I first met AJ and Al-Don Schraeder when they were performing as Mon Frere in Hufflepuffed. They have performed several times at our Geek Gala, and are beloved members of our geeky comedy community. Now as Unstoppable Failure, they have returned for the second year with their Sketch-A-Day-May project – where they are committed to posting sketch comedy videos all throughout the month of May. To follow and catch up – check out their videos on their Facebook page by clicking here. And if you get a chance to see them perform live, DO IT! And take me with you!
How did Unstoppable Failure first start?
AL-DON: We had started a larger sketch troupe, “Mon Frere” about eight years ago, composed of a cast of about half a dozen guys for most shows. After about two years we realized – as all music bands, art collectives, food trucks, etc. inevitably do – that we were slightly dissatisfied with the name we had spent weeks thinking up and choosing. (One problem was that “Mon Frere,” French for my brother, attracted way too many foreign fans who merely wanted to give props to their male sibling. It played havoc with our Facebook stats.)“Unstoppable Failure” was one of the names we brainstormed as a replacement (the other frontrunners were “Bar Code” which was appropos for a group composed of alcoholic nerds and “Inflatable Hectapus” which…was just awesome…we still might use that one someday.) Anyways, we didn’t change our name at that time, but kept plugging away as “Mon Frere.” (We already had so many Facebook fans!) We did, however, start a podcast called “Unstoppable Failure.” Then, after about another six years, everybody in Mon Frere got really hard to schedule rehearsals and performances with (a couple of us moved, many of us had gotten really into Magic tournaments, our various Dungeons and Dragons game nights are sacrosanct,etc.) So AJ and I started performing as “Unstoppable Failure” more and more. Our live performances are usually three-man sets, with one of our Mon Frere castmates or another comedian we’re friends with filling out the roster. John McIntosh, John Chenoweth, and Brian O’Sullivan have all been additional contributors. Brian wrote us an Unstoppable Failure theme song – which you’re gonna hear a little of with every Sketch-A-Day-May sketch.
Explain what Sketch-A-Day-May is? Are you really going to do a sketch every day?
AJ: We put out a video at least every week day in May. Most of them are pretty fast and loose stylistically and they run the gamut from important social commentary to really, really stupid sometimes doing both within the same sketch. We only release them on weekdays because people aren’t online as much on weekends but we do plan on releasing some special bonus content this year from another project we’re working on every Saturday and Sunday in May.
AL-DON: We’re going to publish a video online every day unless we fail. Last year we only did every week day and took off on the weekends. At the time, we convinced ourselves that it was an impressive enough feat to produce 23 sketches in one month and that we didn’t need to swing for the full 31, but deep down we knew we were terrible, unforgivable liars.(Here I must note that AJ does the editing and the bulk of the rest of the production work for the sketches, so my viewpoint is both lazy and uninformed.) So this year, we’re going to fill the weekends with excerpts from a longer project we’ve been working on for the past couple years: a full-length, shot-for-shot green screen remake of Good Will Hunting. I think it will speak for itself. Ha!
Here’s the 2016 Sketch A Day May Videos!
Does being related make creating comedy harder or easier?
AL-DON: It makes our strengths easier to accentuate and our weaknesses doubly weak. As brothers, our brain chemistries and personal backgrounds are fairly similar, so we’re usually quicker to pick up on the more unusual ideas one or the other of us lays down. We’re also more likely to agree that something is a good idea (this might be a weakness.)
AJ: Normally it makes it easier because we think in a similar way and enjoy each other’s senses of humor and concepts, but occasionally we disagree on nitpicky things and both stubbornly refuse to give ground like only brothers can.
What other projects are you currently working on?
AJ: We’re always writing and trying to generate content and we’re tossing around ideas for an animated show, some of the content in Sketch-A-Day-May this year is kind an excuse to learn the programs we’ll be using for that.
AL-DON: I mentioned the Good Will remake above. Working titles for that include “Bad Will Hunting” (tagline: “acting is important: proving how bad an Oscar-winning script can be”) and “My Boy is Wicked Smart.” That’s filled many of our recent weekends with fun and drunkenness. Another project we’re excited about is a website we’ve cobbled together from photos of the Trump Administration and dialogue quotes from our favorite sitcom, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s very similar to “Arrested Westeros” which uses Arrested Development quotes over Game of Thrones screenshots to spotlight a humorous synchronicity. Ours combines pictures of our current presidential administration with words from a show about the worst people ever imagined on television. It’s called “It’s Always Sunny in Trump’s America.” It’s depressing how easy the connection is.
When you’re not performing, what do you do for fun?
AL-DON: I’m currently DMing a D&D game, so I spend a lot of my free time coming up with an intricate plot and setting details that my players will completely ignore. I’ve also been taking up doodling comic strips in MS PAINT. I always wanted to be a comic strip artist but I never considered myself very good at drawing. A few weeks ago, I decided that I would no longer let my lack of talent stop me. I’m posting what I do on our Facebook page.
AJ: I spend most of my free time re-watching Always Sunny in Philadelphia, drawing, making pretzels, and flipping off my wife’s cat.
Where can we go see you perform next?
AJ: We don’t have anything officially on the books but will most likely do a show sometime in June at the Idiot Box in Greensboro (and wherever else that will have us)that will incorporate some of our favorite sketch a day may stuff as well as other stuff. We also pop up sporadically at comedy festivals across the country.
Comprised of The Brothers Schraeder (A.J. and Al-don) and guest appearances from a rotating cast of sketch comedy friends, Unstoppable Failure is a podcast, a stage show, a braintrust, and a philosophical school akin to the Stoics or Epicureans. It began years ago in Greensboro, North Carolina and it will continue until the heat death of the universe. They have been official selections at SF Sketchfest, the NYC Sketch Festival, Philly Sketchfest, The New South Comedy Festival, Cape Fear Comedy Festival, and The North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival.