Director, writer, actor, playwright and stand-up comedian Andrew Munz has been entertaining his hometown of Jackson for years.
With numerous sold-out shows for previous productions like “I Can Ski Forever” and the most recent “Homecoming Queen/Cowboys Like Us,” Munz’s projects are known for their biting satire, colorful characters unique to Jackson Hole and exploration of queer life in the Cowboy State.
Now, Munz’s Instagram-famous alter ego, “Your Girl Catherine,” will be the star of the show for a three-night run of cabaret comedy from June 2-4 at the Mangy Moose in Teton Village. KHOL Music and Community Affairs Director Jack Catlin interviewed Munz ahead of the sold-out performances and on June 1—the first day of Pride Month. Listen above to hear Munz discuss his comedic influences, poking fun of Jackson and helping to organize Pride Month activities with Jackson Hole Pride.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: You’re known to value a collaborative approach and are typically not only writing, directing and producing the shows but also starring in them. How important is it for you to work and create with others, and how do you do it all so successfully?
ANDREW MUNZ: My education is in improv comedy and improv comedy is reliant on teamwork. You always hear the concept of ‘Yes, and’ being a building block of improv and kind of like rule number one. But in truth, it’s ‘Yes, and-ing’ your scene partner, it’s not just saying ‘yes, and’ to anything. It’s being on stage with somebody, trusting them to also act alongside you without a script. And I earned so much experience in my life, not only studying at The Second City in Chicago and iO Theater, but also performing with the [local improv group] Laff Staff and my improv collaborators like Josh Griffith and Kjera Strom Griffith and so many people. I mean, I feel like that level of collaboration is just intrinsic at this point.
And although I don’t work with the same people all the time, I want to be able to find people within the community and within my my circle who I feel like have talent and have something to show or a story to tell, and empowering those people and giving them a chance to join me onstage, or even just giving them the stage for themselves, writing a part for them. That’s really important to me, because growing up here in Jackson, our theatrical opportunities are limited. You know, we are in Wyoming, we are in a small town. And so, I wish there were more opportunities for me growing up here. But now that I’m older, now that I have some influence and some energy to create, I want to be able to share that with people and inspire them and cultivate a theater community here that feels unique and vibrant and diverse. And so that all feeds into my modus operandi of why I create and why I collaborate.
CATLIN: I was doing my research and read that you think we need to put a lot more resources and value into nurturing local talent. And Jackson seems to be so quick to bring in outside artists and outside musicians, outside performers, whereas [you suggest] we should kind of turn around and look within rather [than outside] and build that up.
MUNZ: Absolutely. Because not every actor is born an actor. Not every musician is born a musician or a dancer. To think that we don’t have talent here, or to have this mentality that we lack certain levels of talent that would be entertaining or what people would pay for, is asinine because it just goes to show that we doubt the ability to cultivate talent within our own community. And I don’t want us to have this perspective that just because it isn’t here yet, that it will never be here, or that we don’t see it, therefore it’s not here. So, I take the complete opposite approach and I pull people onstage who have never been onstage before, and they shine and people applaud for them and they pay for it. That’s, I think, a perspective that every theater company should have here. That’s the perspective that every arts nonprofit should have in this community. The fundamental tenet of supplying, funding and creating opportunity for people who are looking for it and are desperate to get up on the Jackson stage and share what they have, or explore what they don’t know that they have, within a community that they live in.
CATLIN: So, today, June 1 marks the first day of Pride Month 2022. You are a founding member and organizer of JH Pride, a collective of local LGBTQ community members and allies whose mission is to support queer folks in the community while promoting inclusivity and joy. How important is it to nurture and maintain that sense of community with JH Pride, especially in a seemingly underrepresented state like Wyoming?
MUNZ: Yes. Short answer, incredibly important. We look at Jackson as this kind of blue dot in a red state, but ultimately our foundation is red. That needs to be clear. Jackson may be on its own little island in terms of like how it votes or how it treats its local citizens. But at the same time, we are still restricted by Wyoming laws and Wyoming representation. Right? And/or lack thereof. So, thinking about Pride itself, Pride being, you know, June, as a result of and in recognition of the Stonewall riots in 1969. You know, Pride itself is meant to be, you know, not just like this anti-straight or anti-heteronormative concept. It’s meant to highlight and offer opportunity and community and networking for queer individuals who happen to live everywhere in the world.
And so, being able to do Pride in Jackson is so important because we are a little bit isolated from metropolitan areas. And I’m so grateful because now it used to be just a very small collective of people who are kind of putting their time and energy into this initiative. And now I have people like Karyn Chin and Susan Carlotta, and it’s so great to have support now, and it’s growing every year. And we have so many volunteers this year, so many businesses who are sponsoring. And I’m so proud because this will be the first year that our mayor will be making a Pride proclamation next Monday to recognize Pride Month in Jackson. And that is huge. And honestly, like, if anybody’s opposed to that, if anybody’s like, you know, ‘Not in my backyard’ or whatever about Pride, ultimately it does nothing to harm anyone. It is recognition and celebration that is really no more or less important than an Old West Days celebration. You know, we are recognizing a cultural group of people and a certain period of history. And there’s so much that we have planned this month and so much that we want to celebrate. And we want to share that with people. We want to share our perspective, our culture, our individuality and showcase that we are here and we are locals and we’ve been here.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Andrew Munz.
This coverage is funded in part with an Arts For All grant provided by the Town of Jackson and Teton County.