Counter Culture


Counter Culture Season 5 Ep. 16

Join host Grover Silcox and guests: Kevin Burk & Su Tears, Singers, AM Radio Tribute Band; Tom Cotter & Mary Louise, Comedians; Christopher Sutton & Lyn Philistine, Actors.

AIRED: June 08, 2021 | 0:27:34

Welcome to Counter Culture, a talk show, normally

in a diner.

- Your body temperature is normal.

- Tonight, we feature a very special theme - couples

who share the same art form.

They include singers who perform with their AM

radio tribute band, husband and wife Su and Kevin.

- It's tons of fun for us, tons of fun for the audience,

because it just brings them back to a place in time

where they were making

lots of memories.

- And a married couple, and two very funny comics.

- People always ask us, Oh, you're together

and you're both comics.

You must laugh all the time in your house.

- Right.

- You know, we're a married couple.

We've been married for years.

We hate each other just like everybody else.

- Plus, two talented stage performers.

- Making people laugh,

you know, it's like, it's a great thing,

especially right now.

- All right here on Counter Culture.

Welcome to Counter Culture, a talk show coming

to you direct from our studio kitchen at PBS.39

in the Lehigh Valley.

Hi, folks. I'm your host, Grover Silcox.

Tonight's show is all about couples who share their lives

and their art forms.

My first guests are singers and musicians who also happen

to be married to each other.

They wanted to spend more time together, so they got together

with some fellow musicians and formed the AM Radio Tribute

Band, which showers audiences with the music Sue and Kevin

grew up with.

Please welcome Su Teears and Kevin Burk

to Counter Culture.


This is great.

I'm so excited.

This is my first couples show and you're on our

maiden voyage, so to speak.

- We're honored to see the show off.

- So why don't you describe your band for us?

The AM Radio Tribute Band. - AM Radio Tribute Band

does everything that you grew up listening to,

including lots of the songs you probably forgot

were out on the radio at the time.

Everything from the Mamas and the Papas to the Carpenters,

to Deep Purple to Jefferson Airplane, and everything

in between, including Tie A Yellow Ribbon, Tony Orlando.

- All the big ones.

- Yeah, lots of silly little things.

- Billy, Don't Be A Hero.

And one hit wonders, and it's tons of fun for us

and tons of fun for the audience because it

just brings them back to a place in time

where they were making lots of memories.

- Right.

And I guess that is what led you to the title, AM Radio?

- Yes. Yes. It's funny.

Younger generation does not know what that means.

They say am radio, am radio.

- Kevin, you're a percussionist and singer,

and Su, you're a singer.

So how did you meet? Did you meet on a gig or what?

- Well, I was in a very active

wedding band at the time

and we got a last-minute call to do a private event

and our female singer was out of town.

So a good friend of mine... All right. I'm sorry.

I called a good friend of mine, said, who's a great female

singer? And he said, call Su Teears.

So I did. And we chatted.

And Su knew absolutely none of the songs on our song list.

She did not do that gig with us.

We got someone else.

But then I invited Su to one of our shows

and then we kind of went our separate ways.

And then a year or so later we connected and put

this band together.

- Now, where is your base?

Where is your performing market, so to speak?

- I would say Montgomery County, but we're expanding

out. We do some Lehigh Valley stuff and we play on a regular

basis at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

- Your shows are also sort of themed, sort

of developed it around the music.

You'll have costuming.

- We try to bring like a hippy vibe.

But more than that. We go back further.

We do sneak into the late '50s and we do sneak into the early

'70s, which is still the hippie vibe.

But it's the hippie era that we accentuate.

- Right. And so do you play drums in the band, Kevin?

- I do not.

I started, as a kid, as a drummer.

Chops are long gone.

I am probably like a fifth string drummer.

If four other people aren't available, then call me

and I'll do it, but don't expect any more than that.

I do play the kazumpet.

- You do?

- This is his newest.

- This is my newest instrument. This is a kazumpet.

I got the idea from an episode

of Sanford and Son.

- Right.

And I saw it had a Kazoo hooked up to a trumpet and I thought,

that is me. And...

- So when you're on stage, are you both singing to one

another, singing to the audience?

Do you work off each other's rhythm?

A lot of personal

banter that goes between both Kevin and I.

We tease each other on stage, in front of everybody,

with everybody, and they get a big kick out of it.

- Yeah, I point out all her sour notes.

- Do you have like a favorite song

or favorite group?

We do an awful lot of Three Dog Night.

- White Rabbit is probably our most requested song,

and nine times out of ten

will we'll end our show with it because

it's very theatrical.

- Do you have favorites though?

- Are you like, did you grow up with the Beatles?

- Beatles.

- I think every member of our band

will probably say Beatles.

- Yeah, do you get younger people to come out?

- You know, I think there are a lot of young people

who are into classic rock.


- Surprisingly so. Surprisingly so. Yeah.

And they've, you know, heard this music in their

great-great-great grandfather's car.

And that's what it reminds them of.

But I am always shocked at how the younger generations

not only knows the music, but they know a lot

of the words to the songs. It's amazing.

- You ever switch over to Motown? Because that sort of

ran in the same parallel to classic rock.

- Yeah.

- We do some Marvin Gaye.

A little bit of Supremes.

- Temptations.

- If people are yelling out songs,

we, you know, we huddle a little bit,

yeah, yeah, we could do this. We could do that.

So sometimes, a lot of times it's the first time

we're playing the song.

So it's fun.

- We dip into the Philly sound stuff too from the 70s.

- Yeah. Right, right.

- Yeah.

We're pretty well rounded.

- The venues you play, all the way from a theater

like that in Jim Thorpe, to a smaller place to maybe

even a bigger venue.

Are they, like all across the board?

- Yeah, we were, just before the pandemic hit,

we were just working our way out of the club scene

and into the theater scene.

And, of course, the pandemic put the brakes on that.

- The gigs are starting to come back, which is nice,

as the restrictions are lifted and we're starting

to get back into...

- Do you sit down at the table over coffee in the morning

and then work out your playlist?

- We're normally going over up and coming things.

Right now, Su runs our schedule.

She's just inundated with requests,

now things are loosening up.

So the phone is really ringing and some

of our musicians are available. Some aren't.

So we're trying to fill the gaps, and this poor girl's

pulling her hair out with some of this.

- People will obviously need to be,

need the entertainment, the music, the interaction

more than ever.

So coming back, actually, I would think

it will be gangbusters.

- Yeah.

And, you know, we have two CDs out as well, that were both

recorded live in bunches of different theaters.

- Just happen to have them right here.

- So we tell people, you know,

if you like what you heard,

you can take a little bit of us home with you.

And, you know, because it's recorded live,

it's everything that your you're hearing

when you come out to a show.

- Well, good luck.

And people should look for you.

Keep singing.

- Thank you so much for that.

- Su Teears and Kevin Burk of the AM Radio Tribute Band.

Singing and music is their life,

which they happen to share together.

Understanding the mind of a comedian might baffle

folks not in the trade. A spouse or partner, say,

in another line of work, and that's precisely

what makes my next couple so fascinating.

They are both standup comics.

- Marriage is about give and take.

- That's true because she gives me crap and I have to take it.

Those are the rules.

- Each of them has a long list of credits.

She was a finalist on NBC's Last Comic Standing

and he was a runner-up on America's Got Talent.

Please welcome Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise.


- Hi. Thank you for having us.

- Oh, my pleasure.

- Is this going to be a version of Too Funny, which I know

is a show that you did on the Women's Entertainment


- Yes, that was amazing.

That was unbelievably emasculating for me

because we were literally brought to you by feminine

products. So it was very hurtful.

- Yeah.

How did this happen?

I mean, I think you were both working in the Boston comedy

club scene, right?

I got that right?

- Correct. We used to bump into each other at comedy clubs

and I always found her attractive.

But she had a rule that she wasn't going to date

any other comics.

And then we both got invited to do a ski resort gig

up in the mountains of New Hampshire.

- Back then they would pay us in ski tickets.

So we had to go skiing.

- Right. Right. Whether you liked it or not.

- Right. So we were skiing together and I started

flirting with them.

And I can't believe I was flirting with him.

My New Year's resolution was no more comics.

And every time we went on the chairlift, I said, Tom,

put your tongue on the side of the chairlift

just to see what happens.

I'm not doing it!

And every, time we must have went up like 50 times.

And every time I would say it and every time he would say

no, and we enjoyed each other's company so much, we decided

not to go home and go to the movies,

and that movie that night, which we have never seen

before, was called Dumb and Dumber.

- Peter Farrelly film.

- Oh, yeah.

- And during the film they went on a ski date, this couple,

and he put his tongue exactly on the side of the chairlift

when I was telling Tom to put his tongue there,

and it got stuck, and we're laughing.

Everyone's dying in the theater.

But Tom and I were totally laughing because we had just

done that all day.

And I'm thinking, oh, my God, it's a sign.

I have to date this guy.

Plus, he paid for my gas to get home.

- Wow. Are you sure you're a comedian?

- Very, very debonair of me to buy her gas.

- It is.

And yet you share comedy, but you are interestingly


Like Kerri, you're kind of like every woman.

- The love hate thing because you get

that cash. Have you ever had that expire in your wallet?

Oh, my God.

You hate yourself for a month,.

- That's how I would quote, every woman.

And Tom, you're not.

- Thank God.

- I mean, you're absolutely right.

- No, You're kind of a conglomeration

of like a Johnny Carson, Steven Wright and Don Adams.

Yeah, I don't know if that makes sense, but yeah.

Three fabulous comedians.

- Fan of all three of them, so thank you very much.

I'm honored that you made that comparison.

Yeah, well, you know what?

We're both different styles too. Her style

of comedy is story form, and it's very engaging

from start to finish.

And I'm more of an ADD, so I'm a one liner guy.

And so when we mix it together to do a comedy team thing,

it's really mixing two styles and it's a challenge for us.

But we love doing it.

- But we never go to bed angry.

- That's true.

We would much rather stay awake and plot our revenge.

That's how we handle it.

- I was telling someone else, I said, I wonder

if they like, when they have an argument, which I would

think inevitably that happens.

Is it like, do you stop in the middle and say,

you know, we could, I could use that? No, wait a minute.

I could use that!

How does it work?

- We do that during arguments and even

sometimes we'll be intimate and he'll think of a joke

and then that ends it.

- Yeah. - What?!

We do it all the time.

- We do that.

Like, if we're out to dinner with another couple

and they say something that we think could be,

you know, the premise of a bit, I'll say, that's mine.

Or she'll say, no, I get it because they're closer

friends to mine.

And that gets an argument

over who gets to the bit, but sometimes that bit becomes

part of our team thing.

So it works out wonderfully.

- People always ask us, oh, you're together

and you're both comics,

you must laugh all the time in your house.

- Right.

- I say, you know, we're a married couple.

We've been married for years.

We hate each other just like everybody else.

- There is laughter.

Usually in the bedroom, it's her pointing

and I don't like it.

So we have some laughter.

- Tom, when I saw your performance on America's Got

Talent, when you challenged Howie Mandel to give

you a subject and tell jokes.

I mean, it's pretty, pretty gutsy.

- Are you serious? - I am serious.

- Oh, my gosh.

College. I never went. Tell me about it.

- College for me was the best 28 semesters of my entire life.

I don't want to brag.

I went to Columbia.

I worked for a drug cartel then I went to

community college.

I had the whole summer to rehearse that.

Howard Stern smelled something fishy.

So he picked another topic.

And I got a couple extra minutes, which on that show

is everything because you only get 90 seconds.

So it actually worked out in my favor

and I was lucky I did it.

It was a gamble, but it worked out pretty well.

- And then, Kerri, you went to Vegas for Last Comic Standing.

- We're new parents of twin baby boys.

Yes, I'm trying to be a good mom.

Really I'm getting all the books and they're sleeping

through the night.

Well, I don't know if they are, but I am.

My twins were two at the time, and so I had to bring my mom

to babysit so Tom could go to the show.

- And now talking about working together,

you know, is it like the Burns and Allen of the 21st century?

Is that, you know, the famous...?

- We'd never put ourselves in that category.

But I will tell you that there is a need

for it because there was Nichols and May, Burns

and Allen, you know, even Desi and Lucy.

So people do get nostalgic for that.

Like your last guests, people got nostalgic for their music,

they get nostalgic for that kind of comedy.

So in the Catskills, for example, or the Florida

condo circuit, they yearn for it.

They really want to see a married couple.

So we get asked to do it all the time.

- So your boys are probably, like opening an accounting firm

or something, right?

- Well, they'll be in counseling clearly, because mom

and dad are comics.

But no, they seem to be pretty straight laced.

One of them says he may go into comedy, he may

dabble in it.

The other two haven't committed.

And we're going to support them in whatever they do,

in whatever field they want.

- Sort of.

I mean, our retirement plan

is for them to have real jobs so whenever they're funny,

which they are a lot, especially

at the dinner table,

they are so funny. I'm trying not to laugh

and encourage it because, you know, we want them

to be doctors and lawyers.

- Right.

- Can we do our shameless plug as well?

- Oh, sure. Sure. Yes.

- We have books out.

- I read them both, they're hilarious.

- So you can find this on Amazon as well.

- There you go. Hey, couple, comedy couple.

Thank you so much, Tom and Kerri, and good luck.

And now that, you know, things are opening up a bit, hey,

people can enjoy you

live and in person.

- Thank God..

Yeah, we've been waiting a long time, so, yeah,

we're very, very happy to have live audiences again.

And it's such a thrill to be here with you.

We've been fans of yours for a while, so thank you so much.

- Thank you. Thank you.

- Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise, comedy's quirky and

crowd-pleasing couple, either together or solo, laughter

is their calling card.

My next guests met as actors, they performed together

and were cast opposite each other in Sugar Babies,

and it all led to opposite roles in real life

as husband and wife.

They act, they sing, they dance, been on Broadway

and off Broadway, touring in productions including

Monty Python's Spamalot.

Their roles expanded as parents.

Their love for the theater is only surpassed by their love

for each other and their family.

It's a pleasure to welcome Lyn Philistine

and Christopher Sutton to Counter Culture.

- Thank you. What a great intro.

- You did some research there.

- Yes. Well, it was it's always enjoyable to sort of open

the book and travel with the guests and see

where they've been. It's a privilege, really.

- Well, it's an honor to be here.

- Thanks for having us. - Thank you.

- So you actually did meet.

It was Sugar Babies. I got that right.

Is that correct?

- Yeah, that was the first, that's when we, that's

when we kind of started falling in love.

We actually met before that.

I was playing Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story.

I had played Buddy Holly at Walnut Street Theater

in Philly, back in '99, I believe.

And this was the second time I was ever doing it.

We were rehearsing in New York City to do a multi-theater

tour, but that's when we first met, actually.

- Right.

- And then you just kind of...

Oh, and then when we did Sugar Babies, which I think was

months later or something, and I remember getting cast

in that show and I looked at the cast

and went, that's that girl.

And it ended up that we played the secondary leads.

I played the juvenile, the production tenor.

Yeah. And then we were covering the two lead roles,

the Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller roles.

And so because we were understudies for the main

leads, we were rehearsing. Yeah. Together, the two of us.

- And slowly built and yeah.

- Known each other for, what, 20,

about 20 years now, and we've done

over 20 shows together.

So it's roughly one a year.

- And a few with our son.

We have a seven-and-a-half-year-old..

So he's now doing shows with us too.

- Oh, my goodness,

It's going to be a whole family business.

- Yeah, well, I've got to show you this, Grover.

We were actually showing some of your previous guests.

But yeah, if you can see this.

- Yeah.

Is this a production of Elf?

- Yes. And that is him at three and a half months.

- Oh, my.

- I was playing the big elf.

He was the baby elf, and that was, yeah,

he was three and a half months old.

And then we did Matilda together.

He'd just turned five.

We feel like Philly has been a second home

because we've been working down at Walnut.

I'd been there.

I've lived in New York for 30 years, but for the last 22

worked at Walnut quite a bit in Philly.

- Yeah.

- So I think we spent three to four years of our lives

actually in Philly.

- We love hte Walnut Street. Great theater.

- Yeah. It's the, I think it's the oldest theater

in America actually.

- Sure is - Lot of history.

- Right. So where are you both...

..both from? Different locations I take it,

born and raised?

- I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

- Yeah.

- And I went to Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

and when I graduated I moved to New York.

But I had been, I mean, performing since I was

eight years old.

I got my equity card with a tour of Annie

starring Martha Raye.

So that was kind of how I started. Yeah.

And then, you know, and my mom kind

of figured it out.

My sister did it and then just sort of kept

going and got a great training in Pittsburgh

and then Cincinnati.

And it was just natural to move to New York.

And I've been here over 20 years, so...

I love it.

- And you, Christopher?

- I grew up the oldest of seven,

so that gives you a lot of comedy just right there.

When you have older siblings,

you know, when you're babysitting, you have to tell

stories that will hold the attention of people.

You know, there's 15 years between myself

and little Emily Jane, the youngest.

- Do you do mostly comedies or musical, you know, comedy

musicals, musical comedy?

- We do both.

I mean, we've done really serious pieces,

plays and musicals.

We've done comedy.

I mean, yeah, we kind of do both.

We do it all, which has been, is wonderful

because it fulfills you in different ways

or it does something. Making people laugh,

you know, it's like, it's a great thing,

especially right now.

But also taking people to an emotional place

is another type of experience for us as actors,

and also for the audience.

I think it really is nice.

I mean, we've been able to do both of those things,

which has been really, really nice.

- That's what's exciting about it,

is because, if you can be a chameleon...

Our favorite actors, our favorite actors we've known

over the years and our inspirations are just that,

you know, you see them in a really dastardly,

completely, you know, terrible person, kind of a role,

a villain.

To go back and forth through the human condition, you know,

in different ways.

And, you know, our craft is the study of people

and in general the study of people that in the case

of Buddy Holly, of course, that's great.

You had the histrionics and you can really dig

into the history of Buddy and his family,

where he grew up.

But then you have characters that we created over the years

in new shows that have never walked the face of the Earth

before, that have their own gait, their own way

of speaking, their own, their own manner and dialect.

And so that makes you a chameleon already.

And we're both also trained.

Both have degrees in opera.

So it helps you when you're doing the rock stuff because

you can do eight or ten shows a week without losing it.

Helps you in Shakespeare because you have to orate

with no mic.

So we've always found that as dancers and singers

and actors, they feed into each other.

And we did Spamalot.

It was such a great time for us.

We did that show together for four years almost.

And the thing about that show, here we have this comedy.

It's Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

But it's serious.

It's absolute sincerity in absurd situations.

And so I think there's so much drama and gravity in comedy.

In the same way, it happens in reverse, too.

So it's interesting, isn't it?

You know, like Robin Williams

is so funny.

He was so funny, but also

was in The Fisher King.

- Right.

- And Awakenings.

- Yeah.

And movies like that where, you know, it's just the whole

entire range of emotions.

- Right.

- To do it together a lot is pretty amazing.

We're very thankful for that.

- Christopher, you won a Barrymore Award?

Is that right?

- I did, yeah. For The Buddy Holly Story, actually.

So I won the award the first time for it. Yeah.

12 years later, Bernard Havard, who's a dear friend,

had said he wanted to do Buddy Holly again

at some point.

And I said, I remember saying, well, you know, hurry up.

No, but, you know, I mean, because after all, he was 22

when the plane went down.

- Yes.

- But he always wanted to do that again.

And I said, yeah, that would be fantastic.

And so that was the time I got to do it opposite my wife,

Lyn played Maria Elena.

And that was a year before our son was born.

That was 2012.

We had people show up at Buddy Holly with their actual album

from 1959 and they want you to sign it.

- Right. - You know.

And I'm like, I don't want to desecrate your record.

I have my own 1959 albums.

- Yeah.

It tells you how well you conveyed

not only the music but the persona.

Everything you do is about storytelling and making

it come to life for folks, and there's nothing better.

And I want to thank you for joining us

on Counter Culture.

- Thank you.

- And go back out there when things open up and, you know,

entertain those folks and... - Oh, absolutely.

We've done, I don't know, 50 or 60 Zooms.

I did one last night.

- I'm doing one tonight.

- Are you? What are you going to be doing?

- Tonight I'm doing, our friends who wrote, a lot of

Jersey Boys guys, one I know from when I did Bronx Tale.

Another one from school, Cincinnati,

actually, they wrote, like, a funny

Christmas Carol, but with at Italian mobster.

So I got to be Italian,

I have to do that thing.

But it's a comedy. It's funny.

- That's great. - It's good.

As things open up, good luck, guys.

- Thank you. - Thank you so much.

Yeah. We'll come back and visit from New York.

- We'll come and see you, OK? - Terrific.

Lyn Philistine and Christopher Sutton.

To paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, wherever they go,

whatever they do, they're going to go

through it together.

Well, that's all for this episode.

I want to thank my guest couples, the singers

and musicians of AM Radio, Su Teears and Kevin Burk.

Comedy's comic couple, Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise.

And the multitalented actors and performers,

Lyn Philistine and Christopher Sutton.

And thank you for spending time with us.

Don't forget to stop by next week

for more fascinating guests and

great conversation right here on Counter Culture.


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