I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Calgary is experiencing an improv renaissance. Never before in the 40 year history of the art form in YYC has there been more diverse or exciting improv going on. Some students of mine have been asking for an improv directory and after a month or so of procrastination here it is. I encourage you to go check out one or all these hilarious troupes if you live in Calgary or are looking for a laugh while passing through. And if you have a group that I don’t mention here, please comment and I’ll happily add you to the list! Calgary, you’re just getting funnier and funnier… The asterisk* means I am a regular performer with the troupe.
The Loose Moose Theatre Company*www.loosemoose.com
Over 35 years of history make this one of the longest running improv companies on the planet. They literally helped invent improv as we know it all over the world. It’s pretty special that this company is in our very own backyard. They are the only group in town with two weekly shows both of which a guaranteed great night out. They also offer kids programming throughout the year as well as a special late night showcase slots to senior performers.
This company is Calgary’s Improv laboratory. They push boundaries, bring in wonderful guests and are Calgary’s pre-eminent long form troupe. Five or six times a year they host these amazing mini-festival weeks where they pack tons of shows into a tiny black box theatre on 16th Ave. NW.
All of the senior performers of the Improv Guild have broken out and founded this exciting new troupe. While it is so new that no one knows what type of improv will be presented by the group, it will be sure to feature the fun, fast-paced comedy that many of its actors are known for. They are going to take short form to the next level. Obviously…
This fully improvised soap opera has kept Calgary laughing for the last fourteen years. Featuring some of Calgary’s funniest actors, as well as one of the most talented musical improvisers in the city in Cam Ascroft, this is unique in that every week the show picks up where it left off last time. Each episode is standalone funny but one big storyline is carried throughout every season. This year the soap is entitled Legal Briefs.
Freestyle Rap. Improv Comedy. It doesn’t get any fresher than Notorious. It is fast paced, in yo’ face comedy with improvised hip hop songs peppered in. They are a ridiculous, high energy comedy experience unlike anything else in the city. They headline a monthly show at Café Koi and perform at Kinkonauts show week.
Attack of the Heart*www.facebook.com/attackoftheheart
This two person troupe features myself and Clare McConnell. The format is a love story improvised in reverse, beginning with a breakup and ending with the first time a couple meets. Sprinkled in are ukulele loves song and a little freestyle rap. We’ve done the show across Europe and Canada.
This improvised duo is a house troupe at the Kinkonauts featuring Covy Holland and Stephen Kent. Compelling extended scene work and a playful performance style are why this group has become quite popular over the last year. Every show features a bold, live piano score provided by Eric Nyland.
Past Your Bedtimewww.loosemoose.com/shows.htm
Long-time Loose Moose players Andrew Phung and Renee amber are pretty much improv married. They have fabulous chemistry and their duo show is a must see. All their scenes are inspired by true audience stories and fortune cookies which are handed out to all the audience members. This show happens weekly at 10:30pm on Fridays at the Loose Moose.
Directed Covy Holland, this Kinkonauts house troupe explores Chicago style long form improv. This group is composed of a diverse cross section of performers hailing from different groups all over the city.
This is another Kinkonauts house troupe led by Owen Chan. They throw all the rules out the window and create interesting stories out of chaos. Group scenes and reactive ensemble play are a hallmark of this group.
U of C Improvwww.facebook.com/uofcimprovclub
The University of Calgary has been a hotbed of improv since the 1970’s when Keith Johnstone was a professor there. Now, improv is alive and well with U of C Improv offering long and short form troupes a couple of times a month. This group is also graduating some stellar members into the professional scene as of late. If you are a student at U of C now, see them perform or get involved.
Mount Royal University has been getting funnier and funnier over the last few years thanks to this group. They do short form performances a few times a year and a definitely worth checking out if you need a break from studying or a good night out.
Théatre à Picwww.theatreapic.ca
French improv exists in Calgary. Check it out if you’re French or a Francophile. I’ve performed with them many times and it is a truly unique improv experience.
The Improv Guildwww.improvguild.com
The Improv Guild is not currently offering any shows. Check their website for more information.
Improv Adventure Theatrewww.iatheatre.com
I’ve never seen this troupe nor do I know much about them. But they have been performing since September and do monthly shows at Cardel Theatre.
This group of Kinkonauts student perform at every kinko show week. You never know what you’re going to see with STU!
It’s self-proclaimed geekprov. They do shows at the Comic Expo and beyond but do not do regular performances.
The Stage Ratswww.facebook.com/calgarystagerats
This group was formed by Paul Saxberg, avid improv student and performer. I’ve seen them perform once but don’t know what they are doing nowadays. I believe it is a short form troupe.
I’m sure I’ve missed a troupe or two. But as you can see, the improv scene is alive and well in Calgary. Please email me with any info about other groups I have neglected to mention. Play on YYC!