This week I had the opportunity to interview Chicago native David Pasquesi, or "Blaise" as you may know him on AMC's Lodge 49. David is unique on the show in both his approach and his training. He came to acting by way of the famed Second City comedy group, and along with his various tv/movie appearances, he is well known for his stage show “TJ and Dave”. Bringing this fresh approach to the show creates a lot of brilliance and depth we see in his character development.
TTL: Thanks again for taking the time to share with us. Growing up in the Midwest, were there any incidents or experiences you feel helped shape who you are as an Actor?
David: I think that being from Chicago I was influenced by the comedy/sketch/improvisation tradition here. Also, yes, I think there is a practical, utilitarian work ethic ‘round these parts. i.e., you need to put in the work.
TTL: Bios on you say you were in college studying philosophy and looking at a business degree or law, pretty heavy stuff. What inspired you to take an improv class with your brother?
David: Yes, the first class in improvisation I attended was with my brother who was in law school at the time. The reason I went with him is... my mom made me. I really lucked out that she had such a great idea for me. I ended up in Judy Morgan’s class and she was a wonderful teacher. I took to improvisation pretty much immediately (as I recall).
TTL: That class launched you into the world of acting and a lengthy resume of Improv / Sketch Comedy work. How do your years of experience in improv assist you in your portrayal of Blaise on a scripted TV show vs studying with a traditional acting coach?
David: I think my background in improvisation and sketch helps me immensely in attempting to pay attention to everything that’s going on. That is my only training as I didn’t go to school for acting, just practical experience of improvising and performing. So, if I have learned anything, I learned it through improvisation and performing.
TTL: You have talked about in improv, how characters should be played as a thin veil. Do we see that in the character Blaise? Are there any commonalities with you and the character?
David: I have to say, a lot of people who know me well seem to think that Blaise was written for me.. or that I influenced the development. Though I would like to take credit, alas, that is not true. Jim Gavin (the show’s creator and head writer) will adamantly tell you that I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Though I tend to believe him because it was written before we met, I am not 100% sure. He really doesn’t seem quite bright enough to write so well.
But, yes, it does seem like it’s a version of me... some parts of me exaggerated or piqued. I, like Blaise, am an odd duck. One major difference is that Blaise is far more optimistic than I am.
TTL: How has your college interest in philosophy assisted with Blaise’s role as the resident philosopher on Lodge 49?
David: I always knew my BA in Philosophy would come in handy one day. However, I thought I would open up my own Philosophy shop. Honestly, I think it does help me in understanding the logic ... and the desire to explain and know more than we can know. I believe that “Just because it’s unprovable doesn’t mean it’s unknowable.” I do enjoy those pursuits and because of this show, I have learned more about alchemy and spagyrics.
TTL: What drew you to the script and your desire to be part of the show?
David: Very simple... I loved the material. It’s funny and sad and intelligent and innocent and cynical and weird and mundane and silly and hopeful. What’s not to like? It’s not like anything I’d read in a TV script before. After reading the script, I read Jim Gavin’s Middle Men, and loved it. I wanted to be a part of it more than ever. I love reading the scripts, I really am a fan of the story of this show. (please do not tell Jim Gavin I like anything he’s done).
TTL: Which was your favorite episode to shoot and why?
David: The parasite was real fun. But I don’t think I have a favorite. It’s always a good time to hang around those folks. I would go visit set and watch on days I wasn’t working. I think we all get along. (Jeez.. Hang on a second. Now that I think of it.. maybe that’s all bullshit. Wow, I’d be real bummed if I found out they were just pretending. Those fuckers! What horrible, duplicitous cretins. Yes, you Wyatt, Sonya, Brent, Linda, Scott, Jimmy, Avis, Njema, Atkins, Celia, David, Adam, Brian, Tyson, Daniel, Gavin, Nina, Peter, Carol and Lane. I’m on to you. )
TTL: With your obvious love for live theater, what was/is your favorite play or stage experience?
David: I haven’t done anything I really didn’t like. Some highlights are: I got to do Glengarry Glen Ross at Steppenwolf.. that was a blast, a great cast, company and director. I loved my time working at Second City with great, talented people. But I think my favorite stage experience is improvising with TJ Jagodowski in TJ and Dave.
TTL: Speaking of seeing you live, are there any upcoming shows that you can recommend for fans to catch you in?
Nothing on the books for live stuff. Perhaps TJ and Dave in New York in December.
TTL: Thanks again for your time, in the closing question what message or theme do you hope fans take away from Lodge 49?
David: I hope, first and foremost, they enjoy it. I hope they can identify with the cast of characters and with all of them trying to be more (or at least get through it all).
Thanks again, and be sure to tune in to AMC this Monday night, October 1st, 10/9c for Episode 9.