Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia and Andrew Stier.
Julia and Andrew, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
JULIA: I am (typically) an LA-based actress, playwright, and comedian. When the entertainment industry shut down in Los Angeles because of COVID-19, I decided to use my new free time to visit family in San Antonio.
I earned my BA in theatre from the University of Southern California in 2018 and stayed in California after graduating to pursue a career in the arts. My comedy training began after a friend suggested I try stand up. I enrolled in a class at The Clownhouse, under the tutelage of Adam Barnhardt. Our “final exam” was a performance at The Comedy Store. It was terrifying, but I was hooked. I wanted to see where this newfound love for comedy could take me.
As an actor, one piece of advice I always get is “create your own content.” Well, that’s a lot easier said than done. You need time, collaborators, ideas. All things that can be hard to come by.
Strangely enough though, COVID-19 gave all of those things to me.
My brother Andrew also decided to come back to San Antonio to quarantine with our family. He’s an extremely active member of the comedy improv scene in Austin, Texas, and directs shows at the Hideout Theatre. Because of our mutual love of comedy and performance, our parents suggested that my brother and I make videos together. At first I laughed and wrote the idea off as being too much work. But, as the quarantine went on longer than we originally expected, the idea of taking on an artistic endeavor became more and more attractive.
And suddenly, we realized we had the three things needed to create. We had time, we had collaborators (each other), and we had an idea – to chronicle the funny, frustrating, and factual tribulations that occur when two grown siblings move back home because of a global pandemic.
Thus, Adult Children was born.
ANDREW: It all started with our first sketch, which is about us, two grown siblings, competing in an Easter egg hunt. My parents really did make an Easter egg hunt for us as a way to keep the season special during quarantine. It felt kinda ridiculous but fun, and my sister and I started riffing and joking along as we got overly competitive in this “adult” Easter egg hunt. Our parents were like, “wow, you could make a video out of THIS!” and we were like, actually… why not? And we did! A lot of the jokes we made that day ended up in the final cut.
We had such a great time making this first video, and all at once we realized how much real-life experience we have to pull from to make more. There was noooothing to do during the weekends, and suddenly this project gave us an exciting activity we could look forward to. Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine, and we wrote… these extremely silly sketches.
It’s been cool to see what our creations have been blossoming into. What started out as a silly side hobby has now turned into an award-winning sketch series with followers and subscribers from all over the world. We’re enjoying the journey.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
JULIA: We have definitely been learning as we go, but that’s the fun part. Since we are self-quarantining, we are limited to the use of whatever we have around the house. We’re not buying costumes or fancy lights. It’s literally just us, an iPhone, a tripod, and then whatever we already own.
However, we don’t let those limitations impact what we write. We’ve been able to come up with some really creative set-ups and costumes to try to serve the scenes we’ve written, as we’ve written them. If something really is impossible to pull off, we may tweak the script here or there, but for the most part we’ve been able to make it work.
ANDREW: We’re a two-person team, so we have to do everything – the writing, filming, directing, costume and set design, editing, and the sound design. Every time we try to make a “quick” little video, it’s always a surprisingly long project. Thankfully we work really well together as a team. We’ve grown up calling each other out, so we don’t have to waste time trying to politely dance around feedback. We share the passion, and we both bring unique perspectives.
Another big challenge has been that everything we make is so time sensitive. Quarantine restrictions can change on a dime. Whenever we start a new video, we constantly feel under the gun to release it before it’s no longer relevant, which has forced us to release videos at a fairly consistent rate. Now, different states are opening up at different times, and different people are approaching the guidelines with different levels of caution – not everyone’s experience is going to match ours, so it’s hard to know what’s going to be relatable.
Undeniably, the most difficult struggle we’re facing right now is one regarding our personal life. Our grandmother passed away recently. She was one of our biggest fans. She was always one of the first to comment when we released a new video. We were both very close to her, and her death was fairly sudden and unexpected, so it’s been an emotional time.
This all happened right around the same time as the death of George Floyd. It’s been odd mourning someone close to us while many people around the nation are also mourning and the world is engulfed in such serious issues. We already have our next video filmed. It needs some final touches, but we’re mostly just waiting until we feel ready and the world feels ready before we start releasing our silly, not-so-serious videos again.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
JULIA: Adult Children is a sketch comedy duo. We create short, digestible, delightfully low-budget sketches that take a light-hearted look at the troubles of quarantine.
We aim to release about one sketch a week and hope that our videos bring some levity and laughter to people while in lockdown.
ANDREW: A lot of the art and comedy we were seeing during quarantine was serving as an escape from reality, and we wanted to fill this gap of finding the fun and humor in THIS reality. Also, since we live together, we could actually show two people interacting in person. I think it’s a fresh break from watching a collection of heads in a zoom-like set-up.
We’re happy that we’ve been able to bring some laughter to peoples’ lives. A quote that’s really stuck with me is when someone commented, “I really needed this today. Thank you”.
Also, both women and gay men are underrepresented in the comedy scene, so we’re proud to be putting ourselves out there to help increase representation!
Oh! And we recently won an award that we’re excited about. Our third video, “Quarantining with Siblings,” was selected as one of the Quarantine International Film Festival’s top 40 finalists! There were more than 1,000 submissions from 39 different countries. There are some really high caliber videos that were selected along with ours – we’re really honored to be included!
Adult Children has started releasing content again in response to the new spikes in numbers of Covid-19 cases.
What were you like growing up?
JULIA: We were both such hams! Seriously, you could always find us singing show tunes loudly at all times of day (a habit we have yet to kick). Neither of us has lost our flair for the dramatic, and I am so glad we have found a way to fan those flames!
ANDREW: I’ve always been interested in making art and stories. When I was very young, I was enthralled with drawing and sketching pictures – in retrospect, I think it’s because it was the first way I could tell stories before I knew how to write. Then as I got older, I started writing stories – one of my greatest hits (they were all terrible) was “The 5th Grade Against the Attack of the Tree Monsters.” I remember asking my babysitter if she would read it and she agreed. When I handed her a thick stack of stapled papers containing multiple chapters she was like, “Oh…”. I don’t think she ever read it hahaha. I’ve also done a fair share of scripted theatre – my first role was Tiny Tim in third grade!
I remember the first time I saw comedy improv was in 7th grade when my junior high’s improv team performed during our play’s intermission. I was immediately taken with it. An art form where you collaboratively made and told stories in real-time? I was obsessed. I made it onto the team in 8th grade, and for a few sweet short months, Wednesdays from 4-5 became the best hours of my life.
Adult Children has been really fun because it’s another medium for collaborative storytelling. And, unlike with my improv, I have something permanent to show for it. It’s been a great way to bond with my sister and lift up spirits (including our own) with everything going on in the world.
- Website: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdIi4DgTvcwrlQyNONwAHqA
- Instagram: @adultchildrensketch @juliastier @stieronfire
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adultchildrensketches/
- Twitter: @juliastier1 @stieronefire