Tales from my five day comedy binge!

Image

Comedy makes everything better. How is that for an overarching generalization? I can tell you that during extremely stressful times in my employment and “romantic” history, I have turned to comedy for relief. I mean you have to admit that during downtrodden times, laughter feels like a welcome relief. Currently my life is in a somewhat stressful influx and the one thing that has brought me consistent joy these days has been my dalliances with improv through shows and classes. I make time in my hectic work schedule for improv, not just because I love it dearly but because I really think I would be a miserable basketcase without it these days.

From Wednesday to Sunday of this past week, I had a little bit of that comedy magic mixed through my days and I have a lot of gushing coming your way folks so get your spectacles out and let’s do this!

Kaboom Hooray – The Premise Show

After a particularly crazy day at work, I trudged through a rainy, snowy windstorm for some of that sweet comedy relief and I was not disappointed. This was a new to me format featuring 10 minute stand-up sets from 3 comics followed by an improvised interpretation from the ever dynamic Obviously Improv. There were killer jokes about hilarious issues such as revenge anal and other weird stuff that really gave Obviously Improv a ton of funny material to create imaginative and engaging scenes with. During the whole night there was kind of a buzz in the air. The kind you feel on one of those nights where everything just goes to plan and exceed expectations. The jokes resonated, the scenes breathe life into the stories and the audience reacted with laughter at a night that totally nailed timing and delivery. It was spectacular start to my improv binge.

Date Yourself

This was the show that I performed in and went all gushy about here! And my second of the five night stalking of Obviously Improv.

Kinkonauts Show Week

Oh man do I love me some Kinkonauts Show week y’all! This theatre group makes me excited about comedy and improv in Calgary with their unique offerings in shows and classes. I have so much blog love to share about my two lovely nights watching this talented group of weirdos, so please bear with me!

4 Minutes until Curtain

These were the young superstars of the Lord Beaverbrook Improv Team! They reminded me so much of why I loved improvising in high school. You’ve got this huge stage to perform and practice on, you’ve got the hyperness and inhibition of your teenage years and your imagination is allowed to run rampant. They were talented, brave and so very funny! It brought me back to a very nostalgic happy place to watch them perform.

Dream Toast

I have love for Dream Toast! I voted for them at Catching Funds last week and those crazy cats delivered on their sandwich promise to me. I’m consistently won over by the delivery of carbs. They are also pretty fabulous improviser too, with a really cool format to their show. I am always so engaged by the complex tales spun from monologues of their personal stories, inspired by audience suggestions. Each player brings a load of talent with a unique perspective of their own that all seem to work cohesively form the deliciousness of Dream Toast!

John Hughes Improvised featuring Paper Street Theatre Co.

So you would think seeing the same improv show two nights in a row would equate to a lot of redundancy, right? Well not with this bunch, the only thing redundant about the two night John Hughes Improvised performances was the beautiful faces of the cast. The stories were unique, dynamic and offered all the hilariousness of improv and melodrama of ‘80s high school movies like Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. The Kinkonaut players are so good and fast with their delivery that it almost feels scripted and knowing that is not, makes them improv Gods in my head. I was really excited to see improviser from Victoria add a really cool dynamic to the John Hughes theme that they had originally produced on their glorious island. I love when the national improv community comes together on projects like this!

Fatale

This was the Opening Act for 9pm Friday Show and it featured many of the talented lady Kinkonauts improvisers. Apparently the comedy and improv scene can be somewhat of a boys club. I sort disagree completely with that perception because some of the funniest people I know – Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Jackie Fries, Laura Tennisco and so many more – are well equipped lady parts and they are stupid funny! Take that, “boys club”! Fatale was wonderful and made me so proud to be an aspiring lady improviser!

Obviously Improv

Oh hey guys, it is me in the audience again! Please don’t get a restrainer order, I just love your comedy so much! <Insert awkward laugh here>… Obviously Improv delivered another unique, fast paced and hilarious set Friday night! There awesomeness is almost redundant but something about watching them inspires me to perform! They are so high energy and detailed with their improv and offer unique (to me) short form games like Improvised Ballets and One-sided play reads (where one person reads of a play book and the other person improvises responses) and watching them three or four days in a row never gets boring.

One Lions

I have heard a ton about One Lions, featuring the ridonkulously talented Covy Holland and Stephen Kent, but I had never had a chance to catch their act until Friday night. And I now that I have, I feel like there are no adequate words to describe the random, hilarious weirdness that unfolded in front of me. I watched the whole show, based on the concept of two guys making small talk while waiting around for a guest to arrive, with my head tilted curiously to the side. The content was whack in the best way possible and my ribs hurt from excessive laughing. This description does not do this show any justice at all, GO CHECK OUT ONE LIONS!

Beatdown

Another awesome Kinkonaut Troupe that features the unique stylings of some hilarious improvisers. I really liked how each member brought a different ability and element to their performance. They have a really weird and fun way of switching scenes with dramatic catastrophes. “Then suddenly the scene melted and flooded the streets of Calgary” – that is not a direct quote… I just made that example up! Beatdown is always a joy to watch!

Notorious

These guys are my modern day Backstreet Boys! I seriously am never disappointed by a Notorious set. I feel like the huge theatre space gave them a lot more room to get a little crazier with their scenes which was fun to see. Notorious amps up a crowd with ease and it is always a laugh-filled experience to watch these guys play!

Mixed Tape

This has to be one of my favourite improv shows I have ever been to. The theme of this Mix Tape was an ‘80s soundtrack and featured players from the Kinkonauts, Obviously Improv and Paper Street Theatre Co. The show was kind of weird this time around and I, of course, love me some weird comedy yo. The scene transitions were killer, the soundtrack delightful and the show as a whole was another joyful success.

And scene…

If you’ve are still reading here – holy shit, thank you so much! Improv adds a sense of bliss to my life. And if you tend be a stress-case like me, may I suggest you catch some of the amazing comedy happening Calgary these days. The stories you’ll watch, the feeling of the crowd getting really into the show and the release of your own laughter – will lighten your load! I promise!

THANKS FOR READING!

A

I’ve got a major crush on improv … obviously!

Soul HappyYeah, yeah here I am gushing again about improv… sue me… actually please don’t, I am sort of financially vulnerable right now. Anyways, I was going to save this blog for after my 5 days of glorious improv binging but my experience today was so mind-blowingly amazing that I just have to release all these wonderful adjectives and verbs out into the blogosphere.

Today that amazing class I took with Mat Mailandt that I blogged about HERE had a class performance at the glamorous locale of Waves Coffee in the deep-south western suburbs of Calgary. Ever since I tackled my stage fright problem, I have been very eager to go up on stage and explore as a performer – so I was pretty jazzed about this opportunity. In the last few months taking classes offered by the Kinkonauts and Obviously Improv, I have honestly felt myself evolve and grow more confident as a performer and kind of a better, more socially functioning human being. I was really glad to have this chance to take what I learnt on stage in front of  a crowd of more than 9 people and test not only my improv skills but just like my overall braveness levels.

Before performing I go through this illogical rollercoaster of emotions that scares the crap out of me and invigorates me at the exact same time. Luckily my work day was heinously busy and afforded very little time for fretting, so I was only allotted the 40 minute commute to Waves to freak out. But then I got there and I saw some people from classes I have been taking, Mat and my new super talented teach Laura, and all nerves were replaced with exhilaration. I have spent years watching and being inspired by comedy. So it is so friggin’ cool to me that now that I got the eff out of my own way and just jumped in, I am getting to do it too. Alongside people who I have been such big fans of, to boot!

Today, even though I had a cruddy day at work and only one other person in my performance class showed up, it was like truly in my top 15 best moments ever. I got to do what I love with people who inspire me. That’s like all I want in this life…

I’m so excited that I have 3 more days of improv magic to be sprinkled all over my life! Stay tuned for incessant blogging about it all on Sunday y’all!

Christmas for Improv Lovers – Obviously Improv Presents – The Improv Games: Catching Funds

Catching

Here is how I know I have been to a great comedy show? I walk through the door and pretty much race to my laptop to gush about it via blog. So here I am, incredibly inspired to gush!

Tonight I went to an event I have been highly anticipating – Obviously Improv Presents – The Improv Games: Catching Funds, featuring representation from  just about all of Calgary’s improv groups. This was a great show for a first time improv audience member who wanted to get a taste of the variety of styles and talent the Calgary scene is so infinitely blessed with. Tonight was pretty much a night aimed to please my improv-loving, Hunger Game-obsessed brain, so I pretty much was amped about the show from the get-go. As you walked in the back alley of the Dancers’ Studio West entrance you were greeted by “tributes” from all the performing duos who pled you their case to give them coins that would help them win sponsorship advantages in the each scene battle. I was offered heartfelt pleas from newbies and hugs and sandwiches from the vets. Ultimately sandwiches won my votes… obviously! The house was so full there was a waiting list and people were turned away, so I was glad to have purchased my tickets the day before. The crowd seem to buzz with excitement and even though I arrived by myself, I made new friends in the audience and saw a lot people from classes in the crowd. Because each tribute team was bartering for votes the show had a really cool inclusive feel for the audience that other shows I have been to never have had. Before the show even started there was an excitement in the air. The show started off with a Cornocopia (eek!) of props for each team to use in their first scene to stay true to the Hunger Games theme. Then before each scene the audience would use their chips they got upon arrival or bought before the show to support the team of their choice to get an advantage for themselves or a disadvantage for the other team. This, alongside a lightning round, made the show very fast-paced and exciting for the audience. It was really interesting seeing long form improvisers work within the short form show and while they did not fare as well as the short formers, they got to showcase their brand of comedy to a new audience of people. And that right there was the beauty of this glorious show.

This show was not just about fundraising for the newly formed Obviously Improv. This show was about celebrating and showcasing Calgary’s improv community to loyal and new fans. It was inspiring to see the comradery amongst the community of improvisers performing in the show and overall the whole experience was so joyful to watch. I hope this becomes an annual event and that all the theatres in the city embrace it and come on board, if for anything the sake of the improv fanatics out there like me!

It was such a fun night and I am really excited about the variety of comedy entertainment that is happening all over Calgary. This week alone there are a ton of great shows being put on by Kaboom Hooray, Kinkonauts, Mix Tape and Loose Moose. So go forth and try some delicious comedy my friends!

Check out this awesome schedule of improv delightfulness!

Improv is melting my icy, spinster heart….

ImprovOver the years, life has made me somewhat of a skeptic. My natural instinct is to be guarded and closed off and to question people’s motives. I have lived a pretty lonely existence these past few years because of that mentality. However the more I get into improv, it is not just confidence in myself I am finding, it is confidence in humanity that I am sort of rediscovering, after developing a thick layer of bitterness around me over the last decade. The comedic scene work I have been exploring in classes makes me feel inspired to collaborate with people and trust myself and them enough to see where that takes us and what story we can come up with together. Being around people who have such a passion for comedy and storytelling makes me excited to participate in the human experience again.

Finding improv in my late twenties was like re-reading an old classic I read when I was younger and finding even deeper meaning in its message, years later.

I have just finished another four week performance class with a new teacher, Mat Maitland. He was heavily involved with the Improv Guild (which I checked out a little too late, right before they went on haitus) and currently is a part comedy troupes Notorious and Attack of the Heart, works with the Kinkonauts and is a player with the newly formed Obviously Improv. I have seen Mat perform over the last few months and have grown into a genuine fan of his style of comedy. He seems to linger in this sweet spot between short and long form improv and something about watching him on stage inspires me to get up there and experiment the way he does with such ease. To say the least I was pretty stoked to take his class! And I was not disappointed. Mat is just as inspiring as a teacher, as he is as a performer. He would start our classes with these truly unique and completely ridiculous warm-up games that would loosen us up and get us open to perform in class. To be honest I am not a huge fan of warm-ups but Mat’s were so much fun and I was totally opened to the ludicrousness of them. The class was filled with lovely people from all walks of life including, high school, the trades and the corporate monkey-bars I swing on. But it seems that our love for improv and comedy were all we needed to become great friends and have fun together in class. It was joyful class that I felt safe enough to perform in, open enough learn in and coached enough to grow within. This class taught me the importance of breathing and that not every moment on stage needs to be filled with words, and that’s hard because I am a huge of fan of words. Mat was always honest and helpful when he checked in with us after scenes and I saw everyone in that class take in what he said, use it and grow. It was great experience and it really helped me as an aspiring performer. The absolutely wonderful completion to this class is that Mat is organizing a show for us to be in. I feel like now that I have been on stage, I am hungrier for it than ever! I feel like every time I am brave enough to do it, I grow as performer and a person.

I am glad that I took improv off the shelf, blew off the dust and rediscovered how good it can be in my life. This Sunday I start a women’s only class with the talented Laura Tennisco of Obviously Improv and I am pretty pumped to continue my journey.

PS – The greatest improv show concept of all time is happening April 19th! It is called Catching Funds and it is a fundraiser for Obviously Improv featuring the players from Improv Theatres around the city competing in a Hunger Games like competition. Ummmmm – sounds like the greatest thing ever, right? YOU SHOULD ALL GO!

I left my apartment on a Wednesday? Thanks Kaboom Hooray!

Image

Lately I have felt like a hamster running the big, bad corporate hamster wheel. The 8:30 am – 4:30 pm life is filled with deadlines, paper work, revisions, idiots and florescent lights. There is a robotic routine of waking up at 7:00 am, getting ready, going to work, eating lunch, then more work and then the glorious release of 4:30 pm. After 4:30 pm during the week, I usually head home do freelance work, cook dinner, workout, watch TV and go to bed. My spinster, corporate ass does not see much outside that routine during the week.

Today I was lucky enough to have a comedy ray of light wash over this glorious hump day. I finally found sketch comedy in Calgary! As much as I love my improv, I am a Saturday Night Live, Kids In The Hall, Second City loving enthusiast, who loves me a good sketch. I went all the way to Toronto last year to take workshops and watch shows at Second City. And I have been working on my own sketches for the last couple of months. In my last post I talked about the amazing class I took at Yuk Yuk’s, where I got to work with Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall and some amazing comedians here in Calgary. Many were from Kaboom Hooray who I had heard about from my talented and quirky stand-up comedian friend, Amy Bugg, before but had never been smart enough to check it out. There shows are on Wednesday and that’s Modern Family, pasta night in my sad little mundane world. However, my class with these amazing sketch writers intrigued me enough to escape my monotonous routine for one night and eff I am glad I did!

Tonight Kaboom Hooray opened me up to a treasure trove of entertainment and comedy that is gloriously new to me. It introduced me to stand-up, which I am a new fan of, and showed me that sketch comedy is alive and well in old Cowtown! The variety in standup acts ranged from headline topical jokes, awkward quirky deliveries and hilarious mini-rants. I have all sorts of respect for people who are brave enough and have the right kind of timing to own that medium. The sketches were weird a great way and made me laugh to the point of being the awkward snorter in the first row. Overall the format of the show was quickly-paced and highly engaging. It was a blast!

The night really inspired me to get out there more to check out shows that are new to me and maybe even venture outside my boring, soul-sucking routine to discover things that inspire me, excite me and most importantly make me laugh. I strongly urge you to do the same. We have had a long dreary winter that, if you are anything like me, has probably kept you hidden indoors a lot. Spring is sprung (or will soon) people, so get out your door and see what the city has to offer!

Check out the next Kaboom Hooray show, May 7 at Yuk Yuk’s. Yes it is a Wednesday! And yes, you can leave your house on a Wednesday!