I don't really enjoy horror movies, but...I have been a fan of the improv comedy group Blood Squad for years—since early 2007, I think. They're straight-up amazing, and I don't say this of many things, but I couldn't enjoy them more even if squirrels were involved. (I really get a kick out of squirrels.) The next time you're in Seattle, if you have the good fortune of timing your visit during one of their runs, you should really make good on that opportunity.
Blood Squad consists of founding members Elicia Wickstead and Brandon Felker—both longtime improv performers and instructors—as well as Molly Arkin and newcomer Jon Axell. All four are incredibly talented and together form an improv group quite literally unlike any you've ever seen. Blood Squad builds their funny out of the horror movie genre(!), and they do it in a long-form improv format. That means that at the start of each performance, the group takes a suggestion from the audience for a horror movie that's never been made (say, "Killer Prom at Murder High" or the very festive "Santa Claus Your Face Off"), and then they just...go. And not for a series of short sketches, like ten minutes at a time, but for an entire show running somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 uninterrupted minutes. Each group member invents several characters to play, and every one of them enjoys a full story arc during the course of the performance. They narrate character, set, title, and action descriptions from the improvised "script", and when the time comes, they off themselves and each other in the most graphic (yet not) ways they can dream up. It's all done without sets, props, costumes, or anything else typically associated with theater or film, though they do usually have a guest at the side of the stage performing improvised mood music during key moments. It's the kind of thing that's hard enough to do without worrying about being funny, and these guys are effortlessly hysterical. Every. Time. I swear I never get tired of watching them pretend to kill each other, and seriously, I can't recommend them more.
I think it was in 2007 that I introduced myself and asked if photography was of interest to them in their promotions. They had been using, and would continue to use, brilliant illustration and design work done by local artists Devin Sheridan and Alex Thomas. That worked really well because the shows in each of their runs are unified by a single horror sub-genre (summer camp slasher, haunted house, psycho hillbilly, zombie, etc.), and Devin and Alex would draw up a poster for each theme. It worked so well, frankly, that I actually wondered if they'd be interested in having photography. It was decided, though, that promotional images of the actual group would be good too, and so it happened that Blood Squad and I collaborated a little later in the year. That's when we came up with the morgue headshots below, which I still love today.