Mail Order Bride was founded in 2006 by Amy Carpenter and Bri de Ruiz. The chemistry among the hand picked group of talented Phoenix women, including Stacey Reed Hanlon, Michelle Edwards & Jacque Arend was magical and Mail Order Bride has a long run of creation, experimentation and play in the early Phoenix improv scene. Well known for their themed shows, Mail Order Bride enjoyed pushing the envelope and creating inspired performances. In early 2007 Mail Order Bride featured a run of shows called the Vagical Mystery Tour. They found early success with their 7 Minutes in Heaven Sex Education presentation which was later turned into a vintage educational video. They enjoyed halloweens performing as Zombie Brides, hot summers in venues without air conditioning was eased with White Trash Pool Parties. Every year the ladies of MOB would put out a calendar featuring various subject matter and themes. These are just a few of the wild ideas they ran with. However, as their voice began to focus in – it was clear that Mail Order Bride enjoyed playing with the lines between misogyny and feminism by visiting all corners of both perspectives on life. They were the first all female group in Phoenix and because of that, they liked to push the envelope. Ultimately these five ladies were lucky to have found each other to trust on stage. Performing with that kind of trust as you are growing as an artist is like finding treasure.
Mail Order Bride founded the Balls Out Award – and annual award featured at the Phoenix Improv Festival. First presented PIF 2007 (PIF6) and last presented at PIF 2017 (PIF16) – for 10 years the Balls Out Award was presented to one out of town performer who represented commitment & courage on stage by making bold choices to engage, entertain and stretch the art form beyond where you imagine it can go. The Balls Out Award was inspired by a local PIF interview with Jacque & Michelle where Jacque stated that improv was 25-40 minutes of Balls Out. This award retired in 2017 because of the continued need to be less offensive. These may be miss-ordered as I am working with memory along and too lazy to reference my facts.
Previous Winners in no particular oder:
Carla Cackowski – 10th Winner – In the Orange Tuxedo Show, Carla carried a lovely straight man throughout, bringing reality and empathy to the experiences of her characters and as the tension was building up at the end of the show, the final reveal, Carla never hesitated and made an incredible choice that blew everyone’s minds (no pun intended).
Woody Fu – 11th Winner – Another physical winner, committing to a character trait and behavior to such intensity that you giggle until your ab muscles ache.
Xchel Hernandez – 8th Winner – Playing an angsty troll – Xchel committed to singing We Didn’t Start the Fire to express his dissatisfaction with his scene partner and what they represented.
Nick Armstrong – 3rd Winner – A fully committed emotional breakdown from the character of a robot, patient physicality and realistic robotic behavior.
Josh Dubose – 5th Winner – Commitment to full support of a partners idea to the point of great physical gifting. Taking the seed (no pun intended) and giving it what is needed to grow into an incredibly powerful moment on stage.
Jeff Hawkins – 4th Winner – Maintaining his Straight Man against his partners absurdity, to the point of breakdown, allowing and committing to the moment.
Miles Stroth – 6th Winner – Commitment to a realistic, authentic scene giving birth to a baby, not only the physical affect on the body but the emotional in the moment responses of the woman going through that experience.
David Schwartzbaum – 7th Winner – Switch Committee was an incredible team all together. However, during the high energy, high stakes sense of play – David split his pants, and never once worried about it, slinked away or pulled back from his level of commitment to the show. It unphased him and like a true professional continued to give his all to the show till the end.
Group: Pick N Roll – 9th Winner – A very energetic and physically committed group, the two of them won as a team because we felt one would not have been as amazing without the other.
Troy Taylor – 2nd Winner – For incredible environment work and physically committing to running through the city, in and out of buildings while in place.
Tom – 1st Winner – For stripping down to his boxers & fully committing to the reality.