Bad Medicine comedy troupe cracks up DC Improv with sketch comedy, workshops

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Bad Medicine at DC Improv (Part 1)

Could you use a good laugh after the heaviness of the past 18 months?

The Bad Medicine comedy troupe comes to the DC Improv on Oct. 20.

“If laughter is the best medicine, then we’re bad medicine,” Producer Isaiah Headen told WTOP. “This was before we ever found out there was a famous song. … A Bon Jovi song, not one of their top hits, but if you played it, people would be like, ‘Oh yeah, I know that.'”

Working as a video editor at Interface Media Group, Headen designed the group’s logo, which looks like a green Mr. Yuck sticker to signify Bad Medicine’s unique brand of humor.

“Dark humor, 100%, stuff you probably shouldn’t laugh at, but you’re going to laugh at because it’s funny,” Headen said. “It’s not cringe humor, but it’s definitely dark humor. … We’re doing written material that we’ve worked on. … It’s all about sketch comedy.”

Don’t worry, you’re not going to be bombarded by political humor.

“We come from a political town, so we don’t want to do political stuff,” Headen said. “We’re focusing more on the slice-of-life things, random moments, the awkward moments, the things you want to take back and never see again. We’re zoning in on those moments of life and blowing them out of proportion with absurd comedy, characters, musical numbers.”

The talent is trained by the acclaimed Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade, as well as local organizations like the Washington Improv Theater and the Dojo Comedy Theater.

“Our cast is a collective of improvisers, stand-up comedians, people who did a-cappella in college that have a great theater background … just very charming personalities,” Headen said. “The audience gets to know these members and enjoy the show through their eyes.”

Founded in 2013, the group has slowly grown in popularity.

“We started doing local shows at bars and stage shows, then festival circuits and got into New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Montreal,” Headen said. “We now have done Seattle and San Francisco, but at the end of the day, we’re a D.C.-based team. Our favorite people are here in D.C., so we love performing locally and participating in the sketch community.”

In addition to performing, Bad Medicine also hosts workshops for aspiring comedians. You can sign up for a “level one” class on Nov. 1 and a “level two” class on Jan. 3.

“DC Improv is looking to expand out into the sketch comedy community and help grow that scene,” Headen said. “We’ve partnered with them to teach sketch classes and workshops online. That really hit a stride in the pandemic, so now we’re bringing those classes in-person back to the DC Improv to hopefully build younger, up-and-coming sketch teams.”

Headen wants to give back because he was once a beginner himself.

“I grew up in Herndon, Virginia, and then went to American University,” Headen said. “When I turned 30, I helped a friend work on her short film and I expressed interest in writing. She said, ‘I go to this sketch jam you should go to.’ … People from that group … said, ‘Why don’t we start a sketch team?’ The four of us met in a basement bar.”

You can also hear them geek out on the podcast Sketch Nerds.

“We talk and interview other sketch comedians about their favorite sketches, we break them down about why they’re funny,” Headen said. “We break it down and figure out what are the beats of the joke, who’s in it, when did it air. Sometimes you find golden nuggets.”

That includes the late great “SNL” alum Norm Macdonald.

“One in a million,” Headen said. “No one has his style, no one has his cadence, his speed, his understanding of how to tell a joke. He’s a comedian’s comedian.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Bad Medicine at DC Improv (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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