Every week, we have someone tell us their story about money. This week, comedian Kurt Braunohler explains how what seemed like a huge waste of money actually turned into a valuable investment.
“I worked a 9-to-5 job every single day in order to fund my burgeoning comedy career,” says Braunohler.
He was in his 20s at the time and was performing regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater.
One day, he got an email sent to the UCB e-mail list.
“My friend Matt put this posting up saying: ‘Chenguin, half chicken/half penguin, looking for his evil half-brother Chunk, half-chicken/half-skunk,” says Braunohler. “I read that and it made no sense to me and I was like, ‘Oh I’m going to do that.'”
Braunohler met with his friend, they made 8-foot-tall costumes, and they wound up creating a strange kind of performance art.
“[These battles] slowly started from just us bumping up against each other until one of us fell over until they became these large scale performance pieces with bands and we would end up shutting down streets and 3,000 people playing with us,” he says.
There were lots of logistics involved.
“We had to rent these huge cube trucks to pick the animals up. We had to create the animals. Probably if you built them now they would cost about $8,000 dollars each,” says Braunohler. “We ended up sinking $20,000 of our own money into it over the course of five years.”
That’s a huge sum for someone who is supporting a comedy career with a day job.
“That money I spent and the time and effort I put into it I almost see as kind of a weird investment,” says Braunohler. “Before doing Chunk and Chenguin I had no idea that these kind of mass public spectacles could be pulled off and that they could have the effect that they do. And that has influenced all the things I’ve done since then.”
Kurt Braunohler’s latest public spectacle — where he rides a jetski down the Mississippi River for charity — can be seen on a Comedy Central webseries next year. It’ll be called Roustabout.
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