She’s All That: Master Pancake’s Kath Barbadoro

KathWhether she’s mocking movies with the hugely popular Master Pancake, reporting from the streets of Austin for ATX Uncensored(ish), or dropping in for a killer stand-up set, Kath Barbadoro is one of the hardest workers in the scene. I spoke with Kath in advance of her Moontower shows and we chatted about her favorite films to ridicule, the creative challenges of writing in someone else’s voice, and seeing Maria Bamford in high school by any means necessary.

Tell me about how you got the job at ATX Uncensored(ish).

They saw a bunch of people for the host job that Brian Gaar eventually got. I initially came in and auditioned for that. They were looking to fill these two correspondent roles. They tell me this isn’t why, but I feel like the reason they brought me back in is because I ran into Brian at a bar and he was like, “Yeah, we’re trying to fill these roles,” and I was like, “Well I’d like to do that.” They brought me in and I didn’t realize it was a job interview until the very end of it when I’d already been there for like 2 hours. Then I felt really stupid.

What did you think it was?

They were taping a pilot. They had me come in and do panel, basically. I thought it was like, “Oh we need someone to come pretend to be a guest because it’s a pilot so we’re not really having a real guest. We’ll just have our friend Kath come.” I thought it was just like helping out kind of thing. Then near the end my boss’ boss sat down with me and was like, “Okay, so you know what the salary is,” and I was like, “Oh. Oh, okay.”

Kind of perfect.

Yeah, it was great because then I wasn’t nervous.

Exactly, that’s awesome. Who’s been the most fun to have on the show?

I always like having local people on. I loved the day Pat Dean came in. That was a really fun day. We aired a thing that Pat Dean made called “Pat Dean on the Scene”. Which was just him fucking around in art museums, which we thought was great. We asked him if we could air it when he came on, and that was really fun. We have a lot of headliners from Cap City come on and do a promotion on Thursday. I love that because for some reason they all have the ability to sniff out that Joe Barlow is the one everyone makes fun of. They all pick up on it immediately and are just terrible to Joe and I love that. That’s great.

I think the segment we’re currently most jazzed about is “F Austin”. We were all talking in the office about how we thought Hamilton was really fucking stupid and Joe Barlow wrote a rap musical about Austin.

Great title.

Yeah, yeah. That was all Joe, that was all Joe. It’s totally historically inaccurate.

Right, of course.

It involved a dual between Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, who I don’t even know were alive at the same time. Anyway, it’s delightful.

You’ve been doing Master Pancake for several years now. For the uninitiated, it’s similar to the Mystery Science Theater of old.

Yeah. You can say it’s a rip off. It’s okay.

Well, you’re talking over movies. I feel like that’s fair game.

Sure.

What have been some of your favorites Master Pancake shows to do?

I really like our 50 Shades of Grey show. I think that was really funny, because that movie was made to be made fun of. It’s a punchline of a movie itself, but it also has a lot of ingredients that make it good to mock. There’s a lot of silence, which is nice. Loud movies are really hard to do from a logistical standpoint. There’s a lot of quiet, pensive staring, which is good. Then it has no levity. It takes itself so seriously. That is always good. It’s very hard to Master Pancake comedies or anything that is already sort of making fun of itself. That one is definitely one of my favorites. I’m really excited we have one coming up. We’re doing She’s All That which I’m excited about. A lot of the Master Pancake movies are… I’m doing Batman Versus Superman tonight. It’s going to be really fun, but I don’t know anything about Batman and Superman. I’m doing it with all the other dudes on the cast who are huge fans of these kinds of movies, and I’m just like, “I don’t fucking know.” I know She’s All That. I know that.

That’s in your wheel house.

Right, exactly. It’s nice to get to do something like that. The other ones were super fun, too. I feel like I do get some mileage out of being totally ignorant. People also find that funny. I don’t get any references. I’ve probably seen less movies than anyone who does Master Pancake. I don’t know anything. It’s nice to do a movie like that that’s like, “It’s garbage, but at least I’ve seen it a million times.”

What’s the preparation process? Do you guys get together and watch it and kind of all write together?

Yeah. It’s sort of a mix. We all watch it on our own a lot. We definitely rehearse together a lot, especially before the first weekend. It’s mostly just watching the movie over and over and over again until it no longer is a movie, it’s just like a series of lights flickering. You have to watch it so many times it sort of doesn’t make sense anymore so you can pick out these weird little things in the background or something like that. John Erler is an absolute master at it.

You have a pretty full career for a working stand up. You’re getting paid to do comedy 24/7 pretty much. That’s amazing.

For sure. It’s really cool to be able to do that in Austin, too. To not have to go to New York or LA and suffer. I feel very lucky to have it. Stand up is really my favorite thing and that’s really kind of how I define myself. It’s very cool to get to work on all these other skill. Master Pancake has been so helpful to me just as far as joke writing is concerned. Not even writing for myself. Just pure joke writing. Then with the show, I write jokes with Brian, so it’s really good practice writing someone else’s voice and editing.

What’s it like writing in his voice? What works for him or doesn’t work?

I don’t know if I can write a whole joke in Brian’s voice, but I definitely know at this point what he likes. He’s very very easy to work with. I’m very lucky because he’s not remotely a dick. It’s honestly amazing, because we have to write these jokes every day and a lot of times we’re not working with a lot of material. We try to keep it as local as possible and for copyright reasons we’re very restricted about what kind of stuff we can use.

A lot of times we’re not working with a lot, and he turns it out every single day. He has the fucking jokes written. I do more editing and punch up of him than writing jokes from whole cloth. It’s definitely been a learning experience. Writing punch up for what I would say is not the same as writing punch up for what Brian would say. It’s not even just a perspective thing, it’s timing and word choice and things like that. That has been really really interesting and very educational for me, I think.

Yeah, I would think having those kind of time and subject limitations would be a great exercise for your brain.

Absolutely, absolutely. That’s what we do first thing in the morning, we get here and we write the whole monologue. The monologue is done in 2 hours. That is our deadline every day because we have to tape it. Whatever happens, we have to have something at the end of that 2 hours. You just learn to not be precious. The only reason our show works I think is because no one is possessive of their ideas. Everyone is open to being told no or to have their idea modified. Nobody is a little genius, because there’s no time. There’s no time to be that person. I think it’s hard sometimes but I think it’s very healthy and helpful.

Anybody you’re looking forward to seeing at Moontower? 

Yeah. I heard we might get to interview Andy Kindler, and I’m so excited, so excited. I just want to do … I want to some man on the street bullshit with Andy Kindler so bad. I just think that will be so fun.

He’s the best.

Yeah, he’s just the best.

Talk about nice guys. He’s a prince.

I haven’t met him, I’ve heard that about him. Another person I’ve heard that about who I was super excited to see is Dana Gould. I’m always excited to see Dana Gould. Every time I see him I’m just delighted. Apparently, Brian’s worked with him and just says he’s the sweetest, sweetest man. I’m always excited to see Maria Bamford.

I love her.

Before I did comedy when I was in college I took a bus from my parents’ house in New Hampshire to New York City, which is like a 5 1/2, 6 hour trip to see her that night and then got back on the bus and went home. That was the closest she was coming. I’m such a huge fan of hers.

Catch Kath at Moontower this weekend and follow her on Twitter.

mm John Merriman

John Merriman has worked with the Moontower festival since it's inception in 2012. He is the co-host of the festival's long-running interview series "Inside Joke" where he has interviewed luminaries including Steven Wright, Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt. Before Moontower, he spent five years at the Austin Film Fesival as a film programmer where he helped launch the Comedy Vanguard program and the Funniest Filmmaker in Austin series. He has called Austin his home since 1996.

2 thoughts on “She’s All That: Master Pancake’s Kath Barbadoro

  1. Bette Barbadoro says:

    Brilliant!

  2. Bette Ashcroft says:

    Absolutely brilliant!

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