PHOTO BY RYAN DORGAN
Writer-actor-comedian-collaborator-director Andrew Munz is a force in the valley’s arts and culture scene.
// By Whitney Royster
A guy who entertains in person, online, and in books, Andrew Munz is a local celebrity and a major tailwind for the valley’s arts community. In 2020, he took the silver in the town’s “Best Actor” category (second to Harrison Ford) and in 2021 won gold in the same category. Between 2014 and 2019, Munz developed and executed the comedic series of plays, I Can Ski Forever, which lampoons Jackson life, sells out, and has fans clamoring for more. The videos of his character Your Girl Catherine, which he developed early in the pandemic for Instagram, have thousands of views and an avid fan base. In 2008, Munz, 33, helped start Laff Staff, the local improv theater troupe. As a member of the Jackson Hole High School class of 2005, he’s also a true local, but quick to point out that he’s atypical.
Munz says he doesn’t see Jackson through the same lens as many other visitors and locals. Instead of an adrenaline-packed outdoor adventure, Munz experiences Jackson Hole as a thriving artistic community with a trove of talent looking for an outlet and connection. “We are good at providing entertainment and events, but when it comes to putting resources into the hands of people who can make a difference, that’s one thing that Jackson certainly lacks,” he says. Mainly, this means helping local talent entertain and create for residents and visitors.
Munz’s I Can Ski Forever plays—to date there have been four—feature local actors. Rather than write the script first and then cast it, he is proud to cast the production first and then write the script to showcase each actor’s talents and give them a spotlight moment. “I cast locals, and I bring people who want opportunity on stage next to me,” he says. That’s part of his success and local-legend status. “Every person you put in your cast that lives here and has a life in Jackson, you add more audience members—friends of theirs who are coming to support their friends,” he says. This results in sold out shows and a feeling of connection in the community.
“They want to be a part of something special, just like everybody else in this damn town. We’ve bred a culture of feeling a need to belong,” he says. “In a transient town…everyone wants to separate themselves from a transient person and be someone who matters.” He says, though, that the transient nature of Jackson Hole can be a good thing—by bringing diversity and bucking trends in which the valley may be stuck.
Creating a culture of community is a top priority for Munz. Theater allows that. So do other artistic events like the JH Pride Dance Party he hosted at a now-defunct local theater (think hundreds of people dancing jubilantly to Whitney Houston) and open mic nights he’s brought to cafés.
Munz, who works a day job at the Grand Teton Music Festival as a patron-services manager, says he would love to do more live theater for locals, but, like other area artists, he struggles to find affordable spaces to rent. “My relationship with Jackson is complicated,” he says. “I love to hate it and hate to love it. It’s never as perfect as I want it to be. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to improve it.”
I Can Ski Forever
The four plays, one of which is a musical, in this series debuted in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019 to rousing success. Late last year, Munz published the series as a single book, also called I Can Ski Forever. The concept for the plays was born out of his involvement with the improv group Laff Staff. “After getting into improv as an art form, I knew that comedy felt very natural,” he says.
When performing with Laff Staff at the Black Box Theatre in the Center for the Arts, Munz saw that observations and commentary on life in Jackson resonated with the audience. “The truth itself is what resonates the most with everybody,” he says. “It’s a symbiotic relationship between the performer and the audience.” So, I Can Ski Forever, which Munz wrote in collaboration with other artists, namely Josh Griffith, skewers Jackson’s bro-bra culture, the wealth it sees, and many of the characters that make the town hum. “It’s the honest jokes that get the most laughter,” Munz says. “That’s the philosophy of I Can Ski Forever.” Buy I Can Ski Forever the book for $28 at valley bookstores including Jackson Hole Book Trader, 910 W. Broadway Ave.
Your Girl Catherine
Catherine is “a quarantined cougar mom living it up on her seven acres in #JacksonHole,” according to her Instagram profile. Catherine is “your girl” because locals latched on to Catherine like she was one of their own. “That’s why I called it ‘Your Girl.’ She’s everybody’s,” says Munz, who created and performs the character. “It was spontaneous and just silly, and it was such a hit early on when people were desperate for anything during quarantine.”
Catherine is a part-time Jackson Hole resident—she’s also got an apartment on the Upper East Side and travels anywhere from the Seychelles to Bali and Venice—with a wild wig of hair, a sometimes beard, Jackie O–style bejeweled glasses, a private jet at her disposal, and three ex-husbands, one of whom, Mark, becomes an ex over the course of season one. Catherine doesn’t fit in with the mainstream crowd but lives in “her own version of Jackson,” says Munz. Over the course of twelve four-ish-minute-long Instagram videos, Catherine has looked for a new house (she ended up buying in Shooting Star); watched for moose; rented out West Bank Persephone so she could enjoy a skinny oat milk latte, a bottle of bubbly, and gluten-free biscotti without having to deal with other people; and visited a historic dude ranch.
Limping through isolation and quarantine like the rest of us, Catherine also showed fans how to craft her favorite cocktail, which she calls the round-trip—“’cause obviously who couldn’t use a round-trip right now?” she asks—and also how to make hand sanitizer. Catherine says the latter is “a very simple recipe” that she modifies by substituting Icelandic vodka for rubbing alcohol and vanilla extract for essential oils, and, finally, when it doesn’t thicken as promised, adding cornstarch. Catherine also voted, which promoted one woman to criticize her for making a “mockery” of the process. Fans swooped to Catherine’s defense, and, as Munz says, “just lambasted the poor woman.”
Although Catherine signed off on season one in June of last year, she did check in from Iceland over the summer, and, more recently, hinted at a potential future project in a video in which she tested several taglines for Real Housewives of Jackson Hole. Our favorites? “You’re going to have to adjust your bindings if you want this boot” and “How do I wax my skis? Brazilian.”
Meet Catherine on Instagram at @yourgirlcatherine.
Andrew on How to Support Local Artists
“Seek out artists you like and ask them how you can help them bring their projects to life. Without time, space, or resources, our most brilliant ideas often vanish under the stress of trying to ‘make it’ in Jackson.”
“One of my favorite things to do is drive south to Alpine. I love to take long drives to brainstorm ideas. I need to trap myself in my car, and when you’re driving in Snake River Canyon, you’re encased in it. You can’t see the beginning and can’t see the end. Every turn you make, there’s this beautiful mountain vista or burned forest. That whole process instills a lot of creative encouragement
On local artists to watch
“Bland Hoke, who works out of a shop; Caryn Flanagan wrote the absolutely poignant book Heaven in Your Bones; Josh and Kjera Strom Griffith are writers; Riley Burbank for music.”
on local arts events
“Dancers’ Workshop and their performances equal a bunch of local kids showing their talent. It’s amazing to see these kids perform to a packed house on the center stage.”
Follow Munz on Instagram at @munzofsteel.JH