Double feature: Casey Dillard, Glenn Payne debut new comedy act, three films

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Fans of filmmakers and comedians Glenn Payne and Casey Dillard are getting a double dose of the duo in the coming weeks.
The pair are in Tupelo improv comedy troupe West of Shake Rag, but this weekend they’re debuting their two-man improv team, Stranger, Are You Smiling? Payne has also directed three short films, each of which he worked on with Dillard, and those will premiere in October.
The first Stranger show is Friday, and from here on out they’ll perform every fourth Friday of the month at the Link Centre’s Black Box Theatre.
“It’s very much like Chicago-style improv, longer format, like a play that we’re making up as we go,” Dillard said. “It’s slice of life, heightened as we go.”
Unlike West of Shake Rag, there won’t be games, but like West of Shake Rag, they’ll accept suggestions from the audience.
“It’s kind of wide open,” Payne said. “There’s very little restraint. We want to see where it takes us.”
“The theme is basically being as funny as we can. One may be funnier than the other,” Dillard said with a grin. “If you like improv, you’ll enjoy this.”
Dim the lights
Award-winning filmmaker Payne directed all three of his movies that will premiere in October: “Genrevolt,” “Reverie” and “Third Shift.” Dillard co-directed, wrote and stars in “Genrevolt,” and also stars in “Reverie” and “Third Shift.”
“Reverie,” filmed in Chicago during a West of Shake Rag trip, is a “very experimental” short with “backward storytelling,” Dillard said.
Payne described it as “a person’s search for answers that’s like a visual poem,” with “fairytale aspects,” Dillard added.
In “Genrevolt,” there’s comedy, romance, action – a little bit of everything, really.
“Two characters realize they’re in film cliches and the trappings therein,” Dillard said, “Genrevolt” also stars Todd Barnett and Davis Manning.
The Hitchcock-inspired “Third Shift” is the longest of the three shorts, coming in at 33 minutes compared to the other two films’ 9-minutes each run times.
“Two women, played by Casey and Amy Gousset, are on the run and holed up in a diner. They know someone’s after them, but they don’t know who. Everyone’s a suspect,” Payne said.
Kenny Cook, Jennifer Collins, Clay Hassell and Jessica Pope also star in “Third Shift.”
Payne, Dillard and the other stars of the films will be on hand after the screening for a Q&A at each screening in West Point and Tupelo, and DVDs of Payne’s previous films will be for sale.
Though the pair have been busy enough, fans can look forward to more.
Payne is at work on his feature film “Earthrise,” for which he received a grant from the Mississippi Film and Video Alliance.
Dillard said she’ll “write more when it comes to me.”
“It’s work, but it’s very rewarding,” she said of her comedy and film work. “And I get to do that with Glenn Payne, and I’m very lucky.”

Get your Laugh On
WHAT: Stranger, Are You Smiling? improv comedy show

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Black Box Theatre, Link Centre

COST: $5, which includes free popcorn

INFO: (662) 690-4011

Movie Premiers
WHAT: Premieres of Glenn Payne’s three new short films, “Third Shift,” “Genrevolt” and “Reverie”

WHERE AND WHEN: 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at The Ritz in West Point; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Malco in Tupelo

COST: $7

INFO: (662) 523-5080

EXTRA: Payne said the movies aren’t rated, but he’d give them a PG-13 rating

Click video to hear audio