Debras' Kickstarter page, and be sure to contribute!