The Water Coolers take office humor outside the office
WANT TO GO?
The Water Coolers
WHERE: Geary Auditorium, Riggleman Hall, University of Charleston
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: Adults $35, students $10, youth 18 and under $5
Fedderly, who performs with the quirky comedy troupe in a Community Music show Sunday, said, "Sometimes it's an easy, cushy gig, and sometimes you're just pulling your hair out and hoping everything goes well anyway."
Fedderly has been with The Water Coolers for more than a decade. The show began as straightforward corporate entertainment -- music, jokes and skit comedy about office life performed at various business conventions.
"We'd do the conventions and perform 20 or 30 minutes of material between meetings and stuff," he said. "But we kept developing and developing and developing, and then we ended up writing an off-Broadway show.
"Well, I say 'we,' but I didn't actually do anything."
Actually, Fedderly said, The Water Coolers' team of comedy and music writers did most of the heavy lifting, but the actors performed it, and Fedderly thought that should count for something.
The off-Broadway show was a hit and encouraged the troupe to take its show beyond the boardrooms, convention centers and hotel conference spaces. Theater shows were added, like the one the group will do Sunday.
"The show translates well," Fedderly said. "It's office humor, work humor, but also everyday life stuff. We've done it at an all-girls college, and it worked. We've done it in Florida, where almost everybody is retired, and it worked there, too."
The Water Coolers still do conventions, of course. It's a major part of their business and maybe a little more difficult than the theater shows, even though, Fedderly said the theater show, based on the off-Broadway production is much longer -- about 90 minutes.
"With the theater show, about 90 percent of what we're doing is already scripted," he said. "We already know it, but, of course, we're always trying to add new things."
The corporate shows are often personalized for the company or industry leaders The Water Coolers are entertaining, and sometimes that's not only difficult, it's plain weird.
Fedderly said, "It's difficult because you'll have a company where they really only speak in acronyms. It's like we're singing in Chinese."
But the job has also been very educational. Fedderly said some of the companies and trade groups make products he's never even thought about.
"For me, personally, the oddest one was a packaging company," he said. "They did packaging for everything from meat to medical supplies.
"It was the funniest thing. They had an awards show and gave an award for best vacuum pack bag. We had to do a song about vacuum pack bags.
"That's what's so crazy. You just don't realize that there are companies out there that are really cutting edge on how they package stuff and send it overseas. And we go and sing our little songs about them."
It's funny to him, but Fedderly is not complaining. A working actor in New York has to take what jobs are available, and being part of The Water Coolers is a way to practice his craft as a day job while he pursues regular work in the theater.
"I've done some off-Broadway stuff, done a little TV," he said. "I was on 'Law & Order' -- like every other actor in New York. I've done a little work with the soaps, and we're always doing lots of readings [for plays].
"Some of them seem hopeful, like they might somewhere, but then they mostly never do. It's always, 'Sorry, we didn't find the funding."
But that's OK. Being with The Water Coolers is fun, it gets him out of New York every now and again and it pays the bills.
"Honestly, it's a great gig," he said.
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5195.