Reserve a seat at Table23 and you won’t be getting a three-course meal like you might expect, but a night of side-splitting improv from the Tri-Cities comedy sextet that’s been making audiences laugh all over Western Canada since 1999.
The group returns to Whistler next Thursday (Jan. 10) after working with the local Late and Unique Nighttime Alternatives (LUNA) program in years past, to offer an interactive show that relies just as much on the audience as it does on the group of seasoned performers vying for a chuckle or two.
“(Improv’s) success is based solely on the engagement of the audience. I always like to tell my audiences during warm-ups that if they want the show to be good, it will. If they don't, it won't,” said comedian and Table23 co-founder Russ Brummer. “The improviser tries to create a strong reciprocal relationship with the crowd. Love your audience and they will love you back. It's success is based solely on the engagement of the audience.
“The improviser tries to create a strong reciprocal relationship with the crowd. Love your audience and they will love you back. We are going to love the shit out of Whistler. Can I say shit?”
Table23, based in the Tri-City area outside of Vancouver, was founded 14 years ago by Brummer and four other veterans of the local comedy and theatre scene. The group’s reputation has grown exponentially over the years, with Table23 performing everywhere from the iconic Edinburgh Fringe Festival to stag parties in people’s living rooms. They also opened Port Coquitlam’s 45-seat Second Storey Theatre in 2009, hosting comedy nights and offering a variety of improv classes for locals.
The group’s cast of theatre vets, most regular performers in Vancouver, each “have our own unique skills on and off the stage,” said Brummer, which allows them to tweak their shows based on the needs of the audience.
“We’ve performed in malls, pubs, cafés, outdoor stadiums, 600-seat theatres, and in people’s living rooms. We do a Party Crasher show where we arrive unannounced to someone's house and carry on like we're strippers until it's time to get naked, then we just tell jokes instead. Usually the audience is pretty relieved that we're not really taking our clothes off,” said Brummer.
Having performed at Vancouver theatre and comedy havens like Yuk Yuk’s, Urban Improv and Theatresports, Brummer still looks forward to getting onstage in front of Whistler’s “sexy and smart” crowds.
“If that's not intimidating enough, hopefully they're just looking for a good laugh. It's definitely going to be more fun then your average Thursday night,” he said. “People can expect improv comedy that's raw, truthful and hilarious. We play a good mix of gimmicky games and open scenes based on stories from the audience.”
Brummer urges Whistlerites to open up at the show and let go of their fear of getting involved; the key to any successful improv performance.
“Lots of people get nervous with improv because they think they're going to get dragged on stage or embarrassed. We don't do that type of thing. We definitely talk to the audience the whole show, but we never ask someone to do something they don't want to do. Suffering is optional. Everyone has a great time, whether they're yelling suggestions or sitting back and just quietly enjoying the show,” said Brummer.
The show will raise money for the non-profit the Peaks Foundation, which organizes inspirational trekking expeditions for women looking to make a positive difference in the world.
Tickets are $7 and can only be purchased at the door at the Crystal Lounge next Thursday. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Visit www.table23.com for more information.